I did it! I finished my second half marathon before my 21st birthday! Although I didn’t complete my goal of running the race in under 2 hours, I’m glad that I ran because my spark for racing has reignited and I am already excited for my next half marathon. This half marathon was also special because I ran it with my family. While my dad ran the 5k, my two younger brothers and I ran the half marathon. Now that race day has passed and my half marathon training is over (well, not really since I am in the recovery portion), I have had some time to reflect on my training, the week leading up to the event, and my thoughts on race day. Additionally, I have also had time to think about what worked (and what didn’t) in my training process and make some changes to improve my half marathon time.
The 9 week half marathon training plan I followed was beneficial for me in terms of setting a good foundation of mileage and routine. I loved that the plan was easy to follow and actually writing it in my planner kept me accountable and motivated to continue the program. My only issue with it was that it was only 9 weeks; at times, it I felt like I was rushing the process and I wouldn’t have minded the plan being 12 weeks. That being said, ultimately I feel that 9 weeks is just the right amount of time to train for a half marathon, especially if you don’t have the time to commit 12 weeks to train. The things I would change are to really put more effort on the days I do speed work and stick to the mileage for long runs. During my training, there were definitely two long runs I skipped and altered because I didn’t feel like running the designated amount or my schedule was just not working with my training. I am aware that this is totally my fault, and not at the fault of the training plan. You really do get what you put into your training, so consistency is important in achieving your goals.
Week 9 of my training was pretty relaxed since it was a taper week (4 miles on Monday and 3 miles on Wednesday, with rest from Thursday-Saturday). I guess the most interesting thing that happened was when I went to pick up my race packet the day before the race. Long story short, there was a small dilemma in the race shirts and I had to back to Fleet Feet twice to exchange shirts. The first time I packet pick up went by smoothly and I got my race shirt. Once I returned home, as my dad and brothers were trying on their race shirts, I noticed that their shirts were a different material than mine. There’s looked like true, dri fit shirts while mine resembled a cotton material (while still being 100% polyester). I am completely aware that polyester is the material that makes a shirt dri-fit, but the material of both shirts were different. I thought this was slightly weird and went back to the store to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out that the shirts for women were different than the men’s shirts. In my experience, races usually have the same shirts for men and women (same material and color), so seeing this was truly mind boggling. Whether this difference was due to cost or some other reason, it’s not really a big deal since I was able to exchange my women’s shirt for a men’s dri fit shirt. I am currently wearing the shirt, proudly.
Race day went by fast and pretty painless for the most part. I ran with my youngest brother for the first half of the race but we broke off at around mile 8. I felt pretty strong the first half of the race; my legs weren’t cramping and my feet felt fine. It’s worth noting that I took three tablets of the Sports Legs supplement (it came along with the race packet and I thought I should try it). While I don’t have qualms with this supplement, I’m not sure if I could give it sole credit for my lack of leg cramping during the run. The reason why I slowed down is mostly mental. The saying “running is 20% physical and 80% mental” definitely applied to my situation. It felt weird because my body felt completely fine and capable, but my mind was just like “No Sam, you should walk now, your feet hurt!” My feet did in fact start to hurt at around mile 10, but I think I could have pushed passed the pain and kept on running, even if I ran slow.
What I am most proud of was my finish. Once I saw the mile 13 sign and the finish line was in sight, I sprinted as fast as I could, giving it my all, and passing two runners in the process. As I was approaching near the finishing chute, I could hear my family whooping with joy and the spectators cheering me on. What really made my day was what the race commentator said over the microphone when he saw me sprinting to the finish line; he said “We got a runner over here! What a strong finish, that’s a quality runner right here!” And with that, I crossed the line with a huge, gratifying smile on my face and my second half marathon medal adorned on my neck.
Three years after my first half marathon, I feel welcomed back to racing and the running community. What I love about the most about the half marathon is that it’s the perfect distance that challenges any type of runner while also providing an immense sense of strength and empowerment to those that complete it. It’s the perfect distance that either motivates a runner to pursue longer distances or even come to the realization that the 13.1 miles is a perfect race. While running a full marathon and qualifying for Boston is on my bucket list, I’ll keep training and learning.Overall my comeback to the half marathon scene was very inspiring as I got to experience it with my family and learn more about myself in the process. With the changes I have in mind, I am eager to run my next half marathon. Let me just rest for a bit and foam roll!