I’ve wanted to run a marathon for a while. Like, since I first decided to register for a half marathon. Unfortunately, I’ve been too afraid.
I remember when I finished my first 10K I thought to myself, “that wasn’t too bad; I think I could handle a half marathon.” Then when I finished my first half marathon I thought, “NOPE, definitely still can’t do a marathon.” But the problem with things like this (insanely challenging things) is that you probably won’t ever feel ready. So, two weeks ago, in a moment of extreme bravery, I registered for my first marathon.
The race isn’t until December, so I have plenty of time to train, and it’s local so I may have talked a friend into running it with me. Both good things. I’m still very nervous, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
…and to how badass I’m sure I’ll feel at the end. 🙂
Today was a GORGEOUS day and my aerial teachers are out of town, stopping me from going to class at all this weekend, so I decided it was time to go for a run. I have run approximately twice since March, and the last time I tried – about two months ago – I only made it two miles, so I decided to set a stretch goal of three miles and see how it went.
I haven’t been running much lately because I go to two aerial classes a day six days a week most weeks, but if you’ve been reading my blog for a long time you’ll know that last fall I was running generally five days a week. And because I’m too lazy to drive somewhere to run, I typically ran along more or less the same route (adjusted for distance).
There are a few people that I got used to seeing on a semi-regular basis, but there was one in particular that I really remembered – partly because he liked to run on the street despite the fact that there was a perfectly good sidewalk right next to him, but mostly because it seemed like I saw him nearly every run in more or less exactly the same spot, give or take a couple hundred yards.
After a few days or weeks of this, I think we both started to recognize each other because when we passed he would smile and/or wave, and I’d smile and/or wave back. Eventually I grew emotionally attached to him in a weird way; the way that runners support each other in passing is one of my favorite things about running, and getting a smile or a wave felt like encouragement that helped me through my runs, no matter how much I was struggling. So, I started thinking of him as my running buddy.
Since I stopped running, I’ll still see him every once in a while – though generally from my car – and feel guilty about how infrequently I’ve been getting out on my feet. And occasionally I’d thought that I’d like to actually meet/talk to him, but since neither of us want to interrupt our runs and I’d never seen him anywhere else I figured it would never happen. Or so I thought.
For those who don’t know, color runs are races (generally 5k, generally untimed) where you get colored powder thrown at you in the middle of the course. In this case, there were four colors (yellow, pink, orange, blue) throughout the race and then glitter at the finish line. Then at the after party they give you even MORE powder for “color throws” where everyone just throws their powder up in the air and it gets all over everything.
Ever since I moved to Charleston, any time I mentioned running to anyone, the very first response I got was “oh, are you going to do the bridge run?” Fortunately I have a friend at Clemson who told me about the race before I even moved, so we’d already agreed to run it together and I knew what they were talking about. But I still assumed that their insistence that it’s a really big deal was just Charleston people being proud of Charleston.
Actually, I kicked ass at a half marathon on Saturday. The MapMyRun screenshot below shows my splits, but I forgot to stop the timer at the end so my actual clock time was 2:05:55, which meant an average pace of 9:36 min/mile – a full 24 seconds faster than my goal pace, which was awesome.
Many of my friends and family members, or really anyone who knows how often and how far I run, insist that I’m a runner. So when I talk about not having hobbies, it’s not uncommon for someone to say “of course you have a hobby; you run!” And that’s all well and good, except that I do not consider myself to be a runner. I don’t know why that is – it doesn’t matter how far or fast I go, how many days a week, or how I place in races, I just don’t feel like a runner.
Although I still have no idea why I don’t feel like a runner, I did recently figure out why I don’t consider it a hobby. To me, a hobby is something you choose to do in your free time for your own enjoyment. And while I do choose to run in my free time, it’s not like I’m ever in a situation where I’m sitting around my apartment thinking “hm… I don’t have anything to do right now. I’ll go for a run!” It’s much more “ok, training plans says five miles today; let’s go!”
So that got me thinking – what do I do when I find myself sitting around with nothing to get done? Well for starters I rarely find myself sitting around with truly nothing to do. But. One thing I have noticed lately is that I frequently choose to go out of my way to make things at home that I could more easily have bought from a store.
In my last stay in shape post, I talked about how in order to reach my fitness goals I had to stop making excuses. Back when I wrote that post, I had just run a 10k. Now I have a casual birthday half marathon under my belt and am training for an actual half marathon race in October. Not making excuses has been a really important part of making it to that point!
But, it’s not the only thing I’ve learned; far from it, in fact. So here’s part two – with another really important lesson: it’s going to suck at first. Probably for a while. Keep doing it anyway.
On June 2nd I ran 1.31 miles. It took me 14 minutes and 30 seconds with an average pace of 11:05 miles/minute, and when I stopped I thought that I might die. With that experience behind me, I decided to set a somewhat conservative but attainable goal of being able to run a 10k (6.2 miles) by the beginning of August.
On June 26th, I ran that 10k in a little over an hour with an average pace of 11:03 minutes/mile, and when I stopped I felt phenomenal – I even half danced the rest of the way home.
Reaching my goal, especially in less than half the amount of time I had planned, felt amazing. Fantastic, in fact. And in getting there, I’ve learned some things about establishing habits and routines that started in an effort to get in better shape, but that I now see can be applied to pretty much any part of responsible adulting. So here’s what I’ve learned (part one):