My 5k training (if you could call it that) consisted of a run here and there and sort of training. In all honesty, it was a pretty half-hearted approach at training. But, I ended up running my first 5k in 30 minutes. To say I had been bitten by the running bug is an understatement. I immediately started thinking of my next run. When could I do it? How far could I go? What route should I run? How fast would I be? Could I even run farther? Then I saw this:
And I decided that it didn't matter how fast I could run or how far, as long as I ran. Because not everyone can, and not all who can will. So, if I tried, I was already winning.
For about a month, I did runs maxing out at about 6 miles. Each time I ran, I was shaving big chunks of time off of my finishing time and starting to find my pace. It was exhilarating! I was reading about running, nutrition for runners and training programs any time I had the chance. And of course I got some cute new racing attire. I mean, it is about running, but why not at least try to look cute, right? But in reality, I probably look like this:
I ran a second 5k at the end of June and finished in 27 minutes. I was elated. That was 3 whole minutes faster than my first one! A few days later (on the 4th of July), I was invited to run with a group of incredible ladies. I did my first 8 miler. And I wanted more. I decided then that I wanted to train to do a half marathon (13.1 miles for you non runners). These gals became my go to running companions. They are all experienced runners who had tons of good advice, great attitudes and were almost always up for a run. They have helped me immeasurably.
I started looking at races at the end of October because I didn't think I would be ready before then.
I decided on a training schedule of 3 runs during the week and long run on weekends. Each week I would hit up my running friends to join me on a long run. Each long run taught me something as did each runner who participated. With each run, I felt stronger and more sure of myself. I was steadily improving my endurance and dropping my times. By the time August rolled around, I couldn't wait until October to try a half. So, I registered for one on September 8.
The weeks leading up to September 8 were busy and tiring! But, my long runs were going great and I felt ready for my half. On September 8, I woke up and was immediately excited and nervous. I got to the race and was relieved to see a couple familiar faces in the crowd, which helped calm my nerves. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone was ready to go and excited to be there.
Now, I won't take you mile by mile through that race. But, I will give you some highlights:
~The awesome volunteers at the water stations and along the route who were cheering and whooping it up for every runner who came by.
~The elderly woman sitting in her yard around mile 4. The lady who was thanking US because she liked to watch the runners much.
~The kids at around Mile 10 who had made signs that read "This is the worst parade ever!" and "You better run faster....because we all just farted!"
~The sign that read "If it were easy, everyone would do it - keep going!"
~The friends and families along the route with cowbells and cheering kids.
~The sign in someone's yard around mile 12.5 that said "Your legs are not giving out, your head is giving up - keep it up!"
~The incredible, scenic views from Eagle Point Park.
~Other runners who were super friendly, chatty and enthusiastic, including my new race buddy. Whose name I don't know, but who kept pace with me, laughed with me and even complained with me a little. She was awesome (even if she was a Packer fan!)
~My family waiting for me as I finished.
~Seeing the finish line!!!!
I can't say enough about people who watch races and cheer. It means THE WORLD to the runners. Even if they don't know you. It doesn't matter. Every cheer and smiling face makes it easier when you think you want to give up. Even though giving up isn't really an option. Not because anyone would judge you if you did but because you would never forgive yourself for it. My goal for my first half was to finish. J asked me several times if I would win the race. Try explaining to a 5 year old that finishing really is winning. Because it is. Whether you are first or last. You are a FINISHER.