My First Half Marathon

One of the many things on my bucket list is to run a marathon. I’m not alone in this respect; many people list this as a bucket list item, but very few actually go on to do it. But when I started taking running seriously, I started realizing this goal could eventually become a reality. Then I started doing some work on a website devoted to half marathons, and come on, working on a half marathon website was kind of silly when I had never actually run one.

So I signed up for the Jeff Galloway 13.1 Half Marathon, a walker-friendly half marathon right here in Atlanta. Last Sunday morning, I found myself willingly standing in the cold, bundled up and waiting to run thirteen miles outdoors in December. Hey, it sounded like a good idea back in (much warmer) May when I signed up. Continue reading

Half Marathon Training Time Commences Now

I mentioned a few posts back that I’m training for my first half marathon in December. This is partly due to my desire to continue running and staying in shape and partly because, well, I contribute to a running website as part of my day job. Walk the walk, talk the talk, et cetera.

Since the December half marathon is my first half marathon and I’m more than a little out of shape (despite running for awhile), training needs to start soon. Partly due to the heat this summer, I’ve been slacking in my regular running schedule due to the heat. It’s still hot here around 7pm, the latest I can run and still take a shower and rehydrate before bed; otherwise I find myself waking up for midnight bathroom trips. Getting up earlier to run is also an option, but let’s face it–who actually likes getting up early? I don’t, that’s for certain. Especially when it interferes with my plans for the rest of the day and shifts my working time into the evening or (gasp) to Friday.

Some of these things, like getting up earlier, are plain-and-simple excuses. I know. But with the half marathon only four months away, it’s time to stop the excuses and start the training now, even if that involves getting up earlier or going to bed later. I can also use this as a convenient reason to get through more audiobooks and podcasts. I even bought a hydration belt with a pocket and new earbuds just for this purpose. This way I’m not limited to buying shorts and pants with pockets big enough for my iPod touch.

The fun part will be training during NaNo, when the running distances get longer and I already have three of the four November weekends booked. All of these weekends involve out-of-town plans. If nothing else, I can use the San Francisco hills for training and thinking up novel and plot developments that weekend.

There’s also Pokemon Go and using that in my runs, if only to hatch eggs. Running has been my primary method of hatching the 10km eggs since I cover a lot of distance in a short period; short of cycling or tying your phone to a ceiling fan (yes, I’ve heard of people doing this), running is the most efficient way to hatch those eggs. I’ve made a rule during my long runs not to stop for yet another Pidgey, which frees me to up for a Pokemon I don’t already have. Spinning the Pokestops, fortunately, is something that can be easily done while running a familiar route and is worth doing on routes like mine with many Pokestops within a mile or so of each other. This also motivates me to go on longer runs so I can stop for a break near a Pokemon gym on the way back. And yes, I may or may not be getting the Pokemon Go Plus when it comes out. Priorities: I have them.

After I survive this and the half marathon gets checked off my to-do list, who knows. I’ve wanted to run a full marathon for awhile, just for the experience. If this half marathon goes well, who knows–maybe I’ll sign up for a spring full marathon and train through the winter. I’ll keep you updated on that because if there’s anything I dislike more than heat and humidity, it’s cold weather. But maybe zooming through the cold weather will help me accept the cold, if not embrace it.

But we’ll see about that. Let’s tackle the half first. One thing at a time, self.

On running

Whenever fitness and health come up, most people assume that since I’m tall and thin, I must automatically be in good shape. These people clearly haven’t seen me try to run from zombies or take a flight of stairs to my apartment with groceries weighing down my back and hands, but the misconception remains nonetheless. There’s an underlying assumption in our society: thin people are all gorgeous and in the best shape, and anyone who isn’t supermodel thin is a lazy being whose main hobbies include sitting on the couch and watching Netflix while enjoying a Costco-sized bag of chips.

While I won’t deny my interest in sitting around and eating chips (particularly salt and pepper kettle chips–pass them over), this assumption is certainly not true. People’s exercise and fitness habits are as diverse as humanity itself, and that’s not getting into how genetics like to screw with our bodies. And my fitness habits involved me sitting in front of my computer, tapping out key after key in an attempt to make something. If exercising my wrists and fingers contributed to overall fitness, I’d be a younger Jane Fonda.

Unfortunately, finger exercise doesn’t count. When some of my friends started working on their fitness over the last year, the friendly peer pressure rubbed off on me, much like it does during NaNoWriMo with talk of higher word count goals and one more word war before bed. I can walk like no one’s business, but my dislike of walking without a destination makes me put off going for a walk for the sake of fitness alone. Why go on a walk if I’m just going to turn around and come back? I reasoned with myself that this line of thinking made no sense. If I had to run for any reason, I was screwed.

My newfound adventures in fitness started sometime in late March. I was returning home from somewhere and approached the top of a hill. Then I started walking down the hill faster and faster, letting gravity take its course. My fast walk turned into a gentle jog, one that I maintained when the hill turned to a flat surface. I jogged most of the 2km back home and wasn’t as exhausted as anticipated. Hot sweaty mess? Definitely. Hot sweaty mess so exhausted that I wanted to flop into bed without a shower? Not quite. My fitness standards are low, but they’re not that low. Continue reading