1. Fuel is important. But not just for the physical aspect of it, but the mental also. One thing thing that kept me going was the idea of getting to enjoy a fuel "treat" every so many miles (usually 1.5-2 miles for me). If I knew I had something to look forward to, then I felt a bit more motivated. Also, I had two types of fuel: Honey Stingers and glucose tablets. This helped the mental monotony of only one type of fuel.
2. Race day nutrition is important. A given. But I am amazed at the number of people who blow this off. I came across runners that mentioned eating throughout the Food & Wine Festival that day. Or those who were at their resort bar. I heard a woman during the race say, "That huge meal we had before the race may not have been a good idea. It isn't sitting well with me." Her running partner agreed. I have no idea how they made out from that point on. Post race, I saw a lot of people vomiting. Now some of it may be due to overexertion, dehydration, or something else. But some of it is also due to poor race day nutrition. I am not a huge eater. I become even less of one on running days. I had one "big" meal on race day, when I stopped at Earl of Sandwich.
3.It is ok to be slow. There is no shame in it. There is no shame in being a walk/runner. For the longest time, I was embarrassed by it. But there are so many of us out there. And when I was finally doing the race, it didn't even cross my mind. I know I will never finish a half marathon in just over an hour. That is ok with me. I am just happy to finish at all. I no longer feel intimidated by the likes of Anton Van Zyl. I realize he is in a different category than me, but we are both running the same race. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and love that I got to share the road with him. The same goes for Jeff Galloway. How blessed am I to run in the same race as an Olympian that I look up to...and who has personally encouraged me? And he taught me that it is ok to be slow. And by slow, I mean slow.
|Click to see the larger image of the results|
4. Training is important. Several times throughout the race, I heard the phrase, "this is the farthest I have ever run." I heard it around mile 8, mile 10, mile 11...some in between. No worries. But I think there were a couple of times that my eyes widened a bit. This happened when I heard the phrase spoken between miles 3 and 5. The first race I ran was the only race I ran prior to this half. It was a 5K, which is only 3.1 miles. But it is not the farthest I have gone. When you are training for a half marathon, you cannot train as though you are only going for a 5K. A half can definitely be your first race, but you have to train for it. If you don't train, you risk injury...you risk being swept. Even though I trained, I still battled really sore legs (not quite an injury, just my body being unhappy with me). People who did train were swept. So don't go into a half marathon thinking that you don't really need to train for it. 13.1 miles is no easy feat. Admittedly, there were days I did not want to go outside for my runs. Sitting and relaxing or sleeping in was a much more desirable choice. Looking back on it now, I am so thankful I went out anyway. If I was in pain after finishing the race, I can't imagine what it would have been like if I hadn't done the proper training. The hardest step for a runner is the first one out the front door. It gets easier the moment after.
5. I know my abilities...and I am not limited by them. We all have an idea of how much our body can handle. That is why many of us may stop a run or a workout the moment we get tired or sore. We worked within our abilities and and stopped when we felt like we could do no more. But by doing that, we live within limited abilities. We don't realize that our bodies can do so much more. It can withstand quite a lot. I learned that at the race. Yes, I was tired. It was late, and I have never been out running at 1am. But the biggest things I had to push through were the sore legs and feet. Even though I had trained, it hurt. And I wasn't at home where I could simply call it a day (or night) and head back inside. Stopping meant being swept. Stopping meant a DNF. Stopping wasn't an option. I did not know my body was capable of pushing through the pain. I did not know it was capable of completing a half marathon. Just last year, I was amazed at my ability to complete a 5K. This race and my body taught me I do have abilities, but I am capable of more. It really is mind over matter. Those mental roadblocks are tough. But our bodies are tougher. When you overcome those mental roadblocks, you will be amazed at what your body can accomplish. It is far greater than you think it is.