"Strength doesn't come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't!"
And just like that, I finally have my first half marathon under my belt!
If you've been following my training blog posts the past 12 weeks, then you know that it hasn't been the easiest or smoothest ride. I experienced pain since the beginning, which made it really hard to stay consistent with my planned training runs. I didn't let that hold me back though, I still tried to push hard beyond the pain to be fully prepared for my big day.
The week of my half marathon was beyond super, crazy busy. It started off with the Kanye concert (courtesy of SIX:02) on Wednesday, flew out to New York with Nike Running on Thursday early morning and returned back to LA Friday night. Kicked off Saturday with the Nike Run Club Home Run followed immediately by the Finish Line Women RNRLA brunch and right after straight to pick up my Race Bib to the LA Convention Center. I literally had no time to think about the race up until the night before, that's when the nerves REALLY started kicking in. I applied KT tape to all the areas on my leg/ankle I knew could possibly give me trouble during my half marathon, prepped the clothes I'd be using for the race and went straight to sleep.
The day was finally here, My very FIRST Half Marathon! I was so excited, but had no idea how to prepare the morning of. I told myself, "Just go out there and do it! Think of it as just another Sunday long run, but with a ton of people!" I truly think that did help because the first 6 miles were a breeze. It could have been that or the fact that I knew once I hit mile 7 around the Wilshire Blvd. area, it would all go down hill....or should I say, up hill! (lol). Those rolling hills on Wilshire Blvd. were no joke, but I did it!
I think I hit my breaking point around mile 10-12. I felt like my legs were starting to get numb and I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to finish the race strong. I have to give all the credit to my friend Andy for helping me throughout all 13.1 miles. She never once left my side, not even when I had to stop to catch my breathe. I look up to her so much for running this half marathon at 7 months pregnant! WHAT?!! Yes, that's my exact feeling! haha. She is living proof that no matter the circumstances, you can still go out there and do your thing! If it wasn't for her encouraging me when I felt like I couldn't keep pushing, I probably would have walked the last miles. My best miles were mile 5, 6, 8, and 9. I tried to lose myself in the music, up until my headphones died around mile 9. The last miles were when I REALLY needed music the most, but it taught me to push through the pain and fatigue I was feeling.
I was so happy to see so many familiar faces throughout the course and hearing them cheer me on, especially when I saw my BlacklistLA family. I felt like all the cheers and high fives gave me the energy needed to get to the finishline.
Going into this race, I originally wanted to finish under 2 hours, but then told myself to just enjoy the experience because it was my first half and no matter what my time I finished by, I was going to PR. This mentality definitely helped me stay focused on finishing rather than focusing on my pace. I am extremly happy with my outcome on this race. I finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes. For my first, I think that's a really great time!
I am so proud of myself for finishing this half marathon and super thankful for a pain-free race. It's crazy to think that when I first started running, I couldn't even finish a full mile without stopping. My pace per mile was 13 minutes+ and had the hardest time getting it down from there.
My best advice for someone who is trying to accomplish their first half marathon or even just starting to run? I'd say let yourself be a beginner at first and listen to your body! It can get frustrating at times, but you're better off taking rest days than being forced to sit out a month or two because of an injury. Rome wasn't built in one day, and you won't become an elite runner in one day either. It takes time and A LOT of patience to better yourself each and everyday. Also find the running shoes that work for YOU. Everyone is different, so you'll probably have to try different ones before you find the perfect ones. As for me, I probably tried about 8 different shoes during short runs, just to test them out and see how I liked them. On race day, I decided to go with the Nike Structure 20's and these were the PERFECT shoes for me. They helped support me throughout the whole half.
I never in a million years thought that I would run a half marathon. As a matter of fact, if you would have told me a year ago that I would be running a half marathon, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy! This whole half marathon journey taught me so much though and I am so thankful for every single step of the way. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I strongly believe in speaking things into existence, so that's why I also signed up for the LA Marathon. I'm definitely no where near ready to run a full marathon, but I'm ready to train my a** off and make the impossible, possible!
Big thank you to Nike Run Club from the Coaches, pacers, and runners and also to BlacklistLA for helping me properly train for my first half marathon, to Finishline Women for the entry to my first Half, and to every single one of you who have supported me since day with the words of encouragement. You all are a major part of my journey and I wouldn't be where I am without all of you!
Now let the training for my first Full Marathon begin!!!
xo, DIANA KAREN