I did it. I completed my very first half marathon about a month ago and for someone like me who has never been a runner (as a kid I didn't really run either) I think this is pretty fucking awesome. It took me 3 hours and 27 minutes to finish the whole 13.1 miles which equates to approximately 15 minutes a mile, but it was almost three and half hours of badassery if you ask me and let me tell you why, because running is hard people! Especially when you're out of shape and don't have an ounce of athletic ability in you which I don't. None. Even as a kid I always got picked last for sports teams during P.E. and I have this suspicion that I only got picked because the team captains had no other choice. Yes, I was that kid, the chubby kid who couldn't (and still can't) throw a ball to save her life. A few summers ago I took tennis lessons and I still can't play, that's how bad I am at sports. So to think that I could ever run, let alone run a half marathon is completely out of character for me, but I did it. I actually participated in a half marathon and completed it and while I know I am no poster child for health and fitness and definitely not an expert in running, I think this experience has taught me a few things that I'd like to share with people who maybe want to start running and participate in a race, so here's what I've learned so far:
1.) Get Some Good Running Shoes. They are expensive, but so worth it. Just make sure you go to a running store to get fitted for the right pair. I've attended Zumba classes for the last 6 or 7 years and ever since I started running I use my running shoes for Zumba class too and I can tell a huge difference on my feet when I use regular tennis shoes instead of my running ones. My feet don't feel as supported and they hurt. When you are putting that much stress on your feet they need support and good running shoes are the only option. The good news is that this is the most expensive thing you will buy. You don't need fancy workout clothes or gadgets to run especially at first when you don't know how much money you want to invest into this thing. I did just fine with my Walmart and Target yoga pants and t-shirts that I already owned;
2.) Find a mentor. I was lucky enough to have my boss mentor me through this thing. He is a seasoned runner and he answered my questions, gave me tips and even cheered me on (thanks Jason!). If you don't know anyone personally who is a runner use social media to find someone. I have found that I really enjoy following accounts of people who document their running, fitness, weight loss, and nutritional journeys on social media and I also find them very helpful and inspirational. Most of the time they are happy to answer your questions;
3.) But do what works for you. Everybody is different, so what works for one runner may not work for another. Listening to your body and practicing different nutritional intake methods for long runs, etc., is all part of the learning process. I'm still learning about this stuff myself. Don't feel like you have to do what other runners do. Take the advice or suggestions with a grain of salt is all I'm trying to say;
4.) Don't give up and be consistent. I know this is a given, but it has to be mentioned since there will be times, many times, when you will want to give up because you think it is too hard or you're too out of shape or you think you're too slow or you feel self conscious and uncomfortable. (I was really hung up on how slow of a runner I am for a long time, but I got over it.) The list of why you want to quit is endless and reminds of when people go to my Zumba and Yoga classes for the first time and about 20 minutes into the class they walk out because they can't keep up or can't do some of the moves. I always feel like yelling out, "Wait! Don't leave, it gets easier! You're not even giving it a chance!" Doesn't everything we do get easier the more we do it? Just look back at every job you've ever had and how you might not have known how to do everything at the beginning, but you learned and the more you did it the more it became like second nature to you. It's the same thing with running, it gets easier the more you do it and like anything there will be good days and bad days so be prepared for that as well, but consistency is key; and
5.) Sign up for a race. Nothing will motivate you more than the pressure of having a race with a date set in stone creeping up on you. Believe me it works and 5k races are a good way to get your feet wet and then you can work your way up from there.
This whole experience has made me very happy and hopeful for the future. If I'm overweight with bad knees, mild sleep apnea, sinus headaches, and plantar fasciitis at times and I was able to do this, I'm starting to believe that maybe I can do ANYTHING and that is perhaps the most important thing I have learned from this experience.
I hope to continue my running journey this year and see where it takes me. I would love to lose some more weight, see how my body changes and improve my speed and my confidence. So here's to those of us who dream and chase after those dreams, literally. Onward and upward!
Thank you for reading my story.