The Time I (Didn't) Run a Half Marathon

For awhile, I've had a bucket list goal  to run a half marathon. I've mentioned it several times in different goal-related posts on my blog, but it's been awhile since I've written anything related to my running, so I thought it'd be fun to record for posterity.

Running has been a pretty big part of my life for the last two years. I've never been athletic or someone who enjoys going to the gym, so running has always been my fallback way to stay moderately healthy. I ran track in high school. At the time, I took it for granted and misused my time to hang out with the "wrong crowd." Looking back 15+ years later, I'm really glad that I participated because I think it helped in conditioning me and setting me up for fitness success as I've gotten older.

The last time I ran in a legitimate race was 2014. My employer at the time was sponsoring employees to run the Capital City Half/Quarter Marathon & 5k in Columbus as part of an HR initiative. I trained for a couple months and successfully ran the 6.55 miles having just found out that I was pregnant with Charlie. Once the race was over and childbirth became my new "marathon," I gave up on running for awhile. I ran a 5k when Charlie was 3 months old (#FirstTimeMom) and then I may have done a sporadic treadmill run here and there, but no real training of any kind.

Last year began my foray into actual half marathon training. The combination of my Dad's scary and traumatic health complications and my need for some mental sanity in balancing stay-at-home motherhood and my part-time jobs led me to seek out running again. Last July, I signed up for my first-ever Half Marathon- the 1/2 Way to Christmas Half Marathon in Dayton. In the months leading up to it, I was doing a long-distance run every weekend and 2-3 short-distance runs during the week. I felt great and was completely prepared to run my first 13.1 mile race. Unfortunately, at the last-minute something came up at one of my jobs and I wasn't able to run my race.

Although I was fortunate that the race organizers let me defer my registration until the following year, my motivation took a big blow. I had just started my new full-time job, was studying for my professional exams and once I no longer had a race to train for running stopped being a priority. The silver lining was that I now had a race to train for in 2019.

So, with my Christmas-themed race scheduled for Saturday, July 20, 2019 I began my training about three months ago while on my April stay-cation. It was more half-assed than I'd like to admit. I didn't do any weekday runs, but committed to a long-distance run every weekend. I pulled off some 8-mile runs in May and into June, and then in July I ran my first 10-mile run in over a year. It wasn't easy and my legs were jello by Mile 9, but I felt as ready as I could hope to be for my first half marathon.

The week approached and it seemed that every time I checked the weather the temperature crept up another degree. Two days before the race, the organizers sent out an email saying that due to the excessive heat warning they were adjusting the course to keep everyone close to the start line in case of a medical emergency. They also provided the option for anyone to "downgrade" their half marathon registration to the 10k option. I weighed my options and decided to swallow my disappointment in another lost half marathon opportunity and made the smart choice to run the 10k instead.

I woke up at 4:00 AM on race day. I like having a long, slow start on my long-distance run mornings where I have time to slowly drink my coffee, hydrate, eat a light breakfast, and use the bathroom upwards of 5 times (only a slight exaggeration). I drove to the race and discovered that the 10k started an hour after the half marathon so I killed time in my car and continued to hydrate. By the time I took off at the starting line I had to pee terribly. Thankfully, there were Porta Potties at the Mile 2 marker. I made a mad-dash and once I'd emptied my bladder, I was good to go.

The course was a down-and-back so the first two miles through a field in full sun were also the last two miles in full sun. Suffice to say, it was HOT. The heat was oppressive and I was one of the few runners who actually ran the entirety of the full-sun section of the course. I made use of every aid station for water and Gatorade and fought the urge to walk because I just wanted to be done. The last 100 yards, I channeled my inner high school track kid and sprinted my little heart out finishing the 6.2 mile course in 1:10:40 (11:23 pace, in case anyone actually cares about that sort of thing).

I felt really good at the conclusion of the race. Compared to the 8 and 10 mile runs I had trained for, 6 felt remarkably easy. I recognized that due to the heat (and my inexperience) I was really glad I chose to run the 10k instead. First, because I genuinely don't know if I could have finished 13.1 miles. Secondly, because even if I had miraculously finished, I would have been miserable and useless for the rest of the day. Instead, I drove home after my run, swung by the farmers' market, and then had a huge post-race breakfast at Bob Evans with my guys. Not bad for a Saturday morning.

I would still like to run a half marathon, so after my 10k experience, I signed up for a half in October. The race is an all-women's event in Cincinnati called the Queen Bee Half Marathon and I'm really excited for the combination of estrogen and race-day adrenaline!

I feel as though I've finally arrived at the place where I enjoy running. It always takes a little while to get there, but it's done wonders for me both physically and mentally. Running is the perfect activity for my inner perfectionist- giving me the opportunity to always be working toward self-improvement. It gives me the solitary time I crave as an introverted Mom of two very noisy toddlers. And it genuinely makes me feel closer to my Daddy (who passed away in October). I feel as though every run I complete is honoring my Dad's physical struggles and I can feel him right alongside of me.

I don't know if my October half marathon will be a one-and-done kind of thing, or if I'll commit to running them with some kind of regularity. But I do know I want to continue running- whatever that looks like- for many years to come. 

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