Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon

I'm a few days late with this, but I wanted to document my second-ever half marathon, which came something like 4 years after my first.  At least this one was planned.  I ran my first half marathon when I was stationed in Alaska, and I pretty much only did it, because I woke up and a few friends wanted to run it, so I said, Why not?  I'll tell you now: training is why not.  I hadn't trained one bit for 13.1 miles.  The most I had ever run at that point in my life was something like 7 miles, and that wasn't on a regular basis.  It was more like 3-4 mile runs, three times a week.  The pain the week following that run was a little scary.  I was worried I had done permanent damage to my body (drama queen, much?).  Luckily, I know little about the human body and was pleasantly surprised to find that my human body recovered juuust fine.

Finishing time back then at the North Pole Half Marathon: 1:58:some seconds

That experience was why I signed up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame half marathon in Canton, OH with plenty of time to train for that distance.  If you're asking yourself, Well, did she train for it?  I'm ashamed to say yes... and NO.  I started to train for it, so I think that counts for something.  But I pretty much maxed out at 4 miles on any given run and then put my training regimen on an unhealthy pause.  Don't worry, though --- I'm plenty good at learning lessons multiple times over.  My time in this run was definitely slower than my first time, but overall, I'm pleased with the results considering the minimal training.  And hey --- the pain is fairly minimal, too!  Sure, there were some intense joint aches and creaks going on there that first day (and the day following), but by the second morning after the run, the only lingering pain of any note is my calf muscles.  And that's just tightness, so I'll take it.

Time in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon: 2:04:40

What got me through this run?  Believe it or not, podcasts.  I'm aware how incredibly nerdy that sounds, but I find that I'm more able to zone out the pain that inevitably kicks in during longer runs if I can zone in to an interesting conversation.  Music doesn't do that for me.  Maybe it's the fact that I know the songs, so there's really nothing to focus on.  But if I'm playing a brand new episode of a favorite podcast or two?  I'm forced to pay closer attention so I can process what they're saying.

Another thing going for me was the weather.  It was a bit of a chilly morning to start off with, but that crisp, cool air sure came in handy after I'd started moving.  It was a beautiful day for a long run.  Also, my decision to wear my Team RWB shirt for the first time was an excellent one.  Other Team RWB members --- and complete strangers --- came up to me before the race just to chat, and they were super supportive out on the race route.  I started to experience some nerve pain in my right hip later in the race, and I decided to work in a few seconds of walking, not realizing how close I was to the 13-mile marker.  An older guy in an RWB shirt, who was running a full marathon, saw me slow down and encouraged me to keep running.  After all, I hardly had any distance left til I finished!  

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I learned a thing or two about well organized races:

  1.  I had never heard of a "gear bag" or "gear bag check/service."  I now know it's a super nifty service where I can hand over a bag with my car keys and anything else I don't want to run with, like a sweatshirt to wear before the race, and volunteers will babysit it for me until after the run.  I mean, AWESOME idea!  
  2. I also learned that it's totally okay, and even advisable, to slow down to a walk when you take a little Dixie cup of water from the volunteers on the side of the road.  I used to practically hyperventilate drinking water during races while trying to run at the same time.  Since I didn't like that feeling, I would forgo hydration altogether.  Which, uh... don't do that.  Duh.  Especially if you're a particularly lackluster hydrate-er like I am, and you do a crummy job of hydrating the day before the race.  Take the darn Dixie cups whenever they're available, walk, drink, and then run again.  No harm done there.   
  3. Plenty of people wear the race shirt you get when you pick up your race packet.  I always want to wear it, but I have this hangup where I think it's akin to wearing the band's t-shirt to the band's concert.  Again, I'm super glad I wore my RWB shirt, because the other RWB people were awesome, but now I don't know when I'm ever going to wear that ridiculous race shirt, haha.
  4. Medals aren't everything, but they sure make finishing sweeter!  My first half marathon didn't have medals, and while I wasn't bummed at the time, I also didn't know medals at running events were a thing (I know, I'm late to the party).  While my first half marathon time was definitely not too shabby, I felt even more accomplished when I finished this run, because there were happy, smiling volunteers at the finish handing me gifts (a medal, a blanket, a bottle of water), haha!
  5. Runners are supportive of each other.  I'm so glad I stuck around after I finished to watch other racers round the corner with the finish line in sight!  There was an older man who raced in his wheelchair for the half marathon.  He was ahead of me for the first several miles.  Dude was bookin' it.  I was standing there on the side of the track drinking my water after I'd finished when I heard a bunch of people start cheering and clapping.  I thought it might be the first marathon finisher coming through, but I looked up and saw that man enter the track, and it was... just awesome.  Hell, even I had other finishers encouraging me from the side of the track as I finished.  The double lesson learned for this bullet is to stick around until at least the first marathon finisher comes through (because that's cool, too; that dude was only 45 minutes behind me, and he ran twice as far).  You get to watch complete strangers cheer on other complete strangers who are accomplishing a goal that not everyone even wants to set for themselves.  Again, to put it as I so eloquently did a few sentences ago, it's... just awesome.
So, there you have it.  I ran.  I enjoyed it.  I paid for it.  I'm proud of it.  And it gave me an outlet to release all my nervous and stressed energy over my multi-state move coming up.  About that move, I'd better get back to it...

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