Lessons from the Road: 7 Things I learned from running my first half marathon

This weekend I crossed an item off my bucket list that for a long time I have thought would not be possible. If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever consider a half-marathon I would have laughed. After two ACL reconstructions, a meniscus repair and a hefty case of osteoarthritis I always believed my knee to be a write off, but when my boyfriend signed up for his first half marathon in early May, I was inspired to just give running the ol’ college try again. The first 1-2km were painful (and still are) but after a good 10 mins of running I found things weren’t so bad. After Viny ran his half, I knew I had to do it. I was inspired (or perhaps my competitive nature was inspired and I wouldn’t be able to let him do it and not do it myself). Either way, I signed up and the rest is history. Here is what I learned from my training and the race itself.

1. Commitment = Motivation

Until I actually signed up for the race, my training was sparse and undirected. From the moment I signed up for the race, I knew I had to get my butt in gear. Having direction and a goal motivated me to set up a training schedule and start monitoring my progress. Commiting myself to the race forced me to train and gave me something to work towards. It also gave me the tools to assess my performance and devise a realistic goal for time to the finish line…

2. Setting realistic goals are key to training

After calculating my times over my 6 weeks of training I gave myself the goal of completing the race in 2hr15 minutes. I ended up coming it at 2hr12 minutes. Running with a goal in mind directed my training and gave me something to work towards during the race.

3. Technology is your friend

In order to set an appropriate goal time, I had to use some form of technology to calculate my times and map my routes. I used the Nike Running app and it was fantastic. As a beginner runner it was a really great tool to help me in my training, measure my distances and calculate my times. Finding and app or a gadget that helps you to find your pace is really effective and I would highly recommend it. Playing music from said gadget is also a must. I would have gone nutty without some beats.

4. I have an amazing support team

I didn’t tell a lot of people that I was running this race because it was something I wanted to do for myself. However, I was so amazed and honored my all the amazing words and kind supportive texts I received the day before, morning of and after the race. Seeing familiar faces on the course gave me the extra boost I needed… especially Britta at the 17km mark… those enthusiastic cheers were paramount in getting me through the rest of the run. I carried everyone of those messages over the finish line with me and without them may have taken a break at the halfway point at Jericho beach and just had a nap.

5. I am a nervous, braindead zombie on race morning

Poor Vincent. I am embarassed to tell this story but I have to give Vince the credit he deserves for being a very patient and supportive boyfriend. The race was set to begin at 7:30 am. 7:15 am, Vince and I arrive to UBC ready to run/cheer. What do I realize as I exit the truck? I forgot my chip timer/bib. Without hezitation Vince drove back home to collect it, ran with me over the start line at the very back of the pack after returning and helped me pin it on and after a quick kiss ran off the course. I owe that boy big time. My god I thought, what a way to start my first racebut it was in fact it was the best. I passed a lot of people and managed to make up quite a bit of time which kept me super motivated throughout the race.

6. Vancouver is stunning

But you already knew that.

7. It isn’t as bad as you think it will be

Ok, it wasn’t easy, but it certainly wasn’t the torturous, gut wrenching battle that I was anticipating. In fact, I actually really enjoyed myself and revelled in the challenge. That is until about the 18km mark when I realized just how the steep the Burrard street bridge is. If you are thinking about running a half marathon, DO IT! You will not regret it. I totally see what all the buzz is about now.