This past Saturday I ran my very first 1/2 Marathon - yay! I had the pleasure of training with a wonderful group of moms from my children's school, who encouraged and motivated me. Here we are after we all crossed the finish line. Looking good!
I know that my 1/2 marathon may not seem like a huge deal, but it is to me. I wrote about why I started running and why I finally decided to run this race - you can find that post here. Honestly, it felt like such a big day for me, mostly because getting to race day proved to be harder than I had planned. First, I couldn't register because the race was full. Lucky for me a few spots opened on my birthday and I officially enrolled. Next, I hurt my foot on our 12 mile run two weeks before the big race....Lucky for me it healed. Then there was finding time to train. Finally, my baby scratched my eye so bad the week before the race that I couldn't see...Lucky for me it healed fast too. On race day I felt really good...both feet and eyes were working as they should!
My friend from my running group picked me up at 5:30 am and then we met up with the other ladies from our group to carpool to the race. It was fun and exciting getting there at the crack of dawn and chatting away. This particular 1/2 marathon is part of the Great Race of Agoura. The Great Race is a huge fundraiser (they have several races that morning) for local schools and really has a ton of community support behind it. The volunteers were out in full force so early in the morning and that made me super happy. A bathroom break was next and then we made our way to the start line, which is located at the top of a residential street.
I felt nervous and excited at the same time. The race starts easy...you go down that long hill that you climb earlier (to get to the start line) and for the next 3 miles you run on flat land through charming Old Agoura. At mile 3 you hit the trail head and for the next 7.5 miles you run on the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is really quite beautiful...You would never guess that you are so close to LA and a major freeway! I started the trail portion feeling really great, with a good pace that I kept up until mile 6. That's when I almost cried. I realized that the hard part of the race was just starting. The flat trail was about to turn into a series of hard short climbs. I said a quick prayer and kept on going. Yep, those little rocky parts were harder and longer than I remembered from our practice runs but everyone was pushing along.
Then came the LONG steady climb up to the highest elevation. Most people, including me, walked for part of the climb. I made it to the top - pictured below - I was VERY happy to see this view! I knew that the next part of the race was mostly downhill!
It's a fast way down for about a mile...then you hit flat land, climb one more tough hill and finally you run on the streets for the last 2.5 miles. The last 2.5 miles took forever to finish. I was beyond excited to see that finish line! It was so nice to congratulate the ladies in my group on our run - we all did great! After the race my family took me out for a celebratory lunch - I enjoyed the biggest burger and cocktail! Here's a picture of me after I had made it up and down that hill!
How did I do? I finished in 02:07:11. I think that's great. 8 months ago I had struggled on my 1st post baby run. It was 2 miles and I cried when I got home because it had been so hard to complete. I have come a long way...until the next one!
Thoughts on running and training for my 1st 1/2 marathon....
This morning proved to be awesome - I completed my 1st long trail run. It's a big accomplishment for me simply because at one point I could not even run 1 mile. After the birth of my 3rd child I started running and over time I could run longer and faster distances. It never fails that just as I am getting better, I find out I'm pregnant. I keep up with running as long as my pregnant body allows, but my body does not appreciate it - everything seems to ache, always - when I'm pregnant. Running makes this worse. And I always have to run near places with bathrooms, which is a whole other problem. Then, the baby arrives and everything is turned upside down around the house for a few months and running is not at the top of my to-do list. My baby is almost 7 months old and I have a decent handle on things around here so it's back to the running. The past few weeks I have been feeling pretty good about my running and I started to think about completing my 1st 1/2 marathon.
I had been thinking about it for some time, but I was scared. I have run a few 5ks and have done well in them, but long distances scare me. I have never run anything longer than 10 miles and I am not a fast runner. Anyway, I found out that a few moms from my children's school would be running a local and very popular 1/2 marathon on March 22. I know most of them and they very kindly have included me in their training for race day. This morning they had scheduled a 9 mile run, mostly on the trail that we will run that day. I have to be honest, while I have run that distance before, the thought of keeping up with others, perhaps the fear of being judged as a slow runner, and running a completely new course all freaked me out a bit.
Well, I ran it...it was hard...and I will do it again next week. Funny thing - I kept thinking that a rattle snake was going to cross my path or that a mountain lion was going to leap out at me from behind the brush. I took this picture when we reached the top of a steep hill...nice, huh?
I was reminded about 2 things on my run:
1. Comradery is awesome. On today's run, right around mile 5, I felt exhausted. The newness of running a long distance (for me) on a hard trail was beginning to take a toll. My feet hurt and I doubted I could run any longer. Then, I started to focus on my friend running in front of me. I just followed where her feet landed and kept ker pace. Later, when I couldn't run up the steep hill, another person in my group waited for me. I saw 3 other groups of women running the trail. The sense of "we are doing this together" was really nice.
2. Usually the best rewards require a lot of work, and it can be painful - physically and mentally. Yes, those of us who have been in labor can totally relate, right? I am not suggesting that we should all push our bodies to the point of exhaustion but the health goals that we set for ourselves often mean doing things we don't want to really do. Sometimes they hurt and that's ok.
I'm not training for a great finishing time, just for the ability to persevere and make it across that finish line with some friendly running partners. Looking forward to March 22nd race day!