Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Road to 13.1

I cannot remember when I first thought about running a half marathon.

I first began running more than 20 years ago.  I was a smoker, and overweight. I picked up a book about 'jogging' (how I hate that word) and read that beginners should start with a walk/jog program of 440 yds walking, followed by 440 yds jogging.  There was a schedule that allowed for gradual increases in the jogging intervals.  I think the whole thing had about 200 pages and I do not recall seeing the words 'run' or 'running' in it at all.

But I did follow the plan.  There was a school with a huge yard of baseball diamonds a few blocks away from our house, and I would take our dog and get her to walk/run around the field 3 times a week.  I guess I thought I wouldn't look so dorky if I took the dog along.  She loved it.  I hated it but thought it was helping me lose some weight.

Over the next 9 or 10 years I continued to run. Always alone or with the dog. I learned to love it and embraced fitness and a healthier lifestyle with glee.  I had always been a bookworm and not very physically adept, and loved the newfound confidence I was experiencing through learning to move.  I began to think of myself as athletic.  I learned to cook.

I took up golf, roller blading, down hill skiing, snow-shoeing and biking.  I loved being outdoors and created/tended several flower gardens in our yard.  I embraced shovelling snow in the winter and refused to have a snow blower in our garage.

I did aerobics, and loved my Reebok STEP.  The Captain and I set up a home gym in our basement, in the room next to his workshop.  I had a tv there, a library of workout videos, manual treadmill,  real treadmill, a pulley/weight machine, a variety of dumbbells, skipping rope, mini-trampoline, chin-up bar, Thigh-Master and a device that was supposed to simuate lifting weights by pulling on handles.  I loved it.  I was obsessive.  I kept detailed logs of the exercise I was doing and the weight I was losing, and somewhere along the way I found Weight Watchers, got to my goal and became a Lifetime Member.

I was also working full time.  I had a high-stress career in IT and all the exercise countered the amount of stress I was under at work.  It all balanced.  I kept running.  The Captain began running with me occasionally, too, but most of my runs were, and still are, alone.

About 11 years ago, for about a 6-month stretch, I was running only once a week. It was a 10-miler every Saturday morning after my weekly Weight Watchers meeting.  I would leave my car parked in their lot, strap on the belt that held my water bottle and head off.  I had a circular route that I completed 3 times, and it passed by my parked car.  I could drop off empty water bottles and pick up full ones, and it also went by a service station, for obvious reasons!

Once we sold our house, moved South and took up part-time residence on the sailboat, running took a back seat to summers spent cruising, hiking, trying to keep up with my golf game and all the other activities we are involved in.  I have always done some running, but not nearly as far as 10 miles and not as regularly as before we moved. 

We have participated in a variety of fun runs over the years... some 5km and 10 km Terry Fox runs, some 5 km Running Room Resolution Runs, but nothing that could be called a race.  But somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to take part in one.

I think I might have started thinking about half marathons this past Spring, when I first started blogging, and getting back to running after an 8-week layoff after surgery on both of my eyes. Maybe it was reading all the race reports and training logs that other bloggers published that ignited that fire.

I was very happy to find some virtual 5 km races and have done 3 of them now.  I like the camaraderie of doing an event with others and I loved spectating at the Victoria Marathon this year, so I think I will enjoy the excitement of being part of a real race.

So, knowing that I was likely going to have another eye surgery this Fall, I started looking at Spring races.  We will be house/kitty sitting for several months so travel is out of the question.  I found a local half marathon to be run on May 13th, which is Mother's Day, and mentioned to The Captain that I might like to run it... what did he think?  The route is one we have easy access to train on if we want, it is beautiful and mostly seaside, fairly level...  He said that if I want to do that, I should, and that if I would like him to come along, he would.  Of course that is exactly what I wanted to hear.

When the online registration opened, I signed us both up and made the commitment.  I was so excited but nervous at the same time.   The longest run I have done in the past several years is only 8 miles, and that took forever and my left hip was aching big time when we were done.  That is less than 2/3 of a half marathon... but I am pretty confident that with 6 months to go, I can be ready.

I was lucky enough to receive some excellent training advice from an experienced marathoner/half marathoner who has been a great source of inspiration as well.  And I am reading lots of blog posts and magazine articles about half marathons, too. 

I just read the August issue of Runner's World... it has a great article about preparing for your first half marathon and has some interesting bits about what to expect during  different weeks of your training, mentally and physically.  It was a real eye opener for me and I was very happy to have come across it.

And a very fun thing has happened for me this week too.... a couple of weeks ago I won a giveaway from Joanna Runs.  It was a sign, and Joanna had a picture on her blog of one she had made for herself... and after I won the giveaway, we had some email correspondence about the sign she would make for me.... this is what we came up with and this week it arrived in my mail box.  Joanna made this for me, herself, and I know it is going to be a great source of motivation when I start my training in December.  Isn't it great?  I do love it.  Thanks, Joanna, so much!

Do drop by and visit Joanna's blog and please tell her I sent you. She is a very busy and creative Mom, who among other things, runs, does yoga, crafts, blogs with touching sincerity, and along with her running blog, writes Joanna Scraps.

My training schedule starts out nice and easy, so I am going to enjoy my running through November and December, and start real training at the beginning of January.
I am very excited about it!  Having a written plan gives me a map to follow and satisfies my need for logic and order.  I certainly will be blogging about it along the way.

Do you have any advice for me about running or training for my first half marathon?
I feel like a sponge and will willingly soak up everything you have to tell me!

If you have done a blog post that I may have missed, about running/training for a half, please leave me the link. I would love to read it!


  1. you can do this. I know you can because I could. My blog is all about training for a half marathon. that is why I started my blog because I was training for my first half (jan 2011). my advices...get a plan for sure. I used Hal Higdon's for all 4 of my halfs. I use the intermediate now but for the first I used beginner.

    find fuel that will work for you asap and start practicing using it asap also.

    if you have to skip a run, dont skip long runs. you have plenty of times and I would get your body and mind used to the double digits as much as I can, that was something that hurt me the first time.

    for the first one, dont go for time go for finishing and the experience.

  2. You are going to do great! If you can run 8 miles, you can run a half marathon. The first time I trained my longest long run was 10 miles. And I finished my race! I agree with Caroline. You should have a running schedule and if you feel like skipping a day, that is okay, but it's better Not to skip the long run day. Don't worry too much about adhering specifically to the schedule. I shuffled days around, and ended up okay. Just make sure that you do have a designated rest day (or 2)

    Also, just have fun!

  3. such a great story Elle! I really enjoyed reading your running journey, as the lead up to the 13.1! Taking it nice and easy, with a little dedication and determination will get you to that finish line! So cool your husband is going to run it with you too! I try to get my boyfriend to run 3 miles with me and he cringes :)

  4. I am so happy for you, your prize, and the upcoming half!

    You are going to rock it and there is so much support out there for you. My suggestion, if you have a question, just ask and we will all answer. The blogger community provided so much support for me during my marathon training and even answered questions like, should I run tomorrow or am I too sick?

    And yeah, I don't like the word jogging either unless it is in front of the work stroller because then it makes me feel strong. Go figure!

  5. what a great tale of your running journey! you can definitely do this!

  6. I love love love the sign and now I think I need one.

    Listen to your body. If you think you need to take a day easier than the plan says DO IT! Figure out what you like to carry with you for hydration a handheld or waist belt. I prefer a waist belt.

    So excited for you! Good luck with training I will be following it!

    Thanks for sharing your running story I love reading how people found running or running found them.

  7. Thanks for the well wishes, I am excited about tomorrow!!
    You are going to do awesome in your half marathon in 2012. You have the most important ingredients for success-- the drive, the motivation, and a great base level of fitness!

  8. Elle....I think this is terrific!
    "DITTO" to Caroline's comment. First one...finish for the experience. I am a huge Hal Higdon fan too. 7 marathons using his plan. You can also "Like" him on FB. You'll get advice on your newsfeed.

  9. I AM BEYOND EXCITED TO READ THIS! Wahoo! I cannot wait to follow your training and cheer you on as you cross that finish line - which I know you will, without a doubt!

    (For the record, I don't like the term "jogger" either. You run or walk, some running is just SLOWER! Hehe...)

    I am so thrilled for you, like I said. I am also glad I got to read more about your running and fitness/health journey. Amazing. You are more of an inspiration to me than you know! I am so glad you wrote this post.

    The date is going on my calendar for sure - I don't want to miss it!

    As always, you know you can ask me any questions you may have. Keep reading my "Keeping the Pace" posts too since we will be starting a new session in December and I will be writing more of them. It will be like you are training with us from afar - yay!

    So happy, Elle! :)

  10. I think you will do great! The most important thing is just putting one foot in front of the other whether you are running, jogging, or walking during the half. Just don't quit! That's an accomplishment in and of itself! You have plenty of time to train and be ready!

  11. I LOVED reading about your journey to this training cycle. What a great story! And thank you so, so much for the touching shout-out. I'm SO glad you like the sign!!


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