Thoughts on running my first half marathon…

Today I did something I never thought I would do, I ran the St. Jude half marathon.

I’ve never been a hard core runner. I don’t like running one bit but I still signed up in April to run the half marathon. I had a couple reasons for wanting to do the race:

1. I wanted to see if I could do it.
2. All my siblings but one have finished half marathons and I felt left out of the cool club 🙂
3. I needed motivation to workout, a goal to work towards
4. Lots of my friends are hard core runners and I wanted to relate to them.
5. Philip told me to get a hobby so i thought I would try out running.
6. The half is for a great cause and I like supporting organizations like St. Jude.

Twelve weeks ago I started my race training. At that point I really couldn’t run a full mile without stopping. I’ve always been a small person and pretty in shape but my cardio strength has been lacking over the past few years. I planned on starting earlier with my training but we purchased this house and it flat out wore me out so much that I didn’t feel up to running much…

Throughout training I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon training. It was a great program for a nonrunner like me. My weeks consisted of 3 midweek runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and one long weekend run. Oddly enough I enjoyed the long runs a lot more than the shorted midweek runs. The midweek runs quickly got old and I felt obligated to do every run on the schedule. If I didn’t do the midweek runs my long runs really stunk…

And long runs almost always happened on Sunday after we photographed a wedding. Before I started running regularly, I could barely walk the day after shooting a wedding. Every muscle in my body would be aching from the long wedding days. After running regularly I no longer hurt after weddings and I could actually run 4-8 miles post weddings.

I trained up to 12 miles and I was typically running 11:30-12:30 minute miles. I had gotten to the point where I could start a run and run the entire thing with no walking. I figured on race day I would probably do about a 12 minute mile and that would put me at about a 2 hour and 37 minute finish time. Originally when I started training my goal was to finish with any time under 3 hours. Because my training was going well I was looking forward to race day and getting the race finished…

And then this Thursday I woke up with a sore throat and killer headache. As much as I fought it with vitamins and meds by Friday I had a full on cold. I sat in bed most of Friday and pouted because I had worked so hard and at the last minute gotten sick. I was so frustrated and annoyed. I knew if I didn’t run the race I would regret it for a very long time and would feel like a quitter and failure. I put a lot of pressure on myself to run the actual race and I wanted to see my hard work come to a good end. Friday night I cried as I went to bed, I had no clue how I would wake up feeling and what I would do about the race.

Friday night I barely slept and when I woke up I could barely breathe through my nose. When I run I do most my breathing through my nose and that really had me worried. I told Philip the night before that I wouldn’t run if I had a fever but I kind of refused to take my temperature so he couldn’t force me to stay home.

When we got down to the starting line I was full of nerves. I’ve only run in one other race and crowds really make me nervous. All my long runs had been by myself and I was nervous that I would start out faster than I needed to go and burn out too fast. I picked a pace team to follow that was going slower than my normal pace so that I wouldn’t over do it. I’m glad I picked this team cause it really helped me through the first 6 miles.

The first couple miles were pretty easy and I think I was going on adrenaline for those miles. Then I hit mile 5 and the fact that I couldn’t breathe really started to hit home. By this point I was shaking pretty bad and my greatest fear was hitting me in the face, I had a fever. Some how I powered through and made it to the finish line and by my goal time, 2 hours and 59 minutes and 41 seconds. I barely squeezed the goal in! But I did it!

A couple of times during the race I found myself crying. When I signed up for the race I had no clue how emotional this specific race would be. When I saw the starting line I cried for the first time. It said “You’re running to save their lives.” Talk about a heavy way to start. There are a ton of parents of actual cancer patients in the race because the St. Jude campus is in Memphis. As I saw these parents, some of them who had lost their children to cancer I couldn’t help but tear up and think of the pain they had gone through. We ran through the St. Jude campus at one point in the race and I pretty much sobbed the whole way through the campus as doctors and patients where there cheering us on. The race raised over $5 million for the hospital and I couldn’t have been more proud to run the race.

Even though I was emotional over the reason for the race, I got caught up in my own struggle while running. I had to walk about a mile of the race (in spurts) and it killed me to know that I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire thing. At mile 8 I was thinking of giving up because I was struggling to breathe. My throat was tightening up and I was shaking from the fever. My sister and brother-in-law were at mile 8 cheering me on and it gave me the extra strength to push on.

As I got near the finish line I couldn’t help but cry again because I was so miserable. I was in a complete fog and pretty delirious at this point. As I gathered all my strength to sprint through the finish I cried and cried. I was so frustrated with myself and my time and just ready to be done. Philip found me pretty quickly and I collapsed into his arms crying.

I had no clue how hard the race would be on me physically and emotionally. I set out to run the race for myself and ended up seeing that I was being extremely selfish and prideful in the running. I wanted to finish with a great time and beat some of the people I knew where running. Even when I finished and a couple hours afterwards I was really upset with myself for not doing better with my time. I kept thinking that I didn’t push myself hard enough and I couldn’t have done better. I was frustrated that I got sick with a silly cold and to me it felt like it ruined 12 weeks of training.

At one point this afternoon I had to talk myself out of my funk. I couldn’t keep putting myself down for not finishing in the time I wanted. Heck I should be pretty proud of myself for 1. finishing the race and 2. doing it with a freaking fever. Most of the children at St. Jude will never be able to run a half marathon! They are fighting to stay alive each day and I was having self pity because I had a bad run time. Talk about a humbling moment. I felt like crying all over again. Though right now I have a fever overall I am healthy and able to run anytime I want to. I can have a common cold and not worry that it will kill me because my immune system is so weak. I thought I was running for the kids of St. Jude and in reality the run taught me so much about my selfishness.

I am so glad that went ahead and ran today. I was a miserable experience physically but I needed that run emotionally. I will probably never run a half marathon again but I am so glad that today, even with being sick, I completed my half marathon!

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Now to find a new hobby 🙂

Savannah