Back in April, I ran a half marathon. Doing this was one of my goals for the year and I am happy to say I was successful! It was also right about then that we put an offer on a house, got accepted and started the craziness of moving. Hence I am just now writing this post!
When I hear most people speak of running of half marathons, they often refer to it as a race. It is not that way for me, because I am not at all racing. I’m aware that I am pretty slow in comparison to many other runners. I have done four half marathons and each time I have seen it more as a competition with myself. There’s a lot I could write about how I prepared for the half marathon, things I learned along the way. But I wanted to write today about the half marathon itself, how I got through it and what kept me going. This first photo is me during my first half marathon five years ago. The last photo is from my most recent half marathon. It was amazing to think about all that has happened in those five years!
Run your own race/run
This is literally one of the first thoughts I had at the start. In a race of over 2000 people, it would have been easy for me to think about all the people that were already passing me, or all the people that were ahead of me, or started out faster than me. But in the end, it’s about my own race/run.
Set goals but be willing to adapt
I had a couple of specific goals for this race. Some I met, others I didn’t. I could have let the fact that I wasn’t going to meet one of my goals cloud the entire rest of my run, but instead I chose to focus on the most important one which was, to me, finishing the race.
Find your motivation
Along the course, I used to different strategies to find my motivation. For the first five miles or so, I didn’t need a lot of external motivation. I was cruising along, listening to my music and feeling pretty strong. Around mile five, I started to lose mental focus a bit and so I started thinking how I could motivate myself. At this point, I knew my family would be around mile 6.5 and this kept me motivated for that next mile and a half. The funny thing is, I thought I would see them a bit sooner than I did, so when I didn’t see them I was so disappointed. I lost a little motivation and had to really pump up the music to get myself going again! But then there they were a little ways ahead and I was instantly motivated again.
It’s okay to slow down, but don’t quit
Of the four half marathons I have run, I felt the strongest on this one. This doesn’t mean it was easy. I did all of my training on a treadmill so that I would have childcare. About mile ten, this fact really started to wear on my knees. It was at this point I knew I most likely was not going to meet my goal time, but I could still finish. I slowed down, took a minute to regroup and started back up again. I got to the finish a little slower than anticipated, but I finished.
Beat the mental battle
So many times, little thoughts crept into my mind. There were points were I was sure my legs would not go another step. There were times where I was sure I would have to stop to use the restroom (thank you childbirth). Those were the times I really just had to push through and beat my mind. Another key to a successful finish, was starting with the end in mind. I started the run believing I would finish. That in and of itself got me through many parts of the run.
Overall, this half marathon was an inspiring experience for me. I was focused and my mind was clear and all of these life lessons and thoughts came to me as I ran. I feel like this year as already been one of reflection and action. I feel confident and in control of my life. All of this is not to say that I felt “lost” or somehow less confident before, I just have felt very aware and much more deliberate in my daily life. I average about 2 years between half marathons, but it’s just about that amount of time where such a goal is really motivating and leaves me feeling inspired and feeling on top of the world.