I completed my first half marathon last weekend, which sounds a lot better to me than “I’m going to run a half marathon.” Although I got a good start on training for it, because of a leg injury, a cold, and the Affordable Care Act website, I wasn’t able to train as well as I should have. Seven miles was my previous longest run before setting out on 13.1 miles. I was nervous going in, and after hitting the 10k mark on the run, I really wanted to stop, and I walked/ran the second half. I finished in 2 hours and 34 minutes, which is pretty good considering I walked so much of it toward the end. I thought to myself “I hate this. I am never doing this again” around mile 7, but around mile 11 I thought “I should probably do this again so I can do better.”

Some tips from me to you:

Get shoes that fit

Part of my leg issues are probably due to picking out shoes on my own.  My previous running shoes were purchased at a running store with help from an expert. But they were ugly and I wanted cute shoes. So I picked cute(r) shoes and immediately I started having leg pain, and I dismissed it as just something else and definitely not the most obvious thing. Stretching, pilates, and running on the road and not the sidewalk all helped ease the leg pain.  I ran through it for almost all year until my shoes got holes in the toes. It was too late to get new shoes before the run, so I went back to my old running shoes, but it took a while for the leg pain to stop when I ran. I also stopped running as much on the road since the route I usually go has uneven pavement. I’ve been running on a soft dirt track, and that’s also better on the old stems.

Do not put “Thriller” on your playlist

I run throughout the week with Bunk, and when we set out in the am it’s usually dark, and we run by the place where the “Thriller” video was filmed (or some creepy place just like it) and just thinking about “Thriller” scares me, and not being comfortable with running in the dark anyway kept me from running a couple of times.

I made a good playlist to run to (I only listen to something when not with my dog) but I get bored with it, and prefer podcasts to keep my mind off thinking about how much I don’t want to be running. And if you read this blog with any regularity, you know that all I want to do is talk about and recommend podcasts. Like Analyze Phish. So funny.

But if you prefer music, I suggest Bombay Bicycle Club’s “Shuffle” on repeat, with Passion Pit’s “Carried Away” to break it up. I did listen to music for the last two miles of the run and MGMT’s “Kids” and U.N.K.L.E.’s “Nursery Rhyme” did bring me to the finish line feeling a little more badass than a Marc Maron interview would have.

Do not eat all the time

When I first started training I doubled the number of miles I ran a week in a few weeks, and because I didn’t want to lose weight I couldn’t keep off because I wouldn’t run as much post-race, I started to eat a lot of Peanut M&Ms during the day. So don’t do that. I should actually be pretty fit right now, but I’m not.

Don’t make fun of the musicians

I don’t know what the application process is to be a cover band that plays on the street during the big races around town, but I’m assuming there is no screening. I was immediately irritated with the first band I ran by and whatever dumb, baby boomer song they played. Then I ran by a high school kid and his guitar and it seemed to me that only high school bands should play things like this because otherwise there’s no excuse to be so terrible. But also, if you’re not there to play loud, fast songs then why bother? After coming up with a list of good jokes against the musicians who volunteered, I realized that I hadn’t even run a mile yet and I thought about how much I was running / did not want to run for the next 13 miles.  Then I felt bad for thinking poorly about those who take the time to support people who run for no reason outside of themselves. While the half marathon is not a spectator or band-heavy route, it was still nice to see the supporters who were there handing out drinks and making noise. Even if the noise is the crappy music, which only motivates people to run faster to get that mess out of earshot. Thanks, though.

Wear your medal

This run (which has an 8k, half, and full marathon) gives medals to the participants. I accidentally got the marathon medal, and by the time I realized it I was too far away to go replace it. I haven’t worn it since I got it, but I now feel like every chance I don’t take to wear my huge medal in public is a wasted moment. To  people who only did the 8k and keep brushing it off because an 8k doesn’t sound like a big deal: it is a big deal. I’m trying to pump myself up to get out of bed early and walk/run two miles with Bunk in the morning. It can be a challenge to get going, so any miles done are good ones.

Good job runners, and thanks to Richmonders for putting up with all the road closures and Saturday errand-ruining so we can do things like this.

Also:

  • On my morning runs I saw a fox, many deer, a raccoon, bunnies, and a couple fighting in the street.
  • I love running across the Boulevard Bridge. It’s beautiful.
  • I got this the night before the half marathon and it was a life-saver. I would have worn a jacket and that would have been miserable (it’s a magnetic pouch that fits over pants to carry small items).
  • Big hooray for my dad and father-in-law for also running. So  many grandpas up in our house this weekend!
  • The bananas in the post-race food tents are the best bananas on earth.
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