Monday, February 17, 2014

Half Marathon Full of Mistakes

Everyone get a medal
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Over the weekend I completed my first half marathon.  I ran in the Fly with Eagles Half Marathon put together by the River to River Runners.  The 13.1 miles took runners through the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge with some beautiful scenery.  Despite some icy spots on the trail, it was a great course.

This is the first time I've run more than 10 miles.  When I finally crossed the finish line I was exhilarated, but I was also in a lot of pain.  Pain that I'm now learning I could have avoided had I been better prepared.  So I'm sharing the mistakes I made with you, just in case you ever feel the need to lace up and run any type of race.  By the way, I finished 27 out of 31 in my age group (40-44) with a time of 2:23:00.  My goal was to complete the race in 2:20:00, so I'm disappointed, but I did finish and never stopped running.

My shoes are now race retired
These Shoes Were (Not) Made for Running
My biggest mistake by far was not having a good pair of running shoes.  For more than a year now I've been running in a pair of Nike custom designed shoes my inlaws got me for Christmas several years ago.  I never really thought I was going to do more than just run 5Ks, so I never wanted to splurge on a pair of quality running shoes.  But in 2013, when I ran 500 miles my knees were in a lot of pain.  My wife told me then (and she's getting great pleasure in reading this) that I needed new shoes.  I continued to ignore her, because I'm an idiot, and kept running in these style over substance shoes.  Thanks to my parents, I now have a new pair of running shoes.

During the course of the half marathon, I could feel the pain coming on in my knees and thighs.  By mile seven I was hurting quite a bit and was cursing myself for not investing in some good shoes.  I slowed down significantly, but never stopped running.  My pace was 10:52 per mile.  My average on the last 5K I did was 8:09 per mile.  While I know my shoes were a reason for this, I also believe the bitter cold contributed.  It was 16 degrees when the race started.  I dressed in layers: a tshirt, long sleeve tshirt, and a hoodie.  I also wore gloves and a headband over my ears.  

Eat This, Not That
My eating habits the day before the race killed me too I think.  I did load up on carbs Friday night in the form of pizza.  There were probably better and healthier ways to accomplish that.  I also had several sodas the night before the race and didn't drink nearly as much water as I should have.  I admittedly skimped on the water the morning of the race because I didn't want to stop on the course to pee.  I did take advantage of almost all the water stations and had Gatorade at two of them.  One thing I did RIGHT on that morning was eating before the race.  I normally run on an empty stomach, but at the advice of a coworker who runs marathons, I had a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter.  

Crossing the finish line
Photo by Ashley Smith
Charge It Up
Lastly, I ran without a fully charged iPhone.  I always listen to podcasts while running, as I feel like it helps the time go by faster over listening to music.  I think I'm too busy calculating the time when I have songs playing.  I can get lost in the conversation of a podcast and not focus so much time.  However, podcasts can be quite draining on the battery and I was only 80% charged before the race, so my phone died at the 12 mile mark.  The last mile was quiet, which is not necessarily bad, but I do like to have the sound of something to keep me moving.

So those were the mistakes I made.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever want to do this again, but I really do want another go at it, if nothing else to take what I've learned this time around and hopefully have a better experience.  Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive on Facebook and Twitter.  Your words of encouragement go a long way.  Now to start gearing up for that next race.

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