The Everyday Girl Guide to: Running My First Half-Marathon (Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is)

September 9, 2013

Back in January I decided I needed something to motivate me to be a regular runner.  I’ve run most of my life– I ran track in high school and competed in the 800– but I’ve always been sporadic about it.  Even last year, when I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) for Run 10 Feed 10, I trained pretty sporadically (and it showed).  This year, I was determined to do something different.

That started with putting my money where my mouth was.  I put down the payment for the half as soon as registration opened.  There!  I was committed!  I was going to run a half-marathon nine months later.

Apparently, nine months feels like “plenty of time”.

Between work and commute and kids and laziness (and, to be fair, the occasional bout with ulcerative colitis), my training was pretty lackadaisical for the first four months.  No, six months.  I think the urgency really kicked in just before June, when I was still only running five miles for my long run.

I’m a big fan of slow building in training to reduce the chance of injury, so I didn’t want to lengthen my long run by more than 10% in any given week.  Going from five miles to thirteen is a slow process this way, especially when you take a “step back” week every fourth week.  (I did not get injured once during the training, though.)  5 miles.  5.5 miles.  6 miles.  Back down to 3.  6.5 miles.  7 miles.  7.75 miles.  Back down to 4.  Yeah, it was slow going and I realized I was going to be cutting it very close.

I had done a few things right.  I was definitely a stronger runner, with more kick at the end.  I was faster.  My mile had gone from 10:30 down to 9; I could do five miles in under an hour.  But I had a hard time running distances over five miles.

I stuck it out, even when I was biking 9.4 miles a day as part of my commute.  I kept running when temperatures soared, just moving it inside to the dreaded treadmill.  I even got up super-early on my treasured weekends to run before church on Sundays, since that was often the only time I could get in a long run.

I even stopped playing tag and football with my kids for a while so I could focus on training.  We’re not doing that again.

Then life struck.  I got bad cramping on my ten-mile run and had to walk the last mile in excruciating pain.  Really.  Every step felt like knives were going into my legs.  My eleven mile run was better, but I missed my six mile drop-down week entirely.  That’s okay.  I still needed to do my twelve, but I was hopeful.

I had a really bad bout of UC.  I don’t run when I have a flare-up.  I just can’t.  I missed another week entirely.

Now I was in panic mode.  Okay, so I wouldn’t run thirteen miles before the big day, but at least I would run twelve.

I overslept and couldn’t run in the early morning before the kids got up.  I sucked it up and took the kids to a track park so I could run and they could play.  They ran the first mile with me (my kids are awesomesauce that way) and then I started running endless circles.

Running twelve miles on a 1/4 mile track sucks.  Big time.

I made it to six miles.  The kids were bored.  I was bored.  The sun was hot.  We really wanted to go play games.

I stopped at six and we walked the seventh mile home.

That was it.  That was all the training I could do for my half-marathon.  Time was up.

Was it enough?

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