If you follow along on Instagram or Facebook (I mean of course you do. If not head on over!) you might have seen that a few weeks ago I ran my first half marathon. I had been very quiet online about my training so it might have come as a surprise to some when the day before I started blowing up my feeds with photos. After all, training for a fitness goal like this when you start off barely able to make it running down the street, becomes a bit all consuming. How had I not shared this beforehand?!
But after a hard 2016 I needed a big goal, one that I could feel my mind and body working towards every day. Running my first half marathon with a close friend definitely fit the bill. And then we did something crazy. We decided that we were going to run the Napa from Sonoma half marathon clear across the other side of the country. Why not celebrate our big goal with a little vacation afterward right?! Clearly sipping wine kid free will motivate me to run, ha!
The Training Challenges
The one area I found really challenging was squeezing in the long runs during training. I felt like there was a lot of eye-rolling from other runners when I would say that. But truly, my husband works odd hours and Max is only 2 years old. At 5, Jake was happy to play or watch TV while I ran on the treadmill, or even bike a few miles beside me, but not so for Max. It was a huge burden on our family schedules and I am so grateful for the support of my husband and also my nanny Jes for helping make it happen. They encouraged me and even took on extra work because they knew I needed this. Having that support system makes a huge difference.
That said, I do realize that this season in their lives may not be the best to take on long distance running. Waking up on a Saturday to run 12 miles meant that I was exhausted physically the rest of the day and wasn’t always up for a full family day of fun. I do think I might like to take on this challenge again but might wait a few years for everyone to be able to bike alongside me while I do.
The Training Benefits
While finding the time may not have been easy, I did find several benefits to training for a half marathon. It definitely set a great tone with my children and opened up many conversations about fitness. The boys loved to see me run and being a mom that can run alongside them feels great! They may never be the captain of a sports team (I certainly wasn’t), but setting an example of a parent who prioritizes staying healthy feels great.
Another benefit was my own mental health. It not only felt great for my body to run but also for my mind. As a working mom my day is filled from sun up to sun down with tasks. Having time to think through my ideas, situations or even just let my mind wander was awesome.
Race Day Experience
The weekend of the race, a huge heat wave hit the Napa area. It was 99 degrees and definitely a different heat than what I’m used to on the east coast. It was a little scary but the other runners were so happy and supportive. Friends kept saying that I don’t look too sweaty in the photos. Oh I sweat like crazy! It just evaporated right off of me! The music, people and experience felt really special to me, especially since I was running with a best friend on her birthday. Our husbands were cheering us on and for a few hours it was an escape like no other! We ended the race in the Sonoma Plaza with a wine festival and food.
I think this was a great race to start if you are looking for a half marathon to try. At under 4,000 runners it was relatively small and the views were so pretty. The race itself wasn’t that expensive but of course it is pricey to fly and stay across the country. Thankfully we used points for our flights, hotel and rental car which made it much easier to justify this trip.
Overall I really enjoyed training for this half marathon. It was so hard at times and pushed me personally to a new physical level. While I don’t think I will do another one until both kids are 5 or above, I do think I would enjoy taking on a new physical challenge. Maybe SUP Yoga will be next, ha!
Feel free to email or comment with your own half marathon stories or questions. I will be doing a round-up of all my gear that I tested and our Napa itinerary soon. And if you are on the fence about it I say go for it! What do you have to lose?
This is not a sponsored post and I am just sharing my personal experience with Destination Races.