I never missed a long run. I followed a combo of Hal Higdon's novice 2 training and a Women's Health Half Marathon training plan. The thing I didn't like about the Hal Higdon plan was the 5 mile runs during the week. I would run before work. Even with a 3 mile run I needed to wake up at 5 am. There was just no way I would wake up any earlier. So I liked the Women's Health plan b/c it only had me running 2-4 miles during the week. So I followed the WH during the week but used the HH for the weekend runs...
I really feel like the speed work on the treadmill helped me a good bit. I started out running 10:45-11 minute miles. I know that's slow. But I never had a plan to be fast. And towards the end of my training I could run a 9:30 mile- which was good for me. I would sometimes do the interval runs on the treadmill during the week. I always ran a long run outside- mostly on Saturdays. I started at 4 miles and every Saturday I added a mile until I got to 11. A couple of Saturdays I either didn't feel like it or the weather was bad, and I ran 6 miles.
Towards the end of my training I got pretty burnt out. I would dread running. I started running with a friend in different locations on the weekends, and I think that helped. My last couple of months I ran around the LSU lakes or another campus to change the scenery. But we don't have any friends that live near us. So running with a friend during the week at 5 am wasn't really possible. And it did get boring towards the end. I honestly dreaded my short runs way more than the long runs. The long runs were always a new challenge for me. But the short runs- I had done it a million times and didn't wanna do it again. So I did skip those sometimes.
My friend, Amanda, decided to sign up for the race with me towards the end. She had been training all along on her own, but didn't sign up yet. She just didn't know if she would be able to do it that weekend. I was so incredibly excited when she signed up! I had already booked Matt & I a room to stay the night before. So she just decided we'd both stay the night before & our husbands could meet us at the finish line the next morning.
We went to the expo the day before the race to get our bibs then checked into our room. We had a little visitor on the wall behind our bed too... It was quite the adventure trying to kill the roach.
We ate Mexican for dinner then hung out in our room. Of course I couldn't sleep! My alarm was set for 4:45 am! We were only 2 blocks from the start line. But it started at 7. I think I only slept about 4 hours that night. I was just too anxious.
The next morning we woke up on time, drank a cup of coffee, had a banana & peanut butter sandwich, and got ready. We checked out and headed to the start line. It was really windy. And I freaked out b/c I don't like running in the wind.
We put ourselves in a corral with 1:45 finishers b/c I heard that if you put yourself towards the back you will be with a lot of walkers. I freaked out for a little while and regretted doing that b/c there's no way in hell I could run that fast. But I figured maybe the people would give me a boost and I'd try to keep up. My goal when I started that race was to finish in 2:30. I just wanted to get to the end.
Just from the time we were there from 6-7 the sun started beaming and I regretted wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt. I wore UA compression heat gear pants and a Champion dri-fit long sleeve shirt. The gun went off and they waved the 1st corral then the 2nd then us... We started running. Immediately I felt like shit... My legs felt like lead. And I had really tight calves. I started to get discouraged in the first few miles. Amanda ran with music. I chose not to b/c sometimes I get annoyed with my earbud strings flapping. Plus, there was supposed to be bands and music playing throughout the route. She knew I was discouraged and offered her music to me. I was just pissed b/c I thought how am I supposed to do this for like 2 hours?! I kept pushing though...
The route was amazing. I freaking love New Orleans. There was plenty to look at. The crowd was phenomenal and so encouraging. I absolutely loved looking at the signs and the babies and puppies! Eventually I noticed that the stiffness kind of melted away. And it got much much easier. I felt like the time was flying by! I kept a steady eye on my watch to make sure we stayed under a 10 minute mile. I think we ran the first mile in like 8:45 or something... But I kept telling Amanda and myself- we have to pace ourselves! We don't need to get burnt out quickly.
We got water pretty much every chance we could. I ate shot blocks at miles 3, 6, & 9... I did walk for a second through some of the water stations. And I think I had to tie my shoe once...
I can't remember much of miles 7-11. I think at one point I teared up a little thinking of how damn proud of us I was! We both started running a little less than a year ago.
Miles 11-13 were really pretty tough. My knees and my toes hurt really bad. I kept pep-talking to both us... Saying we're almost there we only have a couple of miles. We've done this a million times! We had a plan to hold hands and run through the finish line together so we could get a pic. When we got towards the park- where it ended- we had like .5 miles left. We saw a photographer and grabbed hands and took a pic.
Then something came over me and I took off! I thought about my husband waiting at the end. And more than anything- I really just wanted to impress him. I wanted him to be proud of me- like I was of myself! I wanted to say I finished strong. And I did!
I crossed the finish line at 2:11. I was ecstatic. Amanda was right behind me! I waited for her and then we looked for our husbands! They brought us flowers. Matt said he was yelling my name as I was running through. I never heard him or saw him. I was so focused on that clock!
We got our medals and didn't stay very long after. It was windy. I was disgustingly sweaty and my toes hurt like I had never felt before. We grabbed something to eat then drove home. When I got home I noticed severe chaffing on my inner thighs. I never noticed it while running. It was from the seams of my pants. It was terrible! My knees were aching and my toes hurt so bad! So I took my first ice bath. It didn't last very long. But I managed to stay in for 15 minutes.
It took a couple of days to feel back to normal. I've run a few 2-3 milers since then. I'm happy to not feel like I HAVE to do it... And I won't beat myself up if I walked or went a little slower.
The sense of accomplishment that I feel when I talk about this experience or even think about it is unbelievable. I really feel like its something everyone should feel! Its crazy for me to think about how far I've come in a year. I participated in my first 5k on March 31, 2012- I walked a lot and it took me almost 40 minutes. Then on February 24, 2013 I ran the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon in 2:11 with no walking!
Now I need a new fitness goal!