3 Things Learned from a Half Marathon

(Also posted here on Medium)

I recently ran in my first half marathon.

Guess what happened,

I learned three new things.

The Journey:

In June of 2022, I just heard that my wife’s cousin, Scotty J had started a company and was going to be hosting a half marathon and 5k run in Long Beach.

Even better. It was going to start and end next to my wife’s parents’ home at Marine Stadium.

Scot is a bro, so, of course, I have to support him.

I decided to do a half marathon.

Why? — I’ve wanted to do more organized racing, and this was the perfect opportunity to try something challenging and to train for it.

Here is my approach:

A half marathon is 13.1 miles. So I googled “what is a good time for a half marathon” and found that a decent time is around 2 hours.

So I knew I had to be able to run non-stop for around 2 hours.

When I was training for Kilimanjaro, an instructor from REI mentioned that a way of training that worked for him was to set a time goal instead of a distance goal. (For example, walk for 3 hours non-stop)

I had found that tactic helpful then and employed it again.

I started by setting a goal to run 45 minutes non-stop, without worrying about speed too much while keeping above a jog.

I completed this on a treadmill at L.A. fitness — I ran about 5 miles in 45 minutes.

The next day my feet felt like ancient ruins on the brink of collapse. I hobbled around like learning to walk again. I realized this would be tough, and willpower won’t be enough. I needed to support my body.

  • Nutrition — I started making sure I ate at least one bowl of super oatmeal* a day
  • Yoga / Stretching — 20-minute foot/leg practice every other day (Fun to do around the kids who will use you like a jungle gym)
  • Running shoes — Ordered a new pair of New Balance 990vs
  • Experts recommend getting fitted at a running store, but these seemed to work for me.
  • Running clothes
  • New socks
  • Compression capris
  • Workout / Weight Loss
  • Less weight and easier on muscle and joints

I then keep running 2–3 miles every few days and once a week 6 miles, then 7 miles, then 8 miles on Sunday one week before the race.

So now, in preparation — no more leg workouts, drink lots of water, and make sure I have a plan for race day.

Race day comes — We are up early and drive over to Long Beach and the event.

I completed the race in about 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Three things I learned:

  1. Testing out equipment and how you plan to use it — Running without music
  • I decided to run with just my apple watch and headphones — using the watch’s download feature to play music and keep my pace — I had tested this feature in previous runs but never with my phone out of range.
  • Guess what happened. — I could not get the music to play and fumbled with restarting my watch and headphones for the first 2 miles until I gave up. I ran the race without music which was fine, but not how I trained.

2. Learning from the experience — Don’t dump water in your socks

  • During training, I drank water from water bottles — during the race, they provided water in cups — Toward the end of the race, I dumped some water on my head to help cool me off (like you see in the movies)
  • Guess what happened — A large portion of the water went straight down my body soaking my shorts and, even worse, my socks — I ran the last 4 miles making squishy noises with each step

3. Testing my limits — I’ve got 20% more, not 50%

  • As mentioned, a half marathon is 13.1 miles, and I had trained to 8 miles — thinking that I could tough out the last 5 miles at the same pace
  • Guess what happened — I toughed out at the same speed until mile 10, then ran into a wall. My pace went from 8:30 min/mile to 13 min/mile for the last 3 miles.

What a fantastic and challenging experience. I finished the race, had a good time, and did not get hurt. And even more importantly I learned.

I did have a goal of completing in under 2 hours, so I plan to take my learnings and crush another half marathon soon.

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