About a year ago, I decided to challenge myself. Running as my therapy (it helps me burn off energy & have more patience), I could easily run 5 miles any time, any day. I started rolling around the idea of running Denver’s Colfax half marathon, which took place in May.
By the end of February, I had registered for the half marathon, committed. I would run 13.1 miles mid-May.
I had to get serious. Me. At the beginning of January, I was a woman who thought she’d never run more than 5 miles at a time, who never had run more than 5 miles at a time. I bumped up my run to 6 miles on the last Sunday of the month.
I had a plan. I used the Half Marathon Training Plan from Women’s Running.
I could run 7 and 8 miles by the end of February, 9 and 10 miles in March. Whoa!
Every week, I ran longer distances until April when I had to run 12 miles as part of the training regimen! (Enter: a twinge in my left foot at my third and fourth toe.) The training plans, expert books and magazines all advise to bump up your distance by a tenth each week. It seemed to happen naturally for me. My body wouldn’t carry me much past that threshold.
I worked with two women who had run half marathons as well. They both told me that they had never run more than 10 miles during half marathon training. I knew 12 wasn’t as much as I wanted, and I accepted that it was good enough.
While training, I learned about “hitting the wall.” My body would stop. It would happen at mile 8. I learned about staving off the wall by using energy gels to keep my blood sugar up.
Every time I thought I couldn’t keep going, my former running partner’s words would play through my head: “You think you can’t, but you can!” It’s true. Most of half marathon training is mental.
The first time I ran ten miles, I felt so proud, so accomplished, so tired! I took many naps during half marathon training, drank a lot of chocolate milk post-run, and ate a lot of plain oatmeal pre-run.
Race day arrived. A seasoned half-marathoner picked me and my son up. She took care of my son during the race, and they went to different spots on the course to cheer me on. My biggest cheerleader in my life, my mom, had made travel plans for that weekend. I made sure to sign her phone up for text alerts during the race, knowing the first one would start at 5 a.m. where she was. Sorry, not sorry.
The race went well. I wish I had worn running pants that dreary, Sunday morning in May. I wore a tank top, a tee, a long-sleeved running hoodie and shorts. Brr!
I finished. I did it! During the race, I kept thinking about firefighters at Mile 11. Shirtless firefighters at Mile 11. Yeah, well, think what you want, it worked. I kept running. I ran the whole way, except when drinking water at the water stations.
At the end, my friend and smiling boy met me. I finished in just over 2.5 hours. I’m not fast, just consistent. My favorite part of running the Colfax Half Marathon is the good food at the end. They have Michelob Ultra, too, but drinking isn’t really my thing. A barbecue pork sandwich sure is though!
To all of you who think “I could never do that,” yes, yes, you can!
This is what I learned.
You can do anything you put your mind to. Believe!