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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

I ran my first half marathon….

Last weekend I did something I never thought I would ever do. I honestly had never dreamed that it would be something I'd ever try. I ran my first half marathon. I've taken the last week in recovery from said experience to reflect on how I got here. It's been some peaks and valleys of emotion for sure. I've had reflections regarding my motivation, how I dream, learning lessons, experience with fear and anxiety, and feeling proud. So here is a little insight from my crazy… and very relieved mind.

A little background on how I got here. When I started really running on a regular basis it was truly because I'd lost access to the gym because of COVID shut downs. I was desperate to keep my activity up and I had nothing but a few hand weights, a yoga mat, and my gym shoes. So I started to run. My original goal was to run a few 5ks during the year since everyone was going virtual. My thought was .. Yay! I'm going to learn something new and train in a different way. And I have the flexibility to do it on my own terms. Fast forward to this last December after I finished my first 10k race. (For those who don't want to do the conversion that's just over 6 miles.) A friend reached out to me and asked if I wanted to train for a half marathon. I timidly agreed….. And then set a goal and a plan. It had never entered my mind before to take on 13 miles at once. I began to research training plans, got signed up for the race, and ordered a new pair of training shoes because I was past due. And off I went.

In the midst of training I experienced pain and doubt about a gazillion times. One week I started having some plantar fasciitis and that taught me to be ok with setbacks. I remember having a discussion with my husband in the kitchen saying "I don't think I can do this." After talking for a while and a whole lot of encouragement from him we adjusted my training plan and I became OK with the fact that my race may not be perfect, but even if I had to walk some of the race, I could still finish. Something about that just stuck with me. I don't have to be perfect. Let me repeat… I don't have to be perfect. But I do have to keep going if I'm going to reach my goal. It just may not look the way that I wanted it to.

Through the process I had multiple PRs (personal records). I had no idea how this would affect me emotionally. Every time I ran further than my furthest distance I would break down in tears. See, if you've been following along, I've not been this annoying healthy person until the last few years. I'd always struggled with my weight and health until I found a way to get here. I would watch my friends who did "crazy" things like run marathons and just be in awe of their ability. To be honest… a little bit of jealousy and then it would turn into a little negative self-talk when I would reflect on where they were and where I was. It started when I hit 9 miles for the first time in my training. I sat in my car and just wept in relief. I was at this place where I'd always thought I could never be. And for years I'd resigned to just being there. So this relief and sense of pride was just overwhelming.

And it happened again when I did 10 miles, 11 miles… and then finally again on race day.

So now the race is done. And after reflecting on the lessons and emotional ups and downs I have to say that I'm pretty proud. (not sure if I'm proud enough to put a 13.1 sticker on the back of my car… but proud nonetheless). I did something I'd never dreamed of doing. And in the process I found a love for something I never thought I would. And it doesn't stop here because I'm going to do it again. But you never forget your first.

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