I started training in May. I went from running 2 miles 5 days a week to running 7 miles on my first day of training. At the beginning it was about 16-20 miles of running a week. Then, each Monday I would increase my longest run by a little more. For the past 2 months, I've been going on 10+ mile runs. It was scary to look at my schedule each day and think about what the morning would bring. Mondays and Fridays were my long run days. I would wake up before 5:00 am, and run anywhere from 10 to 12 miles before the kids were awake. I have been running up to 28 miles a week lately. It felt so good afterwards. I really felt like I accomplished something (even if my feet and legs were sore and my energy was a little low that day).
My first half-Marathon was September 10, 2011. It was absolutely amazing! My parents flew into Iowa the day before and met us in Waterloo (a city about 2 hours from our home). They wanted to support me and spend a couple days with us right before they leave on their mission. My sister-in-law, Melanie, has been training since June to run the half with me. It was so nice to know I had someone else to talk to about a common goal. Our race was called the Park-to-Park Half-Marathon because it started at a state park in Waterloo and followed trails along the 13.1 mile course to other parks throughout the city. It was so beautiful and simply perfect. The weather was great, the trail was beautiful, and I gave it my all.
Back in late July, Dennis asked me how fast I was running my miles. I told him it was right at 11 min/mile. I felt like that was great and it was actually a little faster than my original goal for my race time. He looked at me and said, "I bet you could do it faster. You could do it in 10 minutes, easy." I was furious. How dare he? I am out there early in the morning killing myself, spending 2 hours some days! But, then I got to thinking... MAYBE I COULD. I started changing the way I ran. Instead of running just to finish the miles, I was going to run for a time. I set 10 minutes as my target mile. I made it. Evidently Dennis was right and maybe I wasn't so furious after all. Maybe I'm actually kind of grateful he provoked me to try harder that day.
So on race day, my goal was to run the half-Marathon in 2 hours, 10 minutes. That would be just under 10 minute miles given the extra .1 miles over 13. All through the race I felt great. My hamstrings had been tight for a couple weeks, but I didn't feel them. My right hip had been giving me fits for a couple months, but it felt great. I felt like I had energy and that I could do anything (most of the time anyway). Dennis and my parents were along the trail at different points. It was so fun to see them and have them cheering me on.
I ran my 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 38 seconds!
Now, I've got a new goal for my next half-Marathon. Maybe next year.