Nantucket Half Marathon

Well ya’ll, I did it! I successfully completed my first ever half marathon. I ran an entire 13.1 miles!!!

Huge shout out to all of my supporters near and far, but especially to Brady, my mom, Charlotte Barkley, and my cute in-laws for cheering for me on race day and for being there at the finish line!

Nantucket Sunset by Topaz and Sapphire

Beautiful sunrise on the ferry on route to Nantucket for my race!

Topaz and Sapphire half marathon finisher
Topaz and Sapphire Nantucket half marathon  Topaz and Sapphire Nantucket half marathon
Topaz and Sapphire Nantucket half marathon
Topaz and Sapphire Nantucket half marathon

I know everyone and their dog always tell you, “running is totally mental,” but honestly this is SO true. Of course training physically is vital for being prepared for race day, but positive thoughts go hand in hand with the physical portion of training. Being my own cheerleader totally helped me persevere and keep running until I reached that runner’s high at mile 4.

So I really wasn’t sure how to present my first half marathon experience, so I asked Tisha aka Sapphire to write up some questions and I answered them. Enjoy!

Q1: What did you do to train for the marathon?

I followed Hal Higdon’s half marathon 12 week Novice 1 training guide. I tried to follow it to a T, but on some days that I had too much going on, I would adjust my running schedule accordingly, e.g. rest days would turn into run days and vice versa.

Q2: Did you change the way you ate or ingest more calories while training?

I honestly didn’t really change many of my eating habits. However, I always kept track of how much water I consumed on a daily basis. I would know how hydrated I was by how often I had to pee. If I didn’t pee more than 4 times during a work day, I knew I wasn’t drinking enough. By week 6 I noticed I was starting to eat more and my metabolism was speeding up. I have never been a big breakfast eater (usually just a grab-a-yogurt-or-banana-and-go type of girl) but throughout my training I definitely made it a point to eat breakfast every single day as well as pack snacks for before and after lunch! Eating more definitely gave me the fuel I needed for my daily runs.

Q3: What’s the best app for tracking your runs?

I used MapMyRun to track my runs. I found it to be 99% accurate when it came to tracking distance and time. I know Apple has a built in tracking application but I’ve always used MapMyRun so I continued with that app. I’m not familiar with how other apps work, but I love that MapMyRun announces your progress every mile with distance ran, split pace, average pace, and overall time.

Q4: How did you keep the runs interesting? Did you listen to music, podcasts or change your routes?

I get bored easily so I would change up my routes when running longer distances. I also can’t survive without running to music. I had a few Spotify playlists I would switch between and also used multiple RockMyRun mixes for runs over 45 minutes. I’m not a huge podcast listener, but I’ve had running friends recommend podcasts if they get sick of music. On rainy days I would run shorter runs on the treadmill at the gym and would watch mindless shows on HGTV or TLC and that helped the time go faster!

Q5: Did you feel prepared during the race or would you change any aspect of how you trained?

I felt extremely prepared for race day. Because I was racing out-of-state I had to prepare for every little thing 5 days ahead of time, which made me feel completely relaxed come race day. I thought of anything and everything from how much water I would drink the day before, what I was going to wear, to how I was going to wear my headphones, what I was going to eat for breakfast the morning of race day, the ideal pace I wanted to maintain, etc.

The only aspect I would change in my training would be to experiment with different terrains. Going into my half I knew 60% of the race would be on paved roads, and 40% would be off road. I never imagined the 40% would be on SAND. Literally the first 6.5 miles I ran on sand. Granted 80% of the sand was more compact, it was tough on my calves and legs to run on unfamiliar terrain. Although it was tough, those first 6.5 miles were my best timed miles because I wanted to get through the sand as fast as possible. #perseverance

Q6: What advice would you give to future first-time half marathoners?

Have fun and don’t stress! Too many times while training I envisioned myself passed out on the side of the road during my half marathon unable to run…um don’t do that. For anyone running their first half marathon just set a goal to finish. Don’t worry about your time! Also, use your first half marathon to pay attention to your body and learn what things work for your own body and what don’t. You’ll be surprised and impressed by how your own body adapts to running longer distances and building mileage. It is amazing, and kind of unbelievable at times!

Q7: Do you feel more healthy or fit compared to when you started training?

I don’t know if I feel more healthy just because I know I could be eating better. But overall I feel like I have learned to maximize my endurance and stamina. I have also learned more about the importance of stretching and hydration which has made me feel more healthy in a way. I always think there is room for improvement, but I feel good. I don’t think an unhealthy person could run a full half-marathon without stopping so yeah I guess I do feel way better than before I started training. #YayMe

Q8: Would you run another half marathon?

This is the golden question I keep getting asked. Not even joking multiple people mentioned running more half marathons the day I raced and I gave them the look like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. This is my first and last half marathon.” Now that it’s been 3 days since race day I’ve somewhat forgotten about the pain and soreness and feel I could run another half marathon, but not anytime soon. I like to keep things fresh and I want to explore other fitness goals that I have. I definitely want to keep up with running and run smaller local races like 5Ks and 10Ks but I’ll let time tell if another half is in my future, or not.

If you have any other questions about my half marathon, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’d love to give you more details regarding the race, training, preparation, etc. If you have done a half or even full marathon, what was your experience like?!

Written by