So, you're considering a half marathon?
Often in life, we find that the most difficult challenge that we face is getting started. This can be especially true when it comes to challenging tasks. For example, running.
Every year at the Happy Half Marathon, we meet a number of people experiencing the anxiousness and excitement of race day. We reached out to find some of those folks and asked them to recall their first time running 13.1.
One runner that I spoke with was Kimberlee Bigelow. Kimberlee, who works as a veterinary technician, always knew the importance of running and regularly worked it into her fitness routines. "My very first run consisted of 3 miles, but not non-stop. I walked probably half that run," Kimberlee said. After signing up for a few 5k races, Kimberlee found the Happy Half through a fitness group that she belonged to and was attracted to our course. The fact that our course has a negative grade was a big selling point in her decision.
"Upon reading the course description I fell in love, downhill, running to Yellow Springs... I was SOLD. I wasn’t sure I would ever do another half marathon, but I wanted to see if I liked them more than a 5k."
With her longest training run being 10 miles, three weeks out from the race, she felt ready and confident. Since running the Happy Half, she has found a new passion in distance running. Today, her short runs are considered 5 miles.
Of course, Kimberlee is not the only one who can say that the Happy Half was their first half marathon. Sara McGiniss Lee is another Happy Half-er that shared her story.
I asked Sara about her current running habits. "I constantly run, but generally not more than 7-8 miles."
After hearing about the Happy Half Marathon from friends and seeing some ads online, she made the decision to run her first half.
Sara stated that she is running about the same amounts since the Happy Half. This is an incredible feat, especially considering she is a high school English teacher and mother to three girls. Simply finding the time to get out and run is likely a massive challenge.
When I asked what Sara's favorite part of the Happy Half was, she responded simply. "The medal!" With the beautiful handcrafted medals from Doug Frates Glass being a Happy Half Marathon staple, I can't say that I blame her!
I wanted to know what advice both Sara and Kimberlee had for anyone considering taking on a 13.1 mile challenge for the first time. I asked them both what advice they would say to someone who is maybe a bit on the fence. It is a big commitment to sign up for a race and train for months. Especially for anyone who might not consider themselves a "runner," yet.
"The Happy Half was a great first race!" Sara said, "easy to follow path, minimal hills, and lots of people. Wasn't overwhelming like others I have heard about."
Kimberlee's advice? "Just try it. If you try it and hate it, that’s fine, you can say you 'been there, done that', but you just might fall in love with the shorter, long distance races. I would encourage everyone to pick a first half based on success. Find one the has a course that appeals to you, not too tough, and most importantly find one known for its support and cheering." She added, "The Happy Half was amazing with support, although I am devoted to half marathons now, I will always love the support at this race."
This year, Kimberlee will be running the Happy Half alongside her boyfriend - who will be running his first half.
"He was so inspired by seeing my joy at the race, that he wanted to try one too, and of course wanting to set him up for success I encouraged him to select the Happy Half as his first."
Hearing these amazing stories from these two great ladies was overwhelming. Knowing that the Happy Half Marathon has the ability to impact such positive change in people's lives is a great feeling and makes everyone involved with our race very thankful for being a part of it.
So, you might be considering running a half marathon. You might be scared because you have never run more than just a few miles. You might be pressed for time because there are only so many hours in the day, but take it from these inspirational stories - you can do it! Whether you run the Happy Half or any other half, start today. Work your way up and keep training hard.
Who knows, you might just find your new passion in life. And if nothing else - you can get a cool finisher's medal at the end.