Hey everyone! So, first and foremost, please excuse my double chin while running. Needless to say, I am not a photogenic runner. I’m not even including some of the photos from the actual race because my double chin is so big in some of those photos, it should have its own zip code. That being said, last weekend (after four months of training) I completed my first half marathon. The experience was more challenging and rewarding than I can express in words. I physically and mentally pushed my body further (in a new way) than I ever had before. For months, especially last weekend, my body was sore to the max. My knees hated me. And when morning would come, I would feel the aches and pains of a senior citizen. However, the mental health, clarity, and stamina I gained through this process was unprecedented. There comes a point when running distance your body gives way, it says “I’m done.” However, the truth is, your body isn’t done, your body can go further than you imagine if you will your mind to push it there. But the biggest reward, by far, was experiencing this process with two of my closest friends. Having your best friends beside you, supporting you, and encouraging you not to give up even when your body wants to is more rewarding than words can express.
Full disclosure, I was a ball of anxiety and nerves the entire weekend. I had never run a race in my life. I didn’t even play sports in middle school or high school. To say I was in uncharted waters would be an understatement. I was thankful to have the support of good friends, my dad, and my daughter that weekend. My girlfriend’s also had their entire families there supporting them. It made for a mini small town army cheering section that really did help along the race route. Mentally, it gave us something to look forward to, people to look for, and that often distracted us from the physical pain our bodies were in. That being said, there are some things I learned about “race day” and “race weekend.”
CARBS | Carb load in the days leading up to the race vs. the day before. I did the bulk of my carb loading Thursday and Friday, and ate fairly normal on Saturday for race day Sunday. But, also, be prepared for this massive carb load to cause even more weight gain. On top of the weight I had gained while training for the half marathon, I gained another seven pounds between Friday morning and Monday morning. Yes, I said seven pounds in four days. My girlfriends gained around the same too.
LAXATIVES | It’s common knowledge to use the bathroom before running a race. And even though there are port-a-potties at multiple check points along the race route, the last thing you want to have happen is to require an “extended bathroom break” in the middle of the race. “Doing your business” in a pot-a-potty in the middle of a sidewalk packed with people, and other racers hurrying you to finish quickly in line, is NOT an ideal situation for anyone. So, simple fix, take a laxative 48 hours before race day and clean yourself out the day before you run. Now, I did have to stop for a quick potty break at about mile six. #pregnancybladderdoesn’tgoaway But, I wished I never would have stopped. After, I had to run nearly double speed for a mile to catch up to my friends. That burned up a lot of my inner fuel and made the next several miles more difficult, as well as my race time longer.
HYDRATE | This should be a no brainier, but there is actually more to it than I realized. Yes, you want to hydrate your body. Duh. But you don’t want to drink a crap ton of water in the hours leading up to the race or during the race because then you will only need more bathroom breaks during the race. My friend had heard of this awesome supplement called Liquid IV prior to race day. I have become obsessed since purchasing this product myself. In short, it is a hydration multiplier that turns one glass of water into the equivalent of three. I did not drink the product right before the race. But, I drank it the day before and made sure I was “peeing clear” the night before the race. I also drank Liquid IV and a Gatorade directly after the race to start the recovery process.
RACE DAY GEAR | Though it doesn’t show in the photos, I actually carried quite a few necessities on me during the race. I wore a flip belt in between my shirt layers. My flip belt did the job, however, I am trying another flip belt for the future. I have an iPhone plus, so it is larger than a standard phone. I can get it in an out of the flip-belt pockets, but it takes a little work. So, I am trying a new one for the future. With me I carried: my phone (obviously), Bio-freeze, ibuprofen, driver’s license, extra headphones (in case the battery died in my wireless ones), chap stick, Honey-stinger gummies, Liquid IV, disposable hand-warmers, and a tampon (a gal can never be too prepared for Aunt Flo). I also wore ear warmers and gloves. My gloves clip together when not in use. My flip-belt had a key-clip-hook for car and/or house keys. But, since I didn’t carry keys with me, I hooked my gloves to the key-clip-hook once my hands warmed up and they stayed snug between my shirt layers the rest of the race. In the future, I definitely want to have some form of a fitness watch to track my mileage, time, pace, etc. in a clearly visible way. Having to get my phone out to check these things was problematic with a race bib safety pined to my shirts.
All in all, though exhausted and slightly broken, the runners high coming into that final stretch of the race and crossing the finish line was more than worth it. It’s an indescribable feeling of pride, satisfaction, relief, joy, pain, and excitement. Surprisingly, all three of us were talking about what races we plan to do next later that afternoon.
A special thank you to my girlfriends. Thank you for going on this journey with me. I look forward to many more.