Thursday, May 12, 2016

My First Half Marathon

I ran my first half marathon last Saturday! Wahoo! But before we get into race day, I want to record the events and the training that took place getting up to this point. And I'm going way, way back. 

In high school(which was 15+ years ago), I hated running. Fridays were the worst because I knew we'd have to run a mile in PE and so I always tried to get out of it. Running was killer, I had a hard time breathing and I was not fast and my face was always beet red. I was also 15-20 pounds heavier than I am now and I ate a lot of fast food and other junk, which makes running even harder. 

Once in college, I had roommates that ran regularly in the mornings and I joined up with them several times, doing a mile or two, but I still didn't really like it. Going to BYU, and living on campus, you are bound to get more exercise because campus is huge, and so I think all that extra walking (and sometimes running) to classes each day, helped. 

Scott and I were married in 2003 and started our family right away. Which meant I wasn't running, but I did a lot of speed walking while pregnant and then with strollers, for many years. Sometimes I'd go out for a jog, but speed walking was more my thing, and I did it 5 times a week for 30-45 minutes. Over the years we got an elliptical (which broke a couple years ago) and a treadmill (which also broke a few years ago) and so I would use those, sometimes jogging, but mostly walking, and I did Billy Blanks Tae Bo exercise videos and Zumba once a week.  

After we had our fifth, and last, I go a couple more exercise dvds, a few Bob Harper dvds which include weights and do a lot of full body workouts, which are an hour. We moved to Colorado around that time and I signed up with some friends in my ward, to do a 10k. I had never in my life run 6 miles before, or even 4 or 5 miles; I honestly didn't think my body was capable of doing that, so I wasn't sure how this was going to go, but I wanted to give it a try. I wasn't at all concerned about speed, I just wanted to see if I could do it. And I did. I finished in just over an hour so my miles were around 10 minutes. I found that it actually wasn't that hard, probably because I'd been doing intense hour-long exercises (mostly with those videos...Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels are great), so this didn't seem too different. After that Scott and I both decided we wanted to work on our speed. Our goal was to run 1 mile in 8 minutes, and then some day we hoped to be able to run a 5k doing 8 minute miles. But that almost seemed impossible because running a mile any faster than 10 minutes felt really hard. In Colorado we are surrounded by very large hills and it's impossible to run out my door and not take at least 2 very large hills, so I'm sure that strengthened our legs. Around this time Scott and I also started doing more weight lifting, a few times a week, lifting heavier weights, and for longer periods of time plus we did exercise programs on available on our Roku device, like The Daily Burn, which had all sorts of exercises from dance, to weights to HIIT to yoga. All of these exercises helped us work on our endurance and strength, and helped prepare me to do more. 

Last year in July, Scott and I did a sprint triathlon (swim 300 meters, bike 6 miles and run 2 miles) and then in August I decided to do a free 1/2 marathon that my good friend Gina does with her family (they do it all themselves and have aid stations etc) each year over Labor Day weekend in September. I got up to running 8 miles(my farthest run ever!), but then my dad was in a car accident at the end of August and I flew out to be with him and was there for a couple of weeks, during which time he passed away and we had his funeral. So I missed that half but thought, I'll try to do it next year and I kept on jogging occasionally and exercising daily.

A few months ago, I think it was in March, my good friend Elisa suggested I run a half marathon. She'd done multiple halves in Utah and her favorite one is in Provo, where you run down the Provo Canyon. She said it's beautiful and there's a lot of down hill so it's not too hard. I thought it sounded fun, but she was pregnant and wouldn't be able to do it with me and I didn't really want to do it on my own (Scott hurt his foot this year so long distance running for him was out for the time). A few days later she sent me the link to the race, which would take place in the first week of May, and I looked it over and decided to sign up. 

I had about 7 weeks to train, and like I said, I hadn't done any running for months, besides our few days in North Carolina,  because it was so freezing cold  and the smog was horrible! So horrible that schools were not allowing children to go out to recess multiple days, because of what smog does to your lungs. But I kept up my intense hour long exercises 5-6 days a week throughout the winter, just indoors. I did lots of videos and checked out a lot of new videos from the library.   By that point I could do 2 miles at around an 8 minute pace(though they were very hard and I would pray a lot and would get a lot of help in the form of added strength in mind and body in order to get those times), but then I'd slow down to around 9 minutes or slower. I found some training schedules on pinterest and went with one that was 6 weeks long. I would run MWF, Monday and Wednesday I started doing 3-4 miles and then moved up to 6 miles, and Saturdays were my long runs which started at 4 miles and I increased them by 1 1/2-2 miles each week so 5 1/2, 7, 9, 11 13 and then I went back to 6 for the last three weeks prior to the race, first because my toenail was giving me a lot of pain, but once that healed up my sister-in-law, who did the boston marathon and lots of other races and has been running forever, told me not to do a long run the week before the race. She was also training for a 1/2 marathon which she ran the same day as me, but in Snoqualmie Washington (and she killed it and ran it in 1:30, so 7 min/miles!!). So even though I say I trained for 6-7 weeks, I had been exercising an hour, daily for years so it wasn't like starting from nothing :). 

Robin and I were able to do one long run together when we visited Becca in Idaho last month. We did 11 miles which was my first time hitting that number and running with her, who is super speedy, I ran it doing 8:30 min/miles which was fast for me and a bit slow for her :). But I learned so much during that run! It was nice to run with someone who kept a faster pace so I could hear the beat of our feet and how fast I should be going. She also brought water and a Stinger Waffle snack for us to share which I'd never done before but was SO helpful! It gave me that extra added boost of energy I needed. She says she runs with water/snack when she's going more than 8-10 miles. I had called her multiple times prior to this day asking for advice on how to increase my speed (quicken pace, don't lengthen stride), and how to get ride of the headaches that always seemed to come when I ran outdoors (if nose is running, which mine ALWAYS is when I'm out running because I'm allergic to trees, grass and weeds, don't breath through nose, but through mouth and she said I can shoot snot out my nose if I need to as well by covering one nostril at a time :), haha, gross, but it works!). She also mentioned good posture, especially when going up hill like not bringing shoulders up to ears and hunching, and trying to breath evenly. There's probably more, I just can't think of it now. Oh, and when I told her about my toenail, she suggested resting my foot, not doing a long run for at least a week and trying to go without shoes for several days to rest it, and then if possible, to get shoes a 1/2 size bigger. I did all those things and it healed completely! I had Altra's in size 9 1/2 which is already a 1/2 size bigger than my normal shoe, and then I ended up getting the Brooks shoe in a size 10 and that is even better! 


Altra Zero Drop, Provision 2 and Brooks Ghost


The week before the race I started to get anxious and nervous and excited. I read lots of running articles and texted Robin and Elisa regularly asking them questions about what to eat the night before and morning of, and other things. I'd been working on my speed; my phone tells me my speed every 1/2 mile, and then that last week I borrowed my friend Elisa's Garmin Forerunner watch and really tracked my speed. I was usually running miles between 815-850 which is not super consistent, but I was also listening to general conference talks and music and so I wasn't completely focused on my speed the whole time. The day of the race, I would have to wake up at 4am Saturday morning, so that week prior I made sure I was up by 5 every day so that I was tired enough to get to bed by 9pm Friday night. I also made sure to not have any sugar the days leading up to the race and the day before the race to eat well, and that night I had a bigger dinner, later in the evening, around 630-7pm (I ate 2 enchiladas, rice, black beans and salad, all of which I know sit well with me because we have it so regularly.). I laid all my running gear out the night before...Elisa's Garmin, my mp3 player (which I didn't end up running with...I sat by a 7-minute/mile pacer on the bus up to Provo Canyon and he said he doesn't run with anything in his ears because he likes to listen to the beat of his feet and his breathing), headband because if there's any bit of wind it bothers my ears, and I run in a very light, long sleeved shirt because I'm allergic to trees and weeds and grass so my nose constantly runs and I need something to wipe it on and carrying around enough toilet paper, and then dirty toilet paper, is not an option. I also packed up a couple of Stinger Waffles: one to eat an hour before the race, and one to eat 45 minutes into the race. 

Scott and I got up at 4am, drank some water, I read my scriptures, stretched, got dressed and by 430am we were out the door and Scott drove me down to Provo. While he drove I ate a 1/2 piece of whole wheat toast with almond butter and a banana and water. We got to Provo around 5am and he dropped me off near the buses that would take  650 of us up the canyon. I was up the canyon, near the start line by 540am. The race would start at 7am. In the meantime I stretched, got some more tips from the pacers (I made friends with a few), found the pacer I wanted to try and stick with, used el bano, and was in line between the 8:23 and the 8:46 pacer before 7am. The 8:46 pacer was a fun little lady that I enjoyed talking to so I started out running with her, for probably the first 2 miles, but it felt so easy, going down the canyon that I thought I'd try and catch up to the 8:23 pacer. Well, that didn't ever happen because he was running faster than 8:23 pace, but I did get within a couple minutes of him and kept my eyes on his sign for a lot of the time, which he held in his hand. The first about 7 miles of the run were mostly down hill, not too steep, just really nice. I loved being able to look around me at all of God's beautiful creations from the trees to the hills, the mountains and the streams. Absolutely gorgeous! I even found myself singing songs in my head about God's goodness and all his creations.  The next 6 were flat and rolling mostly, and through Provo city which meant there was not much to look at besides the cars, traffic and buildings, and I found myself praying a lot more during that time because those miles were harder and I needed extra help. I tried hard to focus on my breathing and to listen to my feet, and I frequently checked my Garmin so even though it was hard, and I got tired, and then my legs/calves felt tight and cramped during the last three miles, the Lord blessed me with strength and I was able to stick with my pace and finish strong. 

I finished in 1 hour 49 minutes and some seconds, which came out to an 8:22min/mile pace! I was very pleased with the run and how it all turned out. Scott and the kids were waiting for me at the finish line (and they passed me during that long, hard stretch and yelled and waved which was fun). Once done I grabbed some orange slices and a banana and water which they had out and ate/drank it all quickly, then found a honey bucket and changed into dry clothes, because my sweaty stuff was making me cold, fast.
I went to get some food (they had french toast from Magleby's) and ate and stretched while the kids played in the bounce house and got their faces painted. 

We drove home (I rubbed my legs while we drove) and I took a quick shower when we got home while Scott made me a PB and banana protein smoothie, and then we jumped back in the car so we could make it to Annabelle's soccer game :).

I ate a lot of food that day, I felt hungry and thirsty all day and I massaged my legs regularly, because they were a bit tight and sore but it wasn't horrible and I could still walk and move fine. Sunday I was still a bit sore, but it was feeling better, the hunger pangs were gone, and by Monday I was good; did a three miler monday morning and 6 on Thursday, which felt good. This has been a fun experience for me and I'm sure I'll do one again sometime in the near future :). I plan to continue doing 6-mile runs 2-3 times a week plus mixing in other 1 hour exercises on the other days. As for a marathon, I'm not sure I'll ever want to do one because I'm beat after 13.1 and it takes nearly an entire day for me to recover. Plus the half took me almost 2 hours, which is time away from home, even though I did train earlier in the mornings. But a full marathon would be four hours and it's not just 4 hours that one day, but all the long training leading up to it. I think the only way I'd run one is if my kids want to do one and talk me into it because then it'd be time spent together.  

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Thanks for taking the time to record all these details. I loved reading your running history. After just having had my third baby, I am trying to get into a regular exercise routine again. You are always a role model for me to get up out of bed and get moving. Congratulations on such a great experience for your first half marathon!