I ran my first half marathon on June 24th, 2012. It was the Fleet Feet/New Balance Inaugural Women’s Half Marathon, and I trained very poorly for this race. Truthfully, when I get busy with school (I’m a high school English teacher in the western suburbs of Chicago), I am not the best at prioritizing my fitness. At the time, I was serving as an interim newspaper adviser for my friend who was on maternity leave through the end of the year – and I was also the assistant JV softball coach for my school. My schedule for the week tended to look like this:
Monday: Newspaper meeting until 4, then onto softball practice (or game) until 6:30 or later.
Tuesday: Softball practice (or game) from 4 – ~6:30
Wednesday: Softball practice (or game) from 4 – ~6:30
Thursday: Newspaper meeting until 4, then softball practice or game
Friday: Softball practice
However, if newspaper was in a deadline week, I would be in the newspaper room until about 5, then if there was a game that day, I would try to catch the tail end of it. Thursdays were deadline night during this week where we would stay until the issue was finished (sometimes until 9 P.M.).
When I got home after a newspaper meeting or softball practice/game (or both), I was not very motivated at doing anything other than collapsing onto the couch and decompressing (teacher code word for not wanting to talk to anyone and watching mind-numbing television shows such as Keeping up with the Kardashians or The Real Housewives). I was terrible at just getting out and running.
And my performance during the half marathon reflected this. Granted, it was approximately 85 degrees while we were racing that day, but had I been used to running outside during this type of temperature, I probably would have fared better. At one point, I was so dehydrated that I started shivering. Around mile 11, my poor training really started to show (I had never run over ten miles before that point), as it became incredibly difficult to put one foot in front of the other. I also really started to feel sick. I walk-ran for the remainder of the race – and even when I was running, there were other people who were walking faster than me. However, I had made it my goal to finish – and finish I did.
Immediately upon finishing, I felt so sick and dizzy that I needed to hold onto a random person’s shoulder in order to be able to get out of the way of the finishing racers. After this good Samaritan kindly walked me over to the grass, I couldn’t keep my head up anymore and had to lay down. My friend Emily (who ran the race with me but finished way ahead of me) had to force feed me a banana until I felt better. During this time, I vaguely recall making a declaration that I would “never run a half again”.
However, once my body (and even more importantly, my mind) recovered, I started getting the urge to run another. What is it about our bodies that make us so quick to forget the pain that we went through and start craving another similar experience? Maybe it was the endorphins, or maybe it was simply that I didn’t want to feel like that half had conquered me. Either way, I decided that I wanted to try for a fall half marathon in order to redeem my performance in June. This time, I want to be the one to conquer IT.
After a great deal of research, I settled on the Grand Rapids Half Marathon on October 21st. October is my favorite month (I love everything about fall – well, except that it means impending winter), so I really wanted to find a race during that month. I also really wanted to find a course in the Midwest (so I wouldn’t have to travel too far). I briefly thought about doing the Detroit Half Marathon (there’s something appealing about running to Canada), but I ultimately settled on the one in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Marathon/half marathon is actually the same weekend as the Detroit one, but the GR one is much smaller. I’ve heard many positive things about this race, such as the course, the race director really caring about everyone who is running, and PICKLE JUICE!
So, I’ve signed up, and I’m making this my redemption run. This time around, I’m vowing to train appropriately for it. No more excuses. It’s time to man up (lady up?) and work towards redeeming my mindset on the half marathon. Now, I’m off to complete a three-mile training run 🙂