The first race I ever registered for and ran was the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.
I had always been a runner, but the longest distance I had run previous to signing up was not quite 8 miles. I was a little hesitant about how well my runner’s knee and the rest of my body would hold up for 13.1 miles.
Another thing I was worried about was time. All the training schedules online showed the long runs on Saturdays. Weekends are when I ride my horse. At a 2 hour drive each way, It’s not like going out to ride my horse is a short trip. And it can be physically tiring as well, making it hard to do both a long riding lesson and long run on the same day.
And yet…I signed up anyway. One of my best friends from Portland was doing the race with her friend, and her encouragement helped me convince myself to enter the lottery for a race bib. I figured I wouldn’t get selected anyway. I never get picked for these kinds of things.
The universe proved me wrong when I got the email that my entry had been accepted. Eek! This was real. The next day, I stepped out of bed ready to go for my first run to have my right foot splinter with very sharp pain. Putting weight on it hurt. I had never felt pain like that before. I immediately started I panic. The money had already been pulled from my checking account for the race entry. (No refundable, of course.)
I sought advice from a father of a girl who I show horses with. He runs ultras and had mentioned a podiatrist that he swore by in the past. I took all my shoes, knee braces, various KT taped and wraps to the doctor about a week later. My insurance wouldn’t cover any of it, but I didn’t care. The pain had subsided somewhat, but not enough to run.
Dr. Hannaford filmed me running and we watched the tape together in slow motion. He showed me where my right for pronated, and how I was over striding. He told me he could make me an orthodic to help those things and helped me correct my running form.
In the meantime, my foot pain was due to the plantar fasciitis irritation. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toesIt supports the arch of your foot. I needed to take TWO WEEKS off from running to let it heal. I doubtfully complied while waiting for my new orthodically to arrive.
Miraculously, these things did work! I was cautiously thrilled and plowed onward with my training.
I followed Nike’s guide in an app they make specially for the half marathon. I overcame the time issue by moving my long runs to Friday’s. I have always been a “before-work” gym person, so this meant sometimes moving my already early wake up call up by a half hour or more.
The night before I followed all the recommended protocol. Spaghetti dinner, bed early, no wine (wah!), lots of water. The morning of the race, I was unexpectedly nervous. When my family and I separated at the pace coral, I felt faintly panicky. What if I couldn’t finish? I told so many people that I was doing this and they would all want to know how I had done.
It was an expected text from a friend who I had met through my boyfriend that gave me a sudden sense of calm, “This is just between you and the pavement.” It dawned on my that she was completely right. I had done all the training. All that was left was to enjoy the next two hours.
The race was very well run, in my opinion. Lots of markers and encouragement from the crowds watching made the mile go by fast. I had one gel packet before and another at mile 7. My parents and boyfriend had promised to meet me at mile 10. I had told them that was always my toughest miles in training runs. Seeing them gave me just the boost I needed to get to the finish line.
I hadn’t kept track of my pace the whole way (can you tell I was a total rookie?!), but ended up finishing much faster than I ever thought I could. At a final time of 1:43:52 with a sub 8 minute mile pace, I could not have been happier when I picked up my Tiffany necklace.
I can’t wait to do it again!