Sometimes in life you have to GFI.
GFI, as my dad calls it, means “go for it.” As silly as the abbreviation is, it holds insightful meaning: rarely will you regret grasping opportunities and taking advantage of the situation presented.
“GFI” was exactly the thought on my mind when I decided to run my first half marathon (13.1 miles) in Mammoth Lakes, California at 9,000 feet elevation. I convinced my sister to run the “Quake & Shake” with me. It would be her first half marathon, too. We each had run a 15k (9.3 miles) before, but 13.1 would be the longest distance for us.
Days prior to our race, we made sure to increase our carbohydrate intake. The morning of we dosed ourselves with Emergen-C packets and water, as someone mentioned an increase in Vitamin C intake helps with altitude and its effects. I am unsure if this is scientifically true, but figured some extra Vitamin C couldn’t hurt.
I am strong and I am an athlete, but I had not been specifically training for a half marathon prior to the race. As I arrived at the starting line, worries like this hung in the back of my mind.
We started the race steady. Looking back, mile three was the worst for me. It is far enough into the run where I began to feel my low oxygen levels, but it was still too close to the starting line (I was not even a quarter done yet). In times where I doubted myself, my sister was right there next to me to lift me up and cheer me on. I am thankful to her for pushing me to be my best self.
At mile eight, the end did not seem too far away. However, the small breakfast we ate was catching up to us and we began to feel more fatigued than ever. A women we had chatted with before passed us and offered us a chocolate hazelnut Clif bar. We gratefully accepted; a Clif bar, while seemingly a small thing, felt like the best thing that could have happened at the moment. We opened the package, split the bar, and kept on running.
The scenery was a fascinating factor of the run. I am used to running on flat cement sidewalks in Chicago, IL. I am not used to casually running up hills or in sand. The race course, located in the Inyo National Forest, had a variety of different terrains. We ran in sand, dirt, on tree roots, up hills, and over grass. This kept the run new & different; we had no idea what to expect next.
At the finish line, we were congratulated by our family and friends we had met along the way. I felt proud, strong, and very, very tired. I could not believe it was over. Finishers of the race received medals, backpacks, and t-shirts that said “Quake & Shake” on them.
Upon reflecting on all the items I learned from diving into my longest race as a runner yet, I decided to organize a list of 13 pieces of information I learned from the experience. Best part of the whole day was going out for ice cream later with my sister. My favorite treat, ice cream, was the perfect ending to a rewarding race.
13 Things I Learned From Running My First Half Marathon
1. As cheesy as it sounds, you can do anything with determination.
2. It is often nice to have other people around. Appreciate it.
3. Learn, as much as you can, from others: hear their stories, ask questions, put yourself in their shoes
4. Staying positive is beneficial. Look on the bright side, but don’t steer too far from the truth.
5. Quality shoes can take you anywhere.
6. When it comes to running, you heat up faster than you think. Don’t be afraid to wear less than you’ll think you need: Even if you start a race a little bit chilly, you’ll finish in a sweat.
7. Stop counting the miles. Right now. Enjoy the view. Enjoy the journey.
8. Nothing tastes as good as a half-eaten Clif bar after you’ve ran 8.7 miles and have more than 4 to go.
9. Never forget there is so much in this world to be happy about.
10. Taking care of yourself is very important. Only you know yourself best, so do what’s right for you.
11. Running is more than a sport. It’s more than an exercise. It’s a way to push yourself both mentally & physically, and then feel the rewards from it.
12. Increasing your carbohydrate intake truly makes a positive difference in your energy levels, especially during a workout.
13. Once again, as long as you have determination, you are capable of more than you can imagine. Go out, push yourself, and achieve more than you thought you could.