3 Things I Learned From My Third Half Marathon

I completed my third half marathon yesterday! I finished the Southern California Half Marathon with a time of 2:11:55, which was almost 12 minutes slower than my original goal of under 2 hours BUT faster than my PR from Berlin last August of 2:28. I'm thrilled! I went into this race feeling strong with a new goal of 2:11 (more on that below!). The course was flat, and it was a bit chilly at the start. I stuck with the 2:10 pacers until right around mile 9, when it got tough for me. LA weather is beautiful, but anything higher than 40 degrees just feels HOT when you're running. By mile 9, I was struggling from the lack of shade and started hurting and slowing down. But I never walked!

All in all, this race left me feeling accomplished but wanting more. I'd like to do another half in a few months to see if I can get under 2. I'm that much closer!

 

 
 

I've identified a few things I can work on as I consider my next race:

  1. Stick to your training plan. Is this not obvious? I stuck to my training plan religiously for the first six weeks of a 12-week program, but then I visited my parents for a month. In an epic display of self-sabotage, I ditched my plan entirely. I got comfortable being home with family. I was exercising but not running, at least not according to plan. By the time I got to LA at the end of December, I was undertrained. I ran a few times a week in December and January but missed all of my speed workouts and long runs. The longest run I got in was a 9-miler at the beginning of December. Seriously. Facepalm. I did it to myself, but it goes to show you that a lack of preparedness brings a lack of results. I ended up adjusting my goal time to 2:11. With a 2:11:55 finish, I was close. Next time I'll stick to my plan.
  2. Nutrition is king. This goes for all fitness goals. It counts for a LOT, including running. I completed the half yesterday on day 10 of my Whole30. I was sort of worried about switching up my pre-race routine (read: pasta and garlic bread), but it turns out you can load up on carbs in other ways. Who would have thought? Just kidding, I always knew veggies and fruits are full of carbs, but they're way less fun to eat. I love any excuse to stuff my face with ravioli. It wasn't a big deal — I just ate potatoes and bananas. My nutrition was actually better leading up to this race than my first two races, and I think it's a big part of why I was still able to get a PR.
  3. I can do hard things. I've shaved 41 minutes off my first half time. That's amazing to me. My first race was just awful. I walked a lot, I was in a lot of pain, and I didn't know if I could finish. I went into yesterday with zero worries about finishing. I even knew I'd PR. It just goes to show you that you can condition your body and mind to do hard things, even things that once seemed impossible. In many ways, it's a mental game you have to master. I know I can get a sub-2 time if I commit to it. Who knows, maybe I'll even go for a marathon one day.