Sara Jean

Sara Jean

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How I Scored a PR at this Weekend's Half Marathon

The calm before the Negative Split Half Marathon storm!

On Sunday I ran my third half marathon. 

My first attempt at 13.1 was the Spokane Half Marathon in October 2016. I followed a strict training schedule, running four to five days a week 3-5 miles each run with long runs every weekend. It hurt. It wasn't fun. But I was determined to mark half marathon off my bucket list. I documented the whole process on my blog for my listeners to follow. I wanted to prove to the general public I could do this. I was doing it for all the people who, like me, never thought they could. 

Crossing that finish line was the most incredible feeling I had ever felt. And at that moment I knew all the hard work was totally worth it. 

Official time: 2:26:34.

Spokane Half Marathon - October 2016

My second attempt was the Windermere Half Marathon in May 2017. It had been two months since I quit drinking. I expected to be superwoman. I bought my pup a running leash and we were about to take on training harder than I had the time before. Then she broke her leg. And my spirit broke with her. Training became something that made me feel guilty, but I got it done. And I realized early on that even being hangover free and not sweating fireball...running wasn't easy. 

Over the course of the six weeks I trained I suffered unbearable shin splints and hamstring pain. My IT band threatened to flare up on me every time I ran hills. I felt weak. I felt defeated. Then my Grandma died. 

So I ran for her. I ran for Cricket. I was finally running for SOMETHING. But I wasn't running for me. I wasn't there yet. 

I staggered across the finish line and was out of commission for weeks with injury. But it was worth it. It was always worth it. 

Official time: 2:30:59.

Round three. Determined to beat my PR at the Negative Split Half Marathon and determined to do it 100% for me, I started training SIXTEEN rather than SIX weeks out. 

This time I knew I wasn't superwoman. I knew injury could strike. I knew sharing my struggles with the world would take my focus off the goal. At 12 weeks out I joined a gym. I incorporated weight training into my preparation and eased back on the running. I wasn't going to stress myself out over this race.

I started running with a Tuesday morning run group. And on Thursdays I ran with the Flying Irish as well at six weeks out. And at five I started my long runs. Only three days of running a week. Two to three days at the gym. And on my rest day I hiked.

I changed my diet. No more "carb loading" before runs. No eating at all. I started intermittent fasting and runs were now done on an empty stomach and at the end of my 16 to 18 hour fasting window. I was burning fat for energy now. Not calories. And as each week passed I got stronger. I got faster.

I crossed the finish line on Sunday two days after my birthday. A birthday that landed me closer to 40 than it did 30. And it was pretty darn symbolic. I beat my PR. Actually no, I DESTROYED my PR. My best friend surprised me multiple times on the course to give me the boost I needed to keep going. My parents and my pup greeted me at the finish line. But I didn't do it for any of them. This time, I did it for me. And let me tell you....I've never been so proud of her in my whole life. 

Official time: 2:11:25.

Negative Split Half Marathon
Negative Split Half Marathon FINISHER!




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