April 1, 2014

Training Tuesday: Half Marathons Then and Now

Ouch.  I just finished reacquainting myself with my foam roller, and it was not pretty.  I definitely have a love/hate relationship with this thing...
In fact, based on the amount of pain I was in during that session, I think I foresee a lot of time with these guys in my immediate future:
I guess that's what a car ride from Chicago to Florida and back again will do to a runner!!  (So worth it though...)

Anyways, the reason for the necessary foam rolling is that I have a race coming up!  I'm running the Chi Town Half Marathon on Sunday, and I have to say it feels like this race snuck up on me.  It's not that I haven't been training, but with school being crazy, my recent vacation, and my mental focus on triathlon lately, while my body might be ready for a 13.1, I feel like it's safe to see I feel less mentally prepared for this race than any of my other halves!

As I was making pre-race plans with a friend, I got to thinking about how my preparation for and anticipation of this half marathon feels SO different from some of my past half marathons.

During my training for my first half, I was a ball of nerves.  I obsessed about EVERYTHING in the weeks leading up to the race!  My legs, my race outfit, the weather, you name it.  I had had an injury-filled training cycle and was basically a wreck, unsure whether I'd even complete the distance.  I swear, it was all I talked about for weeks.  (Sorry, friends and family!)
Half #1, circa 2011--Could barely believe I finished :)
For my second half, I felt a *little* better, but only marginally.  After surviving the first half, I went on to incur injury after injury during the next year.  It. was. rough.  I knew I was capable of completing the distance the second time around, but I was still a an emotional basket case as I lined up at the start.  I worried that my recent injuries were going to resurface mid-race, or worse, that I'd get a new injury along the way.
Half #2, circa 2012--So pumped to finish, and with a huge PR too!

For half marathons 3 & 4, I felt more confident, and by half marathon 5, I remember thinking for the first time as I lined up at the start that I was strong, ready, and capable.  I approached that race with the confidence of a veteran, ready to just have fun and enjoy every mile.  That was the race that made 13.1 my favorite distance.

Half #5, 2013--Finally feeling at home with this distance
Now, as I look forward to half marathon #6 and race #5 billion (or really more like 35ish...), I feel something completely different--neutral.  Routine.  Old hat. It's not that I'm not looking forward to it--I love racing, and I totally am ready to race again.  It just that this distance really doesn't scare me anymore.  It feels like just another weekend long run, something I NEVER expected to feel about 13.1 miles.  I was talking to my non-runner brother this week about my training, and I realized that ever since running the Chicago Marathon this fall (my first), my perspective on distance has seriously changed.  I used to look at half marathons with the question of, "Will I make it?  Can I do this?  Will I finish?"  And even after I was confident in the answers to those questions, I worried, "What mysterious muscle will be killing me along the way?"
Chicago Marathon, 2013: If I can survive this race, I can survive anything! :)

It's not that 13.1 miles is easy--ugh I don't think running itself will ever be easy for me!  But mentally, it is SO. DIFFERENT.  I guess it's all about perspective!  Really, that's one of my favorite things about running.  I've talked before on the blog about how in my classroom, kids are always setting goals, tracking progress, and talking about their growth.  Sure, we set goals in the grown up world, but how many opportunities are there for us to sit down and reflect on our growth?  We're not taking multiplication time tests every Friday and graphing our growth targets like my 3rd and 4th graders!  But that's the beautiful thing about running--every race is a chance to reflect on how far you've come and what a beautiful journey it's been.  At least that's how it feels for me, and I hope to God it never changes.

Anyways, I have no expectations for this race and am running it for a few very simple reasons: it has been too long since I've toed a starting line, and I need a runner's high and a medal around my neck.  Because what better feeling is there than that? :)

How has your perspective on running or racing changed since you first started out?


  1. Yes! I totally agree. The farthest I've run is a half, but since doing that, 6, 8, even 10 mile runs are no big deal. They say that long runs are good for 5K's & 10K's for your something something physiologically, but really , they are such a MENTAL help. Even a 6-mile run helps a 5k just because a 5k is SHORT to you have doing a few longer runs!

    I'm not sure if I will ever run a marathon. I don't love runs over 10 miles (prob because I've never eaten). Maybe someday. I hope your race is fun!

  2. I did one marathon and it does put a lot of things in perspective, my first half was terrible, I went out too fast and by the halfway point I was spent and swearing them off forever, now I have done 5 and know that I can really rock the distance.

  3. It's great that your perspective has changed so much! Mine has as well... I'm training for my first full marathon (this month, eek!), and I've been pretty obsessive about it since I've never done a full.. but a couple of my longer training runs have gone really well, so I'm getting confident!


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