I am officially a half marathon runner! That’s right everyone. I, Mallory Knowles-Carter (surprise!), completed my very first half marathon! This past Sunday I ran the Dallas Rock n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon, which started in downtown Dallas (if you’re familiar it was by the public library where all of the menacing bull statues are) to Fair Park (the football stadium forever stuck in 1976). It was definitely one of the most mentally and physically demanding experiences of my life. In fact, so much so, I really don’t have anything to compare it to. Before this, the hardest physical challenge of my life was probably relay races from elementary school field day. See here:
I’m the exasperated seven year old in dead last. If you had told this child, “Hey, when you grow up you’re going to fall in love with running and eventually run a half marathon!” I probably would have responded with “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.” Either way, I’m still kind of mind blown that I have come this far with running. I didn’t really start getting into it until the tail end of my senior year of college two years ago. I signed up for a fun color run 5k in September, and spent the summer (summer graduate, y’all. Half victory lap) mornings at the university rec center running laps. I had tried getting into the Couch 2 5k plan, but working on distance progress wasn’t really working for me. I soon learned that I preferred to challenge myself with “Okay, run for a full five minutes, then stop” and build it in five minute increments from there. By the time I graduated that summer I could run a full 5k, and aside from getting my degree, it was one of the proudest moments of my life, which I realize may sound a little lame, but as someone who had once absolutely abhorred running, and couldn’t run a full mile if their life to depended on it, it was a pretty big deal for me. Afterwards I was doing about 1-2 5k races a month with dad. It wasn’t until around November of last year that I began to toy with idea of pushing myself a little bit more. By that time I was knocking out 6-7 mile runs pretty easily and enjoying it. My family and boyfriend would often try to nudge me towards the direction of signing up for a half marathon, but I was thoroughly convinced I couldn’t run that kind of distance, and didn’t think much of it. Strangely enough, that December, while browsing upcoming races at work (if not doing this I’m probably on reddit. I get a lot done at work), I came across a posting for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, and to be truly honest, I probably gave about five minutes of serious thought to it before I could see no reason why not this wasn’t something I could train for and ultimately achieve. That night my boyfriend and I went to iHop (a local five star steak house if you aren’t familiar) and threw out the idea of running a half and he was instantly on board. Once we returned home, I pulled up the registration website, willingly gave them $85, picked my t-shirt size (unisex always. women’s fit is my nightmare), and was officially registered for my first half.
The following three months were filled with diet changes (Nothing out of control, just trying to figure out what worked best for my workout routine), running, running, cross training with yoga, more running, and turning my boyfriend down on several occasions so I could either get enough sleep for a run in the morning. More times than I’d care to admit, I often felt like giving up or resigning to the thought of “Well, I could I just run the last half of it.” Snow and icy weather would keep me from long runs on Sundays, my former work schedule kept me from getting enough sleep, obsessively comparing myself to other runners who were faster than myself, would bog me down and discourage me to the point of wanting to throw in the towel. It wasn’t until around two weeks ago when I figured out that no matter what, I’m sure the people that mattered would be proud no matter what, and as long as I went out there and tried, then that was all that mattered. The quote section from Pinterest also helped. As did the music of Beyoncé.
So Sunday morning, I put on my Mizunos (Or my “Wendy’s” as I like to call them), ate a light breakfast, and headed out to run an unnatural amount of miles.
It was pretty chilly, so as I anxiously awaited the start in my corral, I attempted to warm up my hands and probably concern several people thinking I was in the middle of intense prayer. Once my corral was up at the start time, I was more than ready to start the run just for the sake of warming off, and before I knew it, the countdown was over and I was off and running.
To be honest, I spent the first 8 miles feeling great. I was going at a comfortable stride, I was enjoying the views, high fiving strangers, and loving the run. By the time I hit mile 10…by mile 10 I was straight up done. I was hoping by the time I hit mile 10 I would have the mentality of “Okay, just a 5k left! You can do this!” Sadly, that positivity never revealed itself. I don’t have any pictures of myself at this point, but I imagine I looked something like this:
Times were tough, and I was struggling. Amazingly enough, I could still muster up enough strength to keep running (slowly, but surely). By mile 12 I was near tears and more than ready to call it quits. Once I neared the finish line, and my iPod made the genius move to start playing Kenny Loggin’s “Footloose”, I finally decided to floor it. I pushed myself as hard as I could and made my way to the finish line. I soon slowed to a walk, and by walk, I mean newborn giraffe swagger, and desperately searched for my parents and boyfriend.
I spotted Jake and with a slew of hand motions and out of breath incoherent mumbles, I directed him to the nearby fountains so we could meet up. Equipped with a gatorade, power bar, and whatever else they handed me at the finish line, I sat down and immediately began to suppress the urge to cry. No, not because I was immensely proud of myself, happy with finishing, or feeling extraordinarily triumphant. No, it was because my legs felt like they were both simultaneously on fire, and completely frozen. I wasn’t ready for that level of discomfort, and man oh man what a treasure it was. Thankfully, I soon located my #1 Fan Club (est 1990) and made the trek to the car. From there, I went home, cleaned up, and proceeded to eat my body weight in fried seafood at Pappadeaux’s. Start strong, end strong.
All in all, it was a great experience. So much so that I’ve registered for my second half marathon this September! While some of the above statements may seem like I was truly miserable, everything post half marathon has been great. I accomplished something I never thought I could do. I’m utilizing bragging rights like it’s job, and it’s made me love running even more.