23 October 2013

we ran and ran and ran.

Yay! We finished our first half marathon a couple weekends ago. Both Josh and I have been runners for a while because we've both played soccer (and other sports) all our lives, but this was a slightly new adventure. Yeah, soccer requires a lot of running, but it does not require running 13.1 miles at the same speed without stopping. In that sense, training for a half marathon was new territory. Even though we aren't super experienced long distance runners, running is one of our top choices for daily exercise because we can do it just about anywhere outside, it's a good work out, and it's free (except for the running shoes). Plus, we both really enjoy running. 

A half marathon seemed to me like a really cool challenge. My mom has done several 13.1 mile races and I was inspired! Now that I'm not participating in organized sports, I wanted something to keep me exercising daily. So I got Josh to sign up with me for the Prairie Fire Half Marathon and we started training in early August. I roughly followed this training plan, so I was running about 3-4 times a week, including one long run. I usually didn't do any sort of weight training, but next time I definitely would! A few weeks before the half marathon I started doing yoga twice a week, which helped with the stretching aspect of my training schedule. Each Saturday I would increase my long run by one mile. My first long run was 5 miles and my last long run before the race was about 11 miles. I usually really enjoyed my long runs. Okay, some were super windy and difficult. But overall I loved getting into a groove, spending time outside, challenging myself physically and having time to think or listen to music.

For me, the toughest part of the training was towards the end when I was running longer distances and my knees started aching during and after runs. Occasionally my knees even hurt throughout the day. Like I said before, I really should have done some weight training. I think that would have taken some stress off my knees. Josh ran pretty much as often as I did and he ran similar distances. He usually ran a mile longer than me on our long runs. I think he’s just a little more ambitious than me! In looking back, Josh thinks he probably should have done more varied exercises rather than just running. Overall, though, he felt ready for the race!

The week before our race we took it easy. We ran a few days and did some cross training, but nothing above 4 miles.  We also sat in the hot tub and the steam room at the YMCA to let our muscles relax. We had a relaxing weekend and then woke up excited and anxious 
Sunday morning at 6:30am.

We're pretty lucky that we live three blocks from the start line of the race. We ate a little breakfast Sunday morning and then walked over to the race. It was chilly! I was wearing running shorts, a tank top, and a long sleeve shirt, which turned out to be a perfect combination. I was cold on our walk, but felt fine during the race. 

We found it exciting to start the race along with a huge mass of people. Josh particularly liked weaving in an out of the mass, passing slower people at the start of the race. Amazingly, Josh and I started running together and ran for about half a mile until the crowd thinned out and Josh took off. I would like to note that I only finished about ten minutes slower than Josh! 

For the first half of the race I was mostly just thinking about the race, the people cheering on the sidelines, and the other runners around me. I didn't really think about how I felt running and my mind didn't wander off much. I was really wrapped up in the whole event. A lot of family and friends of runners were gathered on the sidewalks with funny posters. Our race bibs had our names printed on them, so a few people we didn't know cheered for Josh and me by our name. I found that really encouraging. We also got cheered on by our family! Meme and Will (Josh's Aunt and Uncle) live on the race route, so they were cheering for us with posters around mile 5. I was really looking forward to that and it gave me a little extra pep in my step.

I grabbed water at most of the drink stands and stopped to stretch at one of the stands for about a minute. Other than that, I kept running straight through mile 13.1. My legs were feeling really stiff for the whole second half of the race, but I still found it quite possible to keep moving. Before the race I had an subconscious goal to finish in under 2 hours. After mile 11 I realized that I could definitely make that goal a reality so I sped up a little bit after mile 12 and then kind of sprinted through the finish line. I immediately saw Josh, which made me happy. My final time was 1 hour and 52 minutes! For Josh, the race went pretty smoothly, as well. Some of his favorite parts were passing people and getting to see the sunrise as we ran through downtown Wichita. The first half was a breeze for him, but the second half was more difficult. He had made a subconscious goal to finish under 1 hour and 45 minutes. Josh's final time was 1 hour and 42 minutes so he met his goal, too!

After the race we relaxed, ate some food, and sat in the hot tub at the Y for a while. At different points in the afternoon Josh and I crashed and slept for a couple hours. That was very much needed for our recovery. Since the race two weeks ago I would like to report that I have not gone for a single run (nor has Josh)! This past weekend I played very low key soccer for about 30 minutes and that is the extent of my exercising. Josh played in a more intense soccer game for a couple hours over the weekend, but other than that we've been taking a break from heavy exercising and long runs. I'll admit that my feet have been hurting a little- maybe a strain from the race. After resting and caring for my feet this week I hope to start running a little bit again and doing some other forms of exercise. 

The final verdict: we enjoyed challenging ourselves and completing the race, but it's not exactly our favorite thing ever and we don't plan to do it again anytime soon! Thanks for reading about our half marathon experience!

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