First Fridays: The Half Marathon Edition – Jenna

by Melissa on June 1, 2012

Good morning, guys! It’s Friday! (Sometimes, randomly, the term “it’s Friday” brings me back to that terrible song…today’s one of those days! Haha!) Today’s First Fridays post comes from a friend I know from high school. She remembers me as I was in high school (yeah, that’s scary), and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that we reconnected on Facebook. Now, I’m really glad she started reading my blog, because we’ve become each others’ cheerleaders in this journey as evolving runners. It’s been really great having her chime in when I’m feeling down or when I’ve hit a milestone, and it was awesome seeing her go for her first 13.1. Jenna’s doesn’t blog, but she was one of the first to say yes to a call for guest bloggers, so for that I am thankful! (And knowing she’s got her little pumpkin, who is the cutest little peanut!!!, I appreciate that she wrote this for me so quickly.) Here is her story.

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In July of 2011 I gave birth to my daughter and I realized I needed to do something…I needed something for me. I wanted to be a role model for my little girl. So I decided in January to join a gym. I wanted to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes and gosh darn it I wanted to feel sexy! My husband without fail will tell me time and time again I am the most beautiful woman in the world and reassures me that all my faults are figments of my imagination, but I wanted to have conviction in those words to myself. So I got on a treadmill and I ran. Not far and certainly not fast, but I ran, then I walked, I ran, then walked, and so on and so forth.

About middle of the month or so my best friend said I should sign up for a half marathon in our hometown, at this point May seemed far enough away that it didn’t really seem too harsh of a training plan. If I was to add a mile a week I’d make it.

So I slotted myself at the gym religiously Monday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Saturday or Sunday and ran. At first I set time goals for myself, if I run for 25 minutes straight then I can walk, if I can make 3 miles under 35 minutes I can walk.

As motivation my husband got me a Garmin watch for Valentine’s Day…I was so excited to use it!

Once I got comfortable I’d push myself…I remember when I first hit 6 miles…I was worried I wasn’t going to make it down the stairs and to the restroom in time…yeah that was scary! I remember using a different type of treadmill and being pissed because it was so much harder to run on it. I would tune out and focus on seeing what I would look like once I do all this training and being proud of my accomplishments.

I also started using an app called Myfitnesspal to help me figure out my eating habits. I wanted this to become a lifestyle not a ‘fix’, after all I want my little girl grow up and be strong and proud of herself. No better way to teach this than to lead in a similar fashion. I loved plugging in my exercise and seeing how many calories I’ve burned and then I would immediately think of what I was going to eat to use up those calories that I’ve earned! Overtime I’ve started making healthier choices from 20 ounces of chocolate milk and a banana for breakfast to toast with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and lots of water!

About a month before the race my husband and I drove the course and even following directions we took wrong turns, there were more hills than anticipated and I started getting nervous…really nervous. My husband calmed my fears and gave me a pep talk. It helped me at that moment but it really got me freaked out because I stink at directions, I mean I literally can’t find my way out of paper bag and here I am going to be running a race route when normally I just get lost in my own little world of the treadmill. It sank in that I’m going to have to pay attention…ugh.

I hadn’t been running outside yet…I had no one to watch the baby, it’s easier to run at the gym, etc. Excuses all over the place, but they were running out. So my friend who convinced me to sign up for the race and I ran together and I had to bring the baby…well, I found out that I can’t run and push the stroller, because when I run I have T-Rex arms. I also can’t talk when I run because I focus on me…so even though we ran 5 miles together I slowed her down immensely, made her push my kid in the stroller, and tried to talk to her, but I probably sounded more like a yip yapping little dog because I was so out of breath and off my rhythm of running…miserable fail. I was feeling very negative about this experience because now we were 3 weeks out and I can’t run outside, what I am I going to do!

I got my husband to watch the baby and I did 2 runs outside on my own…which weren’t phenomenal, but I could do it, I just needed to do it at my comfort level and do what I’m comfortable with. I started feeling confident in my ability to just listen to my body and enjoy the run for what it is…my time to be me.

A week before the race I was chatting with my parents about the dynamics of race day. They were babysitting for us, but I wanted to be able to see my babycakes when I finished. My parents were looking at the course and were looking at me and talking about the hills and everything and I had to ask them to stop talking about it because they were freaking me out. I had already put my mind to this, I have gotten this far, I don’t want negative feedback I wanted positive thoughts.

Race weekend…

We got to my hometown the night before and got everything settled. We had already had our pasta dinner and I finished it off with an ice cream from Friendly’s when we rode into town (I know…). We got the baby all set up and got our stuff set for the morning.

Of course the baby who normally wakes up at 6:30am woke up at 5am, I was already thinking this might not go so well…but I got myself ready like I normally do and had some toast with peanut butter and a banana and lots of water. Got to the race area and got our numbers and waited until it was time. Met up with some friends and took some pre-race pics and pumped ourselves up…previously my husband and I were trying to figure out if we were going to run together or separate. He tends to talk to me when we run near each other and we decided that I should run by myself since it’s my accomplishment and my time for me. I was nervous about this do to my lack of directional knowledge, not wearing my hearing aids (since I’ll have my iPod in), and in general it’s my first half, I’m scared sh!tless!

I will say that standing around waiting for everything to get going gives you plenty of time to hit up the port-a-potties. It was crazy to see everyone waiting in line or more like a big mass with no one moving. I mean with all the pre race jitters and stuff, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Thankfully there was a veteran runner in front of me getting everyone moving because a lot of us newbies were standing there looking at the port-a-potties and not moving.

It’s go time…The gun goes and we start heading across the start line and I click my Garmin on and settle into my pace listening to Zac Brown Band which is catchy country with a little extra kick occasionally. It was a beautiful day after the first mile I lose sight of my husband, but it’s good because I’m in my groove and I’m proud of myself. I weave around some people and some people weave around me, I’m enjoying the scenery. I am wondering where everyone else is in relation to me and I realize it doesn’t matter, because I am achieving a goal for me. I think of my little girl and even though she won’t know what is really going on (she’s 10 months) but that I’m proud I did this for me, for her, and that she’ll have a strong healthy mommy. I didn’t even look at my Garmin until around 5 miles and I was pumped. I was doing well, and at the rate I was going I would be able to complete it in under 2 hours and 30 minutes which I told everyone was my goal. My little secret goal that I didn’t tell anyone was 2 hours and 15 minutes, but who knows what could happen. Around mile 8.1 I hit a wall I had to walk for a .1 of a mile and then I continued on until mile 9.2. It was the world’s longest hill and it wasn’t even that it was steep necessarily it was the grade I felt like no matter how hard I tried to chug up the hill I was only walking. I had missed one water station because they ran out of cups, and saw another up ahead, so I ran there got some water in my hands because they too were out of cups.  When I looked up I saw my husband probably half a mile a head and he was walking so I started running towards him, when I got close enough I started yelling his name because he had a water belt on. I needed water so bad at this point it was in mid to high 70′s and I was dehydrated.

After stealing his water which he graciously gave to me (yes he is that amazing!), we ran/walked with each other until the end. We cheered each other on, gave encouragement, and both were beaming when we crossed the finish line at 2:33.

We both got cold water/Gatorade and met up with family and friends and both gave our babycakes a big hug and kiss. She was excited to see us and that was the best feeling in the world, knowing what I accomplished and that even being a exhausted and a sweaty mess I still have the energy and desire to play and cuddle with my little girl, because even though this is for me…it’s for me to be a better mommy to her.  I’m already looking forward to completing another half in the fall possibly or maybe branch out and compete in a duathalon (run, bike, run). Who knows what the future will bring, but I know that I am officially a runner and getting my sexy back!

Thank you so much for writing for me, Jenna, and I am truly proud of what you accomplished for yourself and as a role model for C. What you’re giving her is the chance at a great foundation…just as I hope I can give me girls.

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If you missed the first two First Fridays posts, you can find them here:

First Fridays: The Half Marathon Edition – Charlotte

First Fridays: The Half Marathon Edition – Jessica

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess June 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I just loved reading about your first half marathon journey! I felt your nerves at the starting line and everything, you painted such a great picture of the day. I just love how you finished with your husband and were PROUD of that hard work. Ultimately, that’s what this is about — being proud, not thinking about time or numbers or paces per se, but running a race that you can be proud of. Something I know that the super-fab Melissa will TOTALLY do in Chicago!! :)

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Kierston June 2, 2012 at 7:03 am

I enjoyed reading about your first half marathon! Congrats!

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jenna June 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Thanks ladies! As I was writing and rereading this I realized even more what a personal accomplishment it was. It was nice to reflect back to see what I can do better for next time.

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