How Pedestrians Beat Me in a Half Marathon

10991731_10205936967932898_1595818744852019128_o I reach mile 8, then my body begins to shut down. I have to stop. I can’t get myself to jog. All I can at this point is walk. It’s not even at a brisk pace. It’s a pace where pedestrians (who were not in the race) were passing me.

I have completed 3 half marathons in the past 5 months. All with the same result. The last two races gave me a bad taste in my mouth. The 3rd (and final race) was the last straw. Apparently this was supposed to be fun, a great way to be active and get healthy. I didn’t exactly see it that way.

So what exactly happened at the last race?

  • Starting line to Mile 3: I start at a decent pace (14-15 min/mile). No problems at all. Excited and ready to go.
  • Mile 3 to Mile 6: Heart rate up. Getting a good sweat. I am still maintaining a 14-15 min/mile pace.
  • Mile 6 to Mile 8: Muscles aching. Feet swelling up. I need to stop. My pace goes to 18-20 min/mile
  • Mile 8 to Finish line: The walk of shame. Everyone  is passing me. Pedestrians are walking faster than me. I want to go home. I question why I am doing this. Cheering and supporting annoys me. I avoid the cameras. Over 4 hours later, I walk across the finish line. I take my medal and put it in my pocket. I am shuffling to get to the shuttle to take me to my car.

What do I know? How did I let this happen?

  • Being overweight: I ran for 2+ hours with a weight of 240+lbs. Not bad, but I can lighten the load
  • Not enough training: I only used my stationary bike 3-4 times a week. This definitely did not train me for the constant impact runner has to offer.
  • My shoes: I ran in cross trainers.
  • Nutrition: I ate to lose weight, not to prepare myself for a marathon.
  • Hydration: Drank lots of water, not enough electrolytes.
  • Mindset: I already had a negative attitude coming from the Walt Disney Half Marathon a month prior.
  • Strategy: I didn’t have one. Run till I was tired and then try to run again.

So what am I going to do now?

  • Rest: I need my body to rest, but most importantly I need my mind and spirit to rest. My body reacts negatively to stress (weight gain and anxiety)
  • Reevaluate: When I was signed up for races, I thought this was a sure way to force me to prepare and get in shape. I got in shape to a certain extent, but not enough to get where I needed to be. Also putting a time frame to be a certain fitness level stressed me out, especially when I was not able to prepare on certain weeks due to life. I thought this was going to be fun, but in the end it was an embarrassing and disappointing time. So what can I do for fun? This is what I’ll need to figure out.

If you have any suggestions for me I’m open to hear then. Please leave your comments below.

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5 thoughts on “How Pedestrians Beat Me in a Half Marathon

  1. As someone who is just getting into running, I appreciate the honesty you share. I am signed up for quite a few 5k’s this year, but I have very realistic goals in mind, as in to finish each one with an 18-20 mph pace. I plan on walking almost all of them but train harder in the gym. I have not run outside much and it’s a whopping 5 degrees out today, so I won’t have much time to practice outside until my 3rd or 4th race. I know I need to add some strength training to my routine, but it’s been hard enough to convince myself to get to the gym 3-4 days a week (i live close enough to my gym that the heat in my car barely kicks in by the time I get there) so I am more focused on my cardio. I know it is not the best way to lose weight, but it’s what I’m doing.

    I also have a strong buddy system in place. We all try to workout at the same time even if we aren’t doing the same thing. We also have a group text message going on where we take sweaty selfies and pictures of the equipment showing how far we’ve done that day.

    I think if you want to attempt this again in the future, you need to learn how to make it fun again. I would do smaller races, 5k’s or 7k’s that have a fun theme, bubble runs, or glow light runs. I would suggest joining a running club and do some group runs and get to know other runners in general. They have knowledge and experience that can help you. I would also look into a program such as Couch to 5K, I believe they have longer versions as well. I think you may have pushed yourself to do too many long races in too short of a time frame without letting your body fully recover before training for the next. I also highly recommend going to a specialty running shoe store and getting properly fitted. A quality store will measure your feet sitting and standing, watch you walk barefoot around the store and put you on a treadmill to watch your gait.

    As for feeling stressed, embarassed or disappointed, you have accomplished something 3 times that most people including myself never thought of doing. You pushed your body and your mind and you kicked ass! Don’t let anyone, especially yourself, take that away from you.

  2. Tiffaspilla says:

    awesome that you have set goals for yourself! you can achieve anything u put your mind too! good luck! 🙂 x

  3. Lee Williams says:

    Hey Bri,

    I’m sorry to hear your Half Marathon didn’t pan out as you would have liked. I did the Miami Half Marathon this year and last year using the same training regimen: Insanity. I completed both months of Insanity right before the marathon both years but ended up with different results (I did much better this year, probably because I was running alongside a friend who was also training for it – 2:25:20 this year as opposed to 2:41:01 last year).

    The thing about Insanity is that although it helps from a cardiovascular standpoint, it cannot substitute for the fact that the best training to do a marathon or half marathon where you are actually running is, RUNNING! Or in this case, jogging at a brisk pace. Insanity will help you for the first hour and a half or so of the race, but after that, it’s all about “course time”, or the amount of time you have spent on the course because that’s when pain and cramps may start to set in and then it becomes a mental game where your mind starts playing tricks on you and you start asking yourself “Why am I doing this?”. At that point, it’s just a matter of gutting it out and telling yourself “I only have 2 miles left” or “I’ve already gotten this far, let’s finish this!” I run with music and have a preset playlist, so when a song comes on that I like, it gets me up a little bit as well.

    There are training schedules you can find online where you do or work up to two 3-4 mile runs during the week with steadily increasing long runs on Saturdays. Then as the race day approaches, slowly scaling back the Saturday long runs. Any of the Beachbody home workouts cannot substitute for the pounding on the pavement you have to endure and have to build up to endure if you are training for a half or full marathon.

    I sipped Gatorade, which I brought with me, throughout both races to keep my electrolyte levels up. I also invested in a good pair of running shoes, which I purchased at Solerunners. They take footage of you running on a treadmill to measure your gait and determine if you over or under-pronate. Then they find a pair of running shoes that correct the problem.

    There’s also other running attributes such as cadence (steps per minute) that can impact you during a race or even during training because I’ve read it’s better to take short quick steps rather than long heavy strides or running like you’re stomping cockroaches. Otherwise that will accelerate the pounding your legs are taking and wear you out sooner. Think Insanity Butt Kicks, or if you were jumping rope where the balls of your feet make contact more so than your heels.

    Lastly, I started running with a group of people at Solerunners on Wednesday nights, which is much different than training on your own as that can get boring and you end up being not as motivated. It’s like doing a mini-5k and there is no pressure as to finishing first or beating other people in a race as the objective is to simply improve yourself and your fitness. You can also pick the brains of the more advanced runners for useful tips on how to improve your time or your running style so your body gets acclimated.

    I hope what I have shared with my experience with running so far helps somewhat as I am pretty new to this as well and think it’s all about the approach you take not only with when it comes to running, but life in general. It’s OK to take a break every once in a while too so your body can recover. Trust me, I was in a world of pain after the last Half Marathon and have not done much since then (hit the gym a couple of times, squeezed in a couple of runs). But it’s been about a month now and I feel like it’s time to jump back on the wagon with the Corporate Run coming up in a couple of months.

    Take care and good luck on your future runs!

    • briancui says:

      Lee thanks for the wealth of info! I was for sure not ready to run 13.1. I’ve spoken to a few runners who gave me the sane advice. But I think I want to scale back to 10k’s for the time being till I get my body and mind right.

  4. This one hit home, especially the part about the well-meaning cheering getting to you when you’re having a bad run 🙂 Glad you’re sticking with it. I think that’s the important thing. Every time I go out there, I remind myself that I’ve finished ahead of the thousands of people who stayed home on the couch. It doesn’t feel so bad to get passed that way (and I do get passed!)

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