Three posts in as many days, I hope I'm not exceeding my blogging quota here! I am just way too excited to not blog about my morning. You see, it's barely after lunch and I've already done so many things today that were firsts for me!! It all began when I willingly woke up at 5:40am (aka the butt crack of dawn) on a Saturday. Those who know me know that this does not happen and for this reason alone I should probably have my head examined. However it was for a good cause, as today I began my formal half-marathon training program!
The program itself actually began while I was out of town but I jumped right in at week 3 and made myself at home. The running group uses the Galloway method of training and there are a LOT of people involved. I'm talking hundreds of people, here. The benefit to that is a) it must be pretty good if all of these people are a part of it, and b) they are able to break the group down in to tons of pace groups so you are running or walking with people your own speed. This right here was quite possibly my favorite part because my past attempts at running or walking with people always made me feel bad because our paces never matched up.
When I arrived at our location, I approached one of the group leaders who asked me what my race times were like. Since I only had my 5K to draw from, and because today's route was a hilly one, she said to be conservative with which group I chose and I ended up in the 12:00/mile group. Having never run with a group before I had no idea what to expect and I was super nervous that I wouldn't be able to keep up. Around 7am we were given permission to start running and the fastest groups took off first with about 30-60 seconds in between waves.
Once it was our turn, off we went. At first my legs were so confused, after only having run once in the last few weeks. I would say it took a good half mile (and a giant hill) for me to find my legs but once I did, I felt amazing. We had a decent-sized pace group, probably around 20 people and I enjoyed talking to most of those I encountered. Everyone was so encouraging and genuinely excited when they discovered this was my first time running with the group! As headphones are prohibited on our training runs, it was yet another first for me to actually enjoy a conversation with people while running. I was quite proud of myself that I even had the breath to do so! For the record, I wore only my heart rate monitor and I left my phone in the car. It was so liberating to run virtually "naked"!
The first couple of miles of our run were on residential streets but eventually we got to the greenway which was far more pleasant to look at. Just before the halfway point we had to run through a tunnel and as we were entering, another (faster) pace group had already turned around and was running toward us from the other end of the tunnel. With my sunglasses on it was virtually pitch black in that tunnel but as the two groups passed each other we all whooped and hollered and gave each other high fives. It was one of my favorite running moments yet! Just before the turn around we got to run over a bridge that crosses the highway. That was yet another cool moment, to see cars driving past beneath us (not to mention the wonderful breeze up on the bridge).
As we began to head back to our start point, some of the seasoned members mentioned that our 5-mile run was measured in "RW miles" (RW is the group/race director). Apparently he's not so accurate with the mileage and his distances are always further than anticipated. It was then I found out that we had just run about 3 miles and had another 3 to go. I didn't even feel tired, I was just so proud and excited about having the ability and opportunity to do what I was doing.
By the time we made it back to our start location, we had run 6.3 miles in just under an hour and a half. That is twice as far as the 5K I did a couple of months ago!! When I looked at my watch and realized what I had done, I was in disbelief. This was the farthest distance AND the longest length of time I have ever run in my life!!! I am truly so proud. Not only that, but I realized 6.3 is almost half... of a half! If I can run 6.3 miles on June 2nd, I can most definitely run 13.1 miles by November 4th. And, I was able to keep up with my pace group! In fact I'm pretty sure after some more consistent training on my part, I will be able to move up to a quicker group soon enough.
After the run we headed in to Capital RunWalk who kindly provided bagels, juice and an interesting presentation about running gear (you know me, accessory junkie). I had seen their new tech tees on twitter and my eyes lit up when I found a purple one in my size. I also purchased a GymBoss, which is an interval timer you can clip to your sports bra or belt. Since the Galloway program utilizes a run/walk method, I decided the timer would be beneficial to my at-home training (and way smaller/lighter than carrying around my iPhone). I am still beaming from the excitement of this morning. Who knows, maybe I'll become a morning person after all! Ha!!!
Have you ever participated in a running group or race training program?
What was your experience like?!