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Marathon Tuesdays - the final part

Posted May 01 2012 8:30am
I loved writing my Marathon Tuesdays series for the blog - it was a fun way to introduce some of my friends and family, and to hear their advice, encouragement, and words of wisdom.

Taylor gave me uplifting advice and cheered me on from England.

Kelsey wisely informed me that you do not have to wear your race t-shirt to run in.

Steph stressed the importance of a well-planned playlist.

Stephanie reminded me not to wear anything on race day that I hadn't run in several times before.

Sam spoke one of my favorite quotes, and one that definitely carried me through my last few miles: "80% of running is knowing you're strong enough to finish!"

Alex warned me to take advantage of the early water stations - should have listened to her more!

And my dad (being a typical parent) reminded me to enjoy the experience and soak it all in. He also shared some hilarious fashion advice (or lack-thereof) and how to bandit a t-shirt without actually running the race.

So I thought it was only fitting that, having finished my own half-marathon now , I answer my own questions. So here is the advice that I would have given to myself before Saturday, had I known what I know now.

1. What half-marathon(s) have you completed? 
The St. Jude Country Music Half-Marathon, in Nashville, TN. April 28, 2012.

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? 
  • Right before the race I was more excited than nervous. I was just antsy to start running, especially after a week with little to no activity ! And my parents were standing right next to my corral, so I think I was less nervous than I had been earlier when I was by myself. I did have a moment of slight panic right after I started running, when I realized that I had 13 miles in front of me!
  • Right after the race, my legs felt like they had been put through the ringer (which clearly they had!) But I was so excited and happy to be finished that I hardly noticed the pain. I didn't really feel nauseous like I did after my ten mile training run, which was great. There is no way to describe the feeling of accomplishing such a big goal! Definitely understand the meaning of a "runner's high" now.
  • 6. Did you have any special equipment, snacks, clothing, music, etc. that made running 13.1 miles more bearable? I laid all of my stuff out the night before, to make sure that I had everything ready to go!

    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!
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