2. Did you have any certain time goals in mind? My main goal was to finish the race without stopping to walk. My secret, but very secondary, goal was to finish in under 2:10. I accomplished my first goal (minus that one stop at the super-crowded water station when they ran out of water, which I'm not counting because it wasn't by choice), and adjusted my secondary goal mid-race to finishing in under 2:15. My official time was 2:13:35.
3. How long did you train? I trained for 14 weeks, starting the last week in January. I followed the beginner's plan in the back of "Marathoning for Mortals" , which I really liked. It allowed you to run three days a week, instead of four or five, and it slowly built your distances with occasional cutback weeks for rest and recovery. I stuck to the plan religiously, and I think it was key in preparing me safely without injury!
4. What was the longest distance you ran before the race?My longest run before the race was ten miles, according to my plan. I toyed with trying to make that run a little bit longer after several people said that they did a full twelve or thirteen to be mentally prepared, but I decided against it. I knew that the last few miles were going to be tough no matter what, and I figured that I had the mental toughness to handle it. Luckily I did!
5. How did you feel right before and right after the race?
Target running tank, Nike shorts and sports bra, Asics shoes, my iPhone armband and RoadID, chapstick (never leave home without it), Kleenex, and my strawberry flavored Clif ShotBlocks. I also had a great playlist loaded and ready to go on my iPhone. Definitely don't do or wear or eat or use anything that you haven't done or worn or eaten or used during your training - you don't want any surprises on race day!
7. Any last-minute words of advice for me that you wish you'd known before your first half-marathon? I think that I was pretty well prepared for most things, thanks to my great friends and fellow FitFluential ambassadors . I knew to rest up the week before, take a break from any strenuous running, get some extra sleep and stay super-hydrated. I knew that I wasn't going to get a ton of sleep the night before the race, so I didn't freak out about that. I knew to have a good playlist, to not wear the race shirt, to stretch beforehand and after, and to be mentally prepared for those last few miles.
One of the things that I didn't fully understand was the mental tenacity required to finish 13.1 miles. No matter how many times people tell you, you just can't understand what it is like until you are out there running for hours on end. By the race's end, I was simply focused on putting one foot in front of the other. All other thoughts had left my mind. I also didn't fully grasp the hilliness of Nashville. Which is insane, because I have lived here for five years! I also didn't realize that the starting line would be so crazy. Looking back, I would tell myself to get there early and get in line for the bathroom ASAP. And to bring extra toilet paper.
But the big thing that I wish I had known was to enjoy every.single.moment. I somewhat knew this, and somewhat figured this out along the way, but I will never again run my first half-marathon. That day was special and exciting and overwhelming and wonderful. And at the end of the day, I felt so lucky just to cross that finish line!
So there you have it - I'm by no means an expert now, but I do think that I can finally call myself a runner. And these are my (few) words of wisdom. The most important thing before any race, no matter how big or small, is to feel thankful for your training and your healthy body and your ability to run. And, like the sign along my race said, "Remember: you paid money to do this!" Running races should be fun!