As my half marathon quickly approaches, I find a need to reflect on the training experience. It’s not done yet, as I still have 18 days (egad!) until the race. But, now’s a good time to look back while looking ahead.
While training for my half, I have:
- Gained 8 pounds. So, there it is. Figured we should get this one out of the way first. I’ve consciously not focused on losing weight during training. I wanted to feed my body what it was telling me it needed to get through the increased mileage. While I expected to gain weight during this process, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t irk me at all. It does, a little. But then I remember that I’m stronger, faster and a better runner than I was 10 weeks ago. And the 8 pounds? I know I can lose it again (even if I quietly wish I didn’t have to).
- Seen and felt parts of my body I thought moved out of town. Front-leg muscles? They exist! On my legs, even! (You can tell I didn’t know about them because I have no idea what they’re called.) I’ve had numerous leg muscles popping up here and there throughout training. And I love them. Sometimes I even catch myself staring at them in the mirrors in the gym. On the not-so-fun side, though, I’ve had pains and soreness in lots of muscles, too. Like my glutes that, by the way, do not love hill runs. And don’t forget the blisters, the chafing and the missing toenails.
- Cried more than I care to admit. Sometimes I cry from pain. But, mostly, I cry because I’m proud of myself. And it usually comes after I finish a long run on Saturdays. When I finished the 8.5 miles a couple of weeks ago, I sat in my car afterward for a good 15 minutes and let the tears stream down my face. I couldn’t believe I ran that — with a pretty sweet time, too. I felt like a runner. A proud, happy, strong (tired) runner.
- Doubted myself. While I believe in my heart of hearts that I can do this, I still have second (and third) thoughts. Running 13.1 miles is a long way for a girl who used to pretend to have a twisted ankle to get out of running a lap in gym class. Every tick or poke or ache makes me think my body is rebelling, telling me I can’t do this. And when I drove the race course with my mom and sister the other day, I almost wanted to call it quits. Almost. I didn’t. Because I do know that I have it in me to finish run this race. I’ve put in the hours of training. I’ve given myself the pep talks. I’ve cleared my head of the junk it was filled with so I can focus on this goal. Yeah, I’m still nervous. But they’re good nerves. And they’re telling me: “Kimberly Joy, get out of your head. Get on your feet. Listen to your heart. You have this one.”
- Fallen in love with naps. I’ve never been a big napper. They always make me feel groggy and more tired than before the nap. But, now? Now there’s nothing I like more than coming home from a nice, long run than a good stretch session, a big ol’ glass of coconut water, a snack and a nap. Now that is some good stuff.
- Tried at least a zillion brands of on-the-run carbs. I’m nervous that my biggest downfall will be not knowing how to fuel myself during my run. (As evidenced by #1, I’ve got the whole fueling-before-my-runs thing covered.) So, I’ve been trying out various sports drinks, gels, gummies, you name it. I think I’ve discovered that Jelly Belly Sport Beans are the winners for me. I cannot stand most Gu flavors — I think it’s the consistency (though I will admit that the chocolate really is like frosting). And Gatorade really upset my stomach both times I had it mid-run. So, I think I’ll stick to my coconut water and Sport Beans — with a few gummy bears thrown in for good measure. Because, really, a girl can’t ever have too many gummy bears.
- Nearly peed my pants at least a dozen times. (And actually did it once.) I need to work on balancing the whole hydration and bathroom-location thing. By the time I get home from my long runs, I can barely crawl up the stairs without peeing my pants. And, yeah, it really did happen once. Sorry if that’s too much information for you, but this sh*t’s real.
- Gotten really comfortable with my bodily fluids. See #7. And add to it snot and spit and blood and pus. I’ve finally embraced the necessity to spit at varying increments on my runs — but I always make sure no one’s behind me. After two unfortunate incidents of getting another runner’s spit in my mouth during a race, I always check behind me before I spit. See? I’m a conscientious runner. And, once again, let’s not forget the blisters.
- Spent hundreds of dollars on shoes and gear and music. Never, ever underestimate the power, and importance, of good running shoes, cute supportive gear and peppy tunes. Oh, yes, and running socks — once I found them, the blisters stayed away.
- Instituted a mandatory “second breakfast.” My family may laugh and tease me about this, but I wholeheartedly support “second breakfast.” I eat when I wake up at 4:30 every morning so I have the energy I need for my runs. (I tried the whole running-on-an-empty-stomach thing. Yeah. So very much not for me.) So, by the time 9 or 9:30 rolls around, I’m hungry for another meal. Enter second breakfast.
- Signed up for a full marathon. Yeah. Without ever having run 13.1 miles, I decided I want to run finish 26.2. Training starts two weeks after I cross the finish line at the half.
- Realized that it’s OK to admit that I am my own inspiration. While I am inspired by countless people in my life, I can’t help but be inspired by how far I’ve come — and, really, how far I plan to go. I’m sorry not sorry if that makes me selfish or narcissistic or vain. It is very important, imperative even, to recognize how far we’ve come and appreciate all we’ve accomplished. Just think about the gift we’ve given ourselves by taking care of our bodies, our health. I am inspired by me because I’ve given myself my life back.