Nine years ago I ran my first half marathon ever in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At the time I didn't really believe that I could ever do more than a 5k but after completing that first race, I was hooked. Last Saturday I completed my sixth half marathon as part of the Illinois Marathon race weekend and it just might have been my best race to date!

I-Challenge Medals, 5K plus Half Marathon.

For the previous five races, I trained consistently, following Hal Higdon's novice half marathon training plan pretty religiously through race day. For the Illinois Marathon, other than my typical workouts five to six days a week plus two long run/walks of six and nine miles respectively, I didn't really 'train' at all. I did this with complete intention. Friends of mine had done 13.1 without really training and I wanted to test myself to see if I could do the same. As I found out just a few days ago, the answer is, a resounding YES!

I'm not suggesting that you all go out and do a half untrained especially if you've never done one before, but there is something to say about just showing up and winging it. I was the least nervous for this race than any of my previous five in large part because I didn't have the build up of nerves from week upon week of training runs. I showed up and let fate run the course alongside me.

I was fairly confident that I would be able to complete the entire half but I was also fairly certain that my lower body would be a wreck the days following the race. Naturally I was sore heading into the finish line and my body was tired and achy the remainder of Saturday afternoon into Sunday. While it would have been so much easier to lay around on the couch all weekend, I mustered up the energy to venture out with the family for a two mile walk Sunday afternoon. I completed our walk with virtually no pain and resumed my weekly workouts Monday morning without skipping a beat. It felt so great to be back in the gym this week getting plenty of stretching through Bodyflow and yoga as well as picking back up my strength training routine. I kept things a little lighter impact/intensity throughout the week but at this point I am completely ready to jump back into things.

Finish line selfie

Last week I shared on my Instagram a few key things I learned over the course of Saturday's 13.1 so if you follow me there, bear with me as likely you've seen this. In any case, I believe some of those takeaways are worth documenting and sharing again!

✨I’m in some of the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.⁣⁣
✨Believe in yourself. It will take you far!⁣⁣
✨The most rewarding feelings come when you get outside of your comfort zone.
✨It’s okay to not be fast.

I am not a fast runner and I am 100% okay with this. My strategy for races is to run/walk in intervals and doing so let's me retain enough stamina and energy to keep going for long distance. In the past I'd be discouraged being passed left and right by others much quicker than me, but now I do my best to enjoy the experience, stay in my own lane and work toward the finish.

It's so amazing to see what are bodies are capable of doing if we just give them a chance. I've talked a lot recently about stepping beyond my comfort zone and doing this half untrained definitely tested my limits. I'm so proud of myself for accomplishing this race. It felt amazing to run, like actually run, across the finish line feeling energized, excited, happy and not wet (if you've been following me awhile you may recall that my previous two halfs were done in the pouring rain). Naturally, to not be sopping wet and actually be able to enjoy the finish line party felt so good!

Most importantly, I believed in me. I did this challenge of a half marathon untrained because I truly believed that I could. Even on days when I don't feel like it, I am in the best shape I've ever been and that as well as a positive attitude are what helped carry me to the finish line. Times throughout the race when exhaustion crept it, muscle aches started to flair and I wanted to quit, I dug deep and believed in myself the most. Listening to music, friendly faces along the course and knowing my family was waiting for me at the end definitely helped too!

It was truly a great week for fitness. Started things strong with the Illinois Marathon half, played with baby goats at goat yoga (yes, true story!) midway through with plenty of Bodyflow, stretching and strength training in between.

Baby goat snuggles after yoga.

Next week I'll be headed to No Limit Fitness for May's gym of the month feature. Time to step outside my comfort zone once again for a little more CrossFit work but I'm excited and ready to try something new! Stay tuned for more over the next couple of weeks.