Wednesday, June 24, 2015

For the Long Run : Training & Running My First Half Marathon

This post is a long one and a long time coming but I really hope it helps motivate at least one person to get out there and beast a goal of yours or better yet get the motivation to train for your first Half Marathon! 

My journey started in January. We had just gotten done with our year late Honeymoon cruise to the Bahamas. I wasn't feeling all that great about my body & I already knew that one of my goals for 2015 was going to be to CHOOSE (my One Little Word for 2015) to run a Half Marathon. I had been in contact with our old neighbor that had moved away who was going to be running in the Run Hard Columbia Half Marathon, but at that point I would only have had about 8 weeks to train which felt too rushed for me attempting my first Half. So, on a whim on January 20th, I took the leap and signed up for the Palmetto Half Marathon in Sandhills. I would be running the race by myself, but I had a full 12 weeks to train if I set my mind to it. 

My race confirmation

My Training Regimen 

I started out my training only having run 5 miles max. at one time in my life EVER! So believe me, you can do it too if you set your mind to it! I had run XC for 5 years in middle & high school, but I was what they called a MOP or BOP aka middle/ back of the packer ;). Into adulthood, I still love to run but prior to my training I was only running 3-5 miles at a time. 

I began by loosely following this 10 week training schedule from but because of my wacky work schedule, I focused mainly on running 3-4 times a week, doing 2-3 of those runs at 3 miles and one long run each week starting at 4 miles and increasing that long run each week until I got to 12 miles. 

In order to keep track of my runs, I just made a simple table on Word with all of the dates leading up to the race day, April 12, 2015. I placed this table on our fridge and it served as a great motivation to get my runs in each week since I saw it all day long. Each day, I either marked the mileage I completed or put a slash through the days that I had rest days. For a goal oriented person like myself, I seriously and somewhat sadly looked forward to putting my mileage on this table, but even more so on the days where I hit a new goal! On these days, I put an asterisk to show myself how many goals I was hitting on the way to my ultimate goal of 13.1 miles. 

My Running Log
As I hit a new milestone, I also posted a picture on social media just to hold myself accountable and share my achievement with my friends and family. In addition to goals, pictures are my other love language so coming up with a creative way to share my accomplishment was just as fun for me as writing down my mileage. 

6 Miles 

8 Miles 
10 Miles 
12 Miles 

Training in general was fun for me because I soon realized that running for long periods of time was more a mental game than anything so as long as I prepared a bangin' playlist, had some good steam to burn off, and stuck to it I realized I could do practically anything. Overall, I tried to focus on getting up to my distances rather than hitting a certain time or pace, so that allowed me to have less stress if I had to walk a few steps here or there or slow down on the hills. Mostly, I just wanted to get to my race and get through it! 

Minor Aches & Pains 

I did run into a few aches and pains that were out of the ordinary for me. After my 8 mile training run, I began to experience some pain in the outside of my left knee. I took a few days off but even when I got back to it, I felt the pain but this time in both knees. After doing some research, I found this is common in runners and it was my IT band acting up. I continued to monitor it as I got up in mileage and still could "feel" it on most runs even if it wasn't painful per se. If it did cause me intense pain I would stop and stretch for a while and then try to start again. The best thing I did for this issue was the light running of the last two weeks before the race that let the entire IT band heal up before my race. 

Favorite Running Gear & Apps 

My Nike + from Race Day!

I was already a Nike + fan before, but I found when training for a specific race it really does keep track of all of the things you need to compare your runs and visually see your improvement. I love that they added the feature to be able to change your playlists mid-run! 

Because I am a runner who desperately needs to listen to music to keep myself motivated and I like to be able to change a song if it's boring me, I needed some sort of phone carrier that doesn't strap on my arm. I ended up finding this HB Tune Handheld Band that literally straps to your hand so you still have access to your phone to change songs & other settings while you run. This was literally a life-changer for me! I loved that this strap takes the weight off of your hand so you don't have to grip the phone for the duration of a run but still is easily accessible. It even has a pocket for a debit card or cash which is pretty convenient. 

As for clothes, because my race was in April, it was perfect weather for shorts and a t-shirt. I picked my Good Vibes Only shirt from Mulberry Press Co. because it is not 100% cotton which is better for running, my favorite Adidas running shorts with the inner lining, a lightweight Under Armour hat that I decided on the week before the race to block the sun out of my eyes & avoid having hair falling in my face, a Target C9 skinny strap sports bra, and my Asics sneakers. I ran a test run with my race outfit minus the hat a few weeks prior just to make sure nothing was overly irritating. I really recommend testing out your race day outfit because I had to try a few different sports bras before I landed on the most comfortable one.

Finally, a race day playlist is a must if you run with music! I had recently downloaded some new songs that I hadn't had the chance to overplay yet so I put those popular songs in the list a few times throughout just to perk me up & get me singing along in my head. I also tried to make sure the most motivating and upbeat songs were placed at times in the race like miles 5, 8, 10 where I knew I could possibly be hitting a wall and needing some extra motivation. My theme song throughout my training & the race day was One Republic's- I Lived. Such a good song and the lyrics are soo motivating!

Race Day // April 11, 2015 

When race day came around, I had only run 12 miles during my max. run so just completing the race was a mileage milestone in itself. I was overly giddy while I checked in and got my bib with my name on it. I lined up with the 2hrs. 15min. pace runner since my goal was somewhere under 2hrs. 20min. As long as I was in front of this runner I knew I was golden for my goal! 

Thankfully, I had a great support system that day! My dad and his girlfriend came into town and made it to two points along the race and Brandon showed up to 4(!!) places along my route. It was such a nice motivator to look for him along the way and have him there supporting me on my big day. Other family members farther away showed support too, like my mom who texted me right at race time and let me know she was thinking about me & at about the 7 mile mark, my sister texted me saying she wished she could be there and that she knew I was doing a great job and she thought I'd be around mile 7 which was right on! 

The first five miles felt like nothing, mostly because it took that long for the packs to spread out and for me to settle into a pace. Just the excitement of all of the other runners alone made me really pick up the pace in the beginning which I knew I could not keep up for the entire race. 

I settled into a good pace around mile 4-5 and was still feeling pretty good. The course was an out and back kind of deal so as I was hitting the farthest point, I got a huge cramp and some knee pain and had to stop to stretch. Another runner actually passed me when I was stretching and said "you got it, keep going!" I thought that was so generous. Here we were all struggling through mile 7 or so and a stranger was helping motivate me to keep going. 

Mile 2
Mile 4

I got back to running quickly though and only stopped to walk a few steps on a long gradual hill around mile 10. The worst part of the course I ran was that on mile 1 we ran down an off ramp from one road to another, so on the last mile we had a pretty steep hill to climb which was like torture at that point. I came into the finish line with a good bit of energy I had saved for a final burst and even made eye contact with Brandon & my family which made it all worth it!
Mile 11
Mile 13 // Finish!

What started as a bucket list item became an accomplishment that I am very proud of. Not only can I say I am a Half Marathoner now, but I wouldn't doubt it if I sign up for another one in the future. I've already been looking at a possible one in October. Throughout this journey, it was entirely for myself, not for anyone else and that's why I think I am the most proud. A goal I set for myself that seemed almost impossible, I accomplished with 3 months of hard work! 

If you have a big goal like this, don't let it sit forever! Write it down & check it off, one day or one run at a time! 

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or email me! :) 


1 comment:

  1. You rock girl! So glad you checked off a goal of yours, very cool. I LOVE that shirt too...may have to get me one!


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