What I Think I Learned From My First Half Marathon – Part 3 of 3

Here is the final part of my reflection on training, racing, and post race from my first half marathon, The New Jersey Half Marathon in Long Branch. I’ve really enjoyed some of the feedback I’ve received and hopefully this can inspire or help someone at some point with their running. I am more than happy to answer any questions you have. As I always say, if I don’t have the answer I know a lot of great runners who I can reach out to that will gladly help. Over the summer, I will continue to work on my half marathon training and run in some local races of different shorter distances. I’m hopeful that I will continue to improve and get ready for two half marathons this fall. I’m signed up to run the Halloween Half Marathon in Morristown on Saturday, October 21st and I’m planning on signing up for the Newport Liberty Half Marathon on Sunday, September 17th. Let me know if you want to join me at either race.

Post Race – What I Did Well

  • First and foremost, I was able to spot my family right away as I crossed the finish line. I was able to celebrate and share this great accomplishment with them. As a runner, you put in a lot of time training for these long distance events. I was fully aware throughout my training how my wife and kids are part of that process too. I felt so much of this victory was theirs as much as it was mine. Many say running is an individual sport but to that individual with a family, it’s a team sport.
  • I successfully made sure I grabbed my medal and then immediately found water. I knew I had to get fluids in me. I grabbed two and stood right there and chugged the first bottle. I started on the second one while catching my breath. I made sure I grabbed a banana and a mylar blanket. I never have used a mylar blanket and was shocked at how well it worked. It kept me nice and warm, just what I needed since I was so drenched in sweat. As I walked to the exit, I saw Gatorade and quickly snatched one of them up, as well as a snack box, and a towel. The race did a great job with what was available immediately after the finish line for the runners. Don’t I look like I was hit by a truck in that post race photo? Remind me to smile next time.
  • Due to horrible communication from the race team regarding parking, my wife and kids ended up having to park a couple miles away from the finish. A nice police officer allowed them to park in a restaurants parking lot. We had purchased the finish line parking and on it, it said you take certain directions to get to the lot. Well unless you did this prior to 7:30, you couldn’t get there. It would have been nice to know that. OK, how does this tie in to what went well, it forced me to walk a couple of miles after the race. I think it helped my legs recover and not tighten up so much. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have done it, if it wasn’t for parking so far away.
  • I checked a bag with a full set of new clothes to change into and I’m super glad I did. I was drenched and to put on a dry shirt, pants, and underwear was refreshing. I also was able to slip on my oofos, which felt great on my feet.
  • Something that wasn’t planned but I did well was help an older runner that was walking to the shuttle. He stepped up on to the curb and both his legs started cramping. He fell to the ground, yelling in pain. No one in his family knew what to do. Thankfully, I’ve been around enough athletes and trainers to see what needs to be done when a person is cramping like that. I took his one leg and started stretching it out while showing a family member how to do the other. He seemed very dehydrated and honestly, was probably in need of an IV due to his age. A police officer made his way over and at that point I was relieved and left. Hopefully, he was ok.
  • It was nice to go back to the hotel and take a shower before driving home.
  • I wore my medal all day long, including the drive up the Garden State Parkway. It’s my thing. I wear any medal I receive all day. I’m proud.
  • I made sure to enjoy a couple of beers and a nice dinner. Something about a nice cold beer after completing a goal.
  • I made sure I thanked everyone that sent me congratulations on finishing the half marathon.
  • I bought the photos of me from this race. Normally, I’d be like nah but since this was my first half marathon, I wanted to buy them, especially so I had the photos from the finish. This half marathon will always hold a special place.
  • I ended up taking two days off from running to allow my body time to rest. I went for a recovery run Wednesday to help loosen up my muscles. It was weird to take two days off but I think it was best for my body at that point. I kept telling myself it was the smart thing to do and honestly, it was earned.

Post Race – Where I Can Improve

  • I did well hydrating post race but I really didn’t eat much. I had about half a banana. I just didn’t feel well to eat anything else, so I didn’t. I think I should in the future.
  • I didn’t stretch after the race. Actually, I didn’t stretch until Wednesday. That can’t happen again. I was sore on Monday but not that bad. I still know I need to stretch after a long race distance like that.
  • Have a better plan for after a half marathon. Honestly, I never thought about what I was going to do running wise after completing my first half marathon. During training, I looked at my schedule and knew what I was running weeks ahead. I had a few training races to look forward to. Goals set. All of the sudden, I woke up on Monday morning and after months of scheduled running, I had nothing. I felt a bit lost. I knew I needed the rest, but kept thinking to myself, this is so weird. What’s next. It’s all over. I did it, now what. I kind of wish I had set a plan up, even for the following couple weeks or month after the race. Have something to look forward to and keep me honest with training. Thankfully, I started right where I left off with running, but I could see this being an issue if I let myself push off running, you know, for tomorrow.
  • For the first day or two after the half marathon, I was a little hard on myself when people would ask how it went. I’d tell them my time and people would give me a great response, but I found myself saying things like eh I should’ve done better. It took a fellow running friend to tell me to not be so hard on myself. It was one of those moments that hits you right in the face. I thought to myself, she is totally right. What you did isn’t easy. You put a lot of work into it and be proud, damn proud of what you accomplished. I know I can be hard on myself with goals. It’s just how I’ve always gone after success. I expect the best out of myself. The funny thing is, I am always the guy or teammate encouraging others with positive talks. I try to be motivating. I realized I need to do that to myself. No matter what, I want to make sure this stays fun. I’m still going to have goals, celebrate them when I beat them, but when I don’t be happy with what I’ve done and start working towards the next.
  • I probably should of had another beer or two to celebrate :o)

What do you do the week following a half marathon?
What races are you signed up for?

I hope you enjoyed reading this three part post. I’d love to hear your feedback. Please share it with me.

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