Last weekend I ran and completed my first half marathon at the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon. I was also able to raise $1,100 for military veterans and Team Red, White and Blue participating in the Run For a Reason program. Between running for myself, for those who can’t, for our military veterans and for my buddy Asher in FL, I chose this race since it was in my hometown and I had cheered on my family members in years past. I had heard the public support throughout the route and organization of the event was stellar. I was right and had an amazing day! AHMAZING!
I wasn’t out there to break any records. After all, this was my first time running this distance. My goal was simply to finish and to have the pride of knowing I was able to run my goal of 13.1 miles. 13 point one FREAKING miles. Wow! If you had told me a couple of years ago I would have accomplished this, I would have laughed in your face. I would have NEVER believed I could do this in a million billion years, but I did! And here are 4 things I learned:
1. Joining a running club is a life changer.
Not to say that running on your own and following a plan won’t work, but for me, I needed support and others to hold me accountable. Meeting every Saturday morning at 5am for training runs for months was tough, but exciting. There were even training runs at the track or trails during the week, but I was unable to make those due to my work travel. I followed the plan from my hotel gym or local gym to stay on schedule. This could be the first time I’ve stuck to an “exercise” plan ever. I’ve also miraculously changed from being a grumpy morning person, to a happy morning person. Miracles do happen! haha Best part of joining a running club? I have made life long friends … FAMILY … in my running buddies from the Cypress Running Club! CRC! CRC!
2. Trust your training.
CRC provides training plans to their members and this was instrumental in my being able to succeed. My coach, Mark Peterson, gave great running and training tips as did other seasoned runners in our club. Having them as a resource is just awesome. THANK YOU MARK and CRC! I am a visual person so printing my CRC training plan for my half marathon and being able to check off each run as completed as the weeks progressed, gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. The training plan worked for me just as it had for others before me. I even survived the dreaded taper time and now understand how it all comes together.
3. Stretch and Roll with it!
Lack of both is what led to my Gecko incident in the fall of 2013 and threw my C25K training off track. Well, that and running wrong (take a free running clinic y’all). There will always be pros and cons with each, but for me, it was a saving Grace and I believe helped me stay healthy and strong. And seriously. It hurts so good!
4. “Looking” fit and “Being” fit are not always the same thing.
One of the things I noticed running my first half marathon was that the participants of the half and full marathon are all ages and SIZES. There was even an older man juggling balls and running the full marathon next to me. He totally passed us. Juggling! We cheered him on too. I used it believe only super athletes ran these races. This is so NOT true. Oh, there are super fit athletes that do of course, but anyone can if they have the drive and determination I saw on that route. It was truly inspirational. If you ever lose faith in humanity, go watch a marathon. Your eyes may get sweaty from seeing the hearts of those running.
Running is not all rainbows and kittens with puppies in fields of daisies. I did hit my “wall” at 10 miles. The index toe of each foot suddenly felt as if my feet were on fire making each step painful, but my awesome running buddies Jan, Jen and Melissa slowed with me and encouraged me the entire time to help me finish. The cheer support of strangers pushed me as did that last mile of exhilaration. Seeing the FULL marathon runners on the street next to us about to finish in the same amount of time it took us for HALF that distance gave me motivation to the finish.
The emotions I felt crossing that finish line are difficult to explain because I was happy and crying all at once. Excessive Pride. Extreme Joy. Absolute Astonishment. Badassery. I had just run a freaking half marathon. Like FOR REAL y’all! I ran better than the government too! Haha. All mixed together as a medal gets put around your neck. I felt I could do ANYTHING! What’s next? Oh, it’s a doozy. More on that later.
Race #27 of my #50by50 did not disappoint. The cheer support by the public, my running club and my family was more than I imagined. CRC had a tent set up at mile 7 and my husband Steve, son Jacob and BFF Viviana were there too with homemade signs for me. It meant so much to see them all there! They even had signs from friends who couldn’t make the race. Those were awesome too and made me laugh and smile. There were people yelling in support of everyone for every inch of every mile. I never once felt alone. I felt like every person cheering was my close family and it was one big party! One big party where you run 13.1 freaking miles!
Moral of the story? Don’t think you can’t run a half marathon because you’re overweight or aren’t an athlete in the best shape. YOU CAN! Get that ok from your doctor. Find a running club. A training plan. Make a goal. And just move y’all! If I can, you can. It’ll be the best decision of your life!