Running doesnt come easily for me like it does for so many people. I was never a runner and even the sports/activities i did in junior high and high school didnt involve much running. I could do a perfect toe touch but no way could i run a mile. Back in 2005 or 2006 (i cant really remember) my dear friend Hart was running a lot. I decided to do my very first 5k with her. The Ghost and Goblin 5k in dayton, oh. I think we maybe did one training one, but i was pretty much running it cold. Hart stayed with me the entire time even tho she totally couldve finished in a better time. She wouldnt let me stop and walk, we just slowed down a ton but we kept jogging. She helped me push thru the side stitches that i get so badly. “Raise your hands above your head, big breaths, and lets keep going” she said. And i did it. And i was proud. I did it again the next year, and the year after. I love that race. I dont know if i ever did it faster than 34 minutes but it didnt matter to me. I ran the whole time. And it was super fun. Fast forward a few years, 2012 I signed up for my first 10k in the fall.. We do 5k’s quite a bit now, my husband and i, and they are still slow, but theyre fun and i can usually do them without walk breaks. Until a few weeks before our 10k.. i got shin splints. bad. It hurt to run into a store from the parking lot. So, i took some time off from running.. We still did the 10k.. in about an hour and 20 minutes. I had to walk a lot. And i cried when it was over because i couldnt believe i still could do it. That was our last race for that year. January 2013 I decided this would be the year for me to do a half marathon. I’d originally said i’d like to do one before i’m 35, so i beat that goal by a few years. I found a race that worked with my schedule, the Cap City Half. I found a training plan, i signed up. Done deal. I could do this. Except that my shins did not enjoy me running. and i still get cramps/side stitches pretty badly just like i did in my very first 5k. So i didnt stick to the training as best as i could. But i also wasnt cross training like i shouldve been. “resting my shins” i’d say. whatever. March 17th was my first 5k. I’d received a roll of Rock Tape from a girlfriend.. and it got me thru that 1st hilly 5k in cincinnati. i had a pretty decent time too for not running much (for me anyways). After that we had like 4 5ks in a row and then a 10k. I was using rock tape and compression socks.. I made it thru. We beat our 10k time and i cried again. I’m very emotional. But after that 10k, i’d gotten discouraged. I told my girlfriend i was gonna do the half, but i wasnt expecting myself to run much of it. My shins hurt. I had blisters. Cramps. chafing. you name it. But she wouldnt let me give up. She’d text me a little modified running plan to get me thru the next 20 days before the half. She’d check in with me and see how my shins were doing and remind me to do an 8 mi run this weekend, then 10 next weekend then rest before the race. Told me she’d be at the race cheering me on. The Saturday before the race, JJ and i went out and did 10 miles. TEN MILES! Do you know how far that is? Its far. my shins felt great. it was the blisters that got me on that run. And running out of water meant that we ended up walking a lot. After we got done, i was in high spirits. Maybe i could do this half afterall. I had JJ figure out if i could finish in 3 hours based on our 10 mi run. And thats right what my time would be if i did about what we did that saturday. I can do this.
The week of the race, i turned to my facebook running friends as i usually do when looking for advice. I had the shins under control with Rock tape and compression. I can breathe and push thru my side stitches. My last issue is chafing and blisters. I took a little bit of everyones advice and got some body glide and some toe socks. And friday may 3rd, my friend meg (who was always checking in and giving me revised running plans) and i went to the expo. I’ve never been to a running expo before! So fun to actually be there. I’m gonna be a half marathoner! If i finish this sucker, you can bet your ass i’m putting one of those 13.1 magnets on my car! And we bought one at the expo. =)
i was WAY excited to get my bib. And thats not my baby, thats megs baby Leo
The day of the race I was pretty nervous. I forgot to eat my standard banana before we left but oh well, too late now. JJ took me downtown where, once again, i started to get teary in the car as he dropped me off. i just couldnt believe i was really attempting this.
Once I made my way to my corral (corral E, if that helps you realize how slow i am!) it was ok, stand around and wait.. Do some lunges and leg swings to warm up my muscles a little. But i was uncomfortable because i was alone. I felt like people were thinking, ha, whats she trying to prove, she’s never gonna be able to finish. which i realize is ridiculous. The running community is so not snarky like that. I’ve come to realize that runners are SO supportive and just there for each other. So what do i do when i’m uncomfortable, i take pics of myself. lol
I got emotional again when the National Anthem was played.. and then when the gun went off and the first wave was on their way. I think my start was about 13 minutes after the gun start. And there i went. Trying to remember to keep it slow and easy, not take off (not like there was a lot of room to just take off anyways). I saw the 2:40 pace group up ahead of me.. Thinking, ok, i should try to catch up to them and stay with them as long as i can.. My goal was only to finish under 3 hrs. I didnt care if it was one second under 3 hrs. So i knew i wouldnt be able to keep up with them the whole time. But I eventually caught up to them and stayed with them for the first 3 miles or so.. I was able to keep running, only stopping at aid stations/water breaks like my friend megan advised.. And eventually, i passed the pace group. I dont know how far they were behind me, they could have been directly at my back for all i knew, i didnt turn around to check i just kept going. I need to give a shout out and thank the stranger in the cute blue w polka dot shorts. She doesnt know she did anything but i was trying my damnest to keep up with her. And i did, for a long time. So stranger, thank you for keeping me going, for motivating me, and helping me not to stop.. even tho you have no clue and will probably never see this, you helped me immensely. At around mile 6, i saw meggie. with baby and dog (huge 80 pound dog) in tow. I ran to her and gave her the biggest hug. It meant so much that she was out there for me. I couldnt stop and chat too long because i was losing my blue shorts girl. So i sped up to catch up to her, my heart warmed that my friend was there rooting for me. At around mile 8, i started hurting… or maybe getting tired is the better way to put it. But i went thru a check list, are my shins ok, yep. side cramps, nope. so i kept going. remembered my breathing. and kept going. Where it kind of all unraveled was about 9.75. I’d run the whole time so far (with the exception of water stations) so this was the farthest i’ve ever run straight thru… I was really tired. I could feel blisters forming. I was beat. So i walked a bit.. But i tried to keep my speed up a bit.. then i realized i could just slow down my running.. so i started again, just slower.. at this point, i’d lost my blue shorts stranger, and the pace group had finally passed me. I was discouraged but i wasnt about to give up yet. I’d come this far. Keep going.
Once i hit 10 miles, i tried to remind myself i only had a 5k left to do. we do 5ks every weekend, no sweat.. that didnt really work. i was already super tired and my feet hurt. But i still kept at it. At about mile 12, i gave in and walked some more.. I walked about a half mile. maybe a bit more.. I wanted to be able to run to the finish so i was trying to preserve some energy. And then i saw it, in the distance.. the end. it looked SO. FAR. AWAY… I can do this. Megs up there. JJs there. I know my sister has been texting him for updates.. Just go, finish.
And finish i did. In two hours and 41 minutes and 16 seconds. I beat 3 hours. I BEAT 3 HOURS!! For me, this is a huge feat. huge. i threw my hands up as i crossed the finish, i cried. I got my medal and my legs felt like lead. But i just ran a half marathon. Holy Shit. For someone who running does not come easy for, i was (am) unbelievably proud of myself.
I found some water and a bagel and walked and stretched before i went to find JJ and meg. And when i did, i discovered our friend Kevin had found them too. He and his friend James finished at around the 1:51 mark, so, way faster than me, but we all did it.
oh and meg made me a sign! i heard her screaming GO JENNY right before i crossed the finish and it almost undid me. This new mom came out to spend her morning cheering me on. It meant SO much.
if you ever have a friend or loved one, or if you live near a race course, go out and cheer for them! it means SO much to the runners. when i was struggling and heard someone i didnt know yell out, “come on jennifer, you can do it, one more mile!” or something like that, it made me want to push just a little further, i couldnt give up right there in front of the stranger that yelled for me. Its an incredible experience to have people cheering you on, spending their time to do something so nice.. geez i’m getting emotional just remembering..
So i did it. I ran a half marathon. I got a medal and now i want more. Or at least one more. Its been a week now and i finally made it back to the gym. I was pretty sore this week. The worst of it Sunday and Monday obviously. And now, i think i’m gonna start training for the next. I’m gonna take better care to not try to do too much too fast to help prevent shin splints and i’m gonna do better with cross training. No i dont think i’ll ever do a full.. 13 miles is a freaking long way, friends. And 26.2? no way. i’d die. I totally admire people who can do those. Its definitely not an easy feat. I did it. Go me. And i’ll do it again. and maybe, just maybe, my goal will be running it just a little faster this time.. i can do it.
OH! and some people have asked where i got things..
My headband was amazing and didnt move and sopped up all my sweat and they have TONS of cute ones. Its from Bondi Bands.
My awesome tank is from Ruffles With Love. Such cute stuff and i will totally buy more from them. i got so many compliments on my shirt. Even spectators yelling, YEAH 13 point freaking one baby!