Monday, September 23, 2013

Half-Marathon #2: This Time It's Personal

I can't believe it was just yesterday morning that the long-awaited Ottawa Army Run took place. It seems like it was so long ago, or like it didn't happen at all. Was it all just a super exhausting dream? No. It wasn't.

It wasn't because today I can't walk down stairs, and when I do succeed in walking, I look like Gumby.
But that doesn't matter because I'm so super excited to have had a fantastic experience running and, this time, it was all because I kept it personal, or in other words, I focused on myself.

I sometimes get competitive, especially with people I don't know.  When I first ran the 10K races, or the previous half-marathon, it was so difficult not to feel pressured by the people around me to keep running, even when I felt I needed a break.  If you've ever run before, you'll know what I mean: walk on the side of the road for five seconds, and a hundred people will pass you.  And that pace-bunny you were right behind for the past 10 kilometres is now nowhere in sight.  Comparing yourself to other runners can be good for whipping you into finishing another mile at your best pace, but it can also be really bad if you end foregoing much-needed breaks because you're focused on keeping up.

And compare, compare, compare I always do.  But this time, I focused on my Nike running app, pacing myself as per my training plan, and when I wanted to speed up because senior citizens were zipping by me, I just looked away and at the river on my other side. I looked around and imagined that I was running alone. And when I took my one walking break, I looked straight at my watch to avoid seeing the seven million sprinters passing me. Granted, I resumed running after two minutes of walking, and didn't let myself stop once since then, but at least I'm starting to get it! I was able to pace myself so well that I easily sped up at the end of my race for a last quick sprint, and honestly didn't even realize the finish line was approaching. I felt great after the race, and can't wait to do another one.

So, a new tip for anyone thinking about running a half marathon: pay attention to your body.  It's tempting to follow everyone into a starting sprint, but you don't know these people and their plans! They could slow down significantly mid-way through, or take a ten minute walking break somewhere down the line. Everyone has their own strategy and if you don't follow your heart *cue saxophone* plan, you'll end up confusing your body, leading to exhaustion, cramping, and let's not mention what else, but it starts with a d and ends with iarrhea.
But enough about that! On to the fun part: I finished in 1:55, which, given all the colds/viruses/crappy stuff I've faced this year, is a pretty awesome time!
And once more, I have to mention how incredible it is to see all of the spectators. Standing outside in the freezing cold, holding hilarious posters in their hands, smiling, waving, cheering on people they've never met before- what an overwhelmingly inspiring moment, and one safely in my vault of unforgettable feelings.

1 comment:

  1. congratulations Alisa! :) I'm proud of you. xo