“I am not a runner” is a statement I have consistently made for the past 37 years of my life. It’s an easy thing to say, and really, who LIKES running?
But, I will say, watching my friends complete half marathons, full marathons, triathlons, 100 mile bike races, etc. (either watching in person or seeing their accomplishments via Facebook or other social media) has been something I’ve enjoyed and admired. I have always thought to myself “I would love to accomplish something of that caliber in my life,” but, it was just that, a thought.
Some of my fellow PGGs are runners and have been running together for years. Last spring, after working out inside all winter, I decided to take a break from the DVD workout, “The Fix,” with Autumn, get outside and run with my pals. I was nervous about keeping up with their pace or even simply finishing the run. But I figured why not give it a shot, especially since it gave me a chance to converse with friends while getting some exercise.
We started out with short runs (2-3 miles), and then worked our way up to 3-4 miles. Like I said at the beginning, not a runner, but I was now running 3-4 days per week. My legs were getting stronger and I no longer sounded like Darth Vader when breathing throughout. The best part was that I started to enjoy running and even looked forward to it….maybe I could be a runner. I gathered up the courage to say it out loud, and I asked one of my friends, who had run the half the year prior, about training for the half marathon. How long did she train? How far was her longest run? I asked her if she was thinking about running the half again and her answer, without hesitation, was yes. This was my opportunity to have a buddy for the training and the event itself. So, I committed…I said it, out loud, and to someone that would hold me accountable.
For the next 6 months, we ran relatively consistently following the schedule at the bottom of this post (Training Regimen). Our routine was to get up early and run before the kids were awake, which was really the only time we could do it together. Some days, I felt great; some days, it was a real chore, but the commitment to the race kept me motivated and on track (generally).
Race Day. I didn’t think it was possible to feel ready to run 13.1 miles. But after running a rough total of 234 miles in the 12 weeks prior to race day, I felt as ready as I could be to tackle 13.1 miles…..
At the starting line, during the singing of the national anthem, I felt overwhelmed. With goosebumps all over and a tear in my eye, now was the time. I had worked so hard for this moment.
Here is how it went:
Mile 0-2: And we were off…kind of…. the course was extremely crowded so the pace was slow, even for a first timer! It was a beautiful day, and we kept saying to each other “it’s just another long Saturday run, expect with thousands of other people and just as many cheering us on!”
Mile 3-5: The herd of people at the start started to break up a little bit and we hit a groove. We both felt great and hit a good stride.
Mile 6-8: We quickly passed our families and had a burst of adrenaline after seeing our kids with signs and yelling for us. I was proving to my kids that with a lot of hard work, dedication and mental toughness, you can achieve anything you want. It was also during this time we passed the 2 hour pacer group. This was the first time I thought to myself “Not only am I going to finish but I might be able to do it in less than 2 hours.”
Mile 9-11: We were popping energy gummies every mile at this point. The hills felt more prevalent…..and I was losing steam! The course also made a small turn and headed back towards West Hartford (away from the finish line!). That turn really threw me off. I felt deflated and unsure if I could finish. Our longest run while training was 11 miles….how was I going to find the strength to run an additional two miles, roughly 17 more minutes; the time frame in which you could listen to 5-7 songs! And that’s just what I did; I started to carry a tune (in my head, of course. No need to torture those around me!). The chorus to Move Along by All American Rejects song was the first to pop into my head
“Speak to me
When all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through
Mile 12-13.1: We saw our friends at mile 12. I think I said to them “take me with you!” But the end was in sight. The last mile, my friend looked at me and said “dig deep, give it everything’ you’ve got.” I had a final surge of energy; the people lining the streets cheering really pulled me to the finish. We sprinted across the finish line at the 1 hour and 53 minute mark. We gave each other the biggest hug and then saw our families. Such an amazing sense of accomplishment and sharing it with friends and family made it truly special.For all of those first-time marathon runners out there, here is my humble advice to you:
1) If possible, find a running buddy for training and race day
2) Cross train. Leading up to the training period, I did some other exercise programs that helped (bootcamp, spinning, 21 day fix, barre)
3) Stay hydrated – the days when I didn’t feel great on our runs, I looked back and realized the day prior I didn’t have enough water (or maybe too much wine?).
Our Training Regimen:
Below you will find the training schedule we followed. Our runs didn’t always happen on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday, due to schedules. But we did aim for 3-4 runs during the week. If we couldn’t get the 4th run in due to schedules, we would add mileage to the shorter runs to have roughly the same total mileage for the week.
Happy Running and Happy Spring!