This is another featured guest post. Today Stine Turgeon, who volunteered to share her first half marathon experience with us. I met Stine through the “Train for a Half Marathon” Facebook group, and her positivity mindset is SO contagious! Feel free to click the link and request to join the group for some inspiration, accountability, and encouragement. Enjoy! ~Alexis
The Mount Rushmore Half Marathon was not only my first half marathon, it was also my first race. I started running about 4.5 months before this race. It was a little on a whim, but also due to the personal development journey I had recently started.
Preparation and Training
When I was able to run 3 miles without stopping (end of May), I figured I needed a goal for continuing to make running part of my day. Then, I searched for a half marathon training plan. I found a 12-week plan that called for running 3 times per week. Running 3 times a week suited my schedule and I did cross training on the other days. It included 1 easy run, 1 interval run, and 1 long run.
Each week added an extra mile on the long run taking me from 3 miles to 12 miles before the race. I adapted the interval training not being familiar with ‘fartleks’ and not wanting to run on a track/ treadmill. My interval days were spent running (walking) very steep hills.
I had watched the Disney movie ‘McFarland.’ In this movie, coach Jim White has his runners run up and down tarp-covered mountains of almond shells which helped lead his team to success in their cross country running.
It led me to research the importance of hill workouts. I came across an article in Runners World online that explained the unparalleled benefits of hill workouts because “Running up hills forces the knees to lift higher, one of the most desirable developments for any runner, because this governs stride speed and length.”
Hill climbing became my interval workouts. Training hills (short and long) made sense because my race had 5+ miles of uphill and this would help me prepare.
Before the Race
My family and I stayed at a motel just a 5 min walk from the starting line in Keystone, SD. Race day morning was easy – no shuttle or logistical worries. I made sure to be at the starting line 1+ hr before just to get the feel for the scene. At the starting line, there was coffee, hot chocolate, water, bananas, and oranges. I limited myself to just a banana and water (not drinking my usual coffee because I was worried about needing a potty – lol).
My Half Marathon Race Experience
I found my starting corral (2:20-2:40). After the start, we all trotted down the road. This group included 1500 runners from 49 states and 6 countries. There was a gentle incline the first mile. I remember just being happy for being part of the race, experiencing it and having the feeling of “This is it! I really made it to a half marathon!”
Earlier in the morning, the MC told us not to expect a PR due to the terrain of the course – lots of uphill! Not that it made a difference to me since it was my first race. I had nothing to compare it with. The night before, we had driven the course in reverse. This was nice because it helped me prepare for what to expect.
I continued my steady pace up Iron Mountain feeling grateful in my preparation for the race. A friend had suggested to ‘train for the course’ for maximal preparation which is the best advice I got. The Mt Rushmore race had an elevation gain of 1100-1200 feet in the first 5 miles. I incorporated 3 training runs that were very similar to be able to sustain it. Hill climbing made all the difference on race day. I was able to run the entire race and not even walk once. Additionally, I had the added benefit of living and training in similar environmental conditions as I would face on race day: similar altitude and similar climate.
I started feeling “done” around mile 11, but then I just had to finish the last couple miles.
It was SUPER exhilarating crossing the finish line and having somebody put the medal around my neck – plus knowing my youngest son was watching me cross it was a VERY proud mom moment.
Advice for First-Time Half Marathoners
My biggest piece of advice to anybody taking up running and a half marathon is: “You become what you tell yourself all day long”.
Do you want to become a runner? Start telling yourself “I AM A RUNNER.” When things get tough, remind yourself “I am a runner, my legs are strong and my lungs support me.” It is amazing what our mind will believe and accept.
Running is 80% about mental attitude.
The same goes for running a half marathon. Tell yourself YOU ARE a half marathon runner. Start acting like one, and you are.
It’s that simple ☺
You can connect with Stine on Facebook or in the Train for a Half Marathon group.
If you would like to submit your first half marathon race recap for a guest feature, please contact Alexis at [email protected] for writing prompts and instructions on how to submit.