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Running My First Half Marathon!!!

AH! I am so excited to share this!! On Sunday I ran my first half marathon race, and it was amazing. I want to document my experience and answer all questions in one spot, so please read on if you're interested!

I want to get the basics out of the way before I jump into the post!

I finished the race (13.1 miles) in 1:57:35, which splits to an 8:58 average mile. I was tracking my run on my phone using the Map My Run app which I use every time I run (and have been since 2014). My phone was slightly off with the distance of the race, but for the most part, tracking my run was so helpful in knowing my splits and my pace throughout the race. Without this, I would've had a much harder time making sure I was running at my own pace and not altering my speed based on the people around me. My prediction was that I would finish in an hour and 57 minutes, so it was definitely exciting that I got that exactly right!

I'm going to share how I prepared for the race, what the day of the race and the actual event were like, and what I did afterward! Warning: this gets long! I just really wanted to include all of the details I could.

Training: Exercise
I signed up for the race a little less than three weeks before race day. The whole thing was really spontaneous, but I am so glad I decided to do it! I went for a run on a random Friday, realized how much I'd missed running since the summer, and a few days later just decided to sign up for the race!

I made a little plan of how many miles I wanted to run on which days to get prepared. On the days I didn't run I signed up for a Kamps class, which is a HIIT workout class. Kamps is kind of like Orange Theory if you are familiar with that; half of the class is on the treadmill and the other half is on the floor/bench with weights. This was a great way to train because most of the treadmill workouts are sprints or uphill, so instead of working on endurance like I was when running on my own, I was working on overall strength and improving my speed.

This is what I did leading up to the event:

The hardest run of my training by far was the last run I did on the Thursday before the race. Although it was only a 5-mile run, it was 19 degrees outside, the sidewalks were full of ice, and I was running with Grant so our pace was way faster than I was used to. Not to mention, we hit like three big hills during our run!

Training: Food
I got a lot of questions on Instagram about what I ate and if I followed any training/diet plans. From playing field hockey in high school and being a pretty consistent runner over the last 6ish years, I know my body and what I need to do to get in a good workout, and how much exercise I'm capable of pushing myself toward. That said, I pretty much knew with a few long runs and regular exercise, I would be able to run the half without needing to alter my diet in any crazy way. In the last week leading up to the race I definitely ate more in general, but I just ate whenever I was hungry (which was a lot), and that worked out well!

I wish I would've written down what I ate one day because I honestly can't remember most of the details of what I ate leading up to the race. I honestly just ate how I usually do, with more snacks in the middle because I was extra hungry. Here is my best guess at what a typical day of eating looked like during the last week:

Breakfast: coffee with almond milk + oatmeal with berries, cinnamon, and almond milk

Lunch: two pieces of avocado toast + an apple + TJ's dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Snack: veggies + TJ's spicy hummus, nuts, sun chips, or something similar...

Dinner: the last week I was actually eating really big dinners because I was so hungry and spent a lot of time in the library that week. One night I made risotto with kale and mushrooms and beef tenderloin (lol my mom really hooked me up), another night I had artichoke ravioli with kale and roasted tomatoes... it was all very random... I wish I could remember more!!

Oh, and I have dessert every night. Without fail!! I don't know if that sounds like a lot or a little to you, but to me, it was very normal, just with some extra carbs and snacks here and there.

The Day Before
On Saturday (the day before), I didn't work out. Instead, I just went for a long walk to the farmer's market with Elizabeth and Grant, and Grant and I picked up our bibs at the marathon expo. In the afternoon, Elizabeth and I met some friends at bars but then sent ourselves home early around 9pm.

The day before the race was a game day. You guys know I love to go out, so I was feeling a little nervous about going too hard and not being able to function on Sunday morning. I actually ended up having the most chill game day ever and only drank two beers on Saturday, so that worked out well!!

I ate a big bowl of mac and cheese on Saturday night when I got home and then made myself stay up until 10pm to digest. I tried to go to bed at that point but had been drinking so much water that I couldn't fall asleep until 11:30ish. I slept terribly because I was so nervous, waking up at 3:30am and then again when my alarm went off at 5, but because of all of the adrenaline, I had an easy time getting up and didn't feel too tired at all!

Race Day
Like I said, I woke up at 5am. The race started at 7:10am and I wanted to leave my apartment by 6:30 and have time to eat breakfast, chill, go to the bathroom, and make sure I had all of my stuff together before I left. The walk to the starting point is about 10 minutes from my apartment, so I had time to drop off my extra jacket and gloves at the gear check and use the bathrooms there again before the race started. 

For breakfast, I had a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon, almond milk, half a banana, and a spoonful of peanut butter. This was honestly so stupid because it was barely more than I eat for breakfast on a regular day. By the time I was at mile three of the race I was starving. However, I think if I'd eaten more I would've been too full and had to go to the bathroom more. By mile 4-5 the hunger disappeared anyways, so this wasn't really a big deal.

 I didn't have many expectations for the actual race. I estimated my time and felt both prepared and confident that I would be able to do it. I've run 13 miles once before (four summers ago), so I knew I would be capable of it, and especially more so this time around because I was adequately prepared.

I stopped once during the race because I really needed to go to the bathroom. I didn't foresee myself needing to stop at all but I felt so much better after I did, so I would say it was definitely worth it! Around mile 4 was when I began to think I was going to need to stop, and by the time I saw bathrooms around the 5.5-mile mark, I sprinted to them!! Other than my little bathroom break the run went really well.

Here is my playlist that I listened to if you're interested!

What I Wore
The weather was much better than expected! The initial forecast said that Sunday morning would be in the low twenties, and possibly snowing. After a very challenging run on Thursday in 20-degree temps, this was freaking me out and definitely what I was most nervous about!

However, come Sunday morning, the temperature was around 32 degrees, and it was pretty overcast. Here's a breakdown of what I wore:

ASICS GT-1000 // My favorite running shoes! I am on my fourth pair now; these are the only running shoes I've worn for probably six years.

New Balance High Waisted Pocket Leggings // These are my favorite workout leggings. I think I found them for $20ish at TJ Maxx around winter break last year, but they are so high quality and amazing. They are very tight so they stay up and hold everything in place. The pockets on the legs were perfect because I put my phone in one pocket and my energy beans and airpods case in the other.

Long Sleeve Lined Shirt // I'm not sure what brand my shirt is because I've had it forever, but it's my favorite cold-weather running shirt I own. I linked a similar one! It made for a great wicking layer while also keeping me warm.

Lululemon 1/4 Zip // I wore a Lulu 1/4 zip over my long sleeve, which was the perfect layer. I think the specific one I have is an older version, so I've linked a similar one. There was a small pocket for me to keep my keys, and the sleeves had fold-over things to put my hands inside so I didn't have to bring gloves! I ordered this pair of gloves to wear, but when I discovered that I could cover my hands completely with this 1/4 zip, I didn't bring them along. Throughout the run I loved being able to cover and uncover my hands whenever they got hot or cold without needing to bring along gloves to take on and off.

Lululemon Ear Warmer // This little earwarmer stayed in place the whole way through my run! Although it was soaking wet by the end (lol), it definitely got the job done of keeping my ears warm and not moving around.

I ATE SO MUCH. When I crossed the finish line I drank a bottle of water, a beer, and ate mac and cheese. About two hours later I went to brunch and had a mimosa, fried chicken and waffles (HAHA) and half of Celia's breakfast wrap with eggs, avocado, cheese, etc, that she didn't finish. Oh, and we split fries too.

I came home after my feast and slept for three hours. I drank a ton of water all day and ate more mac and cheese for dinner that night.

I didn't feel particularly sore until yesterday, and really only felt it in my calves. I think that in part was because of the big hills at miles 7 and 11! Other than that, today I feel pretty good!!

There wasn't really one reason I wanted to run the race. It was a long time coming, and I knew I would do a half marathon eventually, so it just made sense! Grant and Collin (two of my best guy friends!) were doing the full, so it actually kind of made for a fun morning for our friends to come watch us finish and everything!

It was a really great experience, and I'm glad it went so well. I definitely can see myself doing more races in the future, and might even consider doing a full marathon down the line. If you've ever run one too, I would love to hear about your experience!


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