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I have a couple of days left until I run 13.1 miles. And I feel nothing. Let me correct myself. I feel everything. I feel confused. Let me break down all the emotions I went through in the last 8 weeks during my half marathon training and my feelings now.
8 weeks ago
I still vividly remember the moment when I clicked the “Register” button for the San Francisco Half Marathon. It was one of those moments where I wanted a challenge without thinking it through, like the possible consequences for my body. I had quickly checked with our health experts whether it is possible to go from running newbie to half marathon runner in eight weeks. The fact that there was some doubt was a motivator for me to show the world I was going to nail it.
I am excited about the half marathon. Not necessarily to run it, but to have the experience. Over the past weeks, I have always been running by myself with music, in the evening when most streets are empty. Whenever I ran into touristy areas of San Francisco, I would turn around and run toward a calmer place. I don’t like the idea of people watching me run and being in my way.
During the half marathon there will be several tens of thousands of people running with me. Some will be dressed up. Some will be taking selfies. Some will be racing. How will I feel being surrounded by all those people?
8 weeks ago
I freaked out when I started running. Especially after the first week when hurting my knees and having to rest for five days when hurting my knees. I was afraid I was never going to be able to run for such a long time. I was afraid I was going to be a failure: a slow runner, being passed by by everyone else.
Taking on the race and even training already makes me a winner. No matter how I run the race and whether I walk or not, I’ve accomplished more than I had eight weeks ago. I went from not running to actually enjoying running.
I am still afraid, though. I am afraid for the possibility of hurting my body again. Running is intense and takes a lot out of your body, especially your knees and muscles. I never ran 13.1 miles during my half marathon training, and I fear my body not being able to handle it.
I am also afraid I won’t finish the race in less than three hours. If you don’t finish in three hours, you disqualify and haven’t “officially finish the San Francisco Half Marathon,” which would make me sad. It’s the cherry on the pie of accomplishment: getting a medal as proof that I actually did it.
8 weeks ago
I wasn’t really proud when I subscribed for the race. I was doing it for the thrill and for the experiment to see what would happen to my body.
After every run I open up Runkeeper and check my progress: How I added distance to my runs. How I started running faster. How I enjoyed running more and more with every run. Seeing my progress makes me proud. How I pushed my body. How I kept running even when traveling or after going to a bar. I didn’t give up. And that makes me proud.
I don’t really care about my performance during the San Francisco Half Marathon. I hope I can run the entire race and not have to walk certain parts, but even if I don’t manage that, I won’t feel sorry for myself. As the saying goes: “The road is more important than the destination,” and I’ve started to understand that for myself. The learning process of my half marathon training is more valuable than my performance during the race.
8 weeks ago
In the beginning of my training, I looked to others to get tips and advice. I wanted others to guide me through it. I remember telling my boss that I felt alone in my running journey. And he asked me: “Who are you doing this for? You need to do it for yourself.”
I thought about it, and I realized I was running for others. Because I wanted to prove to others I could do this, even though I hated running.
Running became my thing and no one else’s. I enjoy getting out there in the evening to run by myself. I let my thoughts flow while listening to music and taking in my surroundings. It’s the perfect moment of relaxation. Recently, my best friend asked if he could run with me one day, and I told him he couldn’t. I need to have my pace, my music, my route, my mind. I don’t want others there. Not even if they are my best friends.
I look forward to the moment that I will be at the starting point of the half marathon. And I want no one else there. I wanna be there all by myself. No friends, no family, no social networks. I want to start the race like I started my half marathon training: by myself.
8 weeks ago
I moved to San Francisco four months ago for Addapp. My friends and family stayed behind in Belgium. During my training, while posting my runs on my social networks, I felt that even with an ocean between us, they were rooting for me. Even the few new friends here stimulated me to keep going. No one was obliged to; they just did. Which gave me the courage to keep going.
Even though I want to start the race by myself, I don’t want to finish it by myself. The closer we get to the race date, the more people ask me whether they can be at the finish. I feel utterly loved when I realize that people want to sacrifice their Sunday morning and get up at a ridiculously early hour to be at the finish at 8 AM and to celebrate my accomplishment.
8 weeks ago
When I registered for the run, I felt like a betrayer. I told people I had registered for the run and they were proud, even though I hadn’t accomplished anything yet. The hardest part was still to come.
In 2014 more than 2 million people finished US half marathons. I will (hopefully) be one of them. Which doesn’t make me special. That’s why I often still feel like a betrayer. That I don’t deserve people encouraging me. But then I look at my apps, at my body in the mirror, I feel my skyrocketing energy levels, my drive and willpower and I realize there is no need to be modest. No matter how I will do it: I am going to nail this run. Bring it on!
Also read part 1: why I decided to join the San Francisco Half Marathon
part 2: how I overdid my half marathon training and injured my knees in the second week
part 3: how I felt like a failure and contemplated quitting
part 4: how I stayed motivated and smashed records
part 5: how I got halfway through my marathon training & what has changed since the beginning
part 6: the apps & devices I use to track my progress