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Holy Half or Holy Hell What Was I Thinking?

Emilie Terhaar | Tuesday, March 26, 2013


The Holy Half last weekend was the first half marathon I had ever run. Actually, it was the first time I had ever run more than eight miles consecutively. I have always been a casual runner, jogging perhaps two to three miles twice a week, a little more when I’m procrastinating on work or have free time. I thought I would train for the Half and begin a regimen or schedule that gradually progressed to longer runs, but I didn’t. I signed up for the race thinking at some point I would be forced to start training merely out of fear and not wanting to waste the $40 entry fee. It turns out I severely underestimated my laziness, because there was absolutely no training. The week of the Half I got less sleep than normal and might have eaten crappier than my typical life is just a grand buffet lifestyle. The night before, I ate a bag of candy and stayed up until a little after 2 a.m.  

My thought process going into the race was simply to go run for as long as I wanted to, listen to some good music, and walk when I felt like it. I woke up at 7 a.m., ate a banana, responded to some emails, compiled a 51-song playlist, got dressed and rolled out to the start line at about 8:50 a.m. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and at 9:02 I started running (no one ever tells you how long it takes for people at the end of the pack to get moving). The first mile of the race is a bit frustrating because everyone is still so packed together it’s impossible to set your own pace.  

And then I settled in. Normally when I go for a casual jog, I know it will not be very long and that I can stop whenever I get tired, so I run at a comfortable, but still slightly challenging 8:30-minute-mile pace. Because I knew there were 13 long miles ahead of me, I went for a leisurely pace between 9:00 and 9:30 miles and coasted.

It was at about mile six that I realized I would finish the whole thing without stopping or walking at all. I had a really fun time and finished the race in around two hours.

For any other lazy people out there wondering if they should or should not run a half marathon, I will break down my takeaways from the Holy Half and offer some advice.

Why do you want to run 13.1 miles? If it’s a health goal, then forget it. Running long distances is not really that healthy, especially for women. You are way better off running a 5K at a faster clip than any long slow distance. Running a half marathon makes sense if you’re giving yourself something to train for, meaning you’ll run more regularly for the months before the half.  

Can you entertain yourself for a really long time? For me, the hardest part of the half was entertaining myself for two straight hours. I got really bored. Thankfully, I had a great playlist with lots of fun music to keep me going, but without that, forget it! If you are not a music-while-running person, definitely run with a buddy.

Do you want to give up an entire day and be sore for the following couple days? No one told me how tired I would be afterward. I had planned on doing so much with my Saturday, but the day was basically shot after the race. I napped twice involuntarily, ate a ton of food and fell asleep really early. Not to mention, my calves, arches and ankles have ached ever since the race.

If none of the above bullet points have deterred you from running, then by all means, run! I am really happy I did run the Holy Half. I genuinely enjoyed myself and am one step closer to running an actual marathon!  

Contact Emilie Terhaar at [email protected]