I did a half-marathon! (part 1)

This is one of those posts that I’ve been meaning to write for a long time and for one reason or another it kept getting pushed. First it was lack of a picture, then other details, and recently because there was simply too much to tell. So I’ve decided to turn it into two posts. This is part one.

This photo was taken immediately after I finished the Santa Barbara International Half Marathon last November. It was a perfect day and all that mattered to me was that I completed the course and had a fantastic time. I learned that, as usual, none of the things I worried about came true (that it would rain being uppermost in my mind that day), and the fact that it took me well over 3 hours meant nothing to me. What was important was that I decided I would do something, and I did it.

Last July I came upon information about the event, and decided on the spur of the moment to enroll. I should emphasize that I am NOT a runner. I love to walk, hike, and do yoga, along with other activities like kayaking and bicycling when I get the chance, but running is just not something I’ve ever warmed up to. But I decided I wanted to do it for two reasons: because I went to undergraduate school in Santa Barbara, and knew the course would be gorgeous. And because it’s the best way to earn a lot of money for one of my favorite charities: AIDS Project Los Angeles, which directly helps people living with AIDS.

So I started training with a group on Saturday mornings in July. The alarm went off at 5:45 so that I could get to the meeting place by 7am. In case I’ve never mentioned it, I am NOT a morning person, and this schedule interfered severely with my lifestyle. My husband and I like to stay up late, especially on weekends, watching movies, drinking, and talking, and this training put a severe kink into all of that.

In fact, the training was fun only in the sense of meeting new people and having a mission, but I never really learned to like the running itself. I remained resolutely not a runner. By the time the whole event was over, I couldn’t wait to get back to my previous non-running lifestyle, and I knew my husband felt the same whenever he tucked me in bed at 9pm with a look of disappointment on his face. It’s not that he wasn’t supportive and didn’t applaud what I was doing, he just didn’t like giving me up so early in the evening.

From a non-consumer angle, I was able to get away with purchasing only a pair of running shoes, a jogging bra, and a specific watch for training (which I donated back to APLA after the half marathon to give to another runner). The shirts came from the organization, and my mom sent me a “skort” that she had bought for herself 20 years earlier when she was a runner that still had the tags on. That was really all that was necessary, since running isn’t an equipment-heavy sport.

Even though running a half marathon wasn’t necessarily something I’d always wanted to do, it turned out to be a spectacular event that I am so happy I participated in. If you have ever thought of it, I highly recommend it. You’ll learn so much about yourself and the way your thoughts try to sabotage your goals, and how you can really do almost anything you set out to do. It’s a fabulous confidence-booster, as well as being such a great way to raise money for one of your favorite charities. There are 10Ks, half marathons, and marathons that raise money not only for AIDS, but for cancer, diabetes, and many other causes now. I know you won’t regret getting involved at this level.

Next week I’ll tell you more about the event itself, and why I’ve resolved to volunteer at the next one, as well as be a long-distance walker of several more, since the running just isn’t my thing and I’d like to save my knees for several treks I have on my list.

Are you a runner? Have you ever done a half marathon, or even a marathon? Tell us about it in the Comments section. I’d love to hear your stories.


    • Angela says

      Thanks! It is an understatement to say I’m not a morning person. :)
      My preferred bedtime, left to my own devices, is around 1 or 2am. My husband’s is even later.

    • Angela says

      Exactly. I am big on walking and would love to save my knees for my old age if I get there. I want to take some long distance treks, the big one being across the entirety of England. It’s a 14 day walk.

  1. Marie-Josée says

    Wow! I am SO impressed by the fact that you actually stayed with the commitment of going to bed early, although it really interfered with your lifestyle. Congratulations, Angela. I found this post very inspiring.

    • Angela says

      Thanks, Marie-Josee! Luckily it was really only a 4-month commitment. You can do almost anything when you know it will be over.

  2. says

    Congratulations Angela, and thanks for sharing this post. I don’t run any more, since it’s not great on the knees, but for many years I have raised quite a bit of money to fight multiple sclerosis at their annual walk at the Rose Bowl. I have walked the very short walk with persons who have MS.

    • Angela says

      Hi Carolyn! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog. I would love to find out more about the walk at the Rose Bowl.

  3. Eleanor Craig says

    Angela, congratulations! I am a runner and i just signed up for and began training for my first half marathon, which takes place May 12. Thanks for inspiring me- if a “non-runner” can do it, so can I!

    • Angela says

      Eleanor, How exciting! Of course if you’re already a runner, you will do much better than I did. Where is your run taking place? May is my favorite month, what an excellent time for a run. Thanks so much for commenting!
      Cheers, Angela

  4. says

    Congratulations!! I ran for the first time in my adult life last February, at age 39, as part of a couch to 5k program. Then, in June, I signed up for a half marathon in November, just like you! The furthest I had ever run at that point was 3.1 miles. So the early Saturdays started (5:30- ug!) and I officially became a “runner”. I am thankful to say that I completed Charlotte’s Thunder Road half marathon in 2 hrs and 54 minutes- just crossing the finish line minutes before the half’s time limit of 3 hours. It was 8 days after my 40th birthday. I proudly wore my medal for a few days, then hung it on our Christmas tree. Now I run about 10 miles a week, I just can’t stop for some reason! :)

    • Angela says

      Maryanne- Good for you! Isn’t it fun to start and complete something at this “not so young” stage? (I’m even older than you.) It makes me very optimistic. I also love how it shows that doing something little by little, one small step at a time, adds up. And I didn’t even expect a medal, but I have it hanging on my office door and I love it!

      Thanks so much for commenting! It sounds like you love to run now, good for you!

  5. says

    Congratulations!! I live in SB, and I ran the Santa Barbara half marathon in 2009. Followed it up with a 2nd in 2010 (Wine Country Half), then realized that my body doesn’t like running those distances. Major hip injury.

    I still enjoy a nice short run now and then (well, not right now specifically). You should be very proud!

  6. Angela says

    Hi Marcia,
    I’m curious to hear more about the Wine Country Half Marathon. I really would like to keep participating in these events as a walker. California has so much beautiful country to explore.

    Sorry about your hip injury, but I do think for many people running is hard on the body. I have seen some very tall and thin people who it might not do as much harm, but in general I do think years of landing on hard surfaces is not good for the knees or hips. Still better than the sedentary lives most people lead, but hard on many of our bodies. I’m hoping for many years of walking and yoga.

    Thanks so much for commenting. SB is such a beautiful place to live. I don’t even know if I realized quite how beautiful it was when I went to college there.

    • says

      Yeah, I couldn’t run for almost a year due to sciatica/piriformis syndrome. Eventually I switched to Vibram 5 fingers, and was able to run up to 4 miles, which was useful for the triathlon. Right now I’m pregnant, so I’m walking, swimming, biking, lifting…

      The Wine Country Half is GORGEOUS. So beautiful – prettiest race I’ve ever done. It’s in early May – usually mother’s day weekend I think? The race sells out in January, usually. I barely got in, and only did because I was buying shoes and mentioned it and the guy at the store told me they were almost sold out.

      The race starts in Santa Ynez, goes to Los Olivos, and ends in Solvang. It’s a lot of rolling hills – first half is mostly uphill (with one big puker at about 6 or 7 miles), and the last half is mostly downhill. It was also pretty “casual” compared to the SB half. More fun, a greater percentage of walkers I think. A lot of people came to the race start by bus, and the bus was late, so they waited the start for 15 minutes until everyone showed up.

      • Angela says

        Wow, thanks so much for that info. That sounds amazing! I am definitely putting it on my walking list.

        Sorry about your injury but glad to hear you have healed and still able to do so many physical activities, and even run a bit.

        Big congrats on your pregnancy.

        Thanks again for commenting and telling me about the Wine Country Half Marathon.

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