Have you ever set similar goals with completely different outcomes? And completely different feelings as you approached your goal? I felt this way running my half marathon this past Saturday. The first time, I trained with three other girls, all at similar fitness levels. One of them even lived with me. When motivation was waning, there was always at least one person to encourage the rest of us to get out there and run. This time, I trained for a race in my hometown with the goal of running with my dad. But I had to train alone. And I had to train with business trip interruptions, a beach vacation and a husband who I want to spend my free time with (and didn’t happen to be training). To say this training experience was vastly different from my first would be an understatement.
This time around, I didn’t train more than 6 miles before the big 13.1 event. Oops. But in my mind, I knew I had done it before and could do it again. So I bought my plane tickets and headed to Kansas City without really knowing what to expect. We planned a pasta dinner for our family and friends who were running the half marathon – a Tomato, Sausage and Pecorino Pasta and a fresh Summer Veggie Pasta with Pine Nuts (sans the pancetta for the vegetarians). As a dietitian, I definitely know how important it is to fuel before a big race!
I felt a pit in my stomach as I went to bed that night, and it definitely wasn’t the pasta. Nerves were starting to settle in as I second-guessed my decision to run the race with so little preparation. The nerves continued as we waited at the start for our corral to be called. Once the signal went off, my mom (who was running the 10K), my dad (first half marathon) and I took off. My dad was running a bit faster than I wanted to, so I hung back at a slower pace with my mom until she turned off around mile 3 to finish the 10k course. The little training I had done was in high altitude, which definitely benefited my endurance. But man was this course hilly. I felt great at my pace until about mile 6, when I refueled with one of my favorite citrus Clif energy gel shots. At that point, it was hard to stay motivated to keep running when I was running solo. I ran with a partner the entire duration of my last race and didn’t stop to walk once. So, I caught up with some pacers (for those of you non-racers, these are people who volunteer to run the race at a certain pace) and ran several miles with them. At mile 11, we were starting the uphill from the Plaza to Westport and back to Crown Center. Despite my great new shoes, my knees were taking quite the pounding, which I hadn’t eased my body into during training. So I decided to slow it down and walk miles 11 and 12. This was a hard decision for me to make, as I had completed a half marathon previously without walking, but I knew I needed to listen to my body. I picked it back up and ran the last mile to the finish line – I always get a big rush of adrenaline at the end where everyone is cheering.
Despite finishing 30 minutes later than my first half, it was a great feeling to persevere and finish, and even better to see my dad waiting and cheering for me at the finish line! It was such a fun time to celebrate our accomplishments, especially as he ran his first half marathon ever under his goal time. He’s already talking about running a second! On the other end, I’m not so sure I ever want to put my knees through this again. It was quite a painful night trying to go out with friends in Westport after that kind of abuse! So for National Running Day, I’m celebrating the experience of running with others – family, friends – as that is what makes the experience truly bearable. See my mom and I (in matching shirts) and my dad below pre-race.
Who keeps you going? Who do you run with?