What My First Three Half Marathons Taught me

I actually posted a much smaller version of what this post is on my Instagram accountΒ a couple of weeks ago, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to get a little bit more in-depth with it and share my thoughts here. Especially since I’m getting pretty deep into my half marathon training at this point. I just thought it would be nice to reflect on the things I’ve learned from my previous halfs, and since it half/full marathon training season is in full swing, I thought maybe other people could take something away from the things I’ve learned so far as well! πŸ™‚

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Half Marathon Number One: Longview Half, 2015.

My first half marathon actually taught me quite a lot! But I mean, that does make sense considering that it was my very first. My first half and my very first race ever! Haha it’s not exactly recommenced to start off your racing career with a half, but what can I say? I’m an overachiever. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, my first half marathon taught me to set big goals, dream big, and that I’m capable of more than I thought. Before I even signed up for my first half the farthest I’d ever run was 5 or 6 miles. I had no idea if I could actually cover 13.1 miles in one go. At that point I was still impressed and amazed at the fact that I could do 5! That was still relatively new to me! I also knew nothing about proper running attire, fueling, or actual running workouts. Back in 2015 I was still a relative newbie to the sport. But one day I just kinda decided that I was going to run a half marathon, so I signed up, started a training plan, and never looked back. It was a rocky road to the starting line, like I said, I had no idea what I was doing. But the second I crossed that finish line I learned that setting big, crazy goals could be a good thing! Dreaming big will help you accomplish those goals! But most importantly, I learned that I was capable of doing hard things and that I really was a runner. Not just some person who was faking it. Not that there’s any fake runners or anything. That’s just something I had struggled with for a while. But once I became a half marathoner I never hesitated to call myself a runner ever again.

Crossing the finish line of my first half was an incredible experience and it’s something I’ll never forget!

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Longview half marathon, 2015. Mile 11.

Half Marathon Number Two: Longview Half, 2016Β 

I went into my second half marathon much more knowledgeable and prepared! I knew I could cover the distance having done it once before, and I had a few 5k’s under my belt as well, so I had a little bit of a better idea of what I was getting myself into. Training went well and the race itself went even better!

My second half taught me how to really have fun during training and to enjoy every mile during a race. Even when it started to hurt and get really hard. This was definitely my best half so far! Maybe even my best race so far! I’m hoping that will change this November though. πŸ˜‰

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Longview half marathon, 2016. Mile 11.

Half Marathon Number Three: Longview Half, 2017

My third half marathon is a little bit notorious in my mind. Training went pretty well, but I crashed and burned hard at about mile 8 during this half. By mile 10 I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish. I did, buy jeez it was pretty terrible…

My third half was my first bad racing experience. I’m still a relative newbie at the whole racing thing. At this point I’ve only got 7 actual races under my belt, but this half, this half was by far the absolute worst I’ve ever done. That being said, I still learned a few things from this race. First and foremost, I learned just how important proper fueling and hydrating is. I mean, I alreadyΒ knew,Β but I experienced firsthand why during this race. The Gatorade at the aid-stations wasn’t mixed properly and that made my stomach unhappy. Since my stomach was unhappy I wasn’t able to eat my Honey Stinger waffles. One of the wonderful pacers gave me a Twizzlers at one point and I was able to eat that in slow, little bites, but that was about it. I crashed. I burned. I suffered.

Suffering was the most important thing I learned during this half. I thought I had suffered through hard workouts before, but it was nothing compared to the last 3 miles of this race. It was a hard lesson to learn. Finishing hurt and then dealing with my finishing time hurt even more. But eventually I got over it and learned that I can suffer and suffer badly, but still finish. And at the end of the day finishing is still a huge accomplishment!

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Longview half marathon, 2017. Mile 11.

There you have it! What half marathoning has taught me so far! I’m pretty excited to take these lessons into the two half marathons I’m doing in November. The Longview Half again on November 10th and the Gobbler Grind Half on November 11th. I’m sure Operation Two Half Marathons In Two Days will end up teaching me a few things as well. πŸ˜‰ Hahaha right now I’m thinking that suffering lesson is going to come in quite handy for this little challenge.

I’m also pretty excited to finally be doing a half marathon that is not Longview. I love that race and want to continue to do it as many years in a row as I can, but it’s going to be fun to be doing a race that’s new to me! Actually, they changed the Longview course this year, so both races are going to be kind of new to me. At this point I’m really looking forward to both of them! I’m not really nervous yet, but I know that will come soon.

Anyway, have you learned any important lessons from a race? How have you applied them in life, running, or other races? I’d love to hear your answers!

But for now, wishing you a happy Monday!

~Ashley

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Longview Half finish, 2016

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