Well, I did it, my first half marathon! I have to be honest with you guys, I totally blew off the Shape 10k this morning. Call it a donation. It’s not because I didn’t think my legs could handle it. In fact I think they probably could – although they are sore today but not too crazy. You would have laughed to see me “icing” them with cans of sports water 🙂 We don’t have a bath tub so there was no ice bath happening so Dan bought all the sports water cans from the vending machine he could with his change and I sat on them. Wish I’d gotten a picture of THAT for you!
I wanted to write a really great race recap for you. I follow a good handful of blogs – running/healthy living blogs. They all seem to have running in common if nothing else and the race recaps are always so exciting, revelatory, inspiring. And I think I was planning to have one of those for you as well. But I don’t. And I am sorry, but know that I’m disappointed to, I contemplated just writing one anyway but I’m an honest bitch. Really honest. But honesty is all I have to offer and most times I or someone can find inspiration or something out of the truth and thats better then false information from lies. In my opinion 🙂
So, here you go. I ran it, the whole 21k even though my nike wrist band counted it as 12.63 miles I definitely did the whole thing. Running.
Originally my only goal was to finish and finish without walking or stopping. I had never planned to run a Halfy this year. Up until I signed up I had never run further then 10k race, twice and I haven’t run further than that distance more then a handful of times since. I decided on a whim leaving myself 6 weeks to prepare so I figured finishing was all I could hope for. I did that, definitely. I ran the whole time, not even stopping for water or to stretch or to pee. Thanks mostly to the fact that Dan got me a hydration pack for my birthday 🙂 cuz he’s awesome so this race was it’s inaugural run. I should have probably practiced with it but it was easy – fill, put on back, drink while running. Done!
And so I went into the race yesterday scared but feeling like, hey it’s just running, anyone who had the desire could run this. It’s just making yourself do it for the whole thing. Yeah, I guess I’m not very encouraging or “go girl” as I think I am sometimes. But reading this other blogs, people are so fast and so fit. I’ve been athletic my whole life. My whole identity has rested on my physical capabilities. Especially since I feel I have very little to offer in the looks department. Say what you will, I’m just giving you my honest thought process, know I’m not extremely proud of this. I have always felt to make up for the fact that I’m not, in my opinion, much of a looker and I’m definitely not naturally thin and small, I had to be more athletic, more agile, more smart and more confident to make up for what I lack. Even writing this is making me cringe. I guess I figure, I can’t make my legs smaller so they should automatically be more skilled. How will I feel if I find out I’m not only bigger then everyone else but also slower and less capable?? It seems unfair. And I’ll tell you how I felt when I finished my first half marathon, clocking in at 2 hours and 34 minutes. At first I felt relieved I was done, excited to see a few familiar faces at the end of the race (that actually made it amazing, I’ve never really raced with anyone watching. Except Dan that first race and he didn’t see me finish). But I felt clumsy slow and ridiculous when I found out my time. My first reaction was : DISAPPOINTMENT. and to top it all off, I’m disappointed about being disappointed. I should be proud of myself right? I finished my very first half marathon, an achievement right? I didn’t speed train because I didn’t know if I could even finish. The longest I’d ever run was 10 miles and only once two weeks ago. AND it took me 2 hours. I know I’m not a fast runner. I wanted to feel proud of myself. But I didn’t. I felt disappointed, in me, that I’m not better, that I’m not naturally faster. This disappointment may be what actually made me skip the race this morning. Who wants to work hard and feel that? Sound ridiculous? It is.
This is why running is actually good for me, because I reveal the ridiculous thought patterns and expectations I have of myself and of life. I didn’t realize I expected myself to be an olympic runner without training or that I think that I should either be thin or a natural gazelle and since I don’t feel thin… And one of the most shocking things is how committed to the belief that I’m not “pretty” and how I feel I have to earn my value through being “amazing” without defining what amazing is ahead of time. I know I touch on these things, but I really had no idea how strong the beliefs still are, how much they affect my perception of myself. and I lose every time because apparently for my standards I’m not as amazing as I should be so I don’t make up for the fact that I’m not pretty or successful – however ambiguous way I measure those two things. Where did those awful beliefs come from? How is being myself and doing my best never enough for me?
But now I’ll tell you about the race which was actually a really cool experience.
I started out pretty excited and more relaxed then I imagine. I knew I needed to start with an easy pace to make sure I could finish. I had my bag filled with water and a NUUN capsule and a single GU gel pack stuffed into my sports bra. Night races are beautiful and to my performers sense of time, perfect. My body is awake, my senses are in tune. I soaked up the water, the lights, and the electric feeling of energy whenever someone passed me or I passed them. It’s really cool. One mile, two miles, 6 miles went by and I was feeling pretty good. I couldn’t believe it as the two 10k’s I’d done had felt like torture trying to get to the end. And here I was only half way through my race feeling good. My hammies were starting to feel tight but I was mentally up for it. I knew that when I started to feel pain I needed to remind myself that it was just a feeling, my body telling me it wasn’t used to this and it wanted attention. I needed to remind myself this was normal and didn’t really mean anything. And I did. and it was fine. at 8 miles I was starting to feel that familiar running boredom, where I feel like “okay, I’ve listened to music, enjoyed it, I’ve talked to myself and thought about my goals and dreams and what I believe about love and achievement and life in general. Now I’d like to stop running and do something else” See, after mile 5, when I’m training, the wow of achievement is usually over for me and I just need to maintain my boredom until I’m done. So at mile 8 i ate my gel, while running, the first time I’ve ever tried to eat while running. It tasted like a melted brownie which is delicious albeit a little gross and warm since it had been between my boobs for over an hour. I tried to tell myself this was where my race started, eating that gel symbolized starting, I had just been warming up before, and how exciting was it now that I was going to get into groundbreaking territory. That worked for half a mile. Then I just focused on the 10 mile mark, how close I was to it, how proud Dan would be of me, how I was an athlete. I hit ten miles okay and my knees started to hurt but I was prepared for that, it didn’t worry me and someone shoved a quarter of a banana in my hand and i didn’t think about it, i just put it in my mouth. I was elated when I hit 10 miles thinking “wooo!! everything after this is icing! history in the making for me!” and also “I guess I CAN do anything I want! a new lease on life! A new way of thinking about my career…NOTHING is beyond my grasp!” and it was really exciting and I still felt pretty good although my legs and my hips were in pain, aching and just wanted to stop. That elation ended at 10.54 miles and this is when I started feeling like “okay can we just stop now?! I am never NEVER doing this again. I proved my point, I can, physically, jog 10 miles, albeit not as fast as most of the people here” but, I’m a Leopardi and if we start a race we finish it and there was NO WAY I wasn’t finishing. God Dammit I had put myself through this I wasn’t going to humiliate myself by stopping when I wasn’t even physically unable to finish I just WANTED TO. at mile 11.5 I realized I was just bored so I tried to pick up the speed a little, but I kept thinking “as soon as I see the finish tent I’ll feel better” and it was true, finally I saw the yellow arch in the distance and I started lengthening my stride and pumping my arms. Then I saw out of the corner of my eye my friends, one who had raced and finished and a few who’d come to watch him and they saw me and started cheering and I hadn’t realized how great that was going to feel. I pushed and leapt over the finish line! And for two seconds I felt amazing, I got to stop running, I knew I’d finished and then they came around the corner and it felt so good. and as I walked off to pick up my purse my mood just dropped. I realized my time and I just kept thinking “I should be so proud of myself, but I’m not” I just felt like I had worked hard and yet was still slow, fat, not really good at anything. Had I believed that running a race would make me feel fast, beautiful and worthwhile? arg.
This may seem like a huge bummer, but it’s really not. I hadn’t realized I’d been harboring those beliefs and now I know. I find myself pretty ridiculous sometimes. But I am proud, I finished my race, I did it, something I previously didn’t know I could do. I didn’t have a coach or a training plan I just went for it. And I’m glad I didn’t race this morning because I think the emotional toll of the race last night kind of drained me and I needed some rest.
Will I do it again? Absolutely, running has clearly started to mean something to me and I’m getting a lot out of it. Dan suggested, since I’m disappointed with my speed that I pick a few 10k’s and focus on speedwork until I’m satisfied with that and then maybe try for another half. I think that’s what I’m going to do. I do want to run another half, I know I can do it, I know it will just get better from here. But I think he’s right, if speed is important to me, then that’s what I need to work on. The moral of the story is, I’m impatient like a five year old and I want things NOW!
So now I think I’m going to sit on a few more cans of Sports Water. I’m not crippled by any means but my hips and hammies don’t feel like they’re 18 anymore….
I’d love your feedback. Has anyone felt similarly? Or advice for running distance and/or speed?