Why My 6th Half Marathon Was the Best and Worst Run of My Life

Alright.

It’s been two weeks, I think it’s time to talk about it.

Back in April I wrote a blog post telling you guys I was training for my sixth half marathon and that Caitlyn (my running buddy) and I set our first time goal. Our fastest time for finishing a half marathon was two hours and 20 minutes, and this time around we wanted to finish in two hours and 15 minutes.

May 21st rolled around and we found ourselves at the starting line and eventually crossing the finish line BUT…it was the worst run I’ve ever been on, but the lesson I learned from it is why it was also the best race of my life.

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Here’s a rare photo of me smiling out on the course, clearly it was before I thought I was going to die.

We didn’t finish in two hours and 15 minutes, but we did finish in two hours and 18 minutes which means we still broke a personal record, just not the one that we wanted. On the bright side, our splits were pretty impressive compared to our other races. Our first two miles were under 10 minutes and for the rest of the race we remained pretty consistent, staying between 10:06 and 10:30. So that’s not exactly why it was a flop. 

Let me start off by saying, I didn’t train properly for this race and man my body was not very forgiving out there on the course! I’m typically really strict with myself when it comes to a training schedule but this time around I had more on my plate than I could balance. Between my wisdom teeth removal, finishing the last month of my college career, graduation and the attention required for car shopping and moving to another state…well let’s just say my runs were very far apart and not very long at all. In fact, the farthest I ran in my training was 7 miles, which isn’t very close to running 13.1 miles.

During the first two miles, all I could think about was how long this race was going to be. I knew I would finish, but I also knew I wasn’t going to finish feeling strong. I ended up being right, but that mindset didn’t provide any kind of help for me.

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By mile five my ankles and feet were starting to hurt, which for me is a really bad sign considering that pain doesn’t kick in until usually mile 10. As soon as I noticed the pain I thought “Well aren’t we in quite the pickle?” And I’m allergic to pickles, so it didn’t end well.

Nonetheless I kept running as fast as my body would let me and while it was tough, I didn’t get a taste of just how impossible finishing seemed until mile 10.

It was a downhill slope and I crashed to the bottom.

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I think Caitlyn was happy enough for the both of us when I started crashing!

Usually Caitlyn hits a wall at mile 10 and I cheer her on for the remaining 3.1 miles to the finish line, but the roles reversed this time. She had the big smile on her face and I had the scowl.

My entire body hurt and with every step I took I felt the urge to vomit growing stronger. I was angry and incredibly disappointed with myself for not following through with my training plan. For the last three miles I was telling myself I could do this on one step, and that I couldn’t with the next.

I’d like to say crossing the finish line put a smile on my face, but it didn’t. It only made me more annoyed because I realized I didn’t break the PR I wanted and I knew it was my own fault.

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Can you tell I was dying and Caitlyn was fine?

What made this even more difficult to swallow was everyone waiting for us at the finish line. Usually the only person waiting for me is my dad, but, two of my friends and my boyfriend were there this time as well.

There’s something more unsettling about failing in front of other people as opposed to failing when no one’s watching. I’m embarrassed to say it, but this gave me even more of an attitude and made me feel annoyed that they were there.

I just want to make this point so we all understand how unreasonable I was being. These are people that have never made me feel that I needed to impress them. They have always accepted me at exactly where I was. Did any of them care that we finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes? Obviously not. They were just excited to be there supporting us and thought we were total badasses.

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Look at my friends not caring that I didn’t run as fast as I said I was going to!running a half marathon, never-mind six of them!

I was a little snippy with everyone for a while. This is awful, but I didn’t even thank them for coming until 20 minutes after crossing the finish line. After we ate I perked up the tiniest bit and was tolerable to be around again.

Sorry for being a jerk, friends. I love you for showing up on race day and every other day.

I’m still so embarrassed about my time that I’ve put off writing this. But I learned a huge lesson from this last race.

Not every run is going to be a success. They won’t all leave me feeling new again and ready to take on the world. Expecting every run to be better than the last is just setting myself up for failure at some point. Instead, you should expect to always show up and work your absolute hardest and give it your all. Life happens and it can get in the way of training.

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Check out that sweet medal!

Running is hard sometimes, and so is life. What I experienced during this race was incredibly human. I did the best I could at that point and I still finished with a PR.

It’s necessary to be disappointed in ourselves sometimes. You learn an incredibly important lesson from it and it’ll make you work even harder the next time around. So don’t be afraid to fail, okay?

Get out there and give it your all. No matter if you fail or succeed, you’ll grow either way. That’s what life’s about. Don’t forget that.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you today! Stay connected with me on Twitter and Instagram so you can watch me win and fail, sometimes with grace and sometimes without it.

Talk to you guys soon!

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5 Life Changing Lessons Running Teaches Us

When I started running two years ago, I thought I was just going to literally put one foot in front of the other until I finished my run and that would be it. I wasn’t in any way prepared for the lessons I would learn through all of those miles.

Running has been an incredible teacher to me. I’ve learned so much about myself and about life in general because of it, but here are the five most important that I think we all come across as runners:

5. You Are Your Only Competition

I’m not a very competitive person, but when I hear other runners talking about PRs or what pace they hold on a “comfortable” run, I can get really hard on myself for not matching their standards. Think about that objectively for a minute. That is SO stupid! Their standards are exactly that…THEIRS, not mine! When you focus on your own goals and time and being a better runner than you were yesterday, that is when you’re going to thrive.

4. The First Step is the Hardest

This is a lesson you’ll learn very quickly when you start running. It also applies to anything in life. Deciding you’re going to do something that scares you and taking that first step is so difficult in the beginning. But after the first step comes the second, and so on. With that comes a higher threshold of uncertainty.

3. Consistency is Key

If you kind of want something, you’ll only kind of get the results you want. With running, and most things in life, you need to be consistent to see results. Sure, you can probably get through a half marathon if you run here or there a couple of times a week, but without consistency you will NEVER get better, faster or stronger.

2. Anything Worthwhile in Life Requires the Extra Mile

We’re all humans. We get tired and we feel defeated at times. I’m more familiar with this feeling than you could possibly understand, but running has taught me better than anything that if I can talk myself through running just one more mile, I can talk myself through running another. That slowly spilled over into other areas of my life like school, work and relationships and I’ve accomplished more than I thought I could. If you want something great, you have to be willing to go farther than you dreamed of for it.

1. You Are Stronger Than You Know

Never in my entire life would I have guessed that I would be able to run even one mile, forget a half marathon! But here I am, training for my sixth half marathon. I didn’t acknowledge my strength in any areas of my life until after I had been running for a year, which was only last winter when I was 23. How insane is it that it took 23 years for me to allow myself to acknowledge my strength? Test your limits and let your physical strength empower your emotional strength. You have no idea what you’re capable of.

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Forever one of my favorite pictures! The happiest faces after the hardest race of our lives!

Medal Monday: Gasparilla

My favorite day of the week!

Medal Monday.

One of the best parts about running a half marathon, or any race in general, is the medal you get after crossing the finish line. The symbol of all your hard work, determination and the endless miles you’ve put in.

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My name was on a poster the size of an entire wall and all I had to do was run a 5k!

I spend a significant amount of time on Monday’s scrolling through the Medal Monday tag on Instagram admiring everyone’s gorgeous medals and reading the stories behind them, which has inspired me to share the stories behind each of my medals every Monday. Until I run out of medals that is. This won’t last very long because I only have six so far (more to come!).

My first race actually wasn’t a half marathon. It was a 5k that was part of Tampa’s Gasparailla Half Marathon Weekend in 2015. I was in the midst of my half marathon training when I realized that I had no idea what to expect at the starting line, on the course or at the finish line. So I signed up for the 5k hoping to get the pre-race jitters out of me and feel more comfortable in the racing environment.

When I’m working towards a goal or when I achieve something big I often struggle with feeling like an impostor. I struggled immensely with this when I first started running, and I still do from time to time. Even though I had run 5k’s on my own more times than I could count, I was nervous everyone there would be able to tell I hadn’t been a runner for very long and that I was still figuring this whole thing out. I thought they’d be able to see through all my appropriate running gear and game face right to the girl that was always picked last in gym class. I even worried about being the last person to finish even though I always finished my 5k’s within 34 minutes.

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I like to commemorate every race with some form of a hair toss at the finish line.

Instead of my nightmares coming to life, I realized that day that no one knew I was new to running and most importantly even if they did…no one cared. Everyone was excited to be there and in high spirits or just too wrapped up in worrying about what pace they had to keep to break a PR.

Since I picked up on that quickly at the starting line, I was able to run carefree and enjoy the experience of my first race. At that point in my running journey, my best time for a 5k was 33 minutes. When I crossed the finish line at Gasparilla I realized I finished in 29 minutes and 45 seconds. I know that’s not fast by any means but for the girl that couldn’t do a single pull up in high school it felt pretty damn good. IMG_4162

Once I stopped worrying about whether I was worthy enough of running a race or living up to the expectations literally no one had for me as a runner (seriously, I made them up in my head!), I was able to run my best and run faster than I had before. That, my friends, is EXACTLY where the magic happens and that’s why every time I look at this medal I remind myself that only when I stop worrying about being good enough will I succeed and pass my own expectations.

Make sure you subscribe to my blog right over there on the sidebar so you don’t miss the story behind the medal I got after running my first half marathon!

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The Superhero Half Marathon

If you told me when I was in high school, or even four years ago for that matter, that I would become obsessed with running and that I’d run a half marathon I would literally laugh in your face and call you crazy and proceed to skip gym class. I am so uncoordinated and off-balanced I almost have no business running, but I do it anyway.

Here I am though with not one but five half marathons under my belt, all of which I’ve ran in a year and a half time span which is super crazy and I’m really proud of.

What’s even more exciting than that is I’m doing it all over again for a sixth time! Caitlyn and I are running Morristown’s Superhero Half Marathon on May 21st. Seriously, we love you Morristown and you’re our favorite place to run. This is an exciting one because it’s my last race in New Jersey before I finally move to Florida (another blog post for another time!). 10294484_1000010790063606_1491567970831890772_n

This is my last race with Caitlyn for a while. Probably until we run our first full marathon during Disney’s marathon weekend in 2019, so we’re going all out for this one. We’ll be sporting super cute and sassy Popflex outfits and for the first time ever we’re setting a time goal! We finished out last half marathon in two hours and 20 minutes. This time around we want to get to the finish line in two hours and 15 minutes. All we have to do is hold about 10:15 pace per mile which sounds like no big deal right?

Wrong! Here’s why:

Race day is less than five weeks away and I’ve hardly trained aside from my usual three to four mile runs three to four times a week. Bad Kerry.

There have been some setbacks in the training period this time around.

  1. I’m in my last semester of college (!) and that alone has been the biggest time sucker for various reasons that make my head spin.
  2. I had my wisdom teeth removed! It was tragic and awful and kept me from running for two and a half weeks. I have no pain tolerance and have never had any kind of procedure/surgery before so I pulled out all the theatrics for the occasion

I’m sharing this with you for accountability purposes of course. I can’t skimp out on trying when I’m telling you all my goal.

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The face of a runner that held race-day pace for 5 miles!

Since race day is rapidly approaching I added an awesome countdown on my side bar so we can count down together! Feel free to message me something like “Hey, enough of the Cadbury chocolate! You have 10 days until race day!” or “Run like your student loans are chasing you!” or “If you hit your time goal I’ll buy you Hamilton tickets!” at your leisure.

I especially like that last one. While I’m out there running like my life depends on it, someone please make that happen.

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