Reflecting on my first half marathon

I can’t believe more than a week has passed since I ran my very first half marathon. I feel like I’ve needed the time though to fully digest the entire experience. While to some of my more experienced runner friends, running a half marathon may not seem like a big deal but it was a huge milestone for me.

I started running only eight months ago, in March, the goal of running a 5K. When I started running I didn’t expect to fall in love with it like I have but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was actually getting good at it. So, in June, after only having been a runner for four months, I decided to register for the 2012 Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon.

Many of my friends and family tried to discourage me from registering because they thought I didn’t have enough experience as a runner yet. My dad, a 16-time marathon veteran (3:09 PR), said I needed more experience racing and building up mileage. But, I ignored their opinions and decided I had the capability and drive to build up my mileage to be able to run the 13.1 miles and cross the finish line on Sept. 30.

After months of training, some injuries, and some amazing runs, I crossed the finish line without stopping once. The race was amazing and the course was a breeze. Although the weather was awful, it was the most amazing experience.

When I hit the 11-mile mark I even started to get emotional and thought I was going to start crying. I couldn’t believe how far I had come as a runner in just eight months. In eight months I went from being able to run 0 miles to running more than 13 miles. Not only did I develop into a “runner,” I’ve noticed other changes in myself over the past eight months. My body has changed quite a bit, my muscles are much for toned and I have a much higher level of endurance but I’ve also changed emotionally. I’ve learned to use running as an outlet for when I’m angry, stressed or happy and excited. While I may not have started running for the best reason, it has literally transformed me into a different person and I love it.

As I started to speed up during the last 2 miles of the half marathon, all of these thoughts were whirling around in my head and just then, I saw my parents with all of the spectators and nearly lost it. I feel so lucky to have had such an amazing support system throughout this journey and although they had their reservations in the beginning, they never doubted me. The same goes to my friends who have also supported me through all of this and showed up at the finish line to congratulate me.

As I said in my last post about the half, my first thought upon crossing the finish line was I can’t wait to do it again and I’ve been looking for some more to register for in the near future. I think once I get a few more halfs under my belt, a full marathon is not too far off :)

What was your biggest race accomplishment? How did it feel when you crossed that finish line? Please share your stories in the comments section below!

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Week 8: Half-marathon update

via Pinterest

This was quite a crazy training week. It involved only three days of running unfortunately, one race and a whole bunch of yoga and strength training.

Monday was technically a rest day so I decided to do my typical rest day routine of recovery yoga and core exercises. It was uneventful but a good workout. Tuesday I planned to run a tempo run after work but I ended up having to stay at work much later than usual and consequentially got stuck in traffic so I decided to nix the run because I was exhausted. Instead, I came home and did some core exercises and rest up for the next day.

Wednesday was my day and to be honest I went hard with my training. I went to the gym after work with my sister and did my first ever pick-up run which was pretty intense. I wrote a post about it earlier in the week that you can check out if you’re interested in trying out a pick-up run, but basically this is what I did:

3-mile run with one interval each of 60s, 120s, 120s, 60s, 45s, 30s and 15s

I really enjoyed the pick-up run because it pushed me to test myself and my speed. I was able to keep up an intensity level of ‘8’ during each interval. After running, I did a whole bunch of strengthening exercises with my sister, including some lifting. As a runner, it’s just as important to build muscle as it is to work on speed and mileage. Muscles will help your body respond to runs and support your joints.

Thursday I woke up early and did a 3-mile run that included some hill workouts. It went really well but after the run, my right knee was bothering me a little. I did some post-run stretches which seemed to ease the pain.

I took a break on Friday with some power strength yoga and core exercises, which was perfect because it was a long week at work so it felt great to relax and sweat it out at the same time. I also had to gear up for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics!

Post Color Run color madness!

Saturday I had to wake up super early to get ready to run the New England Color Run in Amesbury, MA (post to follow). In short, the race was tons of fun! I ran it with a group of friends and we were doused in color. We came away with some great photos and memories. Unfortunately, I also came away with a pretty significant knee strain on my right knee. I’m hoping it’s just a strain and nothing serious but it’s pretty painful right now.

Due to the knee strain I decided to make the smart decision to skip my 12-mile run I was supposed to do today. I still have two months until the Smuttynose Half Marathon and risking injuring myself even more is not worth it right now. I was bummed though because I’ve been looking forward to this run all week. After icing my knee all morning I went to the gym and did some cross training (3 miles on the elliptical in 25 minutes) and then a ton of strengthening exercises for my arms and core.

In this week of training what I’ve come away with is, it’s so important to listen to your body and if you have a strain or pain it’s better to take it easy rather than pushing your limits and your luck. Fingers crossed my knee will be better by tomorrow and I can get back on track! (No pun intended!)

Happy running!