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My First Half-Marathon: Falling in love with the process not the end-goal

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Good things take time, and sometimes more time than you think, expect or even realise. The most fulfilling things in life come over time, and like I said in my blog post about appreciating the creative process, I think it's important to appreciate the steps to get somewhere and oftentimes that process is more fulfilling than the end product itself.

If you didn't know, one of my favourite hobbies is road/distance running, and I started running back in 2018 when I was in my second to last year of high school. Growing up in Jamaica, there was a huge influence of track and field in my formative years during high school. For me, it didn't necessarily mean participating in track and field, but it definitely meant that there was an itch to run in my veins. I was a pretty fast runner in prep school (grades 1-6 for my American readers), but I never pursued track and field competitively in high school. Retrospectively, I'm not even very sure why, but I'm not really upset about it nor did it stop me from pursuing running on my own.

When I started running in 2018, it was because I found out one of my friends from school was waking up at 5am to run 5 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Pacers Running Club. That was super inspiring for me, because it meant maximizing the day, and getting a good workout in and feeling good before even getting to school at 7:30am. Real ones know about #5MilesThursdays that I used to post on my Instagram and Snapchat stories after my weekly runs.

Getting into running was as easy as talking to my friend, and asking him where and when he ran. In my head, I thought it was just gonna be me and him, or maybe a small group of people, but when I showed up to my first Thursday morning run, I was surprised to see at least 30-40 runners, with security guards on motorbikes following the route for safety. It was a whole community of people who were up at 5am to run. Wow! That was the first time I realized that there's people out there who are doing things that you wouldn't even know about unless you saw them doing it. Turns out, my next door neighbour actually is a part of that running group and so we carpooled to the run every week, and I also had more motivation to get out of bed that early and go.

I recently had a brief text conversation with my older brother about running because we share our workouts with each other on AppleFitness and he saw one of my track workouts last week. Honestly, that brief conversation brought me back to thinking about processes, and the way in which it's easy to see someone at a certain point in their life, and completely forget about the journey that they took to get there. It made me reflect a lot about how I started running, and how awful it felt in the first few weeks when I could barely finish a 3 miler.When I started running, I had done a fun 5K here and there, but never really cared about time or pace, and I was completely okay with running the first 2K and then alternating between walking and running til the end. My goal at first was to run an entire 5K (3.1 miles), and it took a few weeks to get there. Then, I slowly increased mileage, and tried 4 miles for a few weeks, then I worked my way up to 5 miles. I kinda plateau'd for a bit at 5 miles, because it seemed like a good mid-distance that wasn't too long nor too short for a workout. I didn't really see any need to increase mileage, and to be honest, didn't really have the time because we ran at 5am on Thursdays, so we'd finish by roughly 6am, which wouldn't give me enough time to run much further and get home to shower, eat breakfast and get dressed since I had to be at school by 7:20am. But honestly, I just loved showing up to run that 5 miles every Thursday so much, that there was no real distance goal in my mind. It was just run and repeat every week, and it became something that I did just because I loved doing it.

About a year later, I was running 5 miles pretty comfortably, and was one of the faster runners in the running club. To be fair, it wasn't a competitive running club by any means - we were all there for the community and the "runners high".

Around January of 2019, a few of the members in the club invited me to the Saturday "long" runs, where the group plans a 12 mile route and you can do anywhere from 3 miles to 12 miles, but the whole route would be patrolled by the security guards for safety. For the first time, on January 19, 2019 (yes, I have the run recorded on my Nike Running Club) I ran more than 5 miles (I ran 6).

And this is where it got crazy. And more importantly, this is where I find the lesson in this week's blog post.

The Saturday after, I decided, hey, that 6-miler felt good, let me increase again. So that weekend, I ran 8.27 miles. My first 8 miler, and at a sub-9-minute mile pace too.

Then, in February, the club began to train for the Kingston City Marathon.

Now, a marathon was never in my goals when I started running. In fact, after successfully running a 5K all the way to the end, I didn't set any other goals for my running. As I said, I'm a recreational runner, and I hadn't really ever run more than 5 miles. For the Kingston City Marathon, there were options to do the 5K, 10K, half-marathon or full marathon. I decided that since I'd never actually run a 10K in a race setting, (6 miles is about 10K so I had already done that recreationally), I'd sign up for the 10K. And that's exactly what I did - I registered for the 10K.

In training for the 10K, I ended up continuing to increase my mileage over the weeks leading up to the race, and the club did a "mock marathon" run where we ran the same route as the race to get practice with elevation and terrain. Instead of doing the 10K route, I got ambitious and ran with the group that was doing the half-marathon route. And so 3 weeks before the race, during the mock run, I ran 13.25 miles for the first time. That's a bit more than a half-marathon. Just for fun!? Who am I??

So what did that mean for my 10K?

It meant I didn't know what I was capable of, and I had set a goal that was too easy to achieve. So what did I do?

I changed my registration, and for the first time ever on March 17, 2019, I completed my first ever half-marathon. I finished in 1hr and 47 minutes and even came 2nd in my age group!

I went from never running more than 5 miles, to running my first half marathon in less than 2 months. But that doesn't negate the entire year of consistent 5 miles before that. That year of sticking with what I was comfortable with, perfecting a 5-miler and building the stamina I'd need to be able to increase mileage so fast and so efficiently.

What built me up to the point where I could run 13.1 miles was struggling with 3 miles for weeks, being out of breath after running 4 miles, and even throwing up once or twice after running 5 miles. It was the little steps over a year that built me up to where I needed to be, and to a place where I was fit enough to get a half-marathon under my belt. I was training for that half marathon all along, even though I didn't know it, because I loved the process and showed up consistently week after week. It was slow, and definitely could've been faster if I had the goal of finishing a half marathon when I started, but it was easy to do in 2 months because I loved the process of running 5 miles every week, and unintentionally had become fit enough to finish a half marathon through that weekly training (which wasn't even training to me, btw).

Now I say all this to leave you with this - on the 4 year anniversary of my first ever half-marathon - trust the process.

Even with posting music and getting to where I am as a creative today, it's all a matter of consistency, and believing in the little steps that will take you where you want to be. And the beautiful thing about it is that, in very much the same way that I didn't plan to run a half-marathon, you often don't even know where you want to be or what the end goal is until you've become so involved in your process that the goals you can set are goals you couldn't imagine setting when you first started. Sometimes you do know where you want to be, and that's great, but if you don't, that's okay too and sometimes falling in love with the process - with a 5-mile run every Thursday to clear your head for example - can lead to something you'd never expect or could ever foresee.

So if you're thinking about starting something new, just take the first step. Start it. Put yourself where you're uncomfortable and show up. Get the process started, and trust the process. Whether it's starting your running journey, going to the gym, learning an instrument, reading a book or even writing a blog. Run your first mile, lift your first weight or play your first note. Fall in love with the process and with just showing up, and you won't be deterred by not yielding results. Your motivation shouldn't be the end product, it should be the process itself.

Be motivated by being in the moment, rather than where you want that moment to take you.

You'll see a transformation in the way things unfold for you and how you can achieve goals that present you can't even see yourself setting.

Future you will thank you.

Until next Sunday,

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