Monday, December 23, 2013

24 Before 24: Run a Half-Marathon

I think I already mentioned this on the blog once, but in case you missed it: I ran my first half-marathon last month! In fact, this was my first "real" race ever. (Unless you count the two-mile "Friendly Frolic" run at my grandma's practically-retirement-community lake every Fourth of July. I don't.) Anyway, running a half-marathon was #1 on my 24 Before 24 list and also #7 on my Life List, so that was pretty exciting to cross it off both lists. (To be completely honest, my Life List originally said "run a marathon" because I wanted to do one with my sister, but then she saw it and told me she never planned to run a marathon again. So I was perfectly happy downgrading to a half-marathon haha.)

Why did I decide to run a half-marathon? I have never been a runner. I enjoy being active and working out, if that means: playing sports, cycling, lifting weights, doing sit-ups, hiking, swimming or skiing. I do not enjoy running. My mom and sister, on the other hand, have run numerous half-marathons, and my sister, Abby, also ran the Chicago Marathon a few years ago. Abby has been wanting me to run a race with her for quite some time, so when I got engaged, she finally convinced me to train for a half-marathon as a way to get in shape for my wedding.

Why did I pick the Big Sur Half-Marathon? Abby actually picked this race. She ran it in high school and said it was beautiful. (And she was right!) She also thought it would be a good first race for me because it isn't too hilly and you get to run along the ocean for the majority of the route, so that provides a nice distraction. Oh, and you get free soup and beer afterward. (I don't even drink beer, but it was a nice photo op haha.) Also, I knew I wanted to race later in the year when it wasn't blazing hot outside.

How did I train? Like I said above, I do did not run at all. However, I don't consider myself terribly out of shape. So though I wanted a very elementary running plan, I also felt pretty confident that with training, I could run the entire 13.1 miles, and I didn't want to sell myself short. I used the following training plan from, but after the first four weeks, I began weaning myself off the walking and tried to run as much of each day's mileage as I could. During the last four weeks, I didn't walk at all during my training runs.

How did it go? The race was actually a ton of fun! Up until about mile 12, that is. This song came on the Pandora station I was listening to during mile 11, and I got a little too inspired, if you know what I mean. I definitely regretted that spurt of energy as I struggled through the last mile haha. But honestly, it definitely wouldn't have been as much fun without my sister by my side. She was nice enough to stay with me the entire time, even though I'm sure she could have run much faster if she wanted. Ultimately, I finished the race in 2:07:06. That's a 9:42 pace, so considering my "good" goal was 11-minute miles and my "awesome" goal was 10-minute miles, I was very excited about my time! We also didn't stop to walk outside our brief water breaks, so that was another win in my book. Oh, and we were sure to pose for all the photographers.... ;)

This photo is actually legal because it was taken by our significant others. ;)

Will I ever run a half-marathon again? Honestly, I don't know. Like I said, the race itself was honestly really fun. But running 10 miles by myself to prepare? Not so fun. I would definitely be down to run a 10k or something in the future. Before I began training for this race, two consecutive miles was my running limit, but during my training, I slowly began to think of anything less than six miles as a "short" run. Whaaaaa?? Yeah, it still feels crazy to me, too, but it's true. And I think if I ran shorter races, I could focus more on speed training. As a former sprinter in high school, this idea is much more appealing to me. Then again, I've run a total of one time since the race (which was more than a month ago), so ...

My advice for new runners? Sign up for a race. Seriously. Once I dropped $100+ registering for this race, I felt obligated to actually train so it wouldn't be a waste of money. And don't think you have to start running right off the bat! Walking doesn't make you weak; it's a smart training strategy. :)

Are you a runner? If not, how far would you be willing to race, and what would it take to persuade you?

P.S. - If you're a beginning runner or thinking of taking up running (or even a seasoned runner looking for advice), you should definitely check out Amanda's running series over at The Lady Okie. She even featured me in this post! Who ever thought someone would be asking me for running advice??

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