Half Marathon Story
For the past couple of months, I have been anxiously awaiting this day. For the day to begin and end honestly. I would never call myself a runner. It’s not my favorite activity, I am not super passionate about it, and my body doesn’t love it. All throughout March I was running 3-4 times a week trying to increase my distance and time. But in April that came to a stop. My body was not happy. I got all the common runner complaints and injuries. I had severe shin splints in both legs, low back pain from tight thighs, hip bursitis and don’t even mention the constant chafing. I was done. I really didn’t think this was going to happen for me. I stopped running completely three weeks before the race and my problems went away.
As race day was approaching, I needed to make a decision. Am I running it or not? I’m not one to give up on things so made up my mind in early April. I am doing this. And my reasoning you ask? I feel like this is something I would like to do one day and why not do it was I am young and can recover more easily. 18 is such a good age and I would love to say that I ran my first half at 18. I told my friends and family that I was doing it and they were skeptical. Mostly because I am not a runner, but also because doing a marathon was never on my radar. I literally know nothing about it. I was so far behind in training, I didn’t have great shoes, and I needed to find some leggings that didn’t fall down. At that point, my farthest run was four freakin FOUR miles on a track and it was torture. How the heck was I going to run 13.1 without actually dying? And to top things off, the night before the marathon was my senior prom. Yep that’s right. The night where you wear your highest pumps, dance for 5 hours straight, and basically never go to bed until the sun comes up. Well I am sitting here still boggled by how I managed to get up at 5:30 am after all that.
May 5th 2019. It’s here. Today is the day. I had my (hopefully) chafe-free outfit picked out, shoes ready to be tied, and my airpods charged. I was feeling so many things. Kind of dazed, a little mad that I was actually up and standing in the rain at 6:30, but also full of built up adrenaline. I have been ready for this for so long. Waiting for my section to start felt like an eternity but I feel like it helped me run farther. Building up the energy to go go go. I was ready. The horn went off and I crossed the line in an instant. I was doing it. I was running my first half marathon.
The course went all over Pittsburgh and we touched pretty much every neighborhood. The beginning was good. A little crowded which made it hard to navigate but I started out real slow. At around 11 minute mile. Slow I know. But going this slow was setting me up for success and if I would have started any faster, I may not have finished as strong. Miles 4-6 were great. I felt so good. I was cruisin through the crowd feeling good, jamming to my music and I felt no pain! Hundreds were lining the street holding funny posters up and yelling “You got this!”. And you know what? I do got this. I really believed I could finish this thing.
And then miles 7-10 came. The bridges seemed like 10 miles each and I swear everyone was passing me. I started to feel a bit more alone in the crowd and started to feel some pain. My right knee started to hurt but I kept going. I stopped at every water station and walked for 10 seconds and that really helped me recover.
After mile 10 everything was kind of a blur. I had to think to myself a few times to put one foot in front of the other. The last few hills I practically scooted up without lifting my feet off the ground. Everytime I would stop for water my knee would throb so I literally could not stop. I had to keep going. Breathing deeply and making sure my posture was decent was a good distraction. More and more people started to line the streets and tell us we were almost there. It was mile 12 before I realized it. That was a long mile though.
Eventually I saw the finish line. Man what a glorious sight it was. I tried to pick up the pace and run through the homestretch as fast as I could. It felt like I was zooming but it was probably slow motion for everyone else. As I approached the arch my knee began to feel like it was going to explode and I knew as soon as I stopped running it was going to get worse but all I wanted to do was stop running lol. I did the classic arms raised finish line run as I finished. I stopped running and it wasn’t exactly knee pain that I felt, it was basically my whole lower body. I could not walk properly. I was walking without bending my knees or lifting my feet. If only someone would have gotten a video of that :)
As I walked into the crowd I saw signs for bananas and just like that my body was craving bananas like never before. I took three and ate them in 30 seconds. Then I saw signs for bagels and I don’t think I have ever ingested that much food so fast in my life. And as I walked and enjoyed my plain processed carbs, it hit me. I had done it. I really actually did it. I completed my first half marathon. I was handed my metal when I got to the end of the seemingly endless buffet. I earned this piece of poorly designed metal. I really did and I am pretty proud of it too.
As I sit here and type this I am actually truly amazed at what I accomplished. I am so thankful for my body. It is pretty freakin amazing. It’s crazy how you can run miles and miles if you put your mind to it. And that’s what I have learned through this whole experience. Long distance running is all mental. If you really really want something, you can do it. We are all capable of so much and I am so glad I was able to see exactly what that looks like for me.
So my advice: If you have any desire whatsoever to run a half or full marathon, do it. Just sign up! That way you have something to work towards and look forward too. Double check to make sure its not the day after your senior prom though.