I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was actually pretty nervous about my 8K yesterday. Not only had I never run 5 miles straight before, but this was my first actual race (even though most people would probably start with a 5K). To increase my mental stress even more, as soon as I got on the trail, I realized it was far more difficult than I had anticipated.
The race was called “Into the Wild” – and they weren’t kidding. The trail wound though steep hills, and the terrain alternated between soft sand, rocky river beds, and pavement. At some points the trail was a foot or less wide, making it nearly impossible for runners to pass each other.
I also decided not to wear my Vibram FiveFingers for fear that I might get blisters, so I wore my other minimalist shoes, the New Balance Minimus. They worked well and were super comfortable.
One thing I really loved about the race, however, was the sense of camaraderie among the runners. Maybe it was especially pronounced since the trail was so tricky, but many of the runners chatted during the race about how difficult it was and cheered each other on. Since I’ve largely been training on my own, I’ve missed this kind of community, and it was nice to find it here.
At around three miles, though, I definitely started to feel like giving up. I had just conquered an incredibly sharp incline and I thought, “Okay, that will be the last of it,” only to encounter a similarly difficult slope right after. The course felt like it was never going to end. Had I been running on my own, I would have stopped at this point. Luckily, I had incredibly buff, seasoned runners passing me by, and that was enough to keep me motivated. (Or maybe it was the approaching nightfall and the fact I was in the wilderness that kept me going…)
This race was really helpful because it taught me a few things to consider about before the actual half marathon:
- Don’t rely on your iPod. I usually use Songza (an app that uses internet to find playlists) but because there was no internet, bringing my iPod along ended up just being a burden.
- Take a TUMS before the race, or bring one along. I don’t know what happened – I didn’t eat anything strange at all before the race, but I kept getting indigestion and it made running very uncomfortable.
- Bring gum. This might be TMI, but I kept choking on my saliva since my throat was getting really dry.
- Wear longer shorts. I experienced some pretty uncomfortable chaffing between my thighs and this made the last mile even more difficult.
All in all, I felt that my cardio was pretty strong, and that if it were not for the points mentioned above, I would have had an even faster time.
For beginner runners, I would highly recommend registering for a short race before the actual half marathon. Not only is being around the other runners inspiring, but it was great to get a feel for a typical race environment. Not to mention, I now feel that much more inspired to keep training!
Here’s the 12-week training schedule I’ll be following for the next 11 weeks (I’ve already completed Week 1). In order to hold myself accountable, I’ll post an updated chart at some point in the future of what I actually ran, my pacing for each run, and what activity I did on my cross-training Sundays. Hopefully the distances will be pretty similar, if not identical!