My First Half-Marathon {The Background Post}

Uhm, so yes … it’s only been almost TWO months since I ran my first half-marathon and I have yet to blog about it. With a whopping FIVE blog posts in June, you can see my priorities were elsewhere.

I haven’t however stopped thinking about it {it really was amazing} and really, really, really want to share it with you guys. So I’m making it a priority and getting it blogged.

I’ve seen so many people jumping on C25K/New Runner programs recently {whoo-hoo!!} that I thought it would be fun to do a background post to tell you how I arrived at running my first half-marathon and hopefully encourage at least one of you!

{First 5K race with my great friend, Bethany.}

How I started running::
Spring 2007 / A friend and I decided to try the “Couch-to-5K” program {C25K}. I have NO IDEA where I spotted the program {uhm, those were the days before Pinterest} but something about it made me think I could do it.

I guess there’s always been a part of me that has wanted to be able to run, but thought I couldn’t do it. Seriously, I thought I had exercised induced asthma because I would be GASPING for air when I tried to run .5 – 1 mile. No folks, that is called … my lungs had not been conditioned to work that hard on a whim of mine.

So, said friend and I picked a race that would be close to the time we finished the 9 week program and it happened to be her 30th birthday! What a celebration that was! We crossed the finish line together with a time of 31:50 {10:17min/mile}. I was hooked … mostly.

{First 10K race with my Little and with my friend, Sandy.}

5K’s & 10K’s::
What followed the next 4 years was handfuls of 5K races which eventually led to 10K races. I used {or slightly modified} Hal Higdon’s “10K Training: Novice” for all of my 10K races. I loved the challenge of a 10K race without months and months of training. I could easily take off those pesky winter months {for years I called myself a fair-weather runner} and still have plenty of time in the spring/summer/fall to train for a few good races. I ran my first 10K May 2010 {almost 3 years after my first 5K} with a time of 62:33 {10:05min/mile}.

About 2 years ago I started thinking I wanted to train for a half-marathon. The first time I tried, I really don’t think I was mentally ready and I allowed a small injury {related to increased mileage} to derail my training. This year, for whatever reason, I was determined to train and finish a half-marathon and I wanted to do it while I was still 35.

Half-Marathon training::
I again, went with one of Hal Higdon’s training programs, “Half Marathon Training: Novice.” I already knew what race I wanted to run as I’d run the 10K portion the last two years and had heard great things about the half-marathon course. I planned out my training on the calendar and waited {of course} until the last possible week to get my training done. That left me NO wiggle room. Not the best idea, but it worked and maybe kept me from making excuses or putting off workouts had I had more time.

About 3-4 weeks into my training I started to have some pain in my achilles tendon. I really had to fight past the discouragement and get to a point of determination. I read tips online, stretched, modified my running plan for a week or two and added in more cross-training {primarily fast walking} to not loose my endurance I was building. It worked! I was injury free the rest of my training!

Another potential set back was an eight day vacation half way through my training. I ended up not getting in my long run, but made up for it with a few shorter runs {which was really fun, running in new places}, a long hike and a lot of walking.

Why all three of these training plans worked for me::
A lot of running plans get to busy with speed training/Fartlek mumbo-jumbo and cross-training. Now, I know these serve their purpose and I’m actually at a point in my running that I’m *starting* to look into them, BUT for a beginner runner/racer, I just wanted the basics. When to run, how far to run with {for the most part} at least one day off in between runs. I’ve found for my body this works best … others can run days and days, but that is when injuries start showing up. I’d rather go every other day and be able to run happy. In fact, with the 10K training, I rarely did the cross-training. With the Half, I did my best, but the runs were my biggest priority, not the cross-training. Speed was definitely second to distance. Speed comes naturally the more you run and the more you build your weekly mileage. Try not to focus on speed in the beginning.

** Also, for all of my “FIRST” races, I picked convinced a friend to run with me. I don’t so much like to train with a friend, although that is fun now and then, but I love starting, finishing and celebrating with someone along the journey. It keeps you accountable AND motivated!! **

Picking a race::
So, like I said, I picked a race I was familiar with and had heard great things about for my first half-marathon. Then, I found out I had a great opportunity to attend the spring Quilt Market which was being held near-ish by in Portland, Oregon … the same weekend as my potential first half-marathon. Oh the fretting … until I had the bright idea to see if Portland had a race that weekend. Well glory be, they were having their 2nd Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon on that Sunday!! Now feeling even more apprehension and pressure {destination racing … alone?!?} I quickly convinced one of my quilt market roomies to run with me.

I really lucked out on this race. It was … as you’ll read about next … a perfect first half-marathon for me.

Why I’m glad I picked a ‘destination’ race::
While it did add some pressure, picking an out of town race, it also added some major accountability. The cost alone was enough to make me finish, even if I had to walk or crawl across the finish line. However, more than that was added excitement and the unknown course {which I love} which helped fuel and sustain me mentally when I was starting to fade physically.

Next time: Running my first Half-Marathon 

Leave me a comment if you want me to answer any other questions. I could of course talk your ear off about running, but I know not all of my readers are interested, so I’m giving you the ‘kind-of’ condensed version.


  1. As a quilter and a runner I’m loving your running posts! What did you do for the strength training recommended in the Hal Higdon program?

  2. Fun! I had been hoping you’d post more about this :) I’m glad I got to run with you for your our first 10k’s! Good times 😀 Any races in your future?

  3. I remember when you & Bethany ran 5K! Can’t believe it was almost 6 years ago! I know I’ve already heard the half-marathon recap but I can’t wait to read it again :)

  4. Congratulations on running your first 10K! I loved reading your post – it was refreshing and a nice change. I wish I could run but my knees have been ailing me for the past few years.

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