Why I did my first half marathon – Guest Post

I’m still off gallivanting in Toronto, so I asked my blogger friend Melissa to step in for me. Melissa is an amazing gal and I’m so excited to meet her when I finally make my way to San Francisco (only 31 days!). Have you ever done a half marathon? Read on to hear about Melissa’s first and her amazing journey.

Hi everyone! My name is Melissa, and I’m honored that Michelle asked me to write a guest post for Running Jewess! I blog over at Journey to Marvelous about my quest to lose 100 pounds, getting healthy, eating right (or at least trying to), and staying active (again, trying to, haha)! Unlike Michelle, I’m not much of a runner…but I have walked two half marathons in the last two years! When Michelle asked me to write a post for her blog, I knew that’s what I had to write about.

In May of 2009, I saw a brochure for Team in Training and their program to fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in exchange for training to do an endurance athletic event. I’d never been an athlete, so training to do a half marathon seemed like an impossible task! I almost brushed it off but for some reason the idea stuck with me. Was I crazy to think that I could train to do a half marathon? As someone who barely finished running/walking “the mile” in high school, could I really train to go 13.1?

I gave it some thought and decided that it was something I wanted to do. Even at my current weight, which back then was around 280 pounds, I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it. I signed up.

The training was tough! The very first day was only a 3 mile jaunt around the park—nothing by most standards—but even just walking I was winded! And I was sure sore the next day…but I kept plugging along.

Week after week, the mileage increased on our training days. If I missed a week, coming back to training the next week was scary because the mileage had gone up by at least a mile or two! I remember completing a 7 mile walk and feeling so proud of myself! Soon it was 8 miles, then 10. When I completed 12 miles two weeks before the event, I knew I would be able to finish the actual race. That was an amazing feeling!

Finally, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon arrived! It was time for me to do my big 13.1!!

On the morning of the race, I didn’t feel nervous at all. I was just excited to get out there and cruise through to the finish! I didn’t really have a time goal in mind…I just wanted to get there. That was good enough for me!

By the time we got to the starting line, the sun was coming up. My training buddies and I cruised across the start line and around The Embarcadero. A cool San Francisco bay breeze pushed us along.

Soon we were at Mile 5! We had a lovely view of the Golden Gate and I was feeling great!

We weren’t making great time, but we were doing it and that is all that mattered to me.

But soon enough, the course got tougher.

We started climbing up the hills into The Presidio section of San Francisco. I hadn’t trained on enough hills. At my weight, it felt like climbing Mount Everest. My knees were starting to ache and as we went uphill for a good couple of miles, I often had to stop on the side of the street and rest. Some of my training buddies waited for me, but I started to feel embarrassed and defeated. Would I be able to finish?

I just kept climbing, one foot in front of the other. I was exhausted, but a great sense of determination came over me and I knew that I couldn’t let myself down by not finishing! The miles kept clicking by and soon we were on the downhill slope. We walked along the beach, wrapped around through Golden Gate Park and when we hit the 12 mile marker, I knew that I would make it.

I was so excited when I rounded the last turn and could see the finish line ahead!

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon was one of the great defining moments of my adulthood!

I didn’t consider myself to be an endurance athlete—morbidly obese athlete wannabe was more like it—but I had set a goal and I had accomplished it. I had proved to myself and everyone who didn’t think that I would finish (and there were definitely some doubters) that I was capable of doing whatever I set my mind to.

It was such a rewarding, inspiring experience!

Here I am the day after the marathon, pointing to my name on the side of the Nike Store in downtown San Francisco. My name was plastered on the side of the wall for the world to see as someone who was a fundraiser—but pointing to my name that day, I was pointing at the name of someone who was a finisher.

And I’ve never looked back.

Walking my first half marathon in October or 2009 inspired me to do other things that felt impossible…like starting my weight loss journey (losing close to 75 pounds since July of 2010) and walking a second half marathon, shaving close to half an hour off of my first time!

The moral of the story is…if there is something out there that seems like an impossible, daunting challenge…GO FOR IT! You never know what you are capable of until you try. It just might inspire you to do some other great things!

Thanks for reading!

Melissa from Journey to Marvelous

About Michelle

I'm an engineer living (and running) in Palo Alto, CA.

Posted on August 9, 2011, in Running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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