My First Half Marathon Experience 

I still cannot believe I ran 13.1 miles just a few days ago.  Well… the top half of my body can’t believe it. The bottom half winces every time I move my legs! 

To be honest, I’m not even really sure why I signed up for the Urban Bourbon Half.  Some of my Fit4Mom friends had completed their first half a few months earlier at the Derby Mini.  I felt like I was in the best shape of my life thanks to two rounds of Fit4Mom Louisville’s Body Back program.  I was ready for a new challenge, saw an ad on Facebook for the UBHM and the next thing I knew, I was signed up! I started training the last week of June and ran over 145 miles throughout the weeks leading up to the race. (This was about 65 short of what I’d planned for due to some hip pain but more on that later.)

I researched training plans online and found one through Pinterest that went all the way up to 13 miles. I’m a planner and like to do my homework so it felt like the right one for me. Here is a link to the training plan I followed by Chrissy Carroll:

It basically instructs you to do two short runs and one long run per week.  I was amazed at how little increases in distance built my stamina from week to week. I followed the plan pretty religiously until about a month before the Urban Bourbon.  I started experiencing pain in my hip that progressively worsened.  Admittedly, I hadn’t been doing a great job of cross training up until that point and figured out later that I hadn’t been stretching appropriately. 

I sought advice from one of our good friends that is a DPT at Synergy Injury Care, Simon Hoehn, and totally revamped my stretching routine.  He analyzed my running posture and gave me some tips on how to alleviate the pain.  Lyla is one day younger than the Hoehns’ little one, Elliana. My whole family loves the Hoehns and we basically will make up any excuse to hang out with them but I swear the hip issues were real!! 😝 

Things seemed to begin improving until I got a little overzealous one morning a couple weeks before the race and I began really hurting again.  I think I pushed myself a little too hard that day; with race day quickly approaching, I was really feeling the pressure to knock out the long training runs.  So many of my mama buds were training as well and it was so hard to watch them keep right on trucking with their training while I had to rest.  At that point, Simon suggested I get my hip x-rayed. Bad bones run in my family but thankfully, the results were good! I should point out that my experience at Synergy Injury care was great.  Everyone there was super nice and I felt like I was treated like family. 

The week before the race I also tried out acupuncture for the first time.  I have several friends that attribute great success with different pain or infertility issues to acupuncture.  I saw Robert Gittli at Meridian Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine.  Acupuncture is something I never thought I’d try but I was grasping for anything at that point that might expedite the healing process.  Meridian is beautiful and has a super neat vibe.  After the acupuncture session, Robert gave me some practical tips for prepping for the race at home.  

I followed all of the advice I’d received religiously up until race day.  I was extremely nervous.  In the three weeks leading up to the race, I ran less than ten miles total.  The night before the race Aaron surprised me with flowers and a sweet good luck card.  His confidence in me never waivered and I remembered thinking that I couldn’t let him down! 

The next morning I had monster butterflies.  I road downtown with some of my friends. Terri Tinnell drove us down after she’d already been up leading Fit4Mom Lou’s run club before the crack of dawn.  She was cool as a cucumber and I was hoping her mindset would rub off on me on the drive down.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was pretty sure that I’d have to walk more than once during the 13.1 miles and I’d made peace with that. 

After the race started and I’d reached one mile, my Strava app told me I was running at a 9 min 30 sec pace which I knew was too fast for me to maintain without hurting.  At that point, I fell behind some of my friends and my heart sank a little.  I kept reminding myself that they’d trained more than me and I couldn’t reasonably expect to keep up their pace.  There was a dull ache in my hip and a side stitch creeping up around mile 4. I prayed that God would get me through and the song Priceless by King and Country suddenly came through my headphones.  It was a sign from above and literally every time I talked to God during the race, a Christian song came on next.  I stayed focused on myself and before I knew it, I’d made it to Cherokee Park (around mile 6).  I really hit my stride at this point and all I could think about was how thankful I was that the majority of my training had been in my hilly neighborhood.  I was more than prepared for that section of the course and that gave me a major confidence boost that propelled me the rest of the way to the finish line. 

Not too long after I exited the park, I got to see Aaron and Lyla cheering me on with the cute little poster they made. It was really exciting to see them after seeing so many family and friends of other runners with their signs and words of encouragement.

 I hadn’t walked up to that point and knew it was downhill from there. I had already performed so much better than I’d imagined. I knew that if I had made it that far, I had to keep going. Around mile 11, I’d made it back downtown and happened to catch my reflection in the window of a building as I ran by. Out of nowhere, I started tearing up because I couldn’t believe that I had almost pulled it off.  I knew that I was in really great shape other than my hip issues but my confidence was just not there leading up to race day. It all hit me at once.  I swear the last mile was the longest but it was so worth it when I got to see Lyla and Aaron again at the finish line. I couldn’t believe it was over. It took me two hours and 13 minutes to finish the race which was even faster than I had planned to shoot for back when I originally started training for the race. So many people told me that the adrenaline and excitement on race day would make the experience easier.  I didn’t believe them until I experienced it for myself. 

At the beginning of this year I’m not even sure that I could’ve run one mile without stopping for a break. It’s amazing how much we are capable of with some practice and faith in ourselves. I didn’t have much of either towards the end of my training but thanks to a lot of encouragement from my friends, family, and most of all my husband… it all came together in the end. 

Congrats to these strong mamas that crushed the race and supported each other for months leading up to this day.  You guys are amazing and inspiring and I’m lucky to know you! 😘

My First Half Marathon Experience 

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