So I Finished My First Half-Marathon...Now What?

By Crista Tappan - June 12, 2012

It's almost been two weeks since I finished my first Half-Marathon. I got a really cool picture from my race, too. I almost feel like an official runner now. (Thanks, Michelle).

The week after was weird. I forced myself to not run for three days in a row (I caved on the last day and ended up going on a long walk). It was in those three days that I realized the importance of daily exercise for my own well-being, and how much I missed it. And how sluggish not running for three days in a row made me feel on that fourth day when I ran again (I could swear that six months of intense training went right out the window). One thing I did do a lot of though is think about my next goals for running. I completed my first major goal this year-- running 13.1 miles by my 24th birthday. And I did it. So now what?

I do have another half-marathon this upcoming weekend in San Francisco (it came a lot quicker than I expected), called the ZombieRunner San Francisco Half-Marathon . Unfortunately, this race has nothing to do with zombies (THIS ONE does, though). But it will have lots of hippies and hopefully lots of delicious Vegan foods (I'm still not fully admitting to starting a Vegan diet...afraid of jinxing myself). It will be different from the O2O Half because it will be on a trail. I'm interested to see how I do on this race. I most surely won't do it quicker than the nice, flat, downhill one I just did. But I'll probably enjoy the scenery a bit more, and it ends at Golden Gate Bridge park. Sweet!

After this race, however, I will start training for longer distances again. Increasingly my weekly mileage by 10%. Yadda yadda. This time, I'm going to add in those tempo and track workouts which I have conveniently been ignoring. I've gotten pretty far without them, but I figure now that I'm moving towards the bigger digits, all those running plans probably know what they're talking about. Or maybe it was just Scott Jurek mentioning in his new book, Eat and Run, that he gained a considerable amount of speed and endurance by adding in quick runs at the local track. Why do they always have to have a point and back it up? :)

I've obviously been very obsessed with running in the past few months (to the point where I decided I needed to take my ramblings off Facebook and onto a blog). Obsession isn't everything, though. Dedication, yes. Time-management, yes. Serious planning, yes. Eating a clean diet, hell to the yes. Financial support, maybe. Mild insanity, bingo.

So here it is, ladies and gentlemen, my three Big Goals for my next year of running.

Photo credit to Keira Henniger

First, I want the Red Rock Marathon to be my first marathon. It's scheduled for the weekend of November 25th, which is roughly five months from now. One month more than a standard marathon training time. It's not going to be easy. In fact, it's so difficult that even the race director, Luis Escobar, states:

This run is extremely difficult and is best suited for the expert  trail runner or experienced ultra marathon runner.  "

AKA he is speaking directly to people like me. But I don't listen, as usual. 

Cue the internal feelings of terror and self-doubt. Cue the feelings of insanity. Cue the thoughts of, Oh my God, am I really doing this to myself?

Honestly though, this is exactly what I want for my first marathon. This is exactly what I NEED. I love challenge. I love pushing myself to my limits and learning what I'm capable of. I know it won't be easy. What I do know, however, is that I am dedicated. I am willing to put in the mileage, hill work, and heat training to prepare for the race. Go big or go home, right?

Second, and this one is a doozy, but one of my biggest dreams (ever) is to run in the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon.I could go into lengthy detail about how I read tons of books about the Rarámuri, obsessed over the beautiful terrain, and wanted to learn more about people who lived simply and happy. I'll just say that this is the top five of my Bucket List. It's kind of a big deal. And it's also a big deal to lot's of other people, too. Undeniably, it's one of the most coveted, middle-of-nowhere races that is more like a great adventure and life-changer than fifty-mile footrace. It's scheduled for next March, and who knows if I will be physically prepared by then to run a full 50 miles. I've talked to a few people about my worries, and I've received surprisingly a lot of positive words of encouragement and support. I still don't know how realistic my goal of actually getting into the race is. I do know, though, that putting all of my positive energy and thoughts towards it is one of the best ways to make it happen. I don't believe in books like The Secret, but for the sake of everything good in the world, I'm going to pretend it works for this situation. I am going to will it to happen. I'll visualize it. Dream about it. Somehow, I will make this happen. 

This photo is from the first Copper Canyon Ultra, with Scott Jurek and Arnulfo Quimare running side-by-side. Their identical smiles reveal their shared love for running.

One of the most important things someone told me was Carolyn Howard, the women I paced during the last 10 miles of her 100 Miler. I told her the date of the race next year, and asked her if she thought I could be ready for it by then.

"If you have the chance to go, do it," She told me. "You don't know where you're life will be in another year. You don't know if you'll have the same opportunities."

She told me how for the past few years she has been putting her name in the lottery for the Western States 100. "If I got in last year, I wouldn't have been ready, but I would have done it," she said. "Lot's of people do that with the New York City Marathon and for Boston, too. It can take years to get accepted."

I took a mental note to start throwing my name into all of the lotteries for those races. With my luck, though, I'd get selected for each and every one of them on my first go. Then I'd really be up a tree.

Lastly, my third Big Goal for the next year is running the Born To Run Ultramarathon 50K. I already signed up for this one. About eleven months before the race, to be exact. I had such an incredible experience this last May, I couldn't hesitate to sign up for next year's.

Photo credit to the talented Larry Gassen

What I am incredible bitter and not happy about, however, is the fact my graduation for my Master's degree is on Friday the 17th of May. Any normal person would probably just shrug, and say, Oh well, guess I'm not going. But I'm stubborn. And I am going.The race is scheduled for Saturday, May 18th at 6:00 AM. This past May, I drove up to Los Olivos around 2:00PM to begin the festivities. Given my schedule for this upcoming year, I am going to be driving directly from my graduation to the ranch. My plan is to have some of my friends run the race this time, and set up my tent for me. Where there is a will, there is a way! Maybe I'll even run in my cap and gown, for shits and giggles ;-)

I have a few other races I plan on running sprinkled in between those major ones (an actual Zombie run, "The Color Run", and a cool 30K trail run, to name a few).

This is going to be an exciting year :)

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  1. Love the ambitious goals! Stick with them. You can conquer Red Rock Marathon. The old Red Rock 40-something was my first ultra--and Luis had the same warning that it is suited for experienced trail runners. And congrats on your first (and soon to be second) half!!! Keep running, writing and sharing!