7 things I learned from running my first half-marathon

For about a year, I’ve been talking about running a half-marathon. I thought about starting with a 5k or another shorter race since the last competitive running I did was in middle school, but a half felt like so much more of an accomplishment, and I prefer longer distances anyway.

After telling myself several times that I would begin training and then letting all my plans fall by the wayside when I got busy or hungover, I figured that once I actually shelled out for a registration fee I might feel more motivated, so I signed up for the BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon. On Sunday, after approximately three months and 200 miles of training, I ran 13.1 miles/21.1 kilometres in 2:08:12. Here’s what I learned:

  1. It’s easier than you think…

I started training with the belief I could finish a half-marathon with no training. I obviously wanted to do better than just “finish,” but without race experience I had no estimate for how fast I could go. A few weeks ago I ran the full 13.1 miles in 2:24:38, so my goal was to at least beat that time, and to do so I knew I would have to average 11:01 per mile or less. Well, I ran the first mile (always the hardest for me) in 10:20, and I figured if I could stay around that pace I’d be in good shape… then I ran mile 2 in 8:24. I was flying (it helped that the first few miles of the course were downhill), and it felt amazing. I only ran four miles out of the rest of the 11 in more than 10 minutes, and averaged a full minute and 26 seconds per mile faster than my first attempt.

All photos by Steven Mac Sweeney
All photos by Steven Mac Sweeney

Continue reading “7 things I learned from running my first half-marathon”

Six Months in Seattle

When I was young, living in the same house in the same town in the same state in the same country for the first 18 years of my life, I used to think that I could live there for my whole life. I thought visiting relatives a five hour drive away or— wow—relatives who lived so far I had to take a plane ride to reach them were unbelievably distant. Funny how things change. I always knew I would travel, but never how much.

After living in three countries outside my country of birth over the past five years, moving to a different state is a much more minor change. There were no visas involved, for one. But moving from the East coast to the West is practically a different country both in distance and culture, and the difference this time is I didn’t have school or a plan waiting for me. I figured it out, as I usually do.

There have been a lot of unexpected challenges: the aforementioned lack of plan (i.e. job) being a main one, navigating a long distance relationship being another (while the relationship is the best thing in my life, the long distance I could do without), but those same challenges seem to bring the most rewards.

I don’t want to turn this into a cheesy naval-gazing reflective post so I’m going to stop there, but since I’ve wanted to live in Seattle since I first visited here over a decade ago (on an orchestra trip in high school, also the reason I first got a passport for the part of the trip that was to Vancouver, a city I now visit at least once a month), I think that the fact I’ve been living here for six months this week is worth mentioning.

Anyway, photos:

The view from Kerry Park. The hill was steep, but the view is worth it.
The view from Kerry Park. The hill was steep, but the view is worth it. When I first moved to Seattle I walked everywhere to get my bearings.
Almost immediately after arriving in Seattle I headed up to Vancouver where Steve and I went to a USWNT match against Nigeria. Abby Wambach scored the winning goal.
Almost immediately after arriving in Seattle I headed up to Vancouver where Steve and I went to a USWNT match against Nigeria. Abby Wambach scored the winning goal.
My first hike in Washington. Unfortunately it's hard to reach a lot of the best trails without a car, but I'm trying.
My first hike in Washington. Unfortunately it’s hard to reach a lot of the best trails without a car, but I’m trying.
Back to Canada, this time to Victoria and Tofino for whale watching and camping
Back to Canada, this time to Victoria and Tofino for whale watching and camping
Finally Steve came to see me in Seattle where we saw this amazing sunset over Lake Union walking home from Capitol Hill.
Finally Steve came to see me in Seattle where we saw this amazing sunset over Lake Union walking home from Capitol Hill.
I'm not abandoning the Philadelphia Union just because I left Philly, but I'm definitely impressed by the Sounders fans' enthusiasm.
I’m not abandoning the Philadelphia Union just because I left Philly, but I’m definitely impressed by the Sounders fans’ enthusiasm.
We went camping in Olympic National Park for Labor Day weekend, and drove to some amazing beaches on the coast.
We went camping in Olympic National Park for Labor Day weekend, and drove to some amazing beaches on the coast.
Thanksgiving was spent at a friend's family's house on Vashon Island. The view of Mt. Rainier was so clear.
Thanksgiving was spent at a friend’s family’s house on Vashon Island. The view of Mt. Rainier was so clear.