Running My First Half Marathon
This last Monday, I had a Really Good Workout. I have no idea what I did differently, or which stars were aligned, but I was able to do more work than I typically do, in less time, and felt energetic and good while doing it. I was telling Eli about it later, and said:
2017-04-17 11:54:21 lucyw I'm tentatively thinking about working up to a half marathon. I think so much of training to run long distance is really just building up the lung capacity + strength, and it'd be cool to just see if I can do it. I wasn't sure if you were interested in trying to run it (or part of it) with me 2017-04-17 12:14:58 pop I'd be up for a half marathon.
And that's how I decided to run a half marathon. It hasn't been a lifelong goal of mine or anything, or something I thought I would ever do. It always seemed nearly-but-not-quite-impossible, something I could probably do if I ever wanted to but which I would never want to do enough to make it manifest. This would be a fun experiment though. Could I do it? If not, no big deal -- my expectations would be met, I would get a good workout in, high-five myself for trying, and move on. The date was set for Saturday, where we would just give it a try and see how it went.
The Day Before
So, it's currently Friday April 21, 2017, and the fella and I are (tentatively) planning on running 13.1 miles tomorrow. We're doing it on our own, and have both made it clear that we can stop or walk or give up and go get donuts instead at any time. But I'm curious to see if I can (we both know he can, skinny jerk). I'm also SUPER NERVOUS. What if I hurt myself? What if it's hard (it's definitely going to be hard)? What if I have the wrong shoes and fuck my foot up, or don't bring enough water, or try to bring too much water and it's too heavy? I know nerves are normal, and keep reminding myself that this is a pretty low stakes event that I can bail on at any time. But that doesn't stop my brain from being like "STRESS STRESS SELF-DOUBT STRESS NERVES STRESS". We'll see if I even do it. Though this blog post won't see the light of day if I don't do it, so...I guess if you're reading this, I probably did it. Congratulations, future me!
A Few Hours After
Spoiler Alert: We did it! We ran 13.1 miles in about 2 hours and 17 minutes (give or take, we weren't super precise). I have a lot of feelings, some of them conflicting, but let's get to those later and talk about the experience.
Disclaimer: Bodies are different. Experiences are different. I'm writing this to share an interesting experience I had with friends and family, and not to provide a point of comparison, or suggest that running a half marathon will in any way be the same for you as it was for me. I know that disclaimers like this aren't going to cure us of constantly measuring ourselves against each other, but it's a gentle reminder and I hope it helps ♥
Running a half marathon was surprisingly easy. I don't know how to explain it, but Eli and I got up this morning it just happened. The first 5-6 miles were a breeze -- it was a beautiful day, and my body is pretty used to running this distance. Eli and I also had a lot to talk about, since we had both had eventful weeks, so these first miles flew by. Around mile 6.5-7 I felt myself slowing down and tiring out, so I ate an energy gummy and instantly felt better. Not just a little bit better, but like Super Woman better. Like, I was fucking running better. By mile 8 my legs felt tight and swollen, but definitely not unbearably so. And in fact, this was the only real "pain" I felt. None of my joints ached, none of my muscles hurt in that "This is an injury waiting to happen" way. I wasn't out of breath, I didn't have a side-ache or shoulder-ache which I typically get on long runs. Even my lower back didn't hurt. It was strange and wonderful. We started to count down the miles around mile 9, running down cozy neighborhood streets to avoid cars and thinking about all the food we were going to eat when the run was done. I kept expecting my body to hit a wall at some point in these last 4 miles, but it just never did. By that point, how could we not finish? 3 miles? 2 miles? When you're counting down, it seems like "I can run that far, no problem." We ended up having to run around the downtown area a bit for our last mile, but then ended up smack in front of one of our favorite Corvallis restaurants. And that was it.
In the end it was much less of a Big Deal than I thought it would be. That isn't to say I think I could have gone on for another 13.1 miles, but I hadn't really considered the possibility that it would be something we just did and then went on with our days. I thought it would be this big event, like there would be Pre-Half-Marathon life and Post-Half-Marathon life, but that totally didn't happen. I wasn't even sore the next day. It was a weirdly and wonderfully anti-climatic event. This is where the conflicting feelings come in: I feel like I should be proud of myself and this thing I accomplished. I feel like I should be able to relax for the rest of the weekend, knowing that I have already done so much more than I thought I would do. But I don't feel like I earned that pride, or relaxation. Not even as if pride or relaxation need to be earned, but my body didn't want to rest. I still wanted to go for walks, and write this blog post, and do stuff, and not brag to people about how I had run 13.1 miles. It was a confusing and terrible feeling. My mind was saying "We ran a half marathon! Break out the ice cream and TV, let's do nothing and luxuriate in our glory for a few hours". But my body was like "Nah, let's make a smoothie and walk to the play ground". Part of me is so disappointed by this. If not after a half-marathon, when will I ever get to rest? When will I be free of the shoulds and have-tos I live in every day? But another part of me thinks it's cool that my body can undergo this huge stress, and then considers "taking it easy" to be continuing to take good care of itself. I don't know where that leaves me. I am proud of what I did, and I do relax when I need to. So...maybe it's not so bad?
This part is honestly super boring, especially if you know me. It's more to hopefully answer any questions people who stumble on this post might have, rather than add to the story of the post. You can totally skip it if you want.
For those not intimately familiar with my entire life's story, here's some relevant context that affected (effected? Email me if you know which one is correct) my half marathon. I used to run long distances in high school, but could never get past 6-7 miles. And this was at a time I look back on as being the most fit I've ever been, when I considered myself "a runner". This is all to say that I wasn't expecting to be able to run a half marathon, having only decided to do so 5 days before.
Bear in mind, this wasn't couch-to-half-marathon in 5 days. In fact, just 6 months ago, I walked the Portland Half-Marathon, so I knew that I could at least get my body through 13.1 miles. I workout religiously 5-6 days each week, doing 30-60 minutes on the elliptical at least 4 of those days and lifting weights the other 1-2. I love to exercise, and find a lot of joy in moving my body. I wasn't unfit or unprepared to run a half, and most importantly I know how to listen to my body and hear when it tells me to stop.
I also am not "a runner" though. Eli and I will occasionally run in Corvallis, since I don't have access to a gym, but as previously mentioned this wasn't something I had been training for for weeks, or even something I had particular investment in completing. It was just an interesting challenge I wanted to see if I was up to.
The Corvallis Half Marathon had been put on just a few weeks prior, and they had posted the course map. We mostly just followed that, only starting from Eli's house and ending downtown at the Broken Yolk (highly recommend, if you're visiting the area). We carried a speaker so we could both listen to podcasts | music, each of us had our phones (which ended up being helpful), and some energy gummies that a lovely co-worker had given me (I believe they were the Clif ones, and they were lifesavers).
Things to Do Differently Next Time
I'm not currently planning on running more long distances any time soon. Then again, I got my first tattoo and thought I wouldn't get another one for a long time if ever, only to get another much larger one less than a year later. Here are some thing I would do different next time though:
- I wish I had researched and bought better running shoes. I ran in an old pair that I got more for lifting weights than running, and while they were sufficient for this one run I would definitely not be able to run regularly in them. Portland Running Co. is a great place to get fitted for running shoes, if you're not loving your current pair.
- I wish we had mapped the course more accurately. We ended up need to run our last mile around downtown Corvallis, because the route we ran ended up being about 12.3 miles instead of 13.1. We still did it, but it would have been nice to have that final mile not involve so many cars, pedestrians, and intersections.
- I wish I had a fanny pack. I treated my jacket as a fanny pack, but it quickly got too hot and I ended up tying it around my waist. Again, this was fine for the one run, but if I was going to run more regularly a fanny pack would be super useful.
Running a half marathon was just another thing we did. It wasn't quite hard, and it definitely wasn't easy, but it's something we may or may not do again in the future. I don't know how to end blog posts apparently, so...have an excellent rest of your day! Stay sexy, and don't get murdered.
 Judge me if you want, but treadmills are terrifying and they're better for your joints.