A couple weeks ago I ran in my first half-marathon, The inaugural Albany Half-Marathon, knocking that off my little bucket list from a couple years ago. Much thanks to Bryce Bennett and all the volunteers that made it so much fun. It was a really cool experience getting ready and teaching my body to do more distance. I managed to do it in two hours, which is what I hoped for and I am most definitely going to do that again, after I rest my shin splints and learn to ramp up my training slower so they don’t come back. So, after a little reflection, here’s 13.1 things I learned!
- Even if you get a smashing deal on a great pair of running socks, they are no good for my feet after 6 miles. I picked up a pair of “special” Nike running socks and got a couple feet full of blisters for my race. I had run in them before, but not more than about 6 miles. It’s back to super thin socks for me. I’ll use those running socks for much shorter distances.
- If you can find someone who knows what they are doing and can run at a steady pace, you can just turn off your brain and stay with them. It worked for me, I followed an older guy for about 5 miles. It was awesome.
- When they guy you have been following stops to pee behind a tree, stop following him. Do not pee next to him. Find someone else to follow. Don’t ask me how I know this.
- There are some people who don’t run their hardest so that they can have a “kick” at the end and pass all the gassed people during the last mile and a half. It’s OK to hate these people. It’s not OK to trip them as they pass.
- If you are going to start slow, you are going to end up having to listen to the talkers. I don’t really need to know about your relationship with your father, your business plan, or your general running expertise when you are running in the back of the pack.
- If you are going to pass someone who looks like a talker on about mile 7, resist the vacuum they create. I had a talker try to convince me that we were friends. We weren’t, and he tried to slow me down, convince me away from my goals. It’s really difficult to get out of those conversations when there is no where to run off to and nobody bigger than me to hide behind.
- Running doesn’t have a lot of really big dudes. There were some tall ones, but not a whole lot of guys with mass. Apparently races are more of a lean man’s game. At least until they start allowing tackling.
- Stopping is really difficult. At the end, when they guy is trying to cut off your timing chip, standing still for 10 seconds is brutal. I was fighting as hard as I could to not fall over from the dizziness – after shuffling along for two hours, a sudden stop does not do the equilibrium any good.
- Someone who doesn’t look like they should beat you, is going to beat you. They are going to beat you by a lot. It’s because they did the work beforehand and you didn’t. The race is just a display of the miles that you have worked through in the months leading up. You cannot fake the training – this is the big difference I noticed between the half, and the 5K’s I’ve done. I can get up off the couch and finish a 5K; I can’t do that with a half.
- For someone else – you are that person that doesn’t look like they should be doing so well. If you finish ahead of anyone then someone is looking to you as their next inspiration.
- If you finish last, you are ahead of all the people who never started. For whatever reason, most people on this planet won’t take on a challenge that is too difficult for them. Most people want ease of life, not adventure of life. So, even if you crawl your last place behind across the line as they are cleaning everything up – you finished. That rocks.
- My favorite runners are the slow struggling runners. Before I ran regularly, I used to think the slow, out-of-shape runners were the worst. The truth, however, is that they were faster and more in shape than me, but I wasn’t willing to take step one, in order to get to step 26,201. Now, I love runners who are working hard – fast or slow, old or young. Moving forward is the point.
- You think that’s enough Vaseline, but it isn’t.
13.1 If you are wondering when the next race is, there’s always fliers in your goodie bag!