In the midst of a full-time school schedule, a full-time work schedule and a little wedding planning here and there, I just registered for my second half – marathon! It has been almost three months after my first half-marathon and this time, I have a whole team to train with. A group of four awesome, strong, successful girls to train for the April 12th Great Dismal Swamp Stomp.
Since my old blog got hacked the week after my first 1/2 marathon, here’s a quick recap:
My birthday was the day of the Anthem Richmond Half-Marathon and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 25! It was definitely something on my bucket list and I thought Half-Marathon on my 25th, Full-Marathon (26.2) on my 26th. HAH that definitely will not be happening because after my half I have no desire to run 26 miles EVER and I am getting married on the eve of my 26th birthday!
#1 necessity was having a training buddy, and my friend Brandi stepped up for the role. Originally she was going to run the full marathon but switched down to the 1/2 mid training, which totally worked out for me!
The plan I used can be found here – let’s just say I roughly followed the plan. I got in most of the long runs on the weekend, and actually ended up running a 13 miler that week I was supposed to run 10. Then I tapered for the last two weeks and only ran 6-8 miles at most. I thought this was important because A) I knew that I could actually run 13 miles come race day and B) I gave my body a break and was fully rested by race-day.
Everything I read recommended that first time half-marathoners run the race just to finish, without a goal or pace in mind. Again, I roughly followed this advice. I knew what I was capable of after weeks of training, and while it was hard to admit to anyone besides my other half and #1 Fan, I knew I was going for sub-2 hours. That is a feat in itself for a lot of even 2nd and 3rd time half-marathoners, but I knew (aka hoped) that given the shape I was in that I could accomplish it.
During training, I had run on hot days, cold days and even hungover days. but NOTHING could prepare me for running in the rain with soaked shoes. The weather the morning of the race was absolutely terrible! No sun in sight, and it poured for hours that morning. Luckily it stopped just in time for us to bust out of the car and make it to the start line. I registered for a slower corral than I needed, so we slipped into the corral ahead of ours for the start. Let’s face it – we were ready to go and didn’t want to wait another 2 minutes!
Watch started on time and I “ditched” a lost-and-found sweatshirt I brought for the occasion during the first mile. During the second mile my left foot plunged into a pothole full of water, and the rest is history. We ran through downtown, over a bridge and through neighborhoods from miles 3 to 4 and mile 5 is when the bottom dropped out. Yep, it transitioned from a mist to a downpour pretty quickly. Soon we were running through the park and I took my energy gel right about mile 7 as we were exiting the park. Miles 7 to 10 were about picking up my pace. I lost my running buddy somewhere in the park, as I tried to keep up my speed. Yes, there was lots of “doing math” in my head to figure out just how fast I needed to keep up to reach my sub- 2 hours goal. We passed through more neighborhoods filled with gummy bears, shots of whiskey and soda, but I couldn’t even think about stomaching any of that. Before I knew it a HUGE banner was stretched across the course that said “Only a 5K left!” My recent 5K time was 26 minutes so I knew I could keep up something like that for the remainder. To make a long story short, those last few miles were KILLER but so filled with adrenaline. There were a few too many turns during the last mile for my taste, I kept thinking I had made the final turn only to find another. But finally I saw the last downhill stretch to the finish line, and passed my mom and brother on the way down. Brandi was a few minutes behind but we quickly found each other at the end of the race.
here we are post race:
After the race my mom, brother, Brandi and went to a birthday brunch at Millie’s. The meal was delicious, but I couldn’t get warm to save my life! I think it was a combination of wet undergarments and my body’s attempts to regulate its body temperature after two hours in the cold and wetness.
It was official! I completed my first half-marathon in under 2 hours 🙂 My watch’s results were not too far off from my official time, but I waited to REALLY celebrate until it was official, with 30 seconds of cushion time to boot!
Needless to say, I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day and go to celebrate my birthday, one of my BFF’s birthdays, and my first half-marathon in the books! Other than some leg soreness the day off, general fatigue for a few days and a toe nail that fell off months later (gross, I know) the race was painless and oh so worth it. So here I am today to announce race #2 🙂 and my 13 must haves for your first half marathon (in no particular order).
1. A buddy or a few! I repeat: do not attempt alone, you need a training buddy and a support system!
2. GPS Watch – Love love love my Garmin 110. It’s not the newest or fanciest, but it gets the job done. It allows me to push myself on those tempo (running for time) runs, and takes a little (or A LOT) of the guess work out of figuring out distances/times/paces etc.
3. Tunes – I used Songza a lot and made my own playlist for the 1/2. I will probably use the same one again with a few new songs added for fun. Simply google “1/2 marathon” playlists and use other people’s lists to make yours…its worth the investment not to have to change songs during the race! Oh, you run without music? All the more power to you. My actual style is one ear bud in, one ear bud out – but on runs with friends (see #1 above), no music required! Maintaining a conversation while you run = more aerobic activity (and you’re probably not working hard enough!)
4. Protection against the elements – use bodyglide for chafing, get some SPF when you need it and wear a hat! It doesn’t matter if its cold/warm/dry/humid, you need to make sure you will be comfortable. 10 miles of pulling at your clothing or wiping your eyes is not fun!
5. Scenery – trust me, you will not want to run the same route over and over. Find a park, a long stretch of flat ground, a new loop with a water view or really branch out and hit up your local trails! Whether your race course is hilly or flat, running those hills will rev up your heart rate that much more. Softer ground = more difficult
6. hydrate hydrate hydrate – not just the few hours before the race, but all day long! Keep that water bottle full and aim for at least a 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight. I also recommend stopping for water on long runs (helllooo Subway and McDonald’s) because it simulates a race environment. Practice not over doing it at the water stations when you cannot seem to get enough water to keep going! Brandi also recommended increasing chia seed consumption in the week before the race, and in addition to giving you energy, chia seeds help your body stock up on agua.
7. Fuel – I am no medical professional but I do know that anytime you exercise for more than 1 hour without stocking, you have to replenish the energy sources and sugar depletion. My solution to this was an energy gel around mile 6-7. While whole food is always a better option, I couldn’t stomach whole food while I kept running and the gel worked perfectly. I might try dates or something this time since they are just as portable. Would definitely love some ideas! I think whole food is usually best suited for races like Triathalons where you are exercising for 3-4 hours and have somewhere to stash “real food.”
8. A plan – I used this one, and will stick roughly to it this time. There are lots of Iphone/Ipad apps out there too – go with one that’s not too much of a stretch and works with your schedule. You will want to make sure you have the time to get in those long runs AND the little ones that seem like a nuisance.
9. Flexibility – just because you pick a plan doesn’t mean you need to follow it to the T…Since there is some running at Crossfit I considered that one of my recovery runs, and generally stuck to a long run on the weekend and a pace run during the week. This was a reason I didn’t use an Iphone app for my plan, I didn’t want annoying alerts that I hadn’t completed my workouts since I was flexing some. Also – I mentioned at the beginning of this post that one of my 10 runs turned into 13 and I skipped my 12. That’s ok! I followed what my body was telling me and it didn’t fail me. Listen to yours too 🙂
10. A fluff week – Make sure you have a few bonus weeks in there, what if you miss a week, get sick, or have one of those “I just can’t motivate my body weekends” and miss a long run. If you have extra weeks built in, you can throw in a 5K or 10K like the Hal Higdon plan calls for or even have a “run for fun” weekend. Consider it a treat!
11. Time – How did I almost leave this one out? I waited a few years after college to run my first half-marathon. My social life needed to be in tact, I needed to get over FOMO and I needed a flexible schedule that would allow me to train on the weekends. I had to want it to win it! Keep in mind that if you are training in the winter, daylight is working against you and you won’t have those bonus hours that you would normally have training in the summer. Plan accordingly! That might mean some morning runs thrown in there, or a treadmill run here and there. Getting in a 6++ mile workout can be a huge challenge when you consider the time to get ready, drive to your route, warm up and drive home. And trust me, you won’t be too motivated to do anything else for the day after these runs. Plan on lots of time for recovery, epsom salt baths and just slower moving in general.
12. Crosstraining – I was able to perform really well with less training mileage in general because my body was used to hard workouts. Strength workouts are equally important as getting in the running – so don’t let yourself fall into the running only trap. I was doing Crossfit 3-4 times a week in addition to 2 runs. My goal this time is to through a day of yoga in there, even if it means cutting Crossfit down to 3 days only.
13. A race! My race happened to be featured in Running World’s top 10 fall races but I didn’t know that until after I signed up. Usually cost, proximity and date are how I pick a race. Rock ‘N Roll Marathons are super overpriced and I couldn’t find someone to do the Flying Pirate 1/2 with me…but there’s always next year! Having a running buddy > dressing up like a pirate this year. Post race parties, perks and beer sponsors are also legitimate reasons to choose a race. The bottom line is don’t try to train without having a race in mind, it’s like getting in the car to drive without a destination. You can’t get there with one. And better than just “having it in mind,” put your money where your mouth is and register. There’s no turning back after you give out them (credit card) digits!
Thanks for keepin’ up with me and come along for the ride as I run my 2nd 1/2 Marathon!