Today my knee hurts, I’ve wanted a nap since I got up this morning and I feel like I’m fighting off a head cold, but I don’t care one bit BECAUSE I AM A HALF MARATHONER!
Yesterday, I ran the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, my first race if you don’t count the Turkey Trot 5k I ran 3 years ago. As mentioned previously, I had pretty much failed at training and felt completely unprepared for this race. So, I was thrilled to finish the race in 2:10:44 without having to stop to walk once!
But the best part about this experience was that I truly had fun running the race. That, I did not expect. I expected to feel a sense of accomplishment once I crossed the finish line. I hoped to have a few moments of runners high when I wasn’t wishing I was curled up in bed like most sane people on a Sunday morning, but I didn’t anticipate enjoying every last 13.1 miles of the course.
I should mention that, despite the fact that our hotel was strategically located one block away from the starting line, I came flying out of the port-o-potty and barely made it into my corral before the horn sounded and the race began. A little helpful hint: nerves will be running high and you will have to go to the bathroom several times before the race starts. Plan accordingly.
So, without further ado, here are the biggest takeaways from my first half marathon…
1. Adrenaline is my friend. I knew I would be both excited and nervous on race day, and everyone told me that you can run a lot farther during a race than you can in training, but I had no idea just how much of a boost I would get from the adrenaline that was pumping through my body when the horn sounded at 8 a.m. that morning. I felt like I could have kept running and running. I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time because I was seriously riding high on the rush of running my first race. It’s no wonder people sign up for this insanity again and again.
2. Running with other people rocks. I have always been a lone runner. I like the solitude that allows me to get lost in my thoughts and I like to work on my own speed and distance without worrying about whether or not I’m holding someone else back. I find it annoying when people try to talk to me while I’m running. It messes up my running zen. Just a heads up in case you and I ever pass each other on the trail. But surrounded by 13,000 other runners of every different shape, size and speed, all running the same course, I felt a strange camaraderie with this huge group of runners. Even the guy in the pink tutu. It was an amazingly communal experience.
3. I am more competitive than I like to admit. I don’t usually think of myself as a competitive person. I tend to engage in sports for the pure enjoyment of them, and I’ve never been the kind of person who needs to be the center of attention. My family may disagree. Running this race, however, proved to myself that I do have at least a little bit of a competitive streak. If it wasn’t the sly sense of satisfaction I got every time I passed someone on the course, it was the way I sprinted the last 300 yards to pass everyone in my pack to the finish line that finally convinced me of this truth.
4. Technology fails; keep running. I was totally pumped to run with my Garmin GPS watch so that I could track my pace and distance the entire 13.1 miles. But my stupid watch was still trying to find a satellite when the horn sounded and didn’t connect until almost .5 miles into the race, so I had to rely on mile markers to gauge how far I’d run. Somehow, I also brilliantly managed to stop the timer around mile 7, which had me completely confused for another mile and a half until I realized what had happened. Needless to say, I spent more time futzing with my watch than I did focusing on form and breath. But, in the end, it did help me keep my pace right around a 10 minute mile the whole time and I think that consistency is what helped me finish strong.
5. I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. This was probably the biggest lesson I learned from running my first half marathon. I had so many fears going into this race. Fears that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish, fears that I would embarrass myself and people would wonder who I thought I was trying to run 13.1 miles. I was afraid I would injure myself, and that I would be so miserable by the end that I would never want to run again. Instead, I felt my legs come alive, I felt my spirits soar and I felt my body do what it was meant to do as I gave it all I had. To everyone else I was just one of the 13,000 people who crossed the finish line to claim her medal that day.
But me, I feel like I can finally, confidently say: I am a runner.
Also, the best part of running a race is the license to throw dietary restrictions to the wind and stuff your face afterwards.
Oh yes, yes I did.