Hey guys! I am still recovering from being sick so Megan has graciously agreed to guest post for me today. Not to mention, today is her birthday!! Be sure to share some encouragement with her in the comments! I will be back to regular blogging soon.
Hello fellow Running With Sass readers! I’m Megan from Running Toward The Prize and Heather asked me to write a guest post while she’s off getting more Rock N Roll bling. That girl is going to have to get another medal hanger or three with all these races she’s running! (And yes…I’m slightly jealous…)
Two weeks ago I did something I never thought I’d be able to do. I ran a half marathon! This is coming from the girl who had never run more than 3 miles at a time prior to January 2011. That’s right, in 10 months I went from 3 miles to 13.1 miles – and am now working toward 26.2. And maybe even 39.3…
So, as a newbie half marathoner, I though I would share some of the lessons I learned during my first half marathon.
Don’t start out too fast.
In the past, I have had a tendency to get caught up in ‘race mentality’ and have started off way too fast, then crashed later on. I was determined not to do this during the half. I ran my first 5 miles at a pretty consistent pace – which was great. And I didn’t “crash” toward the end due to going out too fast early on.
Hydration and fueling are important.
I decided not to wear my hydration belt during the race. Since I was running this race in honor of my Grandpa (therefore having a specific t-shirt on), the hydration belt just didn’t jive. I also had looked at the course map and saw water stations about every 1.5-2 miles.
I took water at every station and probably could have used some more toward the end of the race. I never felt dehydrated though – which was key. I also walked through the water stations – partially because I haven’t mastered (and probably never will) the art of running and drinking water. It also gave me a quick ‘break’ to get some energy back.
I also took sports beans during miles 6 and 11 (at aid stations to make sure I had water to wash them down).
Fueling helped tremendously. I could feel my body getting a little extra energy – which was the boost I needed. (Overall – I probably could have eaten more at each stop as I split one pack between them. Lesson learned.) I did have to stop to get out the sports beans from my SPIbelt, but took that break to make sure I didn’t choke on them and wash them down. It was time lost – but I needed it.
People cheering you on helps.
Throughout the course, there were spectators cheering and holding signs. You could definitely feel everyone’s pace pick up around the areas with lots of people. Seeing signs like, “If it were easy, everyone would do it” and hearing cheers and clapping gives you the boost you need to keep going!
This was even more evident when there were areas with no spectators. Those miles seemed longer – but before you knew it, there would be another group there cheering you on (or the AMAZING volunteers at the aid stations!)
For my next half marathon, I’m definitely going to have my husband, B Lee, see me at least once throughout the course as well as at the end. Seeing him and my parents at the end was awesome.
I can’t even begin to explain it. So I know seeing them on the course would have been spectacular as well.
Prepare yourself for muscle cramps and pains.
My purpose is not to scare you – but to help you. I was prepared for my IT band to act up – and surprisingly, it didn’t. I was prepared for my feet to hurt – which they did. I was not prepared for my butt/hamstrings to start cramping up around mile 8. I am 97% sure it was due to the hills, but it continued through the end of the race. I wasn’t sure if stopping to stretch would help or not – and I did once around mile 12. (Veteran runners – what would you recommend?)
So be prepared for the aches and pains that may happen along the race – but even more so once you finish. My legs stiffened up SO fast! I literally waddled to my family after the race. I’m sure it was quite attractive.
Be proud of yourself.
Was I frustrated when I saw the leaders pass me at mile 10 while I was still at mile 6? Absolutely. Was I proud that I was running a half marathon? Absolutely.
Don’t compare yourself to others. I know it’s hard – but this is YOUR race. You are out there running miles upon miles because you can. When I crossed that finish line, I was all smiles. I don’t even think I looked at the time until after I hugged B Lee and my family!
I can’t wait to see what the future holds in my running journey – so come on over and follow along!
QOTD: Do you have any racing advice/tips you would tell a first timer?
*don’t forget to enter my ClipE Giveaway!
Congratulations Megan! And thanks for the tips. I will be tackling my first half in March so this was very helpful!
Congrats Megan! to go from 3 miles to 13.1 was a leap of faith and you did it!