Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wellness 101: My 1st Half-Marathon Experience!

Last Saturday, March 29th, 2014, I ran my very first Half-Marathon, the Inaugural Livermore Half-Marathon. It was an overall incredible experience, from all the intense training during the months before hand to the race day itself.

I woke up  race day morning at 5:15am. Even though I would had loved to sleep longer, my sister and I had to pick-up her co-worker, on our way to Livermore. (On a side note, my sister's co-worker was the runner who originally invited us to sign-up for this Half-Marathon in the first place. She had lots of insight on running and races for us. She's ran several Half-Marathons and Marathons, even including an International Marathon in Paris.) Our race began at 8am sharp, so we needed to leave our apartment by 6am in order to get to Livermore before start time.

Upon picking up my sister's co-worker at her apartment in San Francisco, it started to lightly drizzle, making us all very apprehensive about our impending race. I decided to check the weather forecast for Livermore. The weather report revealed that the rain would hit the city around 10:30/11am. With this in mind, we all decided that we needed to keep up our pace, so we'd be sure to finish within 2.5 hours. Being our first half-marathon, we didn't want to dread the rainfall during the last few miles of our race.

When we finally arrived at the starting line, it was about 15 minutes prior to the 8am start. We took a few group pictures together with the starting line in the background. Then, we took our place with the other runners, around the 2:30 pace. Again, since it was my sister and I's first Half, we figured that going with a slower pace would be best to start, but also keeping in mind that we needed to stick to this pace in order to beat the rain. We all did our best to encourage one another and get our energy up. We laughed and smiled at each other, loosening up our leg muscles and stretching as we waited for the race to start. We collectively decided that it would be best to all split up and go at our own individual pace/path and meet up again at the finish line. This way, we could focus on our individual performance rather than depend on sticking near each other, since we all prepared and trained ourselves differently.

As 8am hit, I slowly made my way forward through to the starting line. I kept up with the 2:30 pacer up until mile two, when I hit the first water station. The water stations had water and electrolytes available every two miles of the course. Needless to say, to stayed hydrated and energized, I drank a small cup of water and electrolytes at each station. When I hit mile three, I made a quick stop to stretch out my legs, as my calf muscles began to tighten up.

I ran each section of the race in three miles increments, to keep myself focused on the current mile and prevent feeling overwhelmed by the miles still to come. I was particularly dreading mile eight, as it was almost entirely uphill. Luckily, with advice from my running friends, I'd strengthened my legs and did some uphill sprinting to prepare myself. The last three miles were the hardest for me. Up until this point, my longest run had only been ten miles, so obviously, I was pushing myself to run farther than I'd ever run before.

Crossing the finish line was an amazing feeling, all my hard work and training had truly paid off. I had a good race, and I successfully finished without injury. My next Half-Marathon is the GIANT Race on September 7th, so I plan to continue to train and run regularly in the months in between.

Are you a runner? Do you have any races coming up that you're currently training for? Let me know in a comment below! :)

Denise Joyce