Thursday, May 30, 2019

My learnings from my recent half marathon

I did it, I ran another half marathon this past weekend at the Oak Bay Half Marathon. I mentioned in my previous post that this was a bit of a big deal because, while I have run many half marathons before, this was my first one in about 3 years, since before I was pregnant with my daughter. This was a comeback to the distance, so to speak.

It was also special because of who I was running with. My sister in law, who was running her very first half marathon of her life, was my training partner. This race was very much also about celebrating her success. And then two of my girlfriends from Vancouver whom I met through running decided to come for the weekend to visit and run with me, so that made it all the more special too!

Me with my girls Karen, Sigrid, and Michele (left to right)

How do I feel about the race? It was fun to be with my girls, a beautiful course, and I did it. My friend Karen never left my side and it was so lovely to spend so much time with her. She kept my smiling with every soul-crushing km that I struggled through. It was amazing to be there for Michele and her big accomplishment of her first half. I am feeling ever so loved and appreciated to have had friends visit from Vancouver to be with me for the weekend. It was a weekend of awesome. But the race itself, well, I foreshadowed the outcome by calling it "soul-crushing".... Yes, I cramped (again),  I was slow, and I felt defeated, deflated, and I did not have a good experience at all, from a running perspective. It was awesome from a social perspective and I suppose I still got a good workout out of the deal.

I really don't feel like rehashing the event, talking about what causes or doesn't cause my cramping (because believe me, I have tried everything) or talk about finish times etc. I'm proud of myself for doing the event, for taking on the challenge, and for not giving up when it got tough. I am proud of myself for not letting my current weight or body image challenges get in the way of me trying. I am proud of myself for recognizing how badass I truly am, and even though I'm not as fit as I was pre-baby, I'm still way better off than the Zahida we all knew even 12 years ago.

I did not give up - I finished the damn thing, even though there were very few people behind me still when I crossed the finish line. But then again, when have I ever given up? There's a reason why I keep returning to the half marathon distance, even though it so rarely goes well for me. But it's finally time to hang up the towel. I'm ready.

No, don't be silly. I don't mean I am giving up on running all together. It continues to be my favourite sport and likely always will be. It feels good, it's fun, it's full of community. I left this race feeling like the feel-good aspect of running has not been part of the equation for some time now when I run half marathons. So why do I keep putting myself through it? I am going to walk away from trying this distance.

Instead I am going to focus on running distances that feel good and that empower me - distances that are achievable for me without having to do grueling long distance training runs, and that are enjoyable to complete. I will not run longer races than 10km, at least not in the near future. This way I can focus on enjoying my race experiences, be out of the danger zone for cramping, focus on improving my physical health, and possibly, get faster at running too since I love doing speedwork ad now I have incentive. It's so much more fun when you take the pressure off of having to achieve something specific on the workout. It's more about just doing it, not selling yourself short while doing it, no. I will ensure I'm still challenged and improving myself, but I am not adding pressure on myself to be an overachiever.

So what's next? Since the race I've done a a couple stroller runs with my daughter. This weekend we are lacing up for The Goddess Run 10K this coming weekend. I'll be running with my daughter in her stroller, and some girlfriends will be there too. Should be fun and all about girl power! It's also right in my new local community, so will be a great one to experience.

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