America, guess what?! I did it! First (and hopefully not last) half marathon is in the books and I can check one more thing off my 30 Before 30 List. Just 26 items & 5 months to go. Yiiiiikes.
Not the point! The point is I did it and it went way better than I imagined it would! The morning got off to a rocky start, with chilly, damp weather and a potentially dramatic incident involving a lost shipment of porta potties but by the time the starting gun went off at 8:30 AM it was bright, breezy and perfect weather for running. Which was a relief both athletically AND sartorially as it initially looked like I might have to do 13.1 sporting this HOT get-up.
Thankfully that fashion faux-pas was averted and after some hemming and hawing about what sort of layering/sleeve situation I was going to go for, I made a game time decision to rock just a tank top (and bottoms, obviously) so I looked like a sexy sporty gal instead of an adult Morton Salt Girl slash homeless fisherwoman.
Ok maybe “gangly and weirdly chipper sporty gal” would be a better descriptor but today is about CONFIDENCE not self-deprecation so let’s go with sexy. (In case you’re curious, this tank top was a gift from my BFF Maureen. In the card she said it would help me combat my STS aka “Sweaty Torso Syndrome” and she was right! What a great top. And an even better friend, one who also sent me tulips to celebrate finishing my race. She’s basically my guardian angel.)
ALSO in case you’re wondering if I yelled mid-run “Hey! Brian! Take my picture!!! While I’m running!” the answer is obviously. Do you even have to ask?
The race itself went totally superbly great. The course was perfectly flat and scenic, taking us under the Verrazano Bridge. The course sort of just looped around on itself so you ran the same path up and back, up and back, which could seem dull but worked for me – I was able to pass Brian 4 times, which helped keep me motivated and gave me something to look forward to and the flat, blank landscape of the course allowed me to completely zone out and just RUN.
At mile 4 I wanted to quit, by mile 7 I was ready to start training for a full marathon and by mile 12 I was just ready to get it over with.
So how’d I do? Awesome! My initial goal was to finish in 2 hours and I smashed that, crossing the finish line at 1:53:04. I placed 110th overall, out of 264 and 19th out of 67 finishers in my bracket of women aged 20-29. This was much better than I could have hoped for and I’m so proud of my accomplishment. I didn’t feel too bad after the race either, minus a horrific stomach ache (TMI as always, but any other runners out there deal with major gassy cramps during/post long runs?! I was dying!) and sore hips and hamstrings. We met some friends for celebratory beers & BBQ and then I passed out by 8:45 PM. It was delightful.
I’d DEFINITELY do another half marathon and would love to try to improve my time and work on pacing myself to run more smoothly and consistently. As for a full marathon? No. Not yet. Mostly I don’t want to put in that much time training and, despite the speed, pride, etc, I struggled through that 13th mile, I don’t think I’m ready to double that.
I’m mostly just surprised by how much I enjoyed this whole process. I don’t know why I decided I should run a half marathon, I just kind of got the idea in my head and decided it would be a good thing to do before I turned 30, and somewhere along the way I came to love running. I’ve dabbled in jogging in the past, first just as a tool to stay svelte and then as something to do with Brian. He ran competitively in college and running is as much a part of his life as breathing or eating cheese or quoting Liz Lemon is to mine. When we started dating, I’d run with him because I wanted to share that with him and I wanted him to think I was a cool sporty person and sometimes I enjoyed it but other times I just got frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with him and worried I was holding him back and would get weird and dramatic – “just leave me here! This isn’t Saving Private Ryan! I know I’m slow and holding you back and I’m sorry. I never should have come with you today. I’m ruining everything!” – and that was just no fun for anybody.
When I started training for my race, I was in so-so shape. Essentially I could run the 3.4 mile loop in Prospect Park without stopping, occasionally adding on an extra mile here or there, if I was feeling particularly fit. I trained for three months, doing short runs throughout the week and one long run on weekends, adding on a mile per week. Every single week I had a one mile indicator of how much stronger I was getting. It felt awesome. I realized this morning that I could now run the 3.4 mile loop in Prospect Park 3.85 times without stopping. Boom.
Two of my cousins got into running right around the same time I did and we’ve been chatting together about how empowering it is physically pushing yourself to new levels. I usually shy away from that sort of self help-Oprah Winfrey-feelgood nonsense but I can’t help myself. I’m an empowered lady. Hear me roar! Or something.
I also realized that, in addition to empowering me (how many times will she say empowering?!), running calms me. As you all know, I have some issues with anxiety and a, shall we say, overactive brain. Somehow when I’m in a good running rhythm, my brain just stops racing. I was telling this to a friend recently and she asked me what I think about when I run and I had to tell her I don’t know! I daydream. I sing along to songs on my phone, imagine dancing to them at my wedding or let them pull me back into nostalgic reminiscences. I mentally draft essays I never get around to writing. I focus on my breath, my feet, one step after the other.
I was in kind of a low place earlier this year, emotionally, and I’m feeling worlds away from that dark space. Yes, the weather and general passing of time have a lot to do with that, but I truly think the running did too. I know running isn’t for everyone, I wouldn’t push it on anyone, but I can not more wholeheartedly get behind anything than the importance of physical activity – whether it’s sprinting or Zumba or yogilates or powerwalking. It’s basically free Xanax! Y’all know I love TV as much as the next guy but I think all of us can and should spare a few hours of Hulu Plus per week in favor of getting those endorphins.
Ok now I’m getting a little self-righteous where I just meant to be celebratory! I think this is as good a place as any to cut the rambles. I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more words on running – a friend asked me for my advice on learning to love running, so I thought I’d share some more practical tips, now that I am super totally an expert on all things track and field.
Thank you all for your sweet encouragement and support while I trained for this little shindig and for not being too harsh on mo while I ramble about running. I know there is nothing more boring than listening to someone talk about their exercise routine (looking RIGHT AT YOU Crossfitters) so I truly appreciate you tuning in. You’re all gems. Gems, I say!