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Guest Post: The Road To My First Half Marathon

December 22, 2010

Hello everyone!  My name is Anna, and I blog at History Running Girl.

This is the story of my first half marathon. I ran it when I wasn’t blogging, so I never wrote about my journey to the half.  This is what they is more than a recap of the race.  I hope you enjoy it!

It all started in March of 2010.  I turned in my senior thesis, and I felt this emptiness.  I devoted so much time to that project, and all of a sudden (12 long, grueling months later), it was gone.  What was I supposed to spend my time on now that I wasn’t researching religious violence during The Crusades?

I’d been reading blogs for a few months now, and all of their running stories inspired me to sign up for a half.  This wasn’t the first half I had signed up for.  I signed up for two Disney half marathons that I didn’t train for, but I knew this time would be different.  I was more determined.  I also was almost done with college, so I thought I would have more time to train.  I was inspired to train this time around.  This was going to be MY half.

After discussing the options with my dad (who has run 16 marathons and is pretty much my running idol…don’t tell him I said that though), we decided to sign up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon.  I had plenty of time to train. I didn’t even really need to start training until May.  This time I was going to train.

Not so much.  Things don’t always happen the way we want.  That void left from the thesis was soon filled with trying to figure out what to do after college, finals, moving, and saying goodbye to friends.  All of a sudden June hit, and I still hadn’t started training.  I was interviewing for a great internship/year long job in mid-June, and my family went to Disney World a few days later.  I found out in Disney that I got the job.  I didn’t have the excuse of trying to figure out what I was doing with at least for the time being.

When we returned from Disney, my dad asked if I was still planning on running the half.  I had six weeks left.  I know he wasn’t thinking I would say yes.  But I did.  I had signed up for TWO half marathons before and chickened out.  I knew I needed to at least start this one.

I trained my heart out those last six weeks (don’t do what I did… I’m lucky I didn’t get injured).  A week before the half, I ran my longest race (and run) to date, the Bix 7 Mile race in Davenport, Iowa.  It was a hilly, hilly race, but I did it.  I finished strong.  I was feeling a little more confident.

My mom, dad, and I drove into Chicago the day before the race to pick up our packets.  My mom was going to cheer for my dad and me.  We picked up our packets.  We ate dinner, and we saw them filming Transformers 3 (no Shia LaBeouf though)!  Before going to bed, I laid out my clothes.  It hit me that this was really happening.

When I woke up, I was nervous.  I don’t know if I would have believed in myself enough to sign up for another race if I needed to drop out.  I think I would have doubted my ability for a long time.

Rock ‘n’ Roll races are huge!  It took us about 20 minutes to cross the start line (it was very organized though).

I started out strong.  I was feeling good.  I was aiming for around a 13 mile average secretly.  However, I mainly just wanted to maintain a sub-16 minute mile (the cutoff point).  I didn’t really want to be out there for 3 and ½ hours, but I was determined to finish.

At one point in the first few miles, we were running by Jake Pavelka from the Bachelor.  (We realized this after).

We saw my mom around Mile 5.  I was still feeling strong (and I managed to tell her about Jake Pavelka). 

The first 6 miles were all in Downtown Chicago.  It was great.  A lot of people cheer, and a lot of energy.

After Mile 6, you start going on Lake Shore Drive.  While you are on Lake Shore Drive, there aren’t a lot of people.  The scenery is still cool though.  I started to feel kind of tired at this point, but still going to strong.

Mile 9, the course turns back towards downtown for the finish.  You are running by The Field Museum and Soldier Field.  It was fun!  I love the Field Museum.  You also run on this nice path by the lake outside of the Shedd Aquarium.  There are great views of Chicago throughout this half!  Mile 9, I was feeling bad.  I kept going, but my legs were hurting and my energy was quickly waning.  I didn’t want to quit, but I couldn’t convince myself to move quicker. 

At Mile 11, we saw my boyfriend!  It was great.  Just the energy boost I needed to finish strong.

I speed it up for the last mile.  I wanted to finish strong.

2 hours and 45 minutes after crossing the start line, I was done.  I maintained a 12:35 pace the whole time, AND I beat Al Roker from The Today Show.

Most importantly, I knew I could do it!  I knew I was capable of doing it.  I had conquered my fear.

I’ve run two more halfs since August, and I’ve taken about 18 minutes off of my first half time! 

I signed up for a full marathon, but this is different than my first half.  I did two halfs before signing up, and I know how tough they are.  I know I can train successfully and get faster!  I know I can do it.  I finally believe in my running ability.  Something clicked after the first half.  You better watch out Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, I’m coming for you.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2010 9:13 am

    Thanks for letting me post a guest post Clare! Hope you are having a fantastic time.

  2. December 22, 2010 3:36 pm

    Great guest post! I yet have to run my very first half.. Good luck with marathon training!

  3. December 27, 2010 12:12 am

    Great post!!

    Anna you’re running is always an inspiration!


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