I Tried It: Half Marathon
By Gloria Tebelman, 28, University Heights
Eight weeks before the annual San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon, I was running here and there (usually 3 miles at a time) practicing some yoga, and sweating it out at my gym’s kickboxing classes. At 26, I wasn’t out of shape, but I was in no way a long-distance runner. I was never athletic. Growing up in Vista, I hated P.E. But running a half marathon (13.1 miles) was secretly on my bucket list.
The day I signed up, I ran 4 miles. With Google help, I created a training plan, three runs a week, increasing my longest run by 1 mile each week until reaching 11. I am type-A, someone who’s driven by goals and deadlines, so creating a plan worked for me.
You Try It
BUY GOOD SHOES. Get fitted at a running store like Road Runner Sports, Movin’ Shoes, Milestone Running, or The Running Center.
FIND A RUNNING GROUP ON MEETUP.COM. Running with others not only makes it social, but more experienced runners can offer advice. The above stores all have free weekly runs, as well.
JUST SIGN UP ALREADY! You’ll be committed. A great starter half is the Women’s Running San Diego Half Marathon on February 22. It’s fairly flat and not overwhelmingly crowded. If that’s too soon, try the Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon on June 2. competitor.com
Getting up early to run three days a week was hard. (I’ve since become a coffee drinker.) I had to get to bed on time, eat right, limit alcohol intake. I kept a tennis ball at my desk to roll my sore feet over. I was famished after long runs. I obsessed over drinking enough water. Did I mention my feet hurt?
But having weekly goals kept me focused. If I said, “I’m going to run 8 miles tomorrow morning,” I would get up and do it. Each long run I accomplished was a personal triumph. Eight miles! Nine miles! Ten! Double digits! Every week, the doubt and fear I had about actually running the entire half marathon diminished.
My alarm went off at 4 a.m. on race day. All my gear was laid out the night before: tank, shorts, running shoes with timing chip attached, moisture-wicking socks, sports bra, underwear, headband, bib with four safety pins, energy chews, headphones, sunscreen, and a running belt to hold my keys and cell. Breakfast was half a cup of coffee, two pieces of peanut butter toast, and a banana.
I ran with a friend, also attempting her first half marathon. We took off slow and steady. The goal: finish. Without walking. The first few miles were fair, but around mile 6 my feet were already starting to wail. Just keep moving.
I knew I was tired when we made it to mile 11, but we were close, and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. By mile 12 I thought I was going to puke or fall over, or both. Somehow it made me run faster. Plus, my brother had come alongside to cheer me on. He told me he was proud of me. Now near tears, near puking, near passing out, near the finish line... I made it! I never thought I could run 13.1 miles. I didn’t think it would be worth it, but the high, the feeling of accomplishment, the journey, made it more than worth it.
Since that first half over a year ago I’ve run six races (including a 200-mile relay). And I’ve decided that if you can run 1 mile, you can run 13.1. Our bodies are capable of so much more than we think; it’s our own doubt that gets in the way. Just remember: mind over miles.