If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I was going to run multiple half-marathons and a full marathon I would have laughed! I would have said, there is no way that I could do that! Other people run and are active, not me. Only certain people do that, and I am not one of them. I am not thin, there is no way I would belong next to all of those runners. But I am here today to tell you that you can! Everybody can, but it does take some serious time and determination.
Ah, our before picture. We had no idea what we were getting into. No idea what to expect. Just ignorance and nerves, lots of nerves. A couple of years ago, my brother and I decided to do a charity bike ride consisting of 230 miles in 3 days. It was a huge challenge, but such an accomplishment. It really wet our appetite for challenging ourselves and pushing our bodies to the max. There is nothing like the experience! We decided our next feat would be a half-marathon. I convinced both of my brothers to participate this time though.
This picture doesn't capture all of the emotions going on here. There is the basic pre-race jitters. Frantic lines at the restrooms. Are we going to make it to the starting line in time? Where are we supposed to be going? It was raining so we tried to decide what clothes we wanted to wear for the next 2+ hours. Not to mention the 25,000 other people running the race and trying to get to where they needed to go. There was also this huge feeling of "everybody-else-knows-what-to-do" and "we-stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb".
This picture was about the halfway mark. When we entered the Indianapolis Speedway track we were at about 6 miles and when we got out it was 8 miles. That felt like such an accomplishment, even though the track itself was difficult and VERY boring! Leaving the track behind us was such a boost in our spirits and energy.
Our medals! The medal itself means nothing to us, but the medal represents the fact that we survived our first half-marathon! It is a sense of accomplishment! We made it!
Going into the mini, we had two goals...
1. Run the whole time and don't walk. Unfortunately, I don't have as much will power as I would like and I fell into the temptation to walk, so I did, multiple times. Overall though, I would estimate that I walked under 1 mile throughout the whole 13.1 miles. I never walked for long, just long enough to catch my breath and build up my motivation. I will warn you though, it is much harder to start running again after you walk! If you can run the whole time, do!
2. Our second goal was to finish under 2 and a half hours, but ended up finishing at 2 hours and 32 minutes. It was so discouraging that we missed our goal by 2 minutes! At first I wanted to cry. Why didn't I push just a little harder? Why did a walk all of those times? Why did we stop to take that picture? Then, I realized we made! It was our first ever mini! I remembered how it felt giving 110% as I crossed the finish line. I learned a lot, that is what matters!
1. FIND YOUR MOTIVATION
Figure out what kind of a runner you are. Do you like to listen to music? Do you like to run with others? Are you more motivated when you run by yourself? Experimenter and find what works for you! There are a couple of different types of runners. First, there are the hard core serious runners who are ALWAYS running. They do countless races and run hundreds if not even thousands of miles each year. They eat, sleep, and well of course run. This is a very small percent of people. Most of the time, these people don't need anything else to help them stay motivated. They are incredibly driven and can push themselves without needing help. The much more popular type of runner is the casual runner. That's me! We run for fun. We run for certain events. We run because we ate too much dessert. It is not in our blood. Once you figure out what type of runner you are, you can better decide your goals, partners, needs for motivation, etc.
It sounds obvious, right? Nobody just shows up to a mini-marathon or a full marathon without training. It isn't something you just wake up in the morning and decide you are going to do that day. You need to be prepared and have a plan. Find a good training plan or create your own based on your schedule. Stick to it. It is so encouraging seeing yourself get stronger each week as you increase your miles. Yes, the finish line is the final goal, but that is not the whole picture. That doesn't show the countless hours of training. It doesn't show the journey of how we got there. Training really is a journey and the finish line is just your destination. There are so many great things that happen on that journey.
3. BE PREPARED
Do research! Talk to others that have run before. Read blogs (thanks for reading mine), Watch videos. Learn tips from other people. I guarantee that other runners can give you specific advice on what they would do differently next time.
4. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
As you can see, we are not professional runners. I am sure we looked silly multiple times throughout the race. We made mistakes. We were not perfect. BUT we finished! We got a medal just like the really fast runners way up at the front. They had goals, we had goals. We met some of those goals as we ran across the finish line. No, we didn't make our goal time. No, I didn't run the whole thing. Don't focus on the goals we didn't accomplish, but the goals we did!
When I look back at these pictures, I have so many memories with my brothers. I remember the inside jokes, the laughter, the pain, but mostly the fun. We had no idea what we were doing, but we did it, and you can too! Our bodies are capable of so much more than what we think they are! It just takes determination, hard work, and commitment!