This past Sunday was the day for which I had been training for six months. Well, actually, my training began with the extremely high (and somewhat insane) hopes of completing the full marathon. Just a few weeks shy of race day, I realized that the few setbacks I had experienced due to a knee injury and then a recurring shin splint had cost me the privilege of enough time to train for such a feat, and when I accepted this, I was actually okay with it. Training for a half is a big enough challenge.
Finally, the much anticipated weekend arrived and we traveled to San Antonio, Texas where my husband and I both participated in the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. The night before, we had dinner with our team (#teamheartswaziland), and then went back to our hotel to get some sleep before the big morning. I hadn’t been feeling well for the two days leading up to our short drive, and felt even worse as we drove. Hoping a good night’s sleep would reset me, I turned in early for me – around ten o’clock. But I soon found out there would be no sleep.
By midnight, my husband had been snoring for two hours, and I grew restless. I tossed and turned, got up for a drink and walked to the bathroom and back, thinking I might be able to reset and drift off to sleep.
By 1 AM, I began to get upset. Really? No sleep?
At 2 AM, I woke my husband and told him I hadn’t been to sleep yet and there was no way I was going to be able to run in the morning. I was already feeling very yucky and with no sleep, well, I was just going to have to forget it. He told me to pray and go to sleep. About that time, Lincoln, who’d been sleeping between us, began to cry, so I picked him up and laid him on my chest. An hour later, around 3 AM, I finally went to sleep.
Alarm set for 5 AM, I was up in two hours. Yep! Two hours of sleep, and feeling worse than before. I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I just got up and moved around. Robotically, I dressed in my running clothes and laced up my shoes. My husband put my tag on my shoe for me. I took a few sips of coffee, and decided that was NOT what I needed.
And so I did.
Here are a few things I learned from my first half marathon experience:
- Prepare yourself for exactly your race – set your goal early and embrace your training.
- Give yourself plenty of time to train, and expect hiccups.
- Don’t compare yourself to others before, during, or after the race. You are you.
- Realize that your time will be affected by many things – some which you can control like food, sleep (when it’s in your power), and energy supplements, some which you can’t control like the weather (it was oh-so-humid), temperature (race day was abnormally VERY HOT for November in Texas), whether or not you feel great, whether or not you didn’t get enough sleep, whether or not you have to go to the bathroom during the race, and long lines.
- For your first half marathon, choose a local event if possible so that you don’t arrive already tired. If choosing a race farther from home, arrive early the day before the race so that you don’t have to rush around picking up your race packet and stressing the night before your big run.
- Hire the best help to care for your sweet children so that you don’t feel the need to worry about them the night before or during the race. Our amazing babysitter has been a part of our lives for almost ten years, and we are so grateful for her!
- Expect some digestive interruption for a day or so after the race and give your body time to replenish all those calories you spent running and walking well over a half marathon, since it’s typically a long walk to the race site itself, then the race, then the walk back to hotel or your vehicle. Figure on 16+ miles for a half marathon.
- #Justkeeprunning, but also just do your best. You can’t predict what you will feel like that day, which is such a big part of your own personal motivation. If you get to race day and don’t feel great, just do the best you can. Don’t get hung up on time; it’s really okay. Finishing is still a great feeling!
- Have some fun! You’re doing this, so you might as well enjoy it.
- Before you say you’re never doing this again, give yourself a few days. You just might change your mind!