What I learned from my first half-marathon
Becky and I finished our first half-marathon two weeks ago in Minneapolis. It was a great experience, and for me it was the culmination of months of training. Heck, I even gave up lifting for a month. Now that I’ve finished the race, I’d like to share a few things I learned.
1. Race day is easier than training – The road to the half-marathon was much more difficult than the race itself. That tells me that I did a good job training. My 7, 8 and 10-mile runs were more mentally challenging and physically demanding than the race. Race day adrenaline can make the challenge easier, but only if you’ve trained properly. Before you sign up for a race, ask yourself, “Am I going to be able to put in the time that is necessary to train for this properly?” That question will dictate the answer to the first question that likely came to your head: “Will I be able to complete the race?” If the answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second will be yes as well.
2. Share your race day with friends and family – Running with someone is great. It’s fantastic to have a race partner who wants to run at the same speed as you. Running with Becky meant I had a constant companion and supporter — someone who helped keep my mind off of how badly my legs hurt. Having friends and family cheer us on was a huge boost as well. You’d be surprised how far a little recognition and support goes. The funny signs people bring make runners laugh, which is a fantastic distraction.
3. Take the next day off – Our run was on Sunday, and Monday it was back to work. Or so I thought. I ended up taking a sick day. Recovering from the race was difficult. Despite my training and post-race refueling, I was dehydrated and depleted after the race. Next time I’ll definitely plan a recovery day off.
4. Running is 100 percent physical and 100 percent emotional – To say that running is a certain percent mental is correct, but golly (yes, golly) if it isn’t physical, too. For me, the physical part was muscle pain, foot pain and sore knees. The impact of every single step hurt. Literally, every single step. The half-marathon was the most physically demanding thing I have done. But it was a mental game as well, and definitely a challenging one. To say that running 13.1 miles is a mental challenge doesn’t fully explain the race. It’s more than just mental, it is an emotional challenge.
At the starting line, I surprised my macho self by getting a little choked up. I thought of the people who cannot run. I thought of the people who are capable of running but never will. I thought of those who used to be able to run, but now — because of injury, sickness and health — will never run again. When I finished the race, I felt more than pride. I felt lucky. Lucky to have the gift of a body that could do this.
Now I’m tempted to run a full marathon. Tempted.