The Second Half: Final Thoughts
When I signed up for the Rock N Rock USA Half Marathon, it was on a total whim. I was wasting some time on the computer before my graduate class, and for some reason, I just said “Why not?” and went for it. I hadn’t given the decision to train for and run another half marathon much thought; I knew it was something I wanted to do in the future, but I had been thinking of a much more distant future, not this spring. But I bit the bullet, committed myself to a training plan, and went for it.
And, man, I’m glad I did.
There were definitely days that I didn’t feel like training, and just like while I was training for the Baltimore Half, there were many, many times where I wondered why the hell I had voluntarily signed up to do this. (Most of those doubtful thoughts came on my long training runs, especially the cold, windy ones. Not surprising, huh?)
But then, the week leading up to the race, I realized that I was running faster and stronger than I have in a long time…or maybe ever. On race day, I crossed the starting line with a smile on my face. And when I crossed the finish line and saw a PR on my Garmin, I felt really freaking proud of myself. Proud for facing a challenge, working towards it, and kicking it’s ass.
Nick was surprised when I signed up for this half, possibly because the decision came out of thin air. He told me, very simply and clearly, “You don’t need to prove anything to yourself, Hill. You’ve done this already. You proved you can do it. You don’t have to do this again.”
He was right, of course. I didn’t have to do this again. I didn’t have to prove to anyone else or myself that it could be done because I had already done it. The challenge was met once and that could have been enough. But what I ended up proving to myself this time around is that I’m capable of getting stronger, of setting goals for myself and exceeding them. I’m capable of working hard, of motivating myself, and of succeeding. It was a good, reassuring lesson to learn—one that is applicable to so many other areas of my life right now. (Nick noticed my motivation, too—in his “Congrats” card, he told me that my dedication and hard work inspires him to do the same. It was sweet and I loved it).
And so I’m left with some random, lingering thoughts about this race and…future ones? Here they are in no particular order:
- I love being off a training plan, but I admittedly feel a little lost and confused without one. After working out on a strict schedule for the last five months, it feels a little bit weird going to the gym with no real plan in mind. I’ve been enjoying working out for the sake of working out (de-stressing, sweating, etc.) but I also want to make the most of my workout time. I’m ordering The New Rules of Lifting for Women tonight, and I’m planning to take my first kickboxing class this week!
- In the same vein, I love running just to run again. No speed training, no hill training, no pacing, no set number of miles. Just running because I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it, as fast as I feel like going. Today it was three miles, and I enjoyed every single stride. I was comfortable, sweaty, and downright giddy.
- Training for the DC Half was way different than training for the Baltimore Half. As a co-worker (who is also a serious runner) said to me after the race: when you are training for/running your first half marathon, you’re just focused on whether or not you’ll be able to do it. You just want to finish. When you are training for/running your second half marathon, you’re focused on how FAST you can finish. You know you can because you’ve done it before, but it becomes a totally different beast. She was totally, completely correct.
- I didn’t burn out on running this time! In fact, I’ve run three times since the race, and I’ve enjoyed every run. I think I was mentally prepared this time around, at least more than I was for Baltimore, and the result was that I still love running. One of my big fears about training for another race was that I would hate running at the end, and I’m so, so glad that didn’t happen.
- I do want to run another half marathon, but I’m 99.9% sure I’ll never run a full. My friend Marty keeps encouraging me to just do it; he says that if I can run a half, a full is in the bag. But I just don’t know that my body could physically handle that, or (more importantly) if I’d enjoy it at all. Training for and running a half is mentally/physically taxing enough as it is; add another 13.1 miles onto that, and I think I might fall apart. But I guess never say never?
- I want the next half I run to be a big one: Disney Princess and Nike Women’s Half are both on my bucket list, and I would kill to run either of them. We’ll see where my funds are next year, and maybe I’ll go for it!
- Three friends have asked me for running advice this week. One of them told me I was her inspiration to start running. I suddenly realized that, after five years of running and two half marathons, I guess I can call myself a runner? Why is that so hard to say? Anyone else have this problem?
So that’s the wrap up, kids. Two half marathons down, who knows how many more to go?! It’s been a long, tough, fun, awesome ride that I’m excited to do again sometime in the future.
Anyone else with spring races on the agenda? I’d love to sign up for a 10k (a distance I’ve never raced!)