Things I Learned from my First Half Marathon

April 18th, 2015, 6pm

It was 18.9°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

Today I ran my first half marathon in Salt Lake City, UT. I never thought I would make it to the finish line. Although I began my training months before the race, I unexpectedly strained my groin a month before. After that, I wasn’t able to run for a few weeks. On top of that, I decided to run my first race at an elevation of 4,000 ft. above sea level (where I live is below 1,000 ft.). There were many lessons I learned to better prepare myself for my next race, but I also learned a lot of little life lessons along the way as well.

1. The Side Line Fans are the Best

Back home, I ran a few smaller races before this one. I knew what the crowds were like, the noise, the adrenaline rushes, and the overall excitement. It wasn’t until today, I realized how much I appreciated the people that took the time to sit on the side. They cheered in their pajamas, they took pictures, they gave everyone high fives, but most importantly they dedicated their time to the runners. There were a lot of people through the community who set up tables and stands full of snacks and water that they bought and prepared themselves. So, if you are a spectator, you should know how much you are greatly respected.

2. It is OK to Stop

When I first began my training, I had an over achiever attitude about my expectations for my first half marathon. I wanted to make it a goal to not stop the entire race. Well, I guess maybe it would have been a more obtainable goal if I hadn’t strained my groin, but that’s not the point. After seven miles, I realized I needed to stop to eat my energy gel. I also needed to stop at all the water points to hydrate myself. After eight miles, my knees began to ache, badly. I decided after each mile marker I would walk for about a minute. At first, I was discouraged and thought my timing would be awful. As I looked around, I couldn’t help but notice all the people that took time to stop. I finished my race in 2:28:22—even with my stops. So, my advice to you is, if you need to stop, stop because you can always make up for the time that you needed to take a break.

3. It is Possible

In eighth grade, I weighed about 170-180 pounds. I had always been over weight and extremely self-conscious. Eventually, when I reached high school I decided to become active in a ton of sports. I lost 50 pounds just by changing my diet and being active. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I became interested in long distance running. I started out with running 5ks—even at that point I thought that was a huge accomplishment. I set a short-term goal of running a half marathon last November. I was trying to be realistic about it and decided it would probably take me a year to train and to actually encourage myself to achieve such a big goal. That wasn’t the case. It only took me five months. I set up a training schedule and registered to run a race in Utah. After paying for the registration and taking off of work and school to take a road trip out there, I knew I didn’t have a choice of backing out. When I posted my results on Facebook, people commented, “Wow, congrats! I could never do that!” Of course I responded, “Why not? I never thought I could…” Yes, you can do it; it is possible.

4. It is Important to Respect your Body as an Instrument Rather than an Ornament

I first heard this phrase during a yoga session; it has stayed with me every since. As we all know, society distorts a lot of people’s idea of body image. Back in high school, I was one of those adolescent teens who was highly affected by the pressure of a “perfect body.” When I first began to lose weight, I was solely motivated by the idea of being skinny, attractive, and pretty. It took a very long time to for me to get out of that mindset, but I have to say it was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. Once I started running, I realized how important it is to nourish my body—especially with carbs. We all know how notorious carbohydrates are in dieting. So, I eat what is good for my body, but I also splurge because I am human. I exercise daily whether it involves walking, biking, hiking, running, etc. Of course I have flaws, and curves, and extra fat. I am healthy, I am happy, and I am so grateful that my amazing body allowed me to run this race. The next time you stretch before or after an exercise, take a few moments to be mindful of what your body does for you and be thankful.

Christine, AMYunus and Craig said thanks.

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