Half Marathons · HIking

Reflecting On Half #3

Hi everyone!  Ever since finishing the Her Tern Half AKA half #3, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the race and running in general.  If you missed my recap, you can check it out here!  The short recap of it is that I wasn’t fully prepared, ran the entire race, and totally bonked in the last mile yet still finished less than 4 minutes behind my PR time.  Yesterday Andrew and I found ourselves back in Anchorage for the day so we hiked Flattop Mountain (the most-hiked mountain in Alaska because it’s so close to Anchorage!), and during that hike I was thinking about running a lot.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • It makes no sense that I was able to finish that race so close to my PR with such crappy training and so much stress and sadness in the last few weeks.  I was not feeling physically strong going into that race, so how the heck did I manage to run for 2 hours, 33 minutes and 59 seconds with only a few walk breaks?
  • Andrew pointed out that my second half marathon was 3 months ago.  Is it possible that I was able to maintain that level of fitness even after taking almost a month off of running for the move and then only running 2-3 times per week?
  • And on that note, does hiking have something to do with it?  I really do hike more than I run now, but was that enough to supplement running and get me through that half?
  • And here’s the weirdest one of all:  if half marathons are so difficult, why was I able to do one with as little discomfort as I did?  I mean, I was dying at the end and I’ve never felt that bad.  And it’s not like the other 12 miles were easy.  But it was only in the last mile or two where I was extremely tired.  It’s making me think about running a bit differently – is it actually easier than my brain makes it out to be?

Hiking up Flattop was hard – it took just as long as my half marathon, but it was only 3 miles total.  It involved rock climbing at the top and the middle 1/3 of the hike was purely on steep steps.  But yet tons of people were doing it.  It made me think about running – if a half marathon didn’t sound so intimidating, would more people do it?  If I don’t put so much pressure on myself for the next one, will it come easier for me?  Could I ever possibly do a full marathon?  It’s crazy to think that our minds could have such a huge impact on how we approach running long distances.

20140723-232640.jpgFlattop from 1/3 of the way up…

20140723-232442.jpg…and the view from the top!

I was so proud of myself after finishing half #3 because I realized that even with my small amount of training and confidence I was able to do it faster than half #1 by over 15 minutes.  It really makes me optimistic about my next half marathon in September in Seattle!  I’m starting to realize that I’m stronger than I think, and that if I really stuck to a training plan I could probably meet my ultimate half marathon time goal of 2:30.  I’m excited to do it right this time!

Also, I am seriously proud that I hiked a 1,5oo ft mountain only 3 days after a half marathon.  And nothing hurt.  What!

Have you ever surprised yourself with how well you did in a race you weren’t trained for?  What half marathon training plan do you swear by?

15 thoughts on “Reflecting On Half #3

  1. I’ve read before that once you’ve achieved some level of fitness in running, if you stop/quit, the next time you start up it will be easier to get to that same level than it was the first time. Not sure if that’s what’s happening here, but I always found that interesting and a little comforting, in a way. And, I definitely think the hiking did make a difference for you, if nothing else it has to have helped with leg strength.

    1. That is definitely comforting, even if my body isn’t sure if it’s doing it! I think the mental aspect that I’d done it before really helped. And yeah, climbing these big mountains is probably helping too!

  2. Way to go chicky! That’s awesome! I love all those thoughts you are mulling over. I do believe that you can maitain a similar level of fitness with just a few runs per week. I have only done one half and am in the process of training for #2 but my first one I surprised myself like crazy. I out ran my goal time by 20 minutes! Never under estimate what a positive attitude can do. I actually swear by my own training plan just because I know that it works for me. I always suggest others follow their own plans too. So happy for you!

    1. That’s awesome that you did so well in half #1! I’m actually glad my first was in Disney so I know every one I run after it will be faster 🙂 I really do end up making my own training plan in the end, but I think as long as I work in 3 running days (1 long) a week on the non-rainy days and do some kind of cross training I should be okay. I need to figure out how to get faster now! And PS I never remember to get on my email unless I’m on my phone, but you can count me in for the blog thing! I’ll try to get on there as soon as I can to work on it!

  3. You’ve developed a fitness base, yes, so you can maintain your fitness with less effort by creating and keeping your base. Plus hiking is great cross training. It works your muscles and lungs in a different way than running does, so it should make you stronger.

    And yes, you CAN do a full marathon. Mind over matter. You are strong, and beautiful, and with enough determination and motivation you can do anything you put your mind and heart up to.

    1. I love you ❤ I really hope you're right about hiking, I'm going to keep doing it on the regular! And can we start getting excited about our race – it's almost 2 months away!!!

  4. Congrats on finishing so well! That means if you weren’t bonked you would have made it even better, have you thought about that? It happens to the best of us, don’t sweat it 🙂

    1. Yes I did think about it, that’s why I skipped taking my sport beans and bonked in the first place 😛 Haha but you’re right, with a bit more training and confidence I should be able to do better next time without skipping food!

  5. We’re often much harder on ourselves then we need to be. Even though you didn’t think you had done enough training and preparation for this race, your body has already proved to itself twice that it can complete a half marathon. And I’m positive that all of the hiking that you’ve been doing has had a positive impact on your overall health and physical abilities.

    1. Yeah, just knowing I’d done it twice before definitely helped get me through the tough boring parts. And I hope hiking is helping because I’m not going to stop! 🙂

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