My friend, Chelsea, wrote a mile by mile blog last year after her first half marathon. If you know Chelsea, it’s 100% written in her voice. If you don’t know Chelsea, her literary voice is equal parts humorous and relatable. Her post was running (ha) through my brain during my own race. If you want to read my inspiration, and I highly recommend that you do, check it out here!
My general feeling before a race begins is to be so intimidated by everyone around me. My illogical thought process is that everyone else is a real runner and that so far I’m fooling them, but eventually they’re figure out that I’m a fraud. Since I hadn’t run any official half marathons, my corral number was waaaaay in the back. Corral 25. It took about an hour from the official start time of the race for my group to begin. Which is a whole lot of standing and looking around and being nervous/excited.
Mile 1: Feelin’ good. Feelin’ fresh. Feelin’ like standing on the bow of a ship and yelling ‘I’m Queen of the World!’ Everyone is so amped and I’m looking around and blinking a lot and mostly just wondering how I got here.
Mile 3: There’s only two ‘Hamilton’ songs on my playlist. “Guns and Ships” and “My Shot”. They played fairly close to each other. And the elderly lady that I was near who didn’t have earphones in gave me the greatest look.
Mile 4: Taking a sip of water and running is way harder than it should be. At least 60% of that water ended up spilling on the road. You live and you learn and next time you get a CamelBak.
Mile 6: Mile 6 is right around cardiac hill, which is a fun nickname for the worst steep incline. I knew it was coming because Kendall had warned me. But then when I saw it from around the bend, my brain shut down and all I could think was the word “NOPE”.
There’s fun race signs all along the route, but right after conquering that hill, there was a sign that says – “One day you will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.” Too real, y’all. Too real.
Mile 7: “Whiskey is for winners. Champagne is for Champions.” Mad respect to anyone that can take a shot during a race. I’m not one of those people though. The craziest shot I take is of that gross lukewarm lemon-lime gatorade.
Mile 7.5: I’m slowing down. Against everyone’s brilliant advice, I went into this race with a goal time in my head. And I knew I wasn’t going to achieve it. At a certain point it just became about taking it one foot at a time and getting to the finish line. And then Leon Bridges’ “Smooth Sailin” starts playing and my brain goes “YES. That hill was a bitch. But you’re over halfway done. Everything is great. It’s generally flat from here on out. WARBECCA.”
Mile 8: I’m feeling the burn. Everything hurts. I start to question my whole running choices. I’ve been laughing recently about this HuffPost article about Jeb! Bush and how on the campaign trail he had turtles in his pockets and gave them out to children. (Toys. Not live animals. I was concerned, too) And when asked why his response was, “Slow and steady progress. That’s what that means.” So I channeled my inner-Jeb! (Which is probably the only time I’ll ever type that sentence).
Mile 9: I look down at my fingers and they look like lil link sausages. I kept on flexing them like that would de-sausage them. Didn’t work. My fingers have never swollen like that before – but the internet tells me it’s perfectly normal.
Mile 10: “Born to Run”. My eyes get a little misty. But it put a spring in my step.
Mile 12: I have literally the greatest aunt and uncle on the planet and I’ve never been more appreciative of Hershey’s chocolate in my life.
Mile 13: Now I have to look like I was totaaaaally running the entire time to get an A+ finish line photo.
Getting that medal in my hands made it all worth it.
Post-race chocolate milk and a banana? Nectar and Ambrosia.
- I totally yakked after getting off the Metro. Am I real runner now?
- I was dreading the moment when we got back to the hotel room and I had to take my socks off. There’s no predicting how gnarly post-race feet can be. I only have one horrible looking blister though, so success!
- Kendall and I bonded over the fact that we both waited entirely too long to buy new running shoes and have them broken in by race day. The tread on my Nike’s was completely worn down. This was their last race. Thank you for your service.
- After the race and a shower, we went for brunch and I felt very emotional about the hamburger in front of me. I may or may not have had watery eyes after taking my first bite.
Post-Race Feels: (Written the night after the race)
Everything in my body feels achy right now. There’s an episode of The West Wing where the President (who, spoiler alert: has MS) loses feeling in his hands before being unable to move his entire body. The paranoid/mentally plan for the worst side of my brain has this terrible vision of that being me tomorrow morning.
The running community is the most warm and welcoming group of people I’ve ever been a part of. And while I don’t consider myself a proper runner most days, I’m consistently inspired by the people I get to run races with. From the spectators to other athletes – it’s such a beautiful celebration. There was a really great moment in this race around mile 3 where you cross a bridge and then loop back around. So when you’re going over the bridge, people who are about 5ish minutes ahead of you are crossing back into the city. And everyone is sticking their hands out for high fives and yelling encouragement and it’s just really beautiful when human beings build each other up.
This is the part of this post where I brag about Kendall. Y’all. It never would’ve crossed my mind that I could do a half-marathon if Kendall didn’t exist. She’s my running role model. And my running sensei. I’m like that cute lil kid with doe-eyes and big dreams and my white karate belt and she’s my far wiser teacher who is patient and encouraging. In this metaphor, a full marathon is a wood block and I know that one day I’ll be able to roundhouse kick that wood block and break it but that day is not today and Kendall’s going to keep on holding it up until I can do it. And that’s beautiful.
Post-Race Lessons Learned for Next Time:
- EAT. I think my brain thought there would breakfast provided. Running 13.1 miles with nothing in my system was such a poor choice. (To be fair, I did have some energy chews every 4 miles. And a shot-glass sized portion of lemon lime gatorade every 3? miles. And then mile 12 chocolate.) I never expected to PR this race, but I think if I had made better choices, that would have been reflected in my time.
- Races are just as much a mental test as they are a physical one. Multiple runners told me (HI CHELSEA), but my body forgot this on race day.
- Be confident enough to stick to your own pace. My race day problem is that I get so energized by everyone around me that I convince myself I can run faster than I actually can. I do the same thing during training runs when I pass other runners. I have a tendency to speed up and show off.
- Bring blister band aids so you don’t have to buy off-brand overpriced ones at the CVS.
- Adrenaline is great. But it’s an intensely fickle lover. I went into this with my longest run being 10 miles and the wishful thinking that race day glitz and glamour would get me through the rest. This didn’t happen exactly. I was a car running on an empty tank with miles to go until a gas station.