I have the world’s greatest gift for you today. I want to introduce you to Meg and Kyle, husband and wife who ran their very first half marathons, The Wineglass Half Marathon in New York this past Sunday. There is absolutely nothing in the world like completing your first endurance race. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, a marathon, or a triathlon, the sense of overwhelming accomplishment is incredible. It’s one of those things so many of us tell ourselves that we could never accomplish. I know I told myself that I would never be able to do it. And here I am just two years of running and I’ve now run a handful of half marathons, a full marathon, and I am about to run the New York City marathon. All you have to do is find the courage to believe in yourself and then step out of your comfort zone. You really can do anything.
I had so much fun reading Meg and Kyle's first half stories and I am SO excited to share them with you. And get ready, it’s just as heart warming as you are expecting. So without further ado, let’s start with Meg….
I've always enjoyed running but I've never been particularly good at it. I'm generally very competitive but I've accepted that I'm never going to be the world’s fastest runner. I run because I enjoy it. I used to run every now and then in high school and college for fun and now sporadically as an adult. As a result, I had a hard time being able to run very far without stopping to walk (shocking, I know).
I ran my first race in May of 2013 after I saw information about ‘The Color Run’ online. I thought it sounded fun so I gathered up my husband and a few of my friends and we decided to do it. My goal was to be able to run the whole three miles without stopping so I found a couch to 5k plan online and started training. I was able to successfully run the whole thing! I was pretty pleased with myself and I ran a few more 5ks that year and then completed a 5k to 10k training plan in January 2014.
I’d thought about how awesome it would be run a half marathon but I was a little nervous about it - I could barely run three miles without wanting to die only a few months prior. Was 13.1 miles really feasible? A few of my friends at work really wanted to do the Wineglass Half Marathon and I mustered up the courage to sign up as well. I was really excited about running a half marathon but nervous at the same time.
I'm an accountant and I knew running regularly was going to be hard from January - April. I started with another couch to 5k training plan during tax season to keep me motivated and on track while work was crazy. I've found that I’m not a very good self-motivator and I'm much better at keeping up with my training if I have a specific plan to follow. Once I finished the 5k plan and work was less crazy, I moved on to another 5k to 10k plan. Then I found a half marathon training plan online and started training. The plan consisted of 2-3 shorter runs during the work week (2 runs at three miles and 1 that started at 3 miles and progressed up to 5). I usually did my long run on a Saturday morning starting at 6 miles and building to 12 with a couple drop back weeks. One of my friends from work often came with me during my long runs which really helped keep me on track on the days when I didn't feel like getting out of bed or if I wanted to quit early. Then I spent 30-60 minutes on Sundays doing yoga to help stretch out my muscles.
The week of the race I was super nervous, mostly about the weather forecast. Race day morning was supposed to be around 40 degree and I had done all of my training in warm weather! I was used to running in a light tank top! Uh oh! I was also nervous about the logistics of getting to the start line. Runners had to be bussed to the start from the finish line. Once I purchased a long sleeve shirt and made my pre-race plan (get to the finish early enough to have plenty of time to find parking and get to the starting line), I felt more relaxed. I figured hey, I'm not going to win and my main goal is to just finish this at this point. I've done everything I can do to prepare so I'm just going to go with it.
The beginning of the race was a little nerve racking. I hoped to stay with 2:30:00 pacer which was a little faster than my usual pace. As the race started there was a large crowd trying to run with her and I had literally taken three steps past the start line when someone stepped on the back of my shoe and ripped half of it off! I started to panic because pulling over to the side to fix my shoe was going to be impossible amidst the throngs of people crossing the starting line. I thought all this hard work ruined two seconds into the race! NOOOOOO!!! I wanted to cry! But some running angel must have been watching over me because after shuffling along a few steps my shoe slipped back on. CRISIS AVERTED! I calmed back down and trudged along.
It was a beautiful morning for a run. I kept up with my pace group until mile seven and I started to fall behind a bit. Instead of getting frustrated I felt OK with it. I was proud that I had stayed with them as long as I did and it was actually kind of nice to get away from the crowd and continue by myself. I am so grateful to all of the people that were along the course waving signs and cheering. Whenever I felt the urge to walk I'd look at the spectators, see a funny sign, or make eye contact with someone who was yelling, "You're doing so great! Keep going!" It helped me surge ahead. It's crazy how a little encouragement from a stranger can keep you moving along. There were only a few moments when I wanted to walk but I told myself if I just got to the next water stop, I could get a drink and walk for a second. That kept me moving. (Though I almost came to a screeching halt to pet a kitty that I saw sitting next to the road at mile seven - luckily my inner self screeched at me to keep moving and I avoided distraction!)
When I turned the last corner to run to the finish line, I somehow found the energy to speed up and sprint to the finish which is something I had never been able to do on my previous long runs. I crossed the finish line and felt absolutely elated - I had done it! I ran the whole way without stopping AND I DIDN’T EVEN FINISH LAST! I don't think I had ever been more proud of myself than at that moment. Then seeing my husband's excited face at the finish made me so happy.
For anyone that is thinking about running any distance but is worried they might not be able to do it, trust me, if I can do it you can absolutely do it. Some days will be discouraging but the days where you run further than you have ever run before followed by the feeling you get crossing the finish line make everything worth it. Consistency in training is key- If you find a plan you like and stick to it, you'll be surprised what you can accomplish. If you can find friends or family members to sign up to run with you it will give you a goal to reach for, people to help hold you accountable, and most importantly, people to celebrate with you when you finish!
AMAZING! Incredible! It reminds me 100% of everything I went through and still continue to go through. Let's switch gears and hear from Meg's wonderful significant other who took a not so traditional training path. Take it away Kyle…
My love for running started this past spring. My wife came to me and said she was doing the Wine Glass Half Marathon with some friends so I said I'll do it, sign me up. I've always been athletic from basketball, soccer to snowboarding so I figured I can do a half marathon. My wife took a strong training approach and began training towards the beginning of the summer. During her training I joined her here and there but for the most part hearing the word "training" or "practice" did not get me very hyped. I took my own approach and ran with my wife off and on during the summer mostly during her 3 mile or 5 mile runs. I told her that I decided to run it with little training.
At first she thought I was just being humorous but I never liked to rigorously practice or train in my other sports and I consistently performed well above average. As summer faded and my wife's trainings got stronger (she was running 10miles, 11miles, 12miles) I was studying distance runs online and researching because I am a strong believer that running is mental.
As the big day approached my wife had what we needed to eat all planned out, which I was a fan of since we both eat pretty well. Friday night we carb loaded with spaghetti and meatballs and then late Saturday afternoon we had chicken wraps. The morning of the race we woke up to a 31 degree temperature. Despite the cold, we were both so excited. We boarded our bus that took us to the start. For me, it felt like game day and seeing my wife have that same feeling made me so proud of her and all that she had accomplished. Once we reached the starting line we kissed, wished each other good luck and parted ways (I'm a faster runner).
The worst part was the first 4 miles. My hands were FREEZING. I almost wore gloves but I'm that guy that is always warm so I figured I don't need them. Poor choice. The race went well and I was pleased with my performance. I had to adjust my pace at mile 10 but I knew that was going to happen since my farthest run before the race was 7 miles. When I rounded the final corned and saw the finish line only a half mile away was amazing. Then crossing the finish line was the best feeling I've ever felt out of all my past athletic accomplishments. I had a true feeling of personal accomplishment.
The best part was the feeling I had when I first locked eyes with my wife after she came across the finish. Just seeing her smile and sharing that great moment, one that we both accomplished together, was a truly great memory that will always stay with me.
If I had to give advice to anyone who wanted to run, I would say find your own way. I mean find your own everything from your own pace, to your own training method, and find the people that will support you. Running has given me a sense of peace, stress relief, and happiness.
WHERE DOES ONE FIND THIS SORT OF RELATIONSHIP?! My heart is melting you guys. I mean "The best part was the feeling I had when I first locked eyes with my wife after she came across the finish. Just seeing her smile and sharing that great moment, one that we both accomplished together, was a truly great memory that will always stay with me." Life affirmations right there everyone. What has your significant other said about you today?
A half marathon isn’t something most people can run on a whim but Kyle has a good point. Running is definitely a mental sport. The furthest I had run before my first half marathon was 6 miles. I wasn’t planning on running a half 2 months after I started running but the opportunity arose and I just said yes. I was utterly terrified not only that I wasn't going to finish but that I was going to expire along the way. But it’s amazing what our bodies and our minds are capable of. Now I don’t recommend not training for a half marathon. The race and recovery is a lot more enjoyable when you train. It’s also 100 times safer. But the moral of the story is that running an endurance race is something I think everyone should do once. It proves just how incredible you really are.
Want to share your first endurance race story? Email me at RunSelfieRepeat@gmail.com. Until tomorrow friends, #RunSelfieRepeat.