That One Time I Ran a Half-Marathon

Hello everyone!

I know I’ve been missing for a little while here and haven’t been able to keep up with my biweekly post commitment. Here is a brief summary of what I’ve been up to:

1) I went on spring break! I visited my grandma, aunt, and uncle in Florida for about a week. Florida was much sunnier and warmer than the Midwest, and that alone would have made the trip worth it, besides the fact that I got to spend some time with my relatives without it being a big family get-together. When the weather was less than spectacular, I got some work done, and when it was nice, I didn’t touch my computer until the end of the night, when I started watching popular Chilean soap opera Soltera Otra Vez in bed.

Sand and ocean water are the best.

Sand and ocean water are the best.

A real, live flower in my grandma’s backyard.

A really great place to think about where you're going.

A really great place to think about where you’re going.

I even got a couple of days at home before I had to head back to campus. All in all, it was a much needed and well-spent break. Thanks to my family for everything!

Brunching!

Brunching!

And baking, of course.

And baking, of course.

2) I am writing a thesis. I am looking for a job. These things are probably more important than blogging. But the blogging is a nice break, hence, why I’m here right now.

De-stressing, not distressing.

De-stressing, not distressing.

My older gringa host sister K. sent me this letter, which I received upon returning from break. The timing was perfect.

My older gringa host sister K. sent me this letter, which I received upon returning from break. The timing and the Gospel passage were perfect.

3) I ran a half-marathon.

Okay, you’re not getting the SparkNotes version of that!

This shoes required almost no breaking in, and you can bet that they'll still be my workout shoes even post-race.

This shoes required almost no breaking in, and you can bet that they’ll still be my workout shoes even post-race.

As some of you may know, I have been training since the beginning of the semester for my school’s own half-marathon. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles (half of the 26.2 marathon distance). Para Uds que prefieren medir en metros, es 21km. Sí, estoy un poquito loca.

I followed a training plan, which was essential considering I have never run anything longer than a 5K, and I never even trained for those races. I used this one, which is appropriate for beginners who are already running regularly. If you can run 2-3 miles without stopping, you’re probably in good enough shape for this plan. There are plenty of others available for people who aren’t even runners, so don’t let that stop you!

The plan was 12 weeks long, and I started 11 weeks out, so I cut out one week of the plan. I also modified some of the distances and the kind of run, particularly towards the end of training. After I hit the seven mile mark, my knees started to bother me. It was then that I realized that six mile tempo runs and five mile hill runs (which, by the way, were only possible on treadmills because my campus has no hilly routes) were probably not going to be possible. Eventually I bought a knee brace and tried my best to stick just to the distance on the plan, either on the trail, the treadmill, or on an elliptical.

Race day arrives. Of course I can’t fall asleep the night before, and I know I can’t have my usual two cups of coffee or else I’ll have to pee like crazy by mile 3, and get crazy dehydrated. I fueled up with cereal, a banana, and a snack bar, and I tried to drink plenty of water. My friends and I headed over to the starting line right when they were playing the national anthem. And just a few minutes later, we were off and running!

I apologize for the lack of photos, but my phone was strapped tightly to my arm providing me with music, which is essential as water when I’m running.

Here is a sampling of my playlist, along with the thoughts going through my mind at each mile:

MILE 1:

Take it easy. Don’t try to keep up with or catch up to anybody. You are running against no one but yourself.

MILE 2:

That was a quick two miles! If I can keep this pace up I’ll be golden. Is it too early to listen to this song yet?

MILE 3:

All right, since I’m feeling good, I’m gonna kick it in a little bit.

MILE 4:

We were running around the lakes at this point and I was feeling pretty good. Nice and light, didn’t have much trouble pushing myself.

MILE 5:

How badly will people stare if I start singing and dancing along?

MILE 6:

Right around mile 6 I started to get heavy and sore in my quads and hip flexors. The big thought? “It is way too early for this, body.”

MILE 7:

True statement. I was ready to slow down. And then I got a surge of energy…

MILES 8-10:

And then I got heavy. And then I stopped remembering which songs were playing. It became a big mental game at that point: convincing myself that I had trained for this, and I was going to finish the darn race. It was also at this point that I started to walk a little bit here and there. I only walked three or four times- I had hoped to go the whole way without any walking, but I realized that if I wanted to finish, I would have to give my muscles a break from the repetitive motion of running.

MILE 11:

This is the final stretch! I was so ready to see the end of the race at this point. I was excited to be able to say that I’d done it, and get away from any possibility that I might not be able to finish.

MILE 12:

And that was that! We think that they may have tricked us at the end by making mile 11 a little bit longer than a mile, so that mile 12 wrapped up very quickly. But I ran hard through the finish, and I can say that I ran a half marathon without stopping! (Okay, except for like a few seconds around mile 8 when I was waiting for water.)

(Side note: I have such edgy, hip taste in music, right? Haaaaa.)

General thoughts: distance runners are crazy. I don’t understand how people can do a full marathon. My knees, my quads, and my hip flexors are all achy and tight. My feet are sore. My whole back tightened up after my shower, probably from the repeated impact of running all morning. But, I’m not as wrecked as I thought I might be. I put in all that training and it really did pay off. I might do another half-marathon, but not for a long time. The training is time-consuming, and running may not be the best form of exercise for me and my fitness goals.

Nevertheless, I’m really happy with my decision to do it this year! And I have to say a very special thank you to all of my family and friends who sent me so many wonderful thoughts and good vibes this weekend. It means so much to me, and I was thinking of you all while I was running!

Now excuse me while I go lie down and eat all of the carbs.

With love,

Gaby

 

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