guys, the half marathon was this weekend and i live to tell to the story!
yes, that's right, i ran a half marathon.
if you knew me in middle school/high school/most of college, this will likely shock you. aside from a few years of playing basketball (mostly avoiding having the ball passed to me by looking like i was busy trying to lose a defender or tie a shoe or something) and a very brief stint as a high school cheerleader (which was mostly the worst), i have very few athletic bones in my body. mostly due to the fact that i am incredibly uncompetitive. like, fiercely not competitive. except when it comes to completing a jigsaw puzzle, then i'm zoned in and i will beat you to the final piece.
anyway, so this half marathon thing. i had always thought that it would be cool to say that i'd done one (and a marathon, too!), but never really thought about actually doing one. then my roommate suggested we do one, and i was like, "sure, yeah, i can totally run a half marathon", but inside i was screaming, "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO". i have a history of some knee issues and was never a good runner, which is actually surprising considering we were required to run at least 2.5 miles A WEEK in middle school.
but alas, i was committed, and so the training began. i had about 9 weeks to train for this thing, so i was real skeptical that i could get it done in time. to go from a non-runner (except maybe a mile or two on the treadmill) to running 4, 5, 9, on a weekend was crazy to me. i did a mix of running and working out with a trainer at the gym (lifting weights and working on stretching and things like that). i started with 3 miles on a Saturday and worked my way up to 10.5! every Saturday/Sunday was my "long run" day, which i started looking forward to after the first couple of runs. this weird thing happens with running where, after a certain point, you really get in the zone and don't even think about what you're doing anymore. you just know that one foot is being put in front of the other and you're covering distance. i did all of my long runs along the lakefront of Lake Michigan, which helped keep me distracted and focused on other things. my final long run, the 10.5 mile one, was the first time that i experienced a muscle cramp. and it was awful. virtually incapacitating. and it happened 2 weeks before the big race, so i was nervous. the following weekend (the week before the race) i had a short run and suffered from some extensor tendonitis (i'm tellin' you, it pays to have a physical therapist as a boyfriend - he diagnoses all of my running ailments!), so that added to my nerves about whether or not my body would actually hold up for all 13.1 come race day.
i woke up the morning of the race to mid-40 degree weather and rain. seriously. i should have known it would be terrible weather because i don't remember a single Halloween from my childhood that was pleasant in the midwest. it was always freezing, or raining, or snowing, or otherwise miserable. so, why would the day that i'm supposed to run the longest distance ever in my life be any different?
we somehow ended up at the front of the pack of about 2000 runners doing the half, which made for a real interesting start to this thing. imagine me, basically full-on sprinting past the start line, and then quickly being passed by what felt like 700 people in a matter of seconds. it was overwhelming, to say the least. i quickly paced myself and fell back into the group of runners that i could actually pace with. the course was pretty good, although it had a bit more hills than i had anticipated, so my hip flexors were aching by the end of it all. by about mile 2, i was decently wet, and by maybe mile 5, i was completely soaked. around mile 8, i wasn't even attempting to avoid the puddles anymore because i could feel the water in my shoes with every step. it felt like it took a lifetime to get to the turnaround point, but once i did, i had a renewed energy since i knew i was over halfway done. i made it somewhere in the 10 mile range before my muscles started cramping up, so the last 3 miles were a combination of running as long as i could, then walking through my cramp, then running again. by about 11.5 miles, i was done. i was soaked, freezing cold, and my hips were aching. it was a bit of a mental game to get myself to the finish line, since all i wanted to do was lay down and stop moving. but, i finally made it to the end!
it was a pretty anti-climactic finish line experience, since nobody really wanted to wait around in the cold and rain for people to come by. i met up with my friends and we shared our stories about how we felt, things that happened, etc! i'm honestly surprised we even took the time to take these photos at the end because we were all so ready for a hot shower and dry clothes, but i'm glad we did!
while i know i would have enjoyed the actual run itself a lot more if the conditions would have been better, i felt pretty accomplished crossing that finish line! i finished in 2:23, which was faster than i trained, so that was a nice little bonus! i'm not sure that i've caught the half/full marathon "bug", but this did remind me that i really enjoy challenging myself physically. i'm looking into some type of triathlon in the spring/summer that i can work on training for next!