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Yesterday I ran in my 5th Half Marathon. FIFTH!! I registered on a whim a few weeks ago after a friend asked if I was doing it. Honestly, I look for any excuse to participate in a running event. They’re motivating, inspiring and energizing to me even when I do them completely alone like this one.

If you didn’t know, The Baltimore Running Festival is HUGE.

They have a full, half, relay and 5k. With over 27,000 runners it’s by far the biggest event I’ve done and counting this year I’ve completed all of the distances except the 5k. This leads to my first lesson…

1. If you are going to run a half, run a half.

That may not make a lot of sense but hear me out. When you are running a half as part of a marathon most of the hoopla is for the full, not the half. The mile markers. The timers. Even the crowds.

There’s also the mental aspect. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel guilty knowing others are running double what I’m running. In a way it makes me less whiny, but I still don’t like how it feels. If you are considering a half, I would suggest registering for one that is a solo event or at least the longest distance, espeically for your first.

2. Take in all the Support

All the signs and goofy people may be there to cheer on their loved ones (I’m partial to the funny ones if you can’t tell) but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a lift and a chuckle from them too. Take it from someone who runs a lot of races alone and with no one on the sidelines, read the signs and say thank you with a smile. Support comes when you’re open to it.

3. Go After all High Fives

Yup, that’s me high-fiving a giant stuffed rat. He offered, I accepted. When I see kids on the side of a race I always happily accept their high fives too. Like the signs, support comes when you are open to it. When you’re dying on mile 10 a high five from a giant rat may be exactly what you need to mush through the last 3 miles.

4. When/If They offer a Banana, Take it!

I had more energy at the end of this race then ever before and I can only assume it’s because I fueled up in the middle, something I never do.

5. SMILE.

I snapped this sometime after the 10 mile mark. I was tired, sweaty, my left knee was killing me. I fought off all the self doubt and "I can’t do this" thoughts, and decided to recognize the GORGEOUS day and how awesome it was that I was out and about enjoying it.

Sometimes just putting a smile on your face makes all the difference even in the middle of a grueling 13 mile run.

If you are interested, check out recaps of my other half marathon experiences…

 
  • http://twitter.com/Got2Run4Me Coco

    These are great! The last one is the most important. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/daileeblossom Iris Lee

    Congrats, Roni!! And thanks for the tips – I’m hoping to train for a race soon, so I’ll keep these in mind! :)

  • Maria

    Congrats Roni! I ran my first 1/2 this weekend too! Go us!

  • Amanda

    Bananas are an awesome energy booster! I’m running my first full marathon next weekend and I’m most excited about the crowd. I love reading the signs :)

  • Lauren Seserko

    woohoo I ran the half at the BRF too! It was a great day with lots of crowd support! I ran my first half three weeks ago and got a 5 min PR at the BRF!

  • Kat

    Congrats! I have my first half in November and those are awesome and funny tips :) http://www.sneakersandfingerpaints.com

  • LisaM

    That’s a pretty awesome time for entering “on a whim” with no specific training for it! Way to go!!

  • katty

    thanks for the post! I am still very heavy so my body is not ready for running yet, but my mind is! That is a huge surprise, never thought I’d crave running. So your word of advice is unvaluable! Running is a huge new world to many of us, and we need guidance from people like you who have been where we are now and know what it feels like.

  • Kathy

    I did a half yesterday.
    Like you, I was doing it alone, and also no one on the sidelines for me either. I did thank every stranger for their cheers and encouraging words. I did the high fives … especially with the cute little kids (we had no giant rats at our race :) , and as I passed the aid stations even if I thought I should choose Gatorade, I would take water, if it was a child offering it. It was just too cool for them to volunteer like that!!
    I know what you mean about feeling guilty. I thought less of myself since I walked it and so many others ran it. (How DO you guys do that?!!)
    I didn’t do any training at all, and was ok until mile 9, when I started to feel it. My paced slowed, my hips had started to hurt a little around mile 5, but now were hurting more, as were the bottom of my feet, and my legs. I started telling myself I might not be able to finish, but then started some positive self talk, telling myself how lucky I was that I had legs that could carry my 13 miles, and I was walking for all the women (and men) that couldn’t because they were in the hospital having surgery or chemo or radiation for their breast cancer.
    I watched as the runners passed us by on their way back. It was discouraging knowing they would finish in half the time it would take me.
    The last four miles were the hardest, and I don’t know why they had all the hills at the end of the race :(

    Your tip #5 — that one was hard for me… too exhausted, in pain, and I still don’t know how you can run one (well, yes, I know it’s a lot of training, but man, I just can’t imagine it. And a full marathon? I don’t think I could manage to walk a full.

    I also love the funny signs. Two of my favorites from yesterday were:

    Does this race make my ass look fast?

    Awesome job, random stranger!

    Roni, can you give me any tips for my recovery?
    When I get up it’s like I’m 95 years old, my muscles stiffen up so much when I sit that it’s hard to even start moving across the floor.

    Thanks, and thanks for keeping us all inspired,

    • RoniNoone

      Congrats Kathy! I’m still feeling my half too. It’s a lot on your body and you need time to heal! I take a rest day or two and then ease back into workouts with a walk here and there.

  • Sheri Jungers

    ITA about the Half/Full thing, I will never enter a Half that’s part of a full marathon for just that reason. The funny thing is, most of those big races that have both, the entrants for the Half outnumber the full by a huge margin.

    And, wait, what? You never refuel on a Half? Or maybe you just don’t refuel that early? I like to nibble something (a bar, or dried fruit) every 10 minutes or so after the first hour, or I bonk hard.

    And Kathy, almost everyone feels bad a day or two after a hard effort. Some people do ice baths right after (not me!), but I love my compression leg sleeves for after the race (support socks will work too). But once the muscle soreness sets in, the only thing that helps is just getting moving again.

    • RoniNoone

      I’m not a gel girl and that’s all they seem to offer. Honestly I’m not one to refuel at all. Just water for me. :)

  • http://twitter.com/e_p_fitzy Erin Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the post! I’m hoping to run this event next year! So fun to read your posts!

    Erin
    http://spinintocontrol.blogspot.com/

  • http://twitter.com/#!/pattyaizaga Patty

    Congratulations Roni! Looks like you had a great time. Love the photos and the tips.

  • http://twitter.com/darnfood Reinaldo

    That “Don’t sh*t yourself” sign was priceless!!! I laughed for a whole minute. I thought I was the only one who saw that pic…Dear Lord.

  • ItsMeVsMe

    I love those tips. I’ve got my 2nd half coming up in a few weeks (holy crap) and I have to remember to high five!

    And I’m trying not to be insanely jealous of your time. : )

  • MattnBecky Freckleton

    +1 to Sheri’s “what?!?” reaction – anything over about 75 minutes I need to fuel. It takes about 15-20 minutes to get into your system, so for anything longer than 75min, I’ll fuel about 50-55 minutes in.
    Once upon a time people would run marathons without fueling. Since you’ve trained without it your body’s probably used to it. Maybe consider it for race day only for that extra boost. =)
    There’s more than gels out there. Some people will eat applesauce (have you seen those 1-serving packets?) and it sounds like you found bananas are great. =)

    I am a big fan of ice baths, I hate them for about 2 minutes then they are great. They are best right after a long/hard effort (like race day!) for max benefit. Leg compression sleeve research has shown they have good benefit too.
    http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2011/02/an-update-on-compression-clothing.html

    Kathy – Walk if you can! Don’t let yourself stiffen up if you can help it. It will take a while to recover since it sounds like you hadn’t gone that far before. Listen to your body and give it the rest it is asking for. Congrats on your first half marathon. :)

  • Vera Jones

    Thanks for that post! Really great and funny tips…take the banana :) and high five are my favorite!

    Vera
    http://myhealth-advice.com

  • Javier Lozano Jr

    Good tips. Personally, I’m not a fan of banana’s which drives me nuts because it’s such an amazing fruit after an intense race. Otherwise, it looks to me that having fun at the half is the most important thing… which I agree.

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