Diary of a (Reluctant) First-Time Half-Marathoner: Training Day 1

After I finished my first 10K last December and was all hopped up on endorphins and feeling bulletproof, St. Jude offered me the opportunity to sign up for the 2017 race.

“Sure!” I thought, “I’m going to put my money down on the half-marathon. I’m committing now! I have a whole year to get ready. I’m stepping up my game!”

Great marketing is a powerful thing, my friend. Clearly, I am not immune.

Spring rolled around, with it’s unseasonable heat, then unseasonable snow, and then unseasonable thunderstorms that flooded what seemed like the entire earth. People were literally kayaking down their streets, while I was (attempting) to build up to a 5k in the annual women’s running clinic in my community. I was also trying to clean up my diet, with mixed results and many near-vomit experiences.

It was about the time that I was encountering the complete opposite of the success I’d imagined with the 5K that I thought, “A half-marathon is like 10 more miles. I’m in soooo much trouble”. So when my friend suggested a half marathon in October, 6 weeks before the St. Jude half-marathon, I signed up. Crazy, right? But my thinking was/is, that the October half-marathon will be the race where I make all my mistakes.

For example, today marks the official first day of training for the October half-marathon. The prescribed run for today was 3 miles. Easy enough, you say? Let me tell you a story.

I leave work 30 minutes later than I planned, pushing my run time back later than expected. As I drive, I’m slamming 18 ounces of water, because I’m really thirsty for some reason. Plus, I am actively pursuing total hydration as a goal. (I said what I said).

I get home and hurry to change, fill up a water bottle and put it in a cooler, and gather all my gear. On the drive to the course I’ve planned, I reach over for the cooler to move it out of the sun, but come up empty handed. No cooler in the car. I mean, who needs water for a 3 mile run in 90 degrees? I’m properly hydrated these days; it’ll be fine!

I park the car and begin walking to warm up my legs. I’m not 300 meters from the car, when I realize that only half of that 18 ounces of water I was slamming must have made it out when I was at home, because the other half is knocking on the door. When I hit the corner, I jogged across the street to the gas station.

“This is fine!” I say to myself, “I’m exploring potential pit stops for longer runs. Note to self: vintage bathroom graffiti and a non-working lock.”

I finally start my run after jogging back across the street to the trail. The first mile feels good. The second mile gets hard, and I can feel my face moving from bright red to deep purple. The 3rd mile, I’m willing my legs to just keep turning.

Spiritually, I’ve been in a season of “growing up”, so I’ve developed this mantra that I say to myself every time something is painful and I want to start whining. Instead of saying “this hurts and I’m dying” and I recognize the pain and say to myself “This is where I grow”.

The 3rd mile was a inner refrain of “this is where I grow. This is where my legs get stronger. This is where my lungs get stronger. This is where my mind gets stronger,” and included many more pieces of me that were hurting or feeling weak. My new inner chant saw me through to the end.

And it saw me to this water fountain, where I snapped a picture of my purple face and SWtrainingday1the copious amount of sweat that is the result of pursuing total hydration as a goal. The picture also serves as a reminder to actually put the packed cooler of water into the car.

The picture and the story behind it serve as a baseline for this journey, and I’m interested to see the difference between today and October 21st when the race finally rolls around.

It also serves as proof positive that the “half-marathon where I can make all of my silly mistakes before the St. Jude half-marathon” is needed in my case.

As for tomorrow, Training Day 2, “they” say that I need to run hills.

Ahhhh…..”they” are so funny.