10 Lessons from my First Half

Sunday was THE day; the day I ran and finished my first half marathon. I need to specify that I finished because I bumbled my way so horribly through the series of 13.1 miles that I considered calling for a taxi no less than a marathon-mileage of times. Yet I did finish, I am still alive, and I learned numerous lessons, but will limit the top ten for you, my dear readers.

Top Ten Lessons Learned from the

Dexter-Ann Arbor Half Marathon

10.  Get your packet the day before, if possible.

There is nothing more valuable than enough sleep on race day, even if it’s an extra 30 minutes.

9.  Always bring Gu Chomps (or fuel of your choice) and have it in a handy location.

I ate four Gu Chomps throughout my 13.1 miles, and having that extra oomph really helped me maintain my pace and confidence that I was capable of finishing.  Since my capris didn’t have pockets, I stored it the next most safest location.

8.  If you train with music, bring your damn headphones/earbuds with you to the race.

I usually either listen to a running playlist or read on my Kindle while I run on the treadmill, and I thought prior to the race that being outside and competing against other runners, I wouldn’t need that stimulation.  Leaving my headphones at home was a mistake; I was easily distracted by the inner monologue in my head scouting for possible ditches I could curl up and die in.

7.  Set a final time goal before you start, that way you’ll have inspiration for when you want to quit at every 45 second interval.

While I was training on the treadmill, I knew that my time would be somewhat slower when I ran outside, in a real race.  I set my goal for two hours, and finished in 2:01…not bad.

6.  Train with your fuel belt/hydration setup before the race so you’re not stuck with your iPhone in your hand.

What with getting back to Michigan, traveling and accepting jobs in Jacksonville, Florida, I simply ran out of time to get out and buy a proper hydration belt.  I had a few in mind, but the one thing that I have learned from other’s misfortune in the blog world is the very LAST thing you want to do is try out new equipment/clothing/shoes on race day.  Following this advice and wanting to have my phone with me just in case, I ran with my iPhone in-hand, switching back and forth between Lefty and Rightman.  It was ok, but not the most convenient.  Also, I would have liked to have had more water, more often throughout the race.

Before I even consider signing up for another race, I will have at least five runs in with whatever fueling system I choose.

5.  If your race has pacing corrals, be sure to stand around with the crowd that is about 30 seconds slower than your goal time to avoid ants-in-your-pants and traffic jams.

There’s just something about the hype and competition of a race that gets your mind running faster than your legs should be carrying you.

4.  If you complete your race, you can eat ANYTHING you want!

3.  Kiss the organizers who post the water/Gatorade locations on the race website prior to race day; this knowledge is PRICELESS!

Truly, knowing that I would be able to snag a cup of water every two miles not only broke the race down into more manageable increments, but I didn’t have to worry about where my next H2O would be.

2.  Add hills/intervals to your training.  You’re only cool to the folks in the mirror if you complete every run on a 1% incline.

1.  You’re going to make it after all!

10 thoughts on “10 Lessons from my First Half

  1. I am really going to tinkle on myself one day reading your posts!!! LOVE the cats!!!!

    So you think that hills/intervals are a must for training?

    I’ve never had to eat energy thingies while running since I don’t run that far, but might have to invest in some since I AM BITING THE BULLET AND STARTING TO TRAIN FOR A HALF MARATHON!! I think I’m crazy! 🙂


    • Getting ready for longer runs will test your focus, stamina, and tinkle holding abilities. I only use the Gu Chomps if I am running in the morning before a proper breakfast or a distance of more than 10 miles.

      I am SO excited to hear about your half marathon training! It will be tough but VERY rewarding!

  2. I am enjoying your recaps and lessons from your half marathon. They are very encouraging. My husband and I are contemplating one in October but it is a scary thought! My brother ran his first half marathon (the Indy Mini) last May and is hooked. He has run several halfs and two full ones since then. He just missed his goal of 3 hours by 3 minutes. Is it true that signing up is the hardest part?!?

  3. Congrats on your first half! What a great time too!

    I agree — as a “seasoned” half marathoner with 4 under my belt now — with everything you’ve posted above. I’m about to go check those water stops for a 10 miler I have next weekend.

  4. Pingback: Themes for the Week | Fancy Oatmeal

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