I did the Milwaukee Half Marathon yesterday and here's what I learned from my first half marathon:
Train... on flat paths AND hills
- I followed a 12 week training program from Hal Higdon. It was simple enough to follow but I screwed up and didn't train hard enough in hilly areas. Mile 4 of the Milwaukee course had a huge hill that took me a while to gain back my strength.
Go to the bathroom before the race and use chapstick for chafing
- I got to the marathon an hour before it started and went to the bathroom right when I got there and again 15 minutes before. So many people stop to use bathrooms during it and personally that would throw me off.
- I met a lady in the bathroom line that told me she puts chapstick under her boobs to help with chafing so I followed suit and it helped a lot. So ladies, I suggest doing that, and fellas, wherever you chafe, hit it with some chapstick.
Update your playlist
- I need music to run but stuck with a lot of the same songs I had been listening to during my training so they didn't really hype me up as much as I wish they would have. So get some new jams on there for your race.
Listen to your body
- My last long run before the race was 12 miles. I averaged 9:13/mile. So I thought I would be able to follow the pacers that were set to do it in 2 hours averaging 9:10/mile. Mile 4 I was already getting tired which was odd for me because it usually isn't until 7 or 8 that I start to feel it. And then by mile 8 I felt like I was dying. I started to slow down and eventually did walk a few times. I'm very competitive so I pushed myself harder than I should have and that resulted in me wearing myself out faster.
- Once I finished the race and looked at my running app I realized why I felt so tired. The pacers were running much faster than 9:10 miles (see pic below). I was advised by many people to run with pacers but honestly I think I would have done much better if I just paced myself and didn't stress out when I felt like I was falling behind the pacers.
Don't count on getting an adrenaline rush
- Many runners told me I'll get this burst of adrenaline during the race. I'm here to tell you, that did NOT happen for me. I hate to be a Debbie Downer but if it wasn't for the fact that I trained hard and mentally knew I could do it, I would not have gotten through it based off of adrenaline alone.
Double knot your shoes and wear less
- As I was in the starting line coral, I last minute threw my long sleeve Under Armor shirt to my mom because Dave Ryan's advice to wear less was ringing through my ears. The marathon was by the lake so I thought the wind might be bad but there ended up being barely any wind and I still got hot in shorts and a t-shirt. So wear less then you think you should and double knot those shoes!
Try to enjoy yourself
- Yes you're running 13.1 miles, your muscles are in pain, your legs are chafing, you're breathing heavy, but if you aren't taking it all in, then what's the point? I stressed myself out for the first half with the idea of HAVING to finish in 2 hours. I focused too much on that, that I didn't care about the people cheering, the beautiful scenery, the funny signs. Once I realized I needed to slow down and walk a little bit, I started taking it all in, and realized this is a really f'ing cool experience.
Be proud of yourself
- Whether you run the fastest you ever have, or you simply just complete the whole thing, be proud of yourself because it's a huge accomplishment! My final time was 2:04:15. I set a goal to finish under 2:10 when I originally signed up so I am very proud of my results.
Will I ever do another one?
- As of right now, I would say no. Through this entire experience I learned to enjoy running so much more and I definitely will continue to run but I didn't like doing the actual race as much as just freely running. When I did my triathlon, I felt the adrenaline, I enjoyed almost all of it, and caught the bug to do another but with the marathon, I was just happy to complete it. So I probably won't do another, but never say never!