There aren’t many photos of my race this time, but I still wanted to share a recap…even if it’s just for me to look back on and remember everything! I didn’t talk about it as much as I talked about my first half marathon just two years ago (time really flies!!), but you may have heard me mention that I was running the American Family Fitness Half Marathon in Richmond over the weekend. I’ve been wanting to run this race since I started running about two and a half years ago and it didn’t work out for me to participate until this year. I’m so glad I waited and did it now because I really think all of the weight training I’ve been doing in preparation for our Hawaii trip helped with sone of the hills!! Where we live is very flat, so there are not many options for hills during training for long runs.
I honestly didn’t really think about the race much at all until Thursday, when I was two days out. I’ve been training, yes, but I’ve also been focusing more on weight lifting, HIIT workouts, and kettlebell classes than just running alone. Instead of running being my main focus this year, I have been more or less working towards my overall goal of getting in my best shape for our Hawaii photos. I think this approach worked really well for me! I had a lot more trouble running my first half because my legs and back weren’t strong enough to handle the long distance.
Last Thursday was the start of carb loading (best part of training if you ask me!) and also when it first set in that I was about to do another half in just a couple more sleeps. The anxiety really started to get to me on Friday…for some reason I was SO nervous! Even more nervous than before I ran my very first half, or my full marathon last year. I have no idea where that came from! I would have thought I would have been really chill about it since I’d done it before, but maybe that actually made me more nervous since I had more of an idea of what to expect. I kept trying to convince myself that it wasn’t any different from any other workout, and I was just going to wake up and run like it was any other day, and that helped calm me down a little bit.
Race morning was so cold, but actually warmer than the two other races I’ve run, so not too big of a deal. I ate some simple carbs (rice crispy treat) and had half of a sugar free red bull and was good to go! This was the first time I ever signed up to run with a pace group, and I actually really enjoyed it! I wish I could run with a group more often during training! I joined the 2:15 pace group after hopping out of our UBER near the starting line and ran with them for the majority of the time. It was great being able to chat with some of the other runners and also ask the pace leader any questions I had (like were there any other hills, etc). It was also really fun to feel like I was sort of on a team since I always run by myself during training and it can get really isolating and lonely.
It was the PERFECT day to run a half marathon. A little bit of chill in the air, but not too windy or cold. I ditched my cheap gloves within about two miles and had to pin my bib to the shirt underneath my jacket when I started getting too warm. Re-pinning your race bib while you are running is no joke in case you were thinking about trying it….
I ran with the pace group until separating from them around the 10 mile mark. Once I hit the 10 mile mark I felt confident enough to pick up my speed a little bit since there were only 3 miles left. I run a three mile loop around my neighborhood pretty regularly so I felt like 3 miles was nothing! I kept telling myself I could run three miles in my sleep! Obviously a huge exaggeration, but I knew I would be able to finish strong when I made it to ten miles and still felt okay.
It was also at this point i started noticing other runners on the sidelines stretching and thought to myself “What are they doing?? They need to get going! Who has time for that??” and just kept running. I was able to pass people and passing people feels SO awesome. I just felt like I was KILLING. IT. Then, I started to feel it. Or them. CRAMPS. Right at the 12 mile mark I noticed my right leg cramping up a little bit. I’ve never had leg cramps before during training….never had them during my first half or the full marathon either, so I didn’t really know what to do. I just kept running because I wasn’t going to let that stop me….not so close to the finish! I kept going. This part of the race was on a slight incline, which REALLY started to aggravate the cramps before I knew it, they were so intense in both legs that I could barely bend my legs. I’m sure I looked ridiculous! I finally got to a flat area and they subsided a little bit. Enough at least for me to get through the last half mile.
Before I knew it I was at the hill that leads down to the finish line! It happened SO fast, but this was my favorite part of the entire race. The other half I ran, the finish area was a lot smaller and not very many people were out there at all. Other than my friends being there at the finish, it would have been VERY anti-climactic, especially after training for months to get to that moment. At the Richmond half, the finish line is the dramatic, exciting scene you picture in your head with crowds of screaming people and a shit ton of excitement all around. You’re also running downhill, so you’re flying and the sun is on your face and you feel like the most badass person of all time. I like to save up enough energy to sprint at the end of my workouts and this one wasn’t any different. Sprinting down the hill I just felt so powerful and athletic and I could hear people cheering (though, probably for their friends and not necessarily me, but still). I almost wanted to go slower to soak it all in, but sprinting at the end just feels so awesome, so I flew across the finish line and looked up to see that I beat my last half time AND the time goal I set for myself!
I felt so emotional after I finished. I couldn’t believe that I did it AGAIN, and that I did even better this time! One of the reasons I (sometimes) love running so much is because I think there is nothing that feels quite like beating yourself. I don’t like competing with other people, but I love competing with myself. I think that’s one of my favorite things about running. At a half marathon (or any other race like that), my times are my competition and the other runners out on the course are my teammates, striving to beat their own past times, too. That is, unless you are an actual athlete who is running competitively for money, in which case, you are definitely still not my competition because, I run as fast as you walk.
All in all, I can’t really believe that in just two years time I’ve now run TWO half marathons and a full marathon in between. I must be crazy!! I only just decided I wanted to run a marathon a couple of years ago and decided to take the steps to make it happen. I think this whole thing has taught me that if there’s something you really want to do, you CAN really just do it as long as you are willing to do the work. People have asked me how I do it and have said to me that they never could. That’s really not true. Anyone can look at someone crossing the finish line after 5, 10, 13, 26 miles, etc and think that it seems so impossible, but it’s not when you remember that they woke up every day for months and put in the work. If you are willing to put in the work, you can do whatever you want to do and I am living proof of that.
Thank you to everyone who supported me as I was training and sent me well wishes! It means so much to me to have such a great tribe in my corner, especially John for uber-ing all over RVA to cheer me on and my friends Kim and Michael for taking me to brunch and putting a pitcher of mimosas in my face afterward.