14 Week Half Marathon Journey Diary
I took the bold step of enrolling into the American Heart Association (AHA) Start Training camp to run a Half Marathon on 29 April 2017.
I will be blogging and sharing my 14-week journey so that I keep myself accountable and motivated.
I have always wanted to run a half marathon and the mind always comes up with half dozen excuses. This time around taking the first step is a biggie.
The American Heart Association have trainers from all over the bay area, who volunteer their time to help individuals to run or walk the half marathon 13.1 mile or 10K (6.1 miles).
There are seven teams train every Saturday for 14 weeks across different Bay Area locations.
You need to commit yourself to raise at least $ 750 dollars for the American Heart Association, who spends the money in research and prevention education.
They have 17% spending on administration, which is relatively lower than a non-profit average. They have a Director, who helps the participants in funding-raising to reach their target fund raising goals.
The kickoff orientation was in held in the Pleasanton Fairgrounds on Saturday. It was nice to see people from different walks of lives committed for a good cause as well as improving their lives.
There were speakers, who are heart disease and stroke survivors narrating their experiences and professional dietician giving simple tips to be more aware for healthy living.
There were different booths such providing educational information such as hidden levels of salts and sugars in various foods that we eat.
I also got to learn how to give first response Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
I am assigned to the Tri Valley team and our coach David gave us the overview of the 14-week schedule. We ran/walked our first 1 mile and eventually plan to build up the number of miles over the coming weeks.
There were volunteers at different points with placards motivating us. All the participants who completed the mile, were encouraging and high fiving the fellow participants while approaching the finish line.
It was really community driven and I was excited that I made this choice.
I look forward to sharing my experiences over the next 14 weeks. I have set my goal to complete the half marathon on 29th April and that would be my personal achievement.
I am consciously not setting any goals of timing of completing the marathon or weight loss, as I just want to enjoy the process and the journey.
I will share my experiences on a weekly basis and hoping my friends will keep me on check. If I were able to motivate someone on the way, it would be additional brownie points and make me feel good.
Week 2 to Week 3
It has been two weeks since I have started and had 3 trainings sessions. In every session, we build up with an additional mile. So my last session was running 3 miles. We meet in different parks around the Tri valley area and every Thursday our head coach David sends us an email about the upcoming venue and also healthy tips and tricks.
“Be sure to begin to implement the habit of warming up and cooling down before and after each cardio session.
Ideally this should be done daily, whether cardio is done or not, you should dedicate 10-20 minutes to stretching and increasing flexibility daily.
Of course this is not a strict requirement, but doing so will dramatically increase your capacity to reach your goal successfully and in a more enjoyable fashion.”
“The goal of your pre-workout snack is to give you enough fuel in the form of simple carbohydrates without tying up your digestive system.
When your body metabolizes food, oxygen-rich blood flow is diverted from the rest of your body to your stomach and intestines.
If timed incorrectly, this can lead to stomach cramps, poor release of energy for your bout of running/walking, and your digestive system “robbing” your working muscles of the oxygen they need to do work.
Properly timed, however, can have you experiencing the release of energy from your food with none of the drawbacks at the very time that you need it most. It feels good to be fueled properly!”
2+ hours before run:
Consume 200-400 calories
1-2 hours before run:
– Consume 100-250 calories
I started practising twice a week. I have been running 2 to 3 miles on the thread mill in the gym and gone cycling for 10 miles. I have not been fairly consistent with my exercise routine but I have survived the 2mile and 3mile sessions.
I am more conscious and aware of what I eat. Having said that, it doesn’t mean I am eating right. My mother in law made some excellent yummy eateries and pickles for my sake and sent them via parcel from India.
My mind and heart says that I should’t disappoint her. The truth is that I can’t resist as they are awesome. Hoping to watch out in the weeks to come.
It is exciting to see the energy in the participants. Two of my fours coaches are mother and son combination.
David has been running the half marathon for last 8 years inspired his mother to run and now she has been a coach for last 3 years.
Another participant Esther runs with son, daughter and granddaughter and doing so for last 5 years. All the participants motivate one another during the run giving high fives when we pass each other on the trail.
Ultimately it is not about timing but completion.
Week 4 to 12
It has been 12 weeks of training for the half marathon. I had the lovely opportunity reliving my childhood running in slashing rains and also in scenic Californian vineyards with mountainous backdrops.
We have been increasing the distance by a mile every week and we have covered 11 miles (17.6 kms) so far.
It has been hard to believe that I have run the equivalent distance from Bandra to Gateway of India in Mumbai at one go. I am happy to keep up and not miss a day of training.
Our training group consists of men and women of various ages and everybody runs at their own pace.
I am happy to announce that I am the slowest and one of the fastest in the group is the oldest. It is about determination & practice and not age.
I never competed in many sports in childhood because that I thought that I was not good enough and would lose. My attitude has now changed as I have come to realize that it is a race with myself.
It is not about Competing but Completing.
Every amateur runner wants to make sure that he or she is wearing the right gear, shoes and clothes. It is all about dressing right and to avoid those injuries. I am no different and went to running shoe store.
I was amazed about the marketing- the different categories of shoes– Stability and Neutral, socks– dry fit, odor beater, race and seasonal, water bottles– hand-held and waistline hydration belt.
The salesmen convinced me to buy a set of Insoles, which I tried and returned.
I also bought those expensive runs shoes, which I find no different than the regular shoes that I used in the past.
I love the camaraderie that the team has shared. Whenever we pass one another while running we greet and Hi Five each other.
Many times I have had other runners unknown to me passing by and cheering ‘Great job’. This has been very helpful especially when you are in final stretches of the run.
We have water breaks during the long runs- kind family members of our coaches provide water, sports drinks and healthy refreshments.
It is always rejuvenating to stop by and chat with them. I thank Kaitlin, Andrea, Laura and her little dog Kona.
I am grateful to my coaches David, Courtney, Fio and Sheridan. Courtney has run with me for a complete 9- mile training keeping up with my pace and motivating to run faster.
It is nice to run along with company as you are talking and you don’t realize the distance you covered. David, Sheridan Fio have always checked to see that I am feeling fine in the run and provided guidance in improving my technique.
We have two more weeks of training left and I will be running my first Half Marathon on 29th April. I am excited and really look forward to it. I like to end with this inspiring article-
70 year old woman completes running 7 marathons (26 miles/40kms) in 7 days in 7 continents.
29 Apr 2017 is a big day of personal fulfillment as I can remind myself that I am no Quitter especially in the sports arena. I have taken up training for swimming around 4 times, golf 3 times and rollerblading 2 times.
I have learned a bit and then left it middle of the way because some life situation came up. Those may be mere excuses.
This time around when I signed up for the Half Marathon, I told myself come what may, I won’t quit. In this 14-week training,
I never missed my Saturday morning training irrespective of the weather- rains, cold or sunshine.
I just did it. I may not eat right or trained during the week but I always showed up on Saturday mornings.
The half marathon started at 8AM. There was euphoria with the participants of different ages, races and genders along with their families cheering them. We were given a bib with sensor.
We were a big group from the American Heart Association and we did some warm ups. It amazing that I have watched many marathon kickoffs on TV and never realized that I would be in one.
Half Marathons are about endurance and pacing yourself right. There are some people who run continuously, some run and walk and some who only walk.
During my trainings, I ran consistently at one pace and did not do much of run and walk.
I was able to run 8 to 10 miles easily but when it came to miles 11 to 12, I was tired and fatigued. I was walking and running slowing to reach the endpoint. I was nervous this time that might have the same issue.
I started running with my group and then decided to stick and keep up with Coach Sheridan, who has run half marathons for last 8 years. It was the best decision that I made. The coach combines brisk walking at 15 minutes per mile and running at 12 minutes per mile. We were able to complete in 3 hrs 23 mins at average of 15.24 minutes per mile. (Western Pacific Half Marathon Results).
The announcer mentions your name and your city when you pass the finish line and there is cheering and clapping from the crowd. You are immediately gifted with a medal.
It is nice feeling as it is a sense of accomplishment.
I got to the American Heart Association tent and coaches Chris and Robin gave me ice packs for my feet as well helped to stretch and heal my calves with roller.
It was very relieving, as I don’t feel that sore this evening when I write this blog.
I would like to thank my coaches, friends and family, who supported me through this journey.
I would like call out and offer special thanks to all those friends and family who made magnanimous donations so that I could achieve my funding target.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog and hope I am able to inspire someone to take up something that they always wanted to do but have been procrastinating it.
It is achievable and my final words are JUST DO IT.
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