At this point in my life, I have completed 2 Half-Marathons: The Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in April of 2015 and the Katy Half Marathon in February of 2016. I thought it would be fun to talk a bit about my experiences with each race and how I got to this point of running a half marathon!
**Note: I am by NO means a running or fitness expert. I simply run for fun and to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
How did I get started with running?
Both of my parents have been big runners and have completed multiple marathons and half-marathons. Seeing them run and train has always made me want to give it a shot. I had never given running a try since dance was always my form of cardio, but when I started college that started to change. I would no longer have dance in my life.
I really didn’t run much throughout college until senior year. My roommates that year liked to go on runs, so I frequently joined them for an outdoor run. It was much easier to run with a partner. Overall, I still didn’t run much throughout college and still wasn’t super serious about it.
I have had a couple of failed attempts at half marathons prior to completing 2 of them. By failed attempts, I mean that I signed up for these races and didn’t end up running them.
Failed Attempt #1: Sophomore or Junior year of college I signed up for the Lincoln Half Marathon because it was the popular thing to do and everyone was doing it. I didn’t end up running it for a variety of reasons, but ultimately, I wasn’t committed and didn’t have the time to be committed. To be fair, I was studying biomedical engineering and was almost always studying. Running was not a priority for me.
Failed Attempt #2: Once I landed a job at Epic and figured out my start date, I decided that it would be fun to sign up for the Madison Half Marathon! It was happening a couple of weekends before I started my job with Epic. My mom, dad and brother were also going to run it. I actually did train for this, but I was suffering from both knee and foot pain. Most likely, I wasn’t stretching enough and didn’t have the right shoes. I wasn’t getting enough miles in before the race and ended up switching the 10K race instead.
Upon moving to Madison, I didn’t run or work-out much at all (sadly). I was working a lot, making friends, going out, etc. Running still wasn’t a priority for me at this time. I would go on a few runs here and there, but nothing serious.
In 2014, I was starting to work-out and run more, but still nothing serious. I got married in the Fall of 2014 and by Thanksgiving of that year, I knew something had to change in regards to my fitness. I was not active enough and it was starting to bother me.
I started to take working out more seriously at the end of 2014 and the start of the new year. To keep me motivated, I wanted to sign-up for a race. My husband and I decided that we would commit to a half-marathon, and I told myself that there was NO WAY I could back-out of this one. We decided to run the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll because it would be a fun race, lots of people and in one of our favorite cities.
Training For My First Half
Once we signed up for the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon, I immediately downloaded the Novice Hal Higdon Half Marathon training program. I went ahead and just bought the App on my iPhone. I think I paid a few dollars for it at the time. Today, it looks like he is charging $9.99 for the App. I think it is worth the investment!
I tried to follow his training program as closely as I could. I didn’t complete every training run due to business travel and maybe my laziness. Either way, I stuck to it best I could and that was pretty much my training!
You don’t run EVERY day on his program. You do some shorter runs throughout the week (3-5 miles) and then a big long run on the weekend. There is 1 rest day every week and days for cross-training.
In terms of diet, I didn’t change my diet at all. The week before the race, I didn’t really drink much at all, but that was the only “cutting back” I did.
My only goal was to finish this half-marathon.
Nashville Half Marathon
Our race day finally came and we did finish. It was a huge struggle though.
My first thought when I woke up was, “Why in the heck did I sign up for this?!” I was absolutely dreading it.
We arrived downtown at the starting point on Broadway and didn’t have a ton of time until the start of the race. We ran to the bathroom quick and found our pace group. One thing I noticed was that it was going to be much warmer than we had originally anticipated. Running and heat don’t mix well for me.
We started the race and everything was going fine. We didn’t train for the hills though! This race has SOOOOOO many hills. Like it is all hills. So, that was a huge struggle. I felt comfortable until about the halfway point.
After the halfway point, it was an uphill battle (literally). The hills never ended and it just kept getting hotter and hotter. Towards the end, the sun was starting to come out, too. So many people were walking (including us), but we tried to keep going. We did a lot of run/walking the second half because just didn’t train in those conditions. We went from training in a cold and flat climate to running the race in a hot/humid and hilly climate.
Anyways, I finally finished and immediately grabbed a water. I had nothing the entire race (rookie mistake). I drank my entire water bottle in a matter of seconds and immediately felt sick. I will never do that again. For me, I need to have a powerade or gatorade after a long, hot run like that. Water will always make me feel sick.
I was proud I finished, but I was a little mad that we didn’t train for the hills. There was nothing we could do about the hot weather though.
Katy Half Marathon
After the Nashville Half, I knew I could do better. So, I signed up for another Half Marathon. This time, I was going to make sure it was a SUPER flat course.
I wanted to look for a local race so we could avoid traveling. I found the Katy Half Marathon to be the perfect fit for us since it was a flat course. Like flatter than flat. Also, it was in February in Texas which means it should be pretty cool in the morning!
I will be honest in saying I barely trained for this race. The job I had at the time was extremely stressful, I was working over 80 hours a week and was not fitting in the training runs. I was bummed that I didn’t train much, and I almost called it quits on this race.
My husband encouraged me to still do it anyways since it would be good weather and a flat course.
We woke up bright and early the morning of the race and made it to Katy. I was nervous, but more so, I was just ready to get it over with!
The first half of the race felt AMAZING. I honestly have never felt better while running. I was very shocked since I hadn’t trained.
At about Mile 7, I started to feel sick to my stomach and stopped to walk a bit. From that point on, the race didn’t go as well. I managed to pick up the pace and start running again, but the last few miles were still a struggle. My knees/feet were really starting to give out. I should have bought new running shoes prior to the race. The pair I was wearing had too many miles on them.
I pushed through and crossed the finish line. I was happy that I still got a PR! I could have done a lot better had I trained and got new running shoes, but I still finished.
Lately, I have been running a lot more and have been getting faster. After two half-marathons, I am ready to take this race more seriously and shave a TON of time off my PR.
I am glad I have 2 half-marathons under my belt (even if they were slow). I think it helps to have the experience and know what a race is like.
Next calendar year, I am planning on doing 3 Half-Marathons in a row! I just signed up for my first one, but my plan is to do:
- Chevron Houston Half-Marathon (January – already signed up!)
- Katy Half-Marathon (February)
- The Woodlands Half-Marathon (March)
I really want to knock the first one out of the park. The Houston half is a HUGE race, so I think it will be a lot of fun and there will be a lot of energy on the course.
I want to re-run the Katy Half-Marathon because I want to beat my time on the course. Plus, it was a pretty easy course.
I also want to run The Woodlands Half-Marathon because we live here! We volunteered at this race this year and it was so fun to watch. It made me want to sign up for it next year.
I probably won’t run a TON over this summer due to the high heat in Houston, but I want to keep running a few miles here and there. My plan is to do 2-5 miles a few times a week.
I plan on picking up mileage in the fall (late September timeframe).
My Running Gadgets
Right now, I am using a combination of my Apple Sport Watch and my Garmin Watch while I run.
I use the Garmin to track my distance, speed and monthly mileage totals. It beeps at me after every mile, so I can easily look at it quick to see my pace. I really love this watch. I have the Garmin Forerunner 220.
I use my Apple Watch to track my heart rate and calorie burn. I wear this all day so I can get an overall picture of my health and activity throughout the day!
Sorry that was such a long overview of my running and half-marathon story, but I am hoping a few people can take something away from my experiences.
Does anyone else like running? Have you ever run a half-marathon? Which ones have you done?