my first half marathon

I am not a runner. Or at least that’s what I always told myself. I can sprint all day on an ultimate field, but get me on a trail and 3 miles was always my max. I once ran 6 miles. That was a big day.

But something bit me this fall. Ultimate frisbee season was over, I had a few months of down time before skate skiing, and Tahoe’s snow was on a serious vacation (still is). So I started running. I downloaded the Runner’s World half marathon training guide, and began a 9-week process to turn me into a runner. I admit my half marathon goal may seem very small (especially when you compare it to all the people out there doing really big things—the Lolë president’s journey up Kilimanjaro, for one). But you’ve got to start somewhere and this was an attainable goal that I decided to do as much for the training as for the race itself.

Week one of training had me at 20 miles, and I worked my way up to 31 miles/week. I primarily ran trails, and they ranged from right outside my door up to Paige Meadows to horse trails in Woodside, California, to ridgeline paths in Reno above the Patagonia outlet. This was one of my favorite things about running—exploring new trails. Reno has some amazing spots… those hills always call to me and I finally explored some of that high dessert terrain. Here are a few of my favorite vistas (and most memorable ones—wet meadow crossings, ugh!) from my training:

The other thing that amazed me in the process is that I enjoy running. Sometimes I’d dread heading outside, especially with Tahoe’s icy roads and trails, cold rain and frigid air as obstacles, but as soon as my feet starting hitting the ground I’d feel this sense of relief. Running became my relaxation, a place that I could meditate and let my mind stop churning.

Things went great, except when I ran a faster-than-usual 5 miles on pavement in week 8 and some serious knee pain set in. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this long-distance running thing, but perhaps I’ll just train longer and slower next time. Knee pain and all, I finished the race though: the 2011 ZombieRunner Bay Trail Run. Mile 9 was the toughest for me. And next time I’ll avoid the Clif Shot, which did a number on my belly. But I’m happy to say that I finished in good form. My time was 2:10 so I ended up right in the middle of the pack: 24th in my age group of 47 women, and 106th out of 199 total runners. My pace was a 9:58-minute mile.

the official finish line photo

the spoils from my accomplishment: a tech t-shirt, sopping wet hair, and a medal!

Special thanks to the iMapMyRUN iPhone app, which helped me log all my miles, and to Lolë for outfitting me for the journey. Couldn’t have done it without your leggings!! I’ll be blogging about my favorite running gear on the Tahoe Mountain Sports blog soon. See photos of the Bay Trail half marathon course here.

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