When I was 20 years old I ran my first half marathon. It was hard, it was amazing, it was utterly life changing, and I was hooked. Since then I’ve run a total of 6 half marathons, and after every single one I’ve said to myself – there is NO WAY I’ll ever train for a full marathon. It’s impossible.
Early in January I had the full intention to begin training once again for the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. I had been consistently running about 10-12 miles on the weekend (between Saturday and Sunday) and was in pretty good shape. I felt confident in training for speed this time around and had a goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon. One day I glanced at a training schedule with the OKC Landrunners that showed their marathon trainees completing an 8 mile run for their first of 16 weeks of training. And it hit me – I’m on the same playing field as any other person aiming to run a marathon right now. I can run just as much as them! I began to ask myself – can I do this? Is it possible? Could I at least TRY and see if I’m able to do the long runs? Once I asked myself those questions, I was consumed and knew there was no turning back. I messaged several people asking for advice, told myself one Thursday that I had to run 6 miles without stopping, and if I could do that, I’d officially train for a full marathon. And now here we are:
I’ve completed roughly 450 miles in 16 weeks, and only 26.2 stand in my way.
I entered a world of GU gels and much more thoughtful nutrition (mexican food and margaritas don’t sit well on extra long runs). Not to mention meal timing on training mornings. I had to wake up early enough to let a little bit larger meal settle. I also learned that caffeine, while great for weight lifting or crossfit workouts, completely tore up my stomach on long runs. So I weaned off. Well. Cut it out almost cold turkey. My post run treats became an iced coconut latte 🙂
Week one – 8 miles was slow. I knew I had to if I wanted to complete the mileage.
Week two – 10 VERY cold, VERY windy miles around Lake Hefner. But knowing this was the furthest I ever trained during half marathons, and completing it this early on made me feel absolutely bad ass. Sorry, there’s no other accurate way to explain how I felt!
The first time I did 14 miles in my training I kept thinking to myself – I’m running more than I ever have in my life! When I hit mile 12 that day I simply told myself, Steph, it’s 20 more minutes. That’s all you have left, don’t quit. And this became my mantra the rest of my weeks of training.
At the halfway point we had a 25K race with the Landrunners, and my race was AWFUL. I came down the homestretch swearing at Rob that I wasn’t effing running the effing marathon. No joke, y’all. It was bad. But after a few days recovering, I knew I couldn’t quit.
The week before my first scheduled 20 mile run I was a nervous wreck. This would be a turning point for me. If I couldn’t complete this run, I wouldn’t sign up for the full but drop back to the half. This run surprised me in all the best ways possible. I kept my pace slow, I hydrated frequently, walked at times, and even though the last 2 miles or so definitely stretched me, I finished feeling like I could conquer the world! I couldn’t believe I’d actually just run 20 miles. Something that seemed outright impossible and only the most elite athletes could conquer, I had just conquered it.
There have been serious ups and downs with the training. My third 20 miler was outright miserable. Any runner who has experienced GI issues knows the suffering. I learned some hard lessons with that run. I’ve even had some short runs, 4-5 milers that I did NOT want to do and I slugged my way through them. We all have bad days, and time and experience have thankfully shown me that it’s normal, and no need to feel like I’m a failure.
I’m nervous for Sunday. So incredibly nervous. I keep hearing it’s the last 6 miles that truly define a person. And the OKC race is NOTORIOUSLY hard those last 6 miles if the wind is from the south. What do ya know, they are expecting a south wind of 20-35 mph. Go figure. At least I’ve trained for it, but I’m not excited!
I’ll see you all on the other side, hopefully sporting a “finisher” shirt and medal. Below are some of my instagram snaps during my weeks of training ❤