My Runner’s Life

Half Marathon in the Books!

It’s been a week since my first half marathon. I know what you’re thinking, I am 54 years old at the end of this week and I think its time to add Runner to the list of ways to describe myself. Isn’t it funny that now having completed a half marathon is when I finally really consider myself a runner?

Why is that do you think? Why did I not truly consider myself a runner until that defining event? When people asked me what I did I usually answered, “I swim, do yoga, strength and conditioning train. Oh, and I run.” How is it that I never saw myself as a runner before, “oh, I just run for fun” or “I just run 5K’s”? Why did it take 13.1 miles for me to really think that I finally qualified to consider myself a runner?

How did I get to this point?

To be honest, peer pressure. Lol. Really, not really. By that I mean to say it took a friend braver than me to decide that she wanted to run a half marathon. She decided for herself. A few more friends, all of whom had run half marathons before, joined her in support. I decided, well, I will just walk with her in support as well.

Then it happened. Our training started. Yes, training. Don’t be an idiot and do a run like this without long range training – it makes a world of difference. We started our training, and somewhere along the way, I changed from doing it to support someone to doing it for myself. I made it my own goal to run the half at my own pace, not someone else’s. I don’t know when or why it happened…but it did.

Our little group gradually became a larger group. Goals changed. Paces changed. The gym where we’d met sponsored our shirts. We grew to just over 20 team members. We ranged in ages and ability, but we were all there to support and encourage each other.

The seasoned runners gave us tips. Us newbies drank it all in. We created a Facebook Group page so we could post questions and runs to the team. Some days we ran solo, because we all know sometimes mentally you need that.  Some days we ran as a bigger group. Eventually we found friends who ran close to our pace so we could train together.

Race Day

Race Day arrived and we met together to combat nerves, take photos and start together. The energy that day was incredible. Dudes, it was 34 degrees and foggy when we started. As the race began, we all eventually split to our smaller groups and some became lone runners. It was awesome knowing I had teammates before and teammates after me. I knew I would pass each of them at some point and we would cheer each other on. It was fantastic!

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For me, all the training went out of my head that morning for some reason. I now realize and can admit that I was a bit of a hare, instead of my pace setting tortoise. I had run 12 miles the week before and kept my pace steady and it was a good pace!

For some reason, whether it was the excitement, the cold, the slow racers in front of me, the unknown inclines, or the misdirection at one point by a flagger, I ran too fast at the beginning. I even remember hearing my iRunner app giving me my pace of your last mile. I heard the 9:07, 9:22, 9:32 and thought, “Wow! I’m doing great,” instead of, “Wow, you’re going to run out of steam.”

Well, it happened. I ran out of steam. I had to slow down to a jog, then a fast walk. I kept on though. I didn’t stop and I made it all the way to the end. Proud that I did it!

As our teammates came along, we gathered and cheered them through. Then the last two racers on our team were seen. We joined them as they crossed the finish line. This was why I started this journey. Why I will continue to run. For myself. For others.

There is no greater feeling than seeing the last tribe member come through. Because, although I critique my own run and kick myself. I and all the other runners accomplished something more than just personal goals. We found love, support, encouragement, empowerment and inspiration. We have all grown, not just as runners, but as people. Personally, I think mankind needs more of that. More tribe, less self.

Will I do this again?

Will I run another half or maybe go for a full marathon? Who knows? If you had asked me three years ago – when I started this running journey – if I would ever run a half marathon, I would have said hell no! I know I will continue to run fun 5K’s. I’ve already scheduled a 15K. Another half? This time pacing myself better? Well, honestly. Probably.

My Top Tips for Newbies

  • Train. Train. Train. There are fantastic programs out there to use to set yourself up on a good schedule. We started training a good 3 months before the race.
  • Cross Train. Our program included days where we strength trained. This makes you a much stronger runner.
  • Anticipate the weather conditions. Since it would be cold, several of us ran to Goodwill and purchased inexpensive jackets for the race – jackets we could remove and toss off at an aid station along the route once we and the weather warmed up rather than tie around our waists. This was a huge help!
  • Start testing energy bites on your training long runs. When you find one that works and doesn’t cause you to hurl or your heart to race, stick with that brand and that dose on race day. Many people don’t take them until race day and then their bodies aren’t used to them and they hurl. I didn’t want to hurl in public.
  • Yoga. You knew I would mention yoga at one point, but seriously it makes a world of difference! Both on the run and in your recovery. Why do you think there are so many YouTube videos of yoga flows for runners? I did yoga every other day in the week leading up to race day. I did a short yoga session the morning of the race. It not only stretched and prepped my muscles after sleeping all night, it also calmed my nerves.
  • Foam Roll. Yes, make friends with a foam roller. You are going to need it. I foam rolled before and after each of our long runs (runs over 7 miles). It made such a difference! I got the blood flowing into those muscles, I broke up knots, I massaged soreness away. Foam roll, peeps!
  • Find your tribe. Finding a run tribe tripled the whole experience. Adding these people into my circle was good for my body, mind and soul.

Special Thanks….

My favorite products!  You can click on their link for more information or to order directly.  Some of these products are carried by Amazon.com, so I’ve placed links on the bottom of the page for you!

  • Gixo Fit: the app that made me a better runner. With live coaches, run club, interval training, endurance building and fun runs, I never had to truly run alone. Coaches Mary Beth, Aaron and Ritvik made running fun. Now with On Demand yoga, stretches, and foam rolling classes, I am good to go!
  • ProBar Bolts: these are the energy and electrolyte gummies that sustained me through training and race day. I just could do tubes of goo, so thanks for gummies.
  • Brooks Running Shoes: I am truly a PNW girl who loves her local brand, Brooks Running shoes. I am on pair number three now! The right shoe makes all the difference! Find yours today.
  • Balega Socks: I’ve tried a ton of different socks. Some had too much compression. Some had too much cushion. These were just right 😊
  • ProSourceFit: makes the yoga strap and yoga wheel I used repeatedly to work out those hamstrings, quads and my back.
  • Trigger Point Foam Rollers: seriously, why aren’t you foam rolling? I love my foam roller!
  • Theraworx: as my training distances and sprints increased so did the tightness in my calves. Per recommendation of Devon, my chiropractor who also just qualified at this race for the Boston Marathon, I used their magnesium foam to work into my problem areas as needed but specifically into my calves before longer runs.
  • Foot by Body Glide: yeah, so you still find spots that rub when you add mileage. This stuff is great for the ones on your feet, but anywhere else that chafes.
  • Momentum Jewelry: for the reminders that day that helped me push on. Having “I am Limitless” “Peace Love Run” “Inspire and Empower” and my newest wrap given to me by my good friend and fellow blogger @healthycarleeh, “You got this Kathy. This is your day to shine!” Took me through the final hill.
  • Great Lakes Gelatin: if you aren’t adding collagen into your diet and you are a runner, are you insane? The physical beating your body takes day after day is incredible. Your body stops producing collagen by age 25 and the reason for pain and slower recovery to your joints when you are physically active, especially for runners. The personal difference I found in my run ability and my recovery has been huge since I added it into my routine.

As with everything, my opinion is my own. No #ad or #sponsored. Just me on my journey, finding what works and sharing it with you. These are brands I’ve bought on my own through trial and error. They may be ones that will work for you, they may not. You’ve got to try it for yourself. There isn’t the perfect shoe, the perfect sock, the perfect fitness app that fits everyone. I may be biased, but since they aren’t paying for my bias 😊 you just get my honesty.

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There you go. This is my journey to a half marathon, my run journey. Who knows where life will take me next! See you on the trail peeps!

   

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