I've never been that person who thought I couldn't "do "hard" things. I mean I work hard and I try really hard, but I have always thought of myself as someone sort of "in the middle of the road." In pretty much everything.
One day, I decided that "middle of the road" wasn't going to be good enough anymore. I wanted to push and really try to do something that would challenge me both physically and mentally. Something that I thought I would never be able to do. Enter a half marathon.
In early January 2020, I got an email promoting a spring race and it really got me thinking. Could I actually do that? Could I run 13.1 miles? I still didn't have myself convinced, so I sent it to my husband. I said, do you think I could actually do this? Could I run 13.1 miles? At this point my longest run had only been a 10K. His reply was simple, yes, if you train.
So, that was it. I decided I was going to do it. I was going to train for my FIRST half marathon. I went out on Pinterest and began looking for training plans. I found one that was for 16 weeks. It was January at this time, and I was going to run my first half (see starting to use the real runner's lingo) the first week of May. I took my planner out and marked down all of the runs for the 16 weeks.
I began my training. The first weeks were pretty easy, because I was already running...so it was much of the same. The big difference was that I also needed to be adding some strength training and cross training. Soon, I found myself at week 10. I was still doing it. It wasn't perfect, I didn't hit EVERY single workout, but I did the majority and I was feeling strong.
Then...COVID-19 hit. I had a decision to make. I was at week 10 and I could use this as my excuse to stop, or I could use it as motivation to keep going. I chose motivation. Running was one exercise that was allowed during social distancing and quarantine times. There really wasn't a reason to stop...except all of my long runs were coming. But, I decided that this time was going to be different. I was going to PUSH through and finish.
The long runs were long. They were a bit lonely too. My body would hurt for days after, but training still needed to be done to make sure that I was able to run the distance literally.
Before I knew it, race day was upon me. It didn't look like I had imagined. There were no crowds, there was no official "start" line, there was no vendors, there was no "pacing" group. It was me...I had to find my course and I had to make my own way. My mom, husband, and two sons were part of my send off and I was off.
I created a route that was an out and back a few times, so I could be sure that I could run by my house in case I needed the restroom and of course to get some water along the way. My cheer squad was also there. I had told a few good friends my route and they were so amazing and surprised me. Seeing familiar faces helped make those miles pass.
I got through mile 10 and I was feeling pretty strong. Then, I got to mile 11 and I was exhausted. My legs were heavy, my stomach felt empty and I had some hills to go and a couple more miles. I had a choice...I didn't have to do this. I mean who would know? I would know! I would know.
So, I pressed on. Mile 12 so definitely the hardest and I showed myself grace and let myself walk up the large hill, so I could cross my finish line strong and I did. I crossed the line with a smile. Not because it was the fastest time, not because the huge crowd was cheering, it was because I made a promise to myself and I did it.
What I learned from running 13.1 miles:
- I can do hard things (guess what...so can you!)
- I'm not the middle of the "pack" I'm just Jenna.
- I can push my limits and complete hard things.
- Promises to myself are just as important to promises to others.
- Training and discipline pay off.
- Make sure to hydrate :)
- A long Epsom bath afterwards is amazing and helps with soreness :)
I don't know what's next for my running goals, but I know that I'm going to keep running. It has helped me break through so many "glass ceilings" and limiting beliefs. I know that I can do it, and so can you! I want to encourage everyone who's thinking of going after a dream or a goal to do it, because you're worth it. The promises you make to yourself are important, and most importantly, YOU CAN DO IT.
Blessings to you and your families!