15 Lessons from Running a Half-Marathon

1. Training is a must, as much if not more for the mental exercise than the physical.

2. The first half is harder than the second.

3. Once accustomed to the mild knee pain that hits around mile 7, it’s all a mental. It was my brain, not my knees, that was trying to stop me.

4. Good music is essential at times, but I listened less than I thought I would. Mostly, I was in my own head, thinking about how I shouldn’t think about the knee pain, or that I had to pee but didn’t want to waste the time, or I hope that guy’s spit doesn’t come back and slap me in the face.

5. Once I realized how negative I was being, I used my mental energy to think about how, My God, I’m really doing this; and, Three months ago, the most I’d ever run was five miles, once. Not surprisingly, my bodied ached less the more positive my thoughts became.

6. There will always be people faster than me, and slower.

7. All, and I mean all, shapes, sizes, and ages run half-marathons. It’s inspiring.

8. As I hit mile 5, the freakishly fast runners leading the pack were already on their way back. The first two were men. The third was a woman and I wanted to scream, “You go, girl!” but I didn’t, out of fear I would disrupt her concentration. Next time, I will. She was awesome.

9. I felt an unspoken camaraderie with my fellow runners, especially the few who were always within sight. There was one lady in pink about 1/10 of a mile ahead of me and I could just never catch her, even though she walked through the last few water stops. Without knowing it, she helped keep me going.

10. It is easier to never stop running, no matter how badly I want to walk.

11. I can be stupidly competitive. I’d been running alone for the last couple of miles. About 1/10th of a mile from the finish line, I heard footsteps behind me and got angry. “Oh no, you don’t,” I thought. I picked it up, then she picked it up; I picked it up more, she picked it up more, I picked it up even more and felt like I was going to collapse, and I crossed the line first. As I stood in line waiting to hand over my number, I had to keep myself from throwing up. I didn’t look at the woman behind me, embarrassed that I’d just made myself physically ill just so I could cross first. Apparently, my camaraderie goes only so far.

12. Once my physical stockpiles are sapped, mental abilities diminish. When I finished, I felt half-drunk. I was hazy the rest of the day, and went to bed at 7pm. The last time I did that, I was eight.

13. Contrary to some predictions that I would feel differently, I still have no desire to run a full marathon.

14. I didn’t time myself, during training or the race. Next time, I think I will.

15. Contrary to my own prediction, this wasn’t a one-time thing. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

My friend, Michelle, and I after the race.

My friend, Michelle, and I after the race.

 

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16 thoughts on “15 Lessons from Running a Half-Marathon

  1. Congratulations!!! I am so proud for you, and we have never met (except here, of course). I ran a bit too, when I was much younger, and loved the 5K’s. Never went further. Yea you!!

  2. Yes!!!!!! I can’t wait for my next either. Doing the Denver rock and roll half relay with a friend in 3 weeks. So proud of you! What was your time?

    • Thank you! Believe it or not, I didn’t even look at the clock when I crossed (too focused on beating that woman), and we didn’t have chips. It was a bit after 2:15, when Michelle crossed. One thing I regret is taking it super slow, too slow, early on so I didn’t crap out later.

  3. Great post! I am not a runner but wish I could be. I would have thought the same thing about the spit. Very inspiring post. Congrats on finishing and wanting to do it again.

  4. Oh, you GO GIRL! The longest race I’ve done is an 8K – five miles. I have no desire to do a half. None. But you’re so spot-on about it being ALL mental. I didn’t think I could run five miles without stopping, but I did. And boy are we alike: I’d have done the same thing if I’d heard the footsteps behind me. HILARIOUS. When I ran my little race, a woman fell in beside me and asked if she could run with me. Sure, I thought, why not? I actually think SHE helped me be accountable. I wasn’t going to stop if she was beside me! Little did she know that I had planned to sprint the last part to “finish strong”. When she saw me pick up, she says, “Whoa. What are you doing?” And I’ll be darned if she didn’t finish not too far behind me. Little did I know was that she was a lot older than I thought! When she took off her sunglasses, I saw she was probably in her 60s. And I thought, “You go, mama!” So – good for you, my friend. Good for you! I’m impressed, and your life lessons learned along the way are priceless. I got a good chuckle out of the fear of spit in the face.

    • Thank you, thank you! My friend had been asking me to run it with her for a few years. I finally figured why not train for it and if it’s going well, then run it. That’s how I got hooked; I’d never wanted to run one , either. But I’m really — really — never running a full marathon. That’s just irresponsible. 🙂

  5. Way to go Jess! You almost inspired me to do one. ALMOST! I’ll stick with my little 5K’s. Or the one 5K that I sometimes do yearly only because it’s for a good cause. I will gladly cheer you on from the side lines though! YOU GO GIRL!!

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