If you told me nine months ago I would run a half marathon in February, I would have laughed in your face! I was not a “runner.” I could barely run 2 miles and I certainly did not enjoy it.
Last June, Running for Brews (RFB) started advertising a “run and drink beer club” at our local brewery, Four Stacks Brewing Company. I like beer, I wanted to meet people in our new town, and I knew I had to do something to become more active, so I started run/walking my way to 3 miles once a week.
Every Wednesday night, I’d leave my sweet family and head out for the torture run. And you know what? Somewhere along the way I began to really enjoy those weekly runs! I looked forward to meeting new people and having a little “me time” during the week. I slowly saw progress in my time and eventually was able to run all 3 miles without walking.
Some of the people I met were moms and they were part of another running group, Moms Run This Town (MRTT). Seriously, I never knew running was a “thing” and I certainly had no idea there were groups of crazy, supportive people that regularly wake up before the sun to run together. That’s why lesson #1 is to find your running tribe. Regardless of what else I do throughout the week, I know I have my RFB tribe on Wednesday nights and my MRTT tribe on Saturday mornings to keep me accountable! If you haven’t found your tribe, I guarantee there is a group out there for you.
These MRTT ladies are busy moms, but let me tell you, these mamas are superwomen! They are dedicated to their running and follow a serious race schedule. After a few months of running with them and watching them run races, cheer each other on and get really cool bling, I decided it was time to sign up for my own race.
At the end of December, I registered for my first half marathon: Best Damn Race-Safety Harbor. The race was February 4, which gave me about 5 weeks to increase my distance from 5 miles to 13 miles. It was ambitious, and I learned the hard way that it wasn’t enough time. So lesson #2 is follow a training plan and increase your mileage slowly. There are lots of great free/inexpensive running plans and apps out there. If you get off track, it’s okay! Just get back on. I learned that you need to incorporate more frequent runs during the week, and increase your long miles slowly on the weekend (some coaches recommend no more than 10% each week).
By mile 3 of the race, I knew something was wrong. My knee was injured and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it any further, much less 10 more miles. I slowed down, took walk breaks, and thought of all the people that had helped me and supported me. Somehow I made it to the end, but I was so disappointed in my time that I didn’t even celebrate. It also took me another 2 months to write this down because I was so frustrated with how it turned out. Lesson #3 is be proud of your accomplishment and have fun! Pick a super fun race, grab some friends, dress up, do whatever you can to make it fun.
Prior to the race I had set two goals for myself:
#1 Finish the race and
#2 Do it in under 2:30:00.
I finished the race, and even with my injury, I did it in 2:32:10. While sure, I was disappointed, in reality I was only 2 minutes and 10 seconds shy of my goal. Never in my life did I think I would run 13.1 miles. But I did it! And it was a really great accomplishment.
Lesson #4 is that you will hate it love it and want to do it again. Literally the ONLY way I survived the rest of the race was that I told myself I NEVER had to run again. Ever. I spent all of mile 10 telling myself that as much as I loved the friendships I’d made running, I’d just have to make new friends because I was not going to do this again.
I got to the finish line to my friends and family cheering me on and it was all worth it!