Monday, August 10, 2015

THE MIND OF A HALF MARATHON RUNNER

I know what you're thinking... the mind of a half marathon runner must be pretty whacky because anyone up for running 13.1 straight miles must be insane. You're absolutely right. Every runner will vouch for me that we don't know why we keep doing it. Sometimes I wake up and 45 minutes later I find myself darting up a hill fifteen minutes unto a 6 mile run and I don't even remember lacing up my trainers. Why do we keep doing something that we say we hate? It's a love/hate relationship. Right now, after my half marathon, I'm in the love stage.

Any runner will also easily tell you that no matter how much training you do, it's 10% physical, and 90% mental. I personally love facing my fears and dissecting the uncomfortable. I find the comfort in the discomfort. So, though we may not want to think about what goes on before and during our races, I thought that explaining my thoughts mile-by-mile would be the only way to do a proper half-marathon reflection. 



First, let's set the scene. My half marathon took place on the upper right hand corner of this map. It started in Rockport, and the halfway point was in Gloucester where it says "Good Harbor Beach". It ended where it began, in Rockport. So, I was lucky enough to enjoy the beautiful beach-y views of Cape Ann, Massachusetts the entire time. I saw beaches, lighthouses, beach cottages, and more.

Two months prior to race day: Well, we better register for a half marathon soon. Let me look online... Oh this one in Rockport looks nice, and it should be fast and flat, just the way I like it! Well, looks like I'm all signed up now.. no turning back now!
One month prior to race day: My 6-8 mile runs left me with more. I felt like I could keep going. If I can do this eight mile run, I can do a half marathon, right?
Five days before race day: Today's the moment of truth. With my internship and job, and my running partner's equally as hectic schedule, it's been hard to coordinate runs. So here we are, running our 10 mile run on the Tuesday before our half marathon. It's at least high 80's and humid. However, we have to suck it up. It may be too hot, it may be too close to the race, and this 10 miles may really be 9. However, we've gotta do it and hope for the best on Sunday. 
Race morning: Pure excited-ness. I'm used to sprinting my ass of for 3.1 miles against other college athletes, so this should be no sweat, right? There's no MASCAC placement riding on this, no time to beat, just a time to make. Let's do this. Also, I wish this was over already so I can celebrate and sleep in, eat and drink as I please for the rest of the summer already. 


Us before all of the sweat.

30 minutes before race: I just gotta get to mile 10 and then I'm golden. What if I run out of energy chews and beans? What if I don't even need them and they're just adding extra weight? What if fumbling with them adds too much time to my time? What if I get bored? What if I end up running alone? What if I don't finish? What if I finish last? Will I stop at every water stop? Can this thing just start already?
Mile 1: Well, here goes nothing. Wow, this pace is kind of fast. However, I can probably keep this up for the first 4 or 5 miles. However, I don't want to die out and have no energy for the end. Wow, mile 1 already? That was fast!
Mile 2: Okay, so I'm trying to keep up with my running buddy here but looks like she's having a great day. I'm feeling good too, however, this is her second half marathon. I want to bolt out, keep up with her, and have a sub-9 mile pace. However, I don't want to die out. She's done this before, I haven't. I'll stick to the plan: 9:30 miles, try to finish for 1:50.
Mile 3: She's gone, but I can do this alone. I'm not the only one running this race, there's hundreds of us. I can listen in on convos, have my thoughts to myself, and can maybe join in on some of the conversations. Oh look at that lighthouse! Here's the downhill of the uphill at mile 10 I was told about. This will be fun at the end...
Mile 4: Oh wow we're out of the beachy neighborhood. This is a downhill that looks like an uphill at the end. However, I hope it's a slight uphill. Oh look, water stop! I took gatorade last time, so water it is. I hope I don't have to pee during this because I am NOT compromising my time.
Mile 5: Looks like we're in Gloucester now! This is going by way faster than expected. It's hotter than expected. I have a pretty solid pace and I get burst of energy here and there.
Mile 6: HOLY HILL! However, I still have a lot of energy so I'm actually running up this hill at an even pace. And my, going down it is great.
Mile 7: MILE 7! That means that if I double this amount, it's more than the whole thing. That means that it's more than halfway done!
Mile 8: Time for a gatorade and an energy gel. I don't feel too tired, but I might as well have it before I do.
Mile 9: To be honest I thought mile 9 was mile 10 until I saw the mile 10 sign later than I expected. Basically my thoughts were being excited about finishing, yet knowing there was over 3 miles to go. So mile 9 was exhaustion and confusion, with a side of perseverance. 
Mile 10: Three more miles to go! I can do this! The end is so close. This is the point that I told myself to get to. I've run this much before, I can keep chugging for three more miles. Okay, maybe I should walk a little and have some energy chews. Just like the girls behind me, they have the right idea.
Mile 11: Wow, that last mile took forever. My butt hurts, my legs hurt, I can feel how sore I'm going to be tomorrow. However, I just need to keep this pace for only two more miles. Wait, where am I? Where's the mile 1 sign that I thought was also going to be the mile 13 sign? They must have changed the course for the ending... those bastards!
Mile 12: YES! One mile left! Hopefully these don't go as slow as the last two have. Okay, this is a cute neighborhood. IM SO CLOSE AND IM IN SO MUCH PAIN. IF THERE'S ANOTHER HILL I DON'T THINK I CAN DO IT. Okay I see downtown, that must mean that the high school and finish are right down the road. OH NO THERE'S ANOTHER HILL. I hate myself for doing this, but I literally cannot run up this hill. I'm trying.. I'm trying so hard... and nothing. I have to walk. At the top of this hill, though I am cruising to the finish line.
Mile 13.1: I DID IT! Oh my gosh I can't breathe... My legs feel weird... I'm drenched in sweat... oh, food and drinks!
After: Pure bliss. I was elated. I was on cloud nine all day. Now, my rest of the summer is smooth sailing. I'M READY FOR THE BEACH!
Four days after: After three days of being more and more sore, it's time to hit the gym at least to bike and lift.
Now: I've ran four time since my half marathon. A 4 mile run, a 3 mile run, a 5 mile run, and a 6 mile run. I still feel the soreness in my legs on my runs. However, I'm looking forward to running club season. I'm also looking forward to the same half marathon next year! It was a gorgeous course and a great opportunity. I think I'm most happy about rocking the 13.1 sticker on my car.



Thanks for being the BEST running buddy, Devinne! Love you!

What's the longest distance you've ever run?





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