Sorry that it has been so long! On May 4, I ran a half marathon called the Indy Mini. I finished in 3 hours and 7 minutes. It was great, and I definitely recommend doing a half marathon at some point, even if you just walk it (as long as you train for it properly).
During the week before, I was very nervous about the weather. I had been training in thirty or forty degree whether and suddenly it was in the seventies! I didn't even have shorts that were good for running yet. The morning of the race, I was still worrying about what to wear. I had two pairs of shorts, but neither were great. I also had my long pants. Ultimately, I got creative. I wore my long pants, but took the bottoms and pulled them up to the top of my legs underneath the other half of the pants. The fat on my thighs did a great job of keeping them up in between my legs (at least that fat was helpful for something), and I safety-pinned them up on the outside. I was probably one of the only people wearing my pants with the legs doubled on top of each other to make them shorts. It was very funny but worked great! Now, I need to begin the search for real shorts.
My parents drove me in and dropped me off. Then I found my corral. The Indy Mini is one of the largest half marathons in the United States, so it was crowded. There were about 35,000 participants from what I heard. I was seeded back in corral V for Victory according to my mom. Here's a view as we started to get in our corrals. Later, it got too packed for a picture.
The race started, and we began our slow, thirty minute walk to the start line. I weaved through the people to get to the right hand side, where my parents texted me that they were standing for a picture (which my dad still has yet to give me, so I can't put that up yet). Then we were off and running. I had to continually remind myself to stay slow the first few miles. It seemed like nothing when I passed mile 4, which is amazing consider 1 mile was tough a year ago.
One of the coolest things about the Indy Mini is that 2 miles of the race is on the Indy Speedway, where the Indy 500 is. Now, while I did think it was warm out compared to what I trained in, this was nothing compared to other years. Last year, it was in the 80s, and the track gets warm in the sun (which was luckily hiding for my race), so the 2 miles on the track was over 100 degrees last year. I could not imagine surviving that heat while trying to complete a race. It was such a blessing that it was only 60 and the sun hid for most of the race. Anyways, it was fun to run the track. At times, I pretended I was a racecar because it kept me running, and to be honest, I make racecar noises as I drive my car sometimes, so it only seemed appropriate.
One of my professors told me in order to truly run the Indy Mini, you need to stop and kiss the yard of bricks, which is at the finish line for the racecars. So I did. This isn't a pretty picture, but it's necessary to show that I really ran the Indy Mini, and it's the first actual view you've had of me!
This was about the sixth mile, and I was starting to lose my motivation. I kept seeing a group of kids by me though, and they kept me going. If they can do it, I can. One boy was wearing a shirt saying his name and that is was his birthday. He ran with his whole family, including mom, dad, uncle, aunt, and even grandpa. If that was encouraging for me to keep up with the, I don't know what would be. It's amazing how encouraging others can be, even if they don't mean to be. As I shared in my blog about my 15K, some ladies came up afterwards and told me how inspiring I was and I told other ladies the same thing.
As I mentioned, I tried to hold myself back from running too fast at the beginning. I crossed the 5K point at 42:20, and the Brickyard at 1:47:17. Once I gathered my motivation back at the end of the Speedway (between Mile 8 and 9?), I gave myself permission to run faster at what seemed to be a more normal pace (though was really faster for me). I was doing really well through Mile 11, which I crossed at 2:35:28. I knew I could do it this far. Two weeks before I had run just over ten miles, so adding one more on was not a challenge. The question was: could I keep going?
The last two miles were a struggle. Comparing my Mile 11 and End time, the last 2.1 miles took me 32 minutes, when I should have been able to do it in less than thirty (I usually do 2 in 26 minutes). I really wish I had been able to train to 11.5 or 12 miles like I had in my training plan originally. I took an extra week off after my 15K because my right leg hurt, and I didn't want to injure it more. It's been fine since then and was perfectly fine after Mini (although, it was very sore after I was swing dancing later that week). Anyways, I ended up walking most of the last two miles, ignoring my interval timer (which is set for one minute run, thirty second walk). Finally, I switched the interval and convinced myself run for at least thirty seconds every minute. Once I was sure that I couldn't reach my goal of finishing in under 3 hours, my motivation went out the window more. Who needed to go fast when my goal was just to finish? Running the "Victory Mile" is fun because there are many people and fun decorations, but seeing finished racers returning to their cars was not very encouraging. The people around me kept telling me to keep going though and gave me suggestions how to keep going.
Finally, I crossed the finish line! I walked through the end chute, stopping to stretch a little at one point, and gathered the large amounts of food they had for us. I was so glad to be able to stop running. I didn't spend much time cooling down since I had basically done a very nice cool down during the last two miles. Then, I headed off to the family area to meet my parents. It took them a while to get there, so I ate, drank, and stretched. We didn't stick around the after-party too long (although the Indy Mini has a good after-party if you ever run it), but we did stop by my school's booth, where I was encouraged because some other college students didn't finish too long before me (well, one was running with her mom, but still).
Overall, I'm very proud that I did it, and I have a cool medal to show for it. People ask me if I will do a half marathon again, and I'm not sure. Probably. I'd love to do either the Disney Princess or Tinkerbell one eventually, but I would need to save up money for that. For now, I'll stick to 5 and 10Ks. I need to give my body time to adjust to a new, warm temperature for the summer and because I will be living in Venezuela next year. Who knows, maybe I'll get crazy and try a sprint triathalon sometime.
If you are thinking of doing your first half marathon and have been inspired by my story of running it coming from running two miles in November (when I signed up), I would say DO IT. BUT, here's some things you should do BEFORE you sign up:
1. Get a good solid base. I first did Couch to 5K. I wish that I had completely finished it before I signed up, but I knew that if I was going to do the Indy Mini I needed to do it that spring because I was graduating from my Indiana school.
2. Run (or walk) a 10K race. Get several 5Ks and a 10K done BEFORE you sign up for that Mini. I did great until after the 15K, and then I really could have used more time to let my body adjust to running that far.
3. Start strength training. A runner is only as good as they are strong.
4. Talk with your doctor. Okay, so I didn't do this one, but it is important, especially if you have a history of joint problems or other conditions that don't do well with running.
When you do sign up...
1. Give yourself plenty of time to train. It takes time for your body to adjust. There may be weeks you are sick or get injury, and it's nice to have wiggle room in your training plan. To not get injured, the key is to increase slowly!
2. Follow a training plan. I combined two beginners' plans to fit my needs. I looked at recommendations from countless places and researched this extensively. My plan gave me some wiggle room for stressful weeks and accommodated weeks that I knew wouldn't go with a strict plan like spring break or when I was at a job fair for a weekend. Try to do at least 11 miles in your plan. I had heard 10 was enough, so I was satisfied with just doing 10, but I think doing 11 ahead of time would have helped. I ran three days per week (2 were 3 miles and Saturdays were long runs) and crosstrained 3 days. I love swimming and biking, and swimming always felt great if my muscles were sore or my leg was hurting. I also strength trained on these days and wish that I would have done more strength training. The day of rest was also very important, and I did take additional rest days as I deemed necessary.
3. Find a friend or group if you can. This is something I didn't do, but if you can, PLEASE DO! Maybe, you could start by walking a race and having a friend join you. I've heard great things about groups. For me, I couldn't find anyone willing to go the distance at my speed (oh, college kids), and buddies I had tried in the past really weren't motivated so they would decide not to go one morning, which left me agreeing not to go either. I found that if I was going to do this, it had to be by myself. It would have been more fun with a friend, and those last two miles would have been easier.
4. Remember, going fast and finishing in a certain time isn't important for your first half marathon. It's more important that you train well, give yourself plenty of time, and don't get injured. SLOW and STEADY wins the race. Don't push yourself too fast. I probably did, which is why my right leg hurt for a week after my 15K.
If you're new to running and considering doing a half marathon, I would love to talk with you more. Leave me a comment or send me a Spark Message.
Overall, I'm very proud of my accomplishment and am excited to continue running. I've learned that I can do things that I put my mind to and have the strength to keep going. Oh, and here's a picture of my metal and shirt.