One thing I forgot to add to my list of things that I learned from running my first half-marathon. Smile! Smiling got me through some of the harder parts. This was an out-and-back run on the Springwater Trail in Boring/Gresham, Oregon. As I was running toward the turnaround point the faster runners were passing me in the opposite direction and most of them were smiling. This, in turn, made me smile too! And it made the run much better. They were more than halfway done and here they were, smiling as they ran by. Some of them even cheered me on a little. I was very inspired and it helped keep me going.
Yesterday was the day! I completed my very first half marathon race. It was a rough road, but did it. I learned a few things along the way.
- Just do it. Nike has made this phrase a cliche, but it is actually a really great life lesson. As I was looking at my training plan I would see the long runs on Sunday. I would see that I would have to run 9 miles, or 10 miles, or 12 miles, and I would think, “How the fuck am I going to do that?!?” But since it was written there on my training plan I had no choice. I had to go out and run it. And you know what? I didn’t die. This realization has filtered into other aspects of my life. I am a procrastinator, and this realization has made me less of one. So much more has been getting done around the house. So the lesson: Just do the thing. Don’t think about it. Don’t “do it in the future.” Just do it now. Get it done
- Be kind to yourself. Longer runs are not the time to pull out the boot camp version of yourself. Be nice to yourself. Do what you need to do to complete the run. When I was training on longer runs I stopped at my house in between laps of 4 miles to get a drink of water, use the bathroom, eat an orange, and even switch out the laundry. It made things less stressful and I got my milage in and all was good.
- You only need to compete with yourself. I was in track as a kid and there is that bit of competitiveness inside me that comes out when I am in a race. This is not good because I don’t have the body I had when I was a kid. So yesterday at the beginning of the race I reminded myself that I am only competing with myself and it made the race so much better for me. However, toward the end having people in front of me to work toward catching up to gave my brain something to do, which was also good. In the end, I completed the race with the fastest time so far for this distance, and I am really stoked with myself.
Since this was my first half marathon my ultimate goal was to just complete it. Now that I know what is involved I have some goals in mind for next year. Next year I will work on improving my time and I think I will try for two half marathons next season.
I also decided that I’m content with training for half marathons. I don’t feel like I need to scratch a marathon itch. I don’t feel like that is something I need to prove to myself at this time. Marathons require a lot of time to train for and I just don’t have that kind of time in my life right now. I know myself and the stress of trying find the time to train for one would be too much for me. I’ll stick with half marathons for now. When I retire (or when I have a job that allows the time) I will train for a marathon.
This has been a rough weekend for me, physically and mentally. I have been sidelined from my running with a stupid injury and I’m only a week into my training. I was doing so well, too. I did my two speed runs as well as a 2 mile recovery run. My speed has been improving, which I was excited about. And in the process I managed to run more than 6 miles for my speed work run, and it felt good. 6 miles is a lot for me! I was feeling really good about myself.
Then I ended up getting an infection due to running bra chafing. It turned out to be really bad and very painful. It hurts to move. On top of that I suffered a really bad migraine all day yesterday and was in bed. I haven’t left the house all weekend. The doctor has ordered me not to run until the infection is healed, so I wasn’t able to do my long run today.
I am a mess. I am depressed and cranky.
To cheer myself up I thought I would search for quotes about struggling with defeat and I found this one from Edwin Markham “Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.” A little more searching and I found that it was a part of a poem:
Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind
The boughs drink in new beauty and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart of joy.
–Edwin Markham (1852-1940)
It is Samsara. It will end. My body will heal and I will get through it and I will be a stronger person because of it.
So I thought I would blog about my adventures in training for my first half marathon. Mostly because I like to think things through via the written word and my blog has served as a really cool diary over the years. It will be really great to look back on this time later in the future. In other words, I’m mostly doing this for myself, but if you are reading this and are inspired/get anything good out of it, yay! Icing on the cake.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am running the Boring Half Marathon in 14 weeks. I scoured the internet for training programs and Settled on the Nike training plan. I like it because it is very flexible and suitable for all levels of ability. I started it last week.
There are two days of speed work and one long endurance run. These are supplemented with “recovery.” Two of the recovery days you are to go for a short, mellow run. The other two days are for rest or cross training.
I started on Tuesday with speed work. The first day of speed work is to be done on a track but I decided to just go to the gym and use the treadmill. For each run you are supposed to stay within the parameters of your pace for a 5k. 10k. tempo run, etc. I thought it would be easier to monitor my pace as well as keep track of my laps on the treadmill. It worked well, aside from some technological hiccups (I’m forever having technology problems on my runs).
The second day of speed work were fartleks. I have never done fartleks before and wow. It was hard. I finally had to give up on keeping track of my pace and just go “a little faster” than I did during the recovery minute.
My endurance run for the week was 4 miles, which was a breeze for me since that is how far my everyday regular run is. Well, except for the fact that I had a migraine that morning. I sort of procrastinated it because I worried about running with such a horrible headache. But the drill seargent in me forced myself out the door and I managed it, but I took it real slow. Amazingly, the headache pain went away! But I still felt the nausea. I kept telling myself that I will likely have to endure discomfort when I run 13.1 miles, so this is just part of the training, running through discomfort.
Running is half psychological, I think. or a good portion, anyway.
I also managed the two extra runs during the week as well. So I did more running last week than I normally do. I and I am still alive. Let’s bring on Week 2!