Back in October I set a goal for myself to run a half marathon every month until I turn 40. The goal was as simple as that – register and finish 13.1 miles every month. No time expectations, no expectations other than to cross that finish line.
I just finished my 3rd race last weekend and I haven’t written much more than a some FB status updates about them so let me share with you what I’ve learned by running 39.3 miles.
My First 13.1
My first was the Naperville half marathon. I didn’t choose it for any other reason than it was in November and close to my home. I started that race like I was on fire. I felt on top of the world and my pace was better than I had expected. Even though I had set the intention of just completing each race, all of a sudden I was telling myself, “You could finish this first one under 2 hours! You’re on pace for your best half marathon yet! Just think of how the next 11 are going to go if you keep this up!”
Then I hit the wall about mile 6 and my pace tanked. I was suddenly dressed too warm, out of breath and annoyed with just about every song on my playlist. What in the world was I thinking when I set this goal?
Then about mile 8 things started looking up. My husband, mom and dad were there cheering me on. I stopped for a few minutes and talked to them and had a bit more spring in my step running away from them.
That’s not to say the rest of the race was a piece of cake – it sure wasn’t. I stiffened up, I walked, I even questioned how the heck I was going to do 11 more races. But in the end, I finished.
My Second 13.1
Along comes December and I’m carefully watching the weather forecast for Carmel, IN thinking, surely there must be something wrong. There is no way the high is for the 60s. But sure enough, I was able to head out for my run in shorts, a tank and my sexy compression socks!
This time my mom, dad, husband and the Schindlings (my three kiddos) were all on the course to cheer me on. And once again, started out HOT! I tagged along next to the pacer who was finishing in 2 hours.
Mile 4 I texted Don to say, “I’m on pace for a 2 hour race, I’m not going to stop when I see you all.” He understood and cheered me on.
When I turned the corner and saw them all standing there, a straight-up 2 hour finish didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to hug them, I wanted to thank them for taking their Saturday to cheer for me and the other runners and I wanted to let go of the self-imposed expectations that I was putting on myself once again.
I kept my family updated on my progress and was fortunate to see them several times throughout the race and because of the prayers of my mom and the somewhat aggressive driving of my husband they even made it to the finish line.
It was a great race and a great day.
My Third 13.1
So this past Saturday took my to St. Louis for a run in Forest Park. One thing that I was most excited about this race was the entry fee – $20!!! If you are a runner you know it’s a financial commitment to participate in races so finding a $20 race was a win in itself.
My in-laws came to the hotel and swam with the Schindlings while I ran and Don cheered me on. I broke all of my pre-race rules for this one. I normally don’t eat a single thing – mostly because it upsets my stomach and I feel awful.
But on Saturday I made myself a big, iced coffee, took a couple bites of Don’s breakfast sandwich and headed to the start line. I turned on my playlist, started RunKeeper and took off at a moderate pace.
The course was to complete a big loop through Forest Park twice which made it possible for me to see Don about every other mile. Between seeing him often and letting go of any self-imposed expectations for a finish time, I kept a consistent pace throughout and finished with my best time so far in this series of races: 2 hours, 6 minutes.
All that said, I hope what you get from my running stories is how important my family is to helping me achieve the goal of finishing a half marathon every month.
I couldn’t do it without my family sacrificing time to travel to my races.
I couldn’t do it without my family cheering me on during my races.
I couldn’t do it without seeing my family at the finish line.
So remember, even though we may set personal goals, there are people behind the scenes that just as important in your own efforts to achieve those goals.