Ever since I received a flood of NYC marathon TikToks on my For You Page last November, I had this dream of getting back into running. It can be intimidating to pick up the sport you left in the home you grew up in again, but there's a sense of being older and wiser and knowing you can do things differently this time. In this article, I will walk you through the months leading up to this dream and how the actual race ended up being for me. I ran the Seattle Summer Events Marathon this past August.
I gave myself three months to prepare, from June to August, for the half marathon. This was a personal challenge that I couldn't resist after witnessing the determination of marathon runners on social media. I followed the Couch to Half Marathon training plan, which I will include a photo of for reference.
It served as my roadmap to gradually build up my endurance and strength.
I ended up traveling for the entire month of July, which disrupted my training schedule. I missed several long runs and found myself only running as far as 4 miles before the race. Doubt crept in, and I considered downgrading to a 10k, but my friends encouraged me to stay the course.
RACE DAY EXPERIENCE
The days leading up to the race were nerve-wracking. I even had a nightmare about running in circles for hours in an attempt to complete a half marathon. I was nauseous before we started, and I ended up not having as much fuel as I wanted to pre-race, consuming only half of a blueberry waffle with almond butter, blueberries, and maple syrup.
As we started lining up, I realized I didn't feel as nervous as I used to in high school for races. This time, I knew it was strictly for fun, and I wasn't trying to prove anything to anyone. I was also fortunate to have two of my best friends running alongside me. We stuck together for the first 3 miles before going our separate ways.
During the initial 7.5 miles, my mind wandered, and I struggled to stay present. Mile 10 brought pain to the arch of my right foot, making the last 3 miles a challenge. But I persevered, finding inspiration in the diverse group of runners and the energy of the event. The out-and-back course was relatively flat, with only minor elevation gains.
Discussing the physical demands of the race, including the impact on my body and the endurance required, was eye-opening. The half marathon pushed my limits, forcing me to confront physical exhaustion and mental fatigue.
Mile 10 and 12 didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, but I kept telling myself I only had a couple km to go. I found motivation in other runners around me, using them as anchors to maintain my pace. This race was a new experience for me, having never run a distance longer than 5 km.
Reflecting on my journey, I realized that my mindset had transformed. A year ago, I couldn't understand why people ran marathons, considering them unnecessary pain. However, my journey has shown me that it's all about proving to yourself that you can conquer difficult challenges.
Crossing the finish line, I was met by a kind volunteer who handed me my medal and shared encouraging words. In that moment, the pain faded away, and I felt the warmth of the sun and the joy radiating from those around me. Although my time wasn't remarkable, finishing was an accomplishment I'd never forget.
POST RACE REFLECTIONS
In the hours and days following the race, I waddled, indulged in a long-awaited lobster roll, and contemplated the lessons I'd learned. The physical toll was real, but it was worth every step.
I learned that the mind is a powerful tool. Despite my doubts and lack of proper training, I showed up and pushed through. Banishing negative thoughts allowed me to focus on nutrition and pacing, which ultimately led me to success.
For individuals considering their first half marathon, here are some key takeaways and advice:
- Have a solid training plan.
- Find friends to join you on the journey.
- Reward yourself on race day.
Preparation isn't just physical; mental readiness is crucial. Manage race day nerves, stay focused, and keep pushing forward.
I'm incredibly grateful to my friends who joined me on this journey. They provided the support and encouragement I needed when I started to doubt myself. This experience underscored the importance of a supportive community.
Completing my first half marathon was a significant milestone in my life. It proved that with determination, a supportive community, and a positive mindset, we can achieve the seemingly impossible. I'm excited to continue running, striving for improvement, and chasing new goals. If I can do it, so can you. So, lace up your running shoes and embark on your own journey. You won't regret it.
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