My First Half Marathon: Pre-Race Training and Thoughts

After completing my first half marathon, well my first one in about ten years, I can honestly say it has sparked my interest in doing as many as I can for the rest of my life.

Back in January of this year, my sister called me up asking me if I would be interested in running a half marathon with her. Without hesitation, I accepted. She chose the America’s Finest City Half Marathon. I hadn’t done much running after I graduated from Chico State in 2012, but it seemed like a good idea. I ran track and cross country during my time at Chico and after, I somewhat struggled trying to find who I was. Running kind of fell off the radar.

I always loved running, but I always struggled with it as well. Battling injuries both physical and mental, I had a few times where I wasn’t sure I identified with being a runner. After I got that call from my sister, I decided I really wanted to get back into running again. It had been huge part of my life since I was 14 and well I really, really missed it. The AFC Half is what pushed me to find my inner runner again. And I am really happy that I did.

When I started training for it, I was a tad bit inconsistent. It was so far off, that I hadn’t found that kick in the butt I needed to not make a complete mockery of myself or at least kill myself for a grueling 13.1 miles. It had been about 3 years since I had even touched 8 miles or ran without taking a 2 week break after 2 weeks of  training.

12 minute HIIT workout
Dead after running 8 miles and then a 12-minute HIIT workout

It wasn’t until the end of April I really started pushing myself. I don’t know what woke up inside me, but running became my thing. I went from running two to three times a week at about 3 miles to 5 miles up to 5 times a week at about 6 to 10 miles. I think running during a weekend of dancing and partying at the Stagecoach Music Festival with my lifelong friend Stacy made me realize that I can run literally wherever and through whatever. There’s really no excuses. Her dedication to fitness inspires me to commit to my love of fitness also.

And I did find my love for running and exercise. I started doing 12 minute or 16 minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. I use the 12 Minute Athlete app by Krista Stryker. Her blogs help motivate me to get fit as well. Instead of judging myself every time I ran, I made it a daily decision to change my lifestyle to what made me happy. I found what made me tick…properly.

I am by no means in the shape I was when I graduated school, but I am working on getting there. Prior to training for the AFC Half, when I would run I would judge and criticize myself for failing at being a runner. Or just not being as good as I once was. It was in April where all I wanted for myself was to be happy and healthy. And what was the one thing I loved to do?

Run. I like to run. I love to run. I love the way I feel afterward. Even when I feel like shit. I know the next day, I will be thankful that I ran. No matter how slow I think I am or how fast I get, I am a runner. If you run, you’re a runner.

So I began logging my miles. I never did any workouts, just went for runs. I started using MapMyRun to track my paces. As I got stronger I would push myself. I would run anywhere from 8:30 pace dropping to 7:20 pace. I got up to 13 miles twice between April and August. The fastest and farthest I ran was 12 miles at 7:20 pace (I completely died the last mile; this was not a feel good run, but I got through it).

I can’t say I did this all by myself. As I started posting my runs on Facebook. My old swimming and running buddies got in contact with me. I started running with my high school swim and XC teammate Alexa. I also started running with my childhood swim coach Erika Carter. They both pushed me tremendously. I can also thank Erika for inspiring me to start this running blog. My boyfriend, Nic, also encouraged me to run. He knew it was a big part of my past and knew deep down I wanted it back. I also think he liked it when I ran because I was little less stressed out. Ha!

Any who, I trained up to August 16, 2015. Race Day. I had been anticipating this event pretty much all year. It was my first race since May 2012, besides participating in the Chelsea King 5K. I was nervous. I knew not to be hard on myself and just have fun with it, but I also didn’t want to be disappointed in myself.

Chelsea King 5K Run
The start of the Chelsea Kind 5K race #FinishChelseasRun

I decided to not bring my phone, not use any GPS and not listen to any music. I wanted to be completely within myself and completely aware of my body. My goal was to run under 1:40 and I really wanted to break 1:30, which really would have been a reach with my current fitness.

I checked out the course, read all the emails about weather and learned a bit about restoring my electrolytes from Erika. At the AFC Expo, I bought GU, sport beans and Clif Shot Bloks (I didn’t end up using all of these, I just wanted to be safe). I felt as prepared as I could have been. I was excited and ready to do my very first Half Marathon as the new me.

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