I signed up for a half-marathon with the wholehearted belief that it would turn me into this runner chick. To make sure I went through with it I bought no insurance on the ticket so I could not back out.
In San Luis Obispo it’s a strange day if you see less than 10 people running around. So I thought to myself: that could be me.
I hit the pavement, dirt trails and the treadmill for about two slightly committed months. I didn’t tell anyone at first and then my friends.
But then I stopped running. I was stacking huge rocks on the beach, wearing the only shoes you could find me in: flip-flops. And one rock crashed onto my foot. Wiping the “sea-mist” from my eyes, I dusted myself off and hobbled the next few days.
Then, without a month of training… I found myself at the starting line of a 13.1-mile journey with just one goal: don’t walk.
How I imagined the half-marathon
The half-marathon I planned for was in Santa Cruz going wharf-to-wharf.
I imagined my hair in the wind and running next to the fresh ocean air. I thought I could reminisce about times in the ocean because I lived in Santa Cruz for two years.
That it would be quiet and peaceful in those dawn hours of the day.
The reality of the half-marathon
One thing people never mentioned in the advice blogs and magazines leading up to this was the Stacys out there.
What’s a Stacy? Stacy is the strong woman who I ran about seven miles with. Stacy is the woman who broke the serenity of the sound of feet patting pavement and the ocean rolling onto shore.
Her ability to project her voice so this guy on the other side of the road could hear her was impressive. I was in the middle. At first, I was annoyed, but then she grew on me. I fretted Stacy’s daughter’s wedding and the drama, then I admired Stacy’s ambition as she planned on doing a full marathon next week, then Stacy’s diet and training, her work life…etc. So I picked up the pace and sadly, that was the last of Stacy.
As I felt the fresh air of the ocean, I also felt my thighs burn. I felt my feet ache. I grabbed at cups of water and electrolytes. As the route looped back and I was making my way toward the finish line I felt inspired. That I couldn’t stop now.
I jumped up at a photo opportunity and then felt my weight crash onto my ankles. I didn’t fall but it shocked my body.
Pro-tip: don’t try to jump after you just ran 10 miles (and have 3.1 more to go)
The hardest part
When the finish line came closer I got my first side-ache and felt like walking. I had the .1 left. I felt defeated. When I didn’t see the finish line and I felt like I had no more energy to give.
But just like in life, when you look back at how far you’ve come and see how much there is left. You don’t give up.
This half-marathon ended at the beach…so I ran into mushy sand that was ruthless. It took every step giving nothing back to push off.
But it did end at the beach. Where a soft tide could put some relief to my body and the snacks they give at the end could be enjoyed.
- Don’t buy the ticket insurance. Maybe if you’re not on the college-student budget go buy it. But if this is your first time this will give you no reason to back out.
- Train, run and relax. But remember to repeat those steps. Don’t just end on relax because you’ll regret it.
- Find a plan and stick with it. This was mine.
- If you don’t train, your body may still be capable of it. But it will HURT afterwards.
- If your goal was to be that runner chick like mine was. Running isn’t enough. One of my favorite podcasts Tiny Leaps, Big Changes, put it this way: Showing up isn’t enough. Yes, you will be better than the person you were before you tried and progress. But, if you want to be better you have to strive to be better.
- Running buddies are motivating.
- When you’re at the starting line, just take a moment to appreciate how your body feels.
- Thigh chaff is real.
- Don’t worry about throwing the cups and gel-packs on the ground. Me, being the eco-person and nonlitterer, I didn’t want to throw the gel-packet on the ground so I stuck it in my sports bra. For 6 miles I forgot. Ending in a raw sore and now a battle scar.
- Don’t forget the magic. Look at nature, the ocean, the sand, trees, crisp air, and take it all in. You signed up for this and it’s only hell if you make it that way.
- Don’t forget to laugh at all the signs supporters made.
- Do have a good time and enjoy it.
- (13.1) And remember when the route splits between the half and full marathoners, that you may have signed up for 13.1 miles but thank god you didn’t sign up for 26.2.