Ever have one of those days when everything seems perfect?
Yeah, today was one of those days.
I completely impressed myself at my first-ever half marathon this morning, the Halloween Half Marathon in Morristown, NJ. Later on, I pigged out on a delicious burger and saw The Martian (I effin’ love spontaneous dates) literally minutes after finishing the book. Plus I have tomorrow morning off because of an appointment, so I get to sleep in and make a yummy breakfast for me and Lawrence (I also effin’ love cooking breakfast).
You know how when you do something for the first time you get that satisfying feeling afterward when you have new lessons/bits of knowledge that you didn’t have before? I want to capture that here… for myself, and for others who are interested in running a half (or any race, really). Keep in mind these tidbits might not apply to you, they’re just things I learned about my own personal racing. Either way, here are my top 10 “half marathon takeaways” that I want to mentally regurgitate before I forget them. -Note: I am not a professional runner, dietician or personal trainer…these are just things that helped me personally for my race.-
- It’s all about the people. All of them. Loved ones, fellow racers, bystanders. I was so so so lucky to run the race with my friend, Taryn, and have my boyfriend, friends and family at the finish line. I didn’t even know my family would be there until halfway through the race and it was the best surprise ever. I’m shocked I didn’t cry! I can’t describe how euphoric it felt to complete such a big personal goal and have my loved ones there cheering me on. I think that was my favorite part of the day. A close second: when I got four high fives in a row from four little kids standing in front of their house cheering everyone on.
- Don’t be afraid of the taper. I was pretty scared I would perform poorly because I slacked on my last few weeks of training and hardcore pigged out this week. But in retrospect, I realize it helped me. I was fully rested and had tons of energy to burn through today during the race. I’m not saying don’t take training seriously, but it’s ok to feel kinda piggy and “under-performing” before race day (related to #9).
- And don’t be afraid of the pacer, either. To be honest, I don’t really focus on my speed too much to begin with. But I found that when I didn’t stress over where I was in relation to the pacers, I did better. I beat my goal time by over 15 minutes by not giving a crap. Leading into…
- Don’t overthink it. I’m a firm believer that the best running happens when you’re running on “auto pilot.” Unfortunately, it’s so easy to start overanalyzing yourself and fall into a negative, snowballing mindset. Whether you’re beating yourself up about your form, breathing, speed, whatever, I swear most people run better if they just go with the flow.
- Carb it up. I made a point to eat a lot of carbs on the days leading up to the race and today (I ate a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter around 2.5 hours before the race). That delicious, delicious energy definitely helped.
- Water it up too! Drink it. All the time.
- …and coffee it up! I made a big iced coffee about 2.5 hours before the race. It helped wake me up and have a little more pep in my step with minimal effort. It also helped “get things moving” before the race too, if you know what I mean.
- Soak it up. Take a look around you. You worked hard to get here and every step you take proves that. Look at the beautiful sky, trees and other people around you. This is your day, and every other runner’s day, too… it’s a special, common thread and I think that’s a beautiful thing!
- Train, but don’t sweat it too much. I had (well, still have) a whole training plan thumbtacked to my cubicle at work. Did I miss a few days? Yep. Did I reschedule some runs? Yep. Did I do fine at my race? Yep, better than expected, actually! Obviously it’s important to prepare your body for race day, but if you don’t follow everything to a T, you’ll still be alright. Make sure you can handle the race distance (or close to it) a few times, and I bet you’ll be ok. The race day atmosphere does amazing things to your energy levels.
- Show gratitude. Thank the volunteers, the bystanders and your loved ones. I mean, this should really apply in all realms of life, but say “thank you,” dammit!
A few other quick notes on how the race went:
- My final time was 2:13:34. I was aiming for 2:30, so I’m one happy camper.
- I didn’t really hit a wall until mile 12. The last mile seemed soooo long and I kept looking around every corner to see if we were approaching the finish line yet.
- My legs are pretty sore now, but the only things that hurt during/right after the race were my toes and my lungs (the air was COLD! It was in the mid-30s when we started).
- My average pace was 10:18 which is coincidentally today’s date! I’m wayyy too amused by that.
- The race took us on a trail through a beautiful wooded park. The fall foliage was serious bizznizz.
Happy Sunday – here’s to a great week!