Hey ladies! Happy Snow Day (for some of you!) It has been so nice out the last couple weeks, I kind of forgot that we’re only in January! There could still be a few more storms in our future! I’m not complaining though. I love everything about Boston! Love the snow in the winter and love the beaches in the summer! Anyway, I’ve really been meaning to post about my first half marathon experience but then the holidays came and I just forgot about it. So here it is….
Started from the bottom, now I’m here…
A lot of people just assume I’ve always been a runner, but I haven’t…at all. My first 5K was March 17, 2012!! I started at KFIT as a client in September, 2011 and just like many of you, I wanted to die during my first class. I remember feeling really defeated and mad that I couldn’t get through a workout without wanting to throw up. I’ve never struggled with weight but I was really out of shape. I had no endurance. I literally couldn’t run around the block without stopping. I was also incredibly weak…no pushups for this girl for a solid 6 months. I never ran more than a mile in my life before KFIT.
When I started KFIT, I was really ready for a change. I completely changed my priorities and that all started to carry over to running. I started slowly, just doing a mile or two when I could. I set up a couple pre-St. Patricks Day training runs with Kerrie and Mel (both of who were much stronger runners than me) but I still wasn’t running often. My only goal for my first 5K was to run the whole thing. And I did! I finished my first 5K in 24:01 (which is still one of my fastest 5K’s to date!!)
Half Marathon Training
I signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon in April of last year and then I waited until September to start training. Prior to training for the half, my longest distance was 6.2 miles (10K). I’ve done two 10K’s in my life but other than that I would run 3-5 miles a couple times/week. Since I wasn’t a strong runner prior to starting KFIT, I made a point of working at it over the last couple years. I didn’t want to “lose” what I worked for. I DON’T LOVE RUNNING! I’m not someone that just zones out and runs forever. I literally count the minutes and the miles but there is satisfaction at the end. My advice for anyone just starting out is to take the good with the bad. I have great runs and I have terrible runs. Just the other morning, I set out for a 3 mile run and had to walk for a bit at mile 2. It happens but I’ve learned to just get over. Don’t get defeated by a bad run/workout…use it as motivation for the next time! I had to keep that in mind while training for the half. I set up a training plan for myself but didn’t follow it strictly. I did long runs on Saturday mornings and worked my way up to 11 slow miles. I had to teach myself to pace my runs differently for the half than I would for a 5K. I usually run 8- 8.5 minute miles for 5K’s, but I slowed down to 9.5-10 minute miles while training for the half. Saturdays became really exciting for me because I was reaching new mileage each week. I know it sounds corny but it is pretty emotional to push yourself past what you thought your limits were! I was really fortunate to find a couple other KFitters who were also training for half marathons. Without running partners, training would have been miserable!
The Big Day
The Philadelphia Half Marathon was on a Sunday so I picked up my race packet on Saturday and let me tell you, the emotions were flowing! As soon as I picked up my packet, I thought I was going to break down in tears. I was just so excited and nervous and I felt like I had worked so hard for it. I had to wake up before 4am on Sunday morning. I don’t really have any pre-race rituals, except eating an English muffin with peanut butter and a banana. I definitely get what I like to call “nervous belly” which usually passes once I start running (TMI??) My sister, brother-in-law, and I set out for Philly at 5am because the race started at 7am and they wanted participants to get there early for security reasons. We ended up getting there really early and just sitting around for awhile, which is the worst when you have a serious case of pre-race jitters! My sister, brother-in-law, and I all started together but we all agreed that we would go at our own pace and meet afterwards. Everything I read about running your first half marathon said to start out slow, enjoy the moment, and to NOT set any time goals for yourself but I wanted to do it under 2 hours. I knew it was possible and I had my heart set on it. As soon as I started running, I had tears in my eyes! I know you probably think I should have had it together but it was so emotional! There are so many people cheering you on and you’re so excited, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed. I know I must have had some goofy smile on my face for the first mile and then I settled in for the long haul! There was one brutal hill at mile 9 that a lot of people stopped to walk up but I powered through (thanks to all those KFIT hill sprints!) By mile 10, my hips and calves were so sore. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to stop, but I was so motivated to finish under 2 hours and I was on pace to do it. I was so relieved when I crossed the finish line. My official time was 1 hour 58 minutes, 48 seconds! I just barely made it in under my goal, but I did it and it was so rewarding. Whatever pain I endured through training and on that day didn’t even matter because the feeling of crossing that finish line was awesome. SO glad I didn’t walk that hill because I would have missed my goal.
I look like I’m power-walking here but I swear I ran the whole thing!
Post-Race and 2014 New Goals
I figured I was going to party hard after finishing my first half under 2 hours, but I just wanted to sleep! It was seriously exhausting! And I was really sore, almost immediately. I didn’t have any serious pain and no injuries leading up to race day, but man, I was sore for days!
Within a week of finishing, I signed up for another half marathon in Boston. I loved running in Philly with my family but it is important to me to run one in Boston so I signed up for the Run to Remember in May. My obvious goal is to PR it! I’ve thought about doing a full marathon, but I’m honestly not sure I want to put my body through the pain. I know how I felt after 13 miles, I cannot imagine doing double that but you never know! My 2 big 2014 goals are to PR the Run to Remember and to do a triathlon (no time goals for that one!) One of my smaller fitness goals is to master kipping pull ups so I can do a workout without a band! I’ve also made a resolution that I will consistently run 2x/ week, even if it is short runs and yoga 1x/week.
Hopefully you guys are thinking of some challenging goals for yourself for 2014. If you would have told me 3 years ago that I would run a half marathon, I would have laughed. One of the reasons the half was so emotional for me was because of all the hard work I put in since starting at KFIT. It had so little to do with the actual run and so much to do with the fact that I couldn’t run a mile 2 years ago and now I can run 13 miles. I’ve worked really hard for every goal/milestone I’ve reached.
Prior to starting KFIT, I didn’t really set goals for myself. I’d make a silly New Year’s Resolution, which I never followed through on but never any goals. Most of my resolutions involved weight loss (hello! I am a woman) but for me, personally, my fitness goals have been so much more rewarding than my weight loss. I can tell you from personal experience that the happiness you get from reaching a goal, even a fitness goal, will carry over to other parts of your life and the more challenging the goal, the more rewarding it will be when you reach it. The Philadelphia Half Marathon was MY 2013 goal and I dominated it. Cannot wait to dominate my 2014 goals and write about them in 2015!