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All About My Half-Marathon

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On January 1, I ran my first half-marathon! I have been sharing a little bit of the journey, mostly on Instagram, but in short, after my dad completed an Ironman in April, I decided to start training to run a half with him. I told him “I’m not worried about you, but I’m not getting any younger here!” In all honesty, this is something I’ve wanted to do for years, and this year felt like the right one. We hope to have more babies somewhat soon, and I wasn’t pregnant or caring for a newborn in 2018…I know lots of moms still train for big races in those seasons, but I am most definitely not one of them! I had also already gotten a little back into running since having Charlie, so I wasn’t starting totally from scratch. Everything just seemed to line up, and I was excited to cross this goal off of my list and experience something with my dad that I’ve always wanted to do with him. He happily agreed, and I got to work! I wanted to include everything I could think of in this post, both for my memories and for anyone else’s reference, so hold on to your hat…it’s a long one :)

My running history: I am definitely not a natural runner and it has never come particularly easy to me. That said, I have run on and off since high school. I never made a sports team in school, but anyone who wanted to join in the cross country team’s runs was allowed to, so my first time getting serious about running was when I “ran cross country” in high school, even though I was nowhere near close to making the actual team, ha! I didn’t run much in college, but picked it up after I graduated and ran pretty consistently for about a year and a half (my wedding happened during that time, which was good motivation :)). I was too nervous to run when I was pregnant (something I regret–I wish I had talked to my doctor about it and come up with a plan to keep it up for at least the first half of pregnancy), so I stopped altogether. Once I started running again, around two months postpartum, it truly was like starting from scratch. During all of this time, my distance per run ranged between 1.5-4 miles, so nothing close to half-marathon distances. I ran a 5K in August 2017 and then ran a few miles maybe every other week before starting to train for the half in May 2018.

Gear: The first thing I did was go to Fleet Feet to be fitted for running shoes. Spending that money upfront helped me get more invested in sticking to the plan, and it ABSOLUTELY made a difference in preventing injuries. I forgot my running shoes in New York over the summer and had to do two runs in my old Nikes while waiting for them to arrive in the mail, and my knees were not happy about it. My shoes are Mizuno Wave Rider 21s, but don’t buy them on my recommendation–go to Fleet Feet or a specialty running store and get whatever they tell you to get! The salesperson had also recommended a different insole, which I held off on (since I didn’t want to spend that much at once), but once my long runs hit around 6-7 miles, I went back and bought them. Again, they made a big difference…I probably should’ve just bought them from the start. The only other real “gear” I bought was a pair of Balega running socks, with credit from the aforementioned Fleet Feet purchases. My dad has always been picky about running socks and advised me to invest in a good pair, and I’m glad I did. The only new clothing item, other than socks and shoes, I bought was a pair of these leggings on sale (because they were the first I’d found with zippered pockets that fit my giant iPhone–so handy!). I never used any type of armband or belt or anything like that–I just held my phone in my hand when I wasn’t wearing those leggings. I did almost always run with my Sudio headphones, which I was gifted through a social media collaboration that I was approached about right as I started training. I was so happy with them–my specific pair isn’t on Sudio’s site anymore, but they are at Target, here!

Training plan: I created my own training plan with my dad’s input, based on the pattern of some Jeff Galloway running plans (he’s who my dad has always looked to for running guidance) and the amount of time I was taking to train. There were two things that were different about this plan compared to many others you can find on the internet. 1. Instead of just building, building, building mileage, the mileage for long runs builds to a peak and then declines, before building back up to a higher peak. 2. I ALWAYS did run-walk intervals. Always, always, always. This is a big part of Galloway’s running philosophy, and what my dad has always done. And you know what’s funny? If I go for, say, a five-mile run and do intervals, I’ll clock in significantly faster than if I just ran the whole thing. I don’t know how that happens, but Galloway says that’s what happens, and for me, it was absolutely true. If you hate running or are convinced you could never hit longer distances, give this a try. Throughout all my training, if I was doing six miles or less, I ran two minutes and walked one. For anything longer (the race included), I ran one minute and walked one. Of course, you can do whatever intervals you want or need to do depending on your goals and skill–this is just what worked for me. The biggest benefit of these two strategies is that they are huge contributors to preventing injuries (I’m trying to be a lifelong runner like my dad here, after all!).

Apps: I used two apps on every run: Map My Run to track mileage and pace, and SIT (Simple Interval Timer) to track my intervals. Both very intuitive and easy to use!

Race day: I was a little nervous going into race day because I pulled a muscle in my leg about two weeks before (running too fast on a really cold day). It made my last handful of runs harder than they should’ve been, so I cut down on my mileage for the last two weeks and tried to rest and stretch as best I could. It was still sore on race day, but I was confident resting had been the right choice–I knew I’d be able to make it through. We were blessed with exactly the conditions I had hoped for: temperatures in the high 40s/low to mid-50s and no precipitation. We arrived around 7 and waited in our warm car for a bit before heading to the starting line for the National Anthem, announcements, and a bathroom trip. I honestly wasn’t very nervous–I never set a time goal; I just wanted to finish, feel like it was a decent run, and make a great memory with my dad. Not putting much pressure on myself definitely helped me stay present and just enjoy the experience. This race is relatively small, so the atmosphere was relaxed and low-key. It was beautiful to see the many people who were there for all different reasons, from the man who ran the marathon carrying an American flag with a soldier’s name written on the flagpole, to the serious runners hoping to qualify for Boston, to the people running their 100th marathons. Plus, lots of folks like us who were just there to have fun!

The race began at 8:15 and we did our intervals from the start, which was great and helped me conserve energy for later when I knew I’d need it. My dad stayed with me the whole time and timed us, so we chatted a little bit, but I also put one earphone in so I could listen to music in the background. I ALWAYS listened to podcasts during training runs, but during the actual race, I didn’t need that much of a distraction–just a little bit of a pick-me-up! I listened to my worship playlist for the first hour or so because I just wanted to thank God for that opportunity to do this with my dad, and for all my body has been through and accomplished over the last three years. I later switched my playlist to Lauren Sims’ running playlist–she’s such an inspiration to me when it comes to running, so I wasn’t surprised that she has curated a great selection of music to run to!

The course was paved and flat (woohoo!), and covered an about-6.5-mile figure eight, so we ran that twice. I was excited to see Dave, Charlie, and my mom there as we completed our first loop around it! I already shared this on Instagram, but there were two things I couldn’t stop thinking about as I was running. 1. The thousands of times that I’ve seen my dad walk in the door after a long run throughout my life. It’s the first image that comes to mind when I think of him—tired but smiling, and never out of breath, not even after running 50k through the Qatari desert. He’s an Ironman triathlete and an experienced marathoner, but when we picked up our race numbers, I saw that his didn’t even say his name. It said “Lisa’s dad.” He’s the best :) 2. My first measly run after Charlie was born. That discouraging, disheartening run when I came home in tears, convinced I’d never get back to where I had been fitness-wise. I needed to prove myself wrong and I did, but ironically, I honestly think the only reason I could do this was because I’m a mom. I don’t think I would’ve had the reassurance that my body CAN do hard things, even when I don’t believe it can, before I became one.

During my hard training runs, the moment I pictured was crossing the finish line, holding hands with my dad. The thought made me tear up every time, and around mile 11, I started getting choked up that it was going to happen so soon. Sure enough, we did it, and it was a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life. Dave took a video, so here are a few screenshots from it below!

Finally, I asked on Instagram if anyone had any questions I should address in this post. I answered most within the text above, but here are a few more I wanted to specifically address:

“How do you run a half on a budget? There are so many products people say I NEED.”
My dad was the best encouragement for this because he is the ultimate minimalist when it comes to running gear! All the gear I bought was mentioned above, and that combined with the race fee ($90) added up to $300, spread out over eight months. My advice is the same as my dad’s: don’t skimp on your shoes and socks. Those are really the only things you need to invest in. If an official race is out of your budget right now, just run your own! My dad did this multiple times when we were in Qatar and it wasn’t convenient for him to fly somewhere for a race. He trained, and then on the date he chose, he just ran out our front door, through the city, and into the desert, and then called my mom to pick him up when he got to 50k :)

“How does someone who hates running get started?”
Along with doing intervals to make it more approachable and enjoyable, my advice is distraction, ha! I almost always listened to podcasts while I ran, and if something wasn’t holding my interest enough to distract me from running, I switched episodes. Signing up for a race, even a 5K, really does serve as great motivation as well.

“What was the hardest part for you during your training? What did you do about it?”
Once my short runs were a minimum of four miles and my long runs were eight or more miles, the amount of time it took to train was a huge hurdle for me. I hit that schedule right around the time I started my new job, so I was spending a lot of time getting into a groove with that, and I wanted to spend any extra time blogging…but remember how I hardly blogged all fall? Spending Charlie’s weekend naps running instead of blogging is why! I wish I had a “solution,” but my only answer is Dave. There were days when he practically pushed me out the door to go running because I was convinced I was being super selfish by taking an hour or two out of our demanding days to do it. He always insisted on it, never made me feel guilty at all, and was the best encourager I could’ve asked for.

“Any tips for getting back into running after having a baby?”
Take it SLOW! I ran a 5K when Charlie was 11 months old, and this race was when Charlie was two years and two months old, so don’t think for a minute that I jumped right into training for a half postpartum. When I did start running again after Charlie was born, I used the Couch to 5K app program. It builds nice and slowly, so it was a good way to ease back into running after not running through my whole pregnancy. I love their program for any beginner runners, actually–I had used it before my wedding as well!

Thanks for following along with this experience! Let me know any other questions you may have below!

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  1. Nichole W

    January 15th, 2019 at 8:59 am

    I’m so happy to know that someone else loves to listening to podcasts while they run! My husbands teases me for it, but it’s the only thing that helps me zone out and not focus on the distance/time as much. Our first babe is due in a month and I’m with you that I wish I would have kept up running through pregnancy, but I’m excited to get back to it in a few months and hopefully do another half in the next year!

    Also, to anyone reading about what gear you need, always invest in the Superfeet insoles from Fleet Feet or another running store. They made the biggest difference for me when I trained for and ran my first half!

  2. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    I’m so late responding to this comment, but the plus side is that it sounds like I can wish you a happy due date month? :) So exciting!! Cheering you on as you get back into running after your sweet little one arrives!

  3. Richard

    January 15th, 2019 at 10:35 am

    I’d love to write a long comment here supporting everything above but words flow more beautifully from your pen than from mine so I’ll touch on just a couple of points:
    1) so incredibly happy we were able to do this together! We got everyone out for the turkey trot a few years ago so next step now is a family half marathon (or Camino, whichever works best). You stuck with your training while continuing to do all the other things in your life is amazing!
    2) to those that don’t think they can run (or in general be athletic) I will paraphrase Buddy the Elf: running is just like walking, except longer and faster, and you move your arms up and down. I don’t run against the clock anymore or other competitors; my race is against Father Time and the Grim Reaper and while I know I’ll finish third in the end God willing I’ll have enjoyed the benefits of better health along the way. Jeff Galloway is the best place to start as I credit his method for extending my running career as it helped me avoid a lot of overuse injuries.
    3) I am pasting a part of an email I received from the organizers on the eve of my first Ironman. I was waiting to see my doctor as I had sustained some injuries the day before and I did not know if I could compete the next day. There will always be challenges when you train up to race day. My advice is to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
    “Your mind will be active and your body charged with pre-race energy over these final few hours. When the doubts creep in, focus on what you know to be true: You’ve put in months of hard work. Your gear is prepared and organized, and your body is rested and ready to go. All you have left to do is show up and give your best on race day—whatever it brings. Accept what you can’t control—other athletes, the weather, or bad luck—and remain in control of your attitude and your ability to adapt to whatever race day throws at you.

    We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line. “

    Stay in the fight! Lisa’s Dad

  4. Kristen

    January 15th, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    This is the greatest comment of all time!!! I vote for Family Camino.

    I am inspired to run today! ????

  5. Dana

    January 15th, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Family Camino!!! Only because walking sounds better than running to me, which defeats the entire purpose of this post. I love you both!

  6. Mackenzie

    January 15th, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Lisa,

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience! I have been a long-time blog reader, so in a way, I feel like I’ve been on this journey of motherhood with you :) This was such a great, informative post, but my favorite part was how you shared your dad’s encouragement. I teared up when I saw the photo of his bib with “Lisa’s dad” listed as his name. I’m cheering you on in your running and motherhood journeys!

    Love from DC,
    Mackenzie

  7. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Mackenzie! Thank you so, so much for this sweet comment and encouragement. I teared up at that too! :)

  8. Anna

    January 15th, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My little one has a birthday this week and it’s a great reminder to just get out the door! Did you ever run with a stroller? And where is your fun top with navy polka dots from?

  9. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Ugh, the running stroller! We tried to save money by buying a BOB running stroller on Craigslist, but when we ran with it, we realized it veered so hard to the right, I couldn’t even push it! We had to bring it to two bike shops to try to get it banged into place, and Dave can push it, but I still can’t. Such a fail, haha! And my top is New Balance for J. Crew a few years ago :)

  10. Emma

    January 15th, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Gah, Lisa’s dad!!! I was already like, “wow, her dad is awesome and this is so cool they got to do this together!” and then I just read his comment! He really is awesome. I love how motivational you both are to just run the way you want, the best way you can, and ultimately know it’s to have a good time and be healthy for yourself and your family! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    He is the best–I am grateful :) I love what you said about running “the way you want, the best way you can, and ultimately know it’s to have a good time and be healthy.” I couldn’t have summed up our family running philosophy better myself!

  12. Jess Thore

    January 15th, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I love this! I ran my very first 10K this year—ATL hills are no joke!—and now I’ve been toying with running a half before my 30th birthday in September. Like you, I never called myself a “runner”, but it’s funny how things change slowly over time.

    I love that you listen to podcasts; listening to music always make me hyper aware of how long I’m running (since most songs are 4ish minutes long), so I prefer running with Logan and make him talk to me to distract me!

  13. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    TOTALLY agree with you on music–I can’t tune out at all when I’m listening to it while running! Talking is a great solution :) And I am not jealous of your Atlanta hills…I picked a perfectly flat half-marathon course very much on purpose, haha!

  14. Darby

    January 15th, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    This is incredible! I’ve always wanted to be a “runner”; but I really HATE running. Running a half marathon is on my bucket list (I really would love to run one in Disney). I’ve been so intimidated, but the walk run intervals make it seem much more doable. Thank you for sharing!!

  15. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Please give them a try! Running for one minute at a time is SO doable, and before you know it, you’ll be running one minute at a time for 13.1 miles! :)

  16. Abbi Hearne

    January 15th, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Dang this is so inspiring! I have never been a runner, but the way you talk about it (and you mentioning it didn’t come easily to you) is really motivating me to make it happen. I live on the road full time, so gym memberships and workout equipment are not practical for me. I’ve been getting into yoga, but I love the idea of using intervals to make running seem more approachable.

  17. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    When we were abroad, my dad would always write the name of every country he ran in on his shoes until he wore them out, and then he’d do the same with the next pair. I feel like you could do the same with states! Pretty fun motivation, right? :)

  18. Abby M

    January 15th, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Over the weekend I decided I wanted to train for my first 5k (after not running for years). I was feeling a lot of doubt and uncertainty about my ability to do it but I came home from work today, read this post, immediately downloaded the apps and set out for my first run following the Galloway 5k plan! Thank you for the post, it was exactly the push I needed to get started.

  19. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Abby! This makes me so, so happy. I can’t wait to hear how the Galloway plan goes for you–please keep me posted! xoxo

  20. Mary

    January 15th, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Woohoo! What a great post and so timely for me. Race day for me is this coming Sunday. I am excited except for the 30 degree start temp! How awesome to have that memory with your dad. Congratulations on your first half! I would agree with your advice for those who want to start running on a budget. Get some good shoes and just start! I went into Fleet Feet a few weeks ago and told them how much I wanted to spend (still was an investment in my opinion though!). They had no problem working with my budget and there were several great options to choose from.

  21. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I’m so glad your half went well too!! Awesome to hear that Fleet Feet worked so well with your budget–running shoes alone can be so pricey!

  22. lauren sims

    January 17th, 2019 at 8:51 am

    congrats on your first half girl! that is a HUGE accomplishment and so exciting!! so glad you liked my running playlist!

  23. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you, Lauren! Very grateful for your encouragement and your music curation! :)

  24. Em

    January 17th, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Could not be farther from a runner but loved this post so much!! Anything that brings your Dad to the comments section is gold in my book.

  25. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Amen to that! :)

  26. Kensington

    January 17th, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience! I took up running about a year ago and run about 8-10 miles per week in increments of 2 miles and have always told myself I could neverrrr run a half…..but stories like this encourage me to make it happen! Also, totally teared up at that photo of you hugging your Dad at the finish line. So special!!!

  27. Lisa

    February 2nd, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Girl, you can totally do it!! I never ran more than a 5k before starting half-training :)

  28. Love List - Something Pretty

    January 18th, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    […] thought I’d share a few particularly recent gems. This was meant to be a quick post after my novel of a half-marathon recap, but I got a little carried away, so stick with me! […]

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