I have a friend and her name is Linda. I could make a whole blog of stories featuring this girl! It's hard to explain what she means to me because she is like a sister. She is the kind of friend that visited my parents when I was living in Spain, the kind of friend you call and shows up immediately, the go-to-girl to have an awesome night out -such as this one- and the kind of girl who will simply brighten up your day with her loud laugh and funny comments on life.
We are both LEO by the way! I'm not a horoscope person but it is a fun fact to know.
1. Linda & me circa 2005. 2.On our graduation day and yes, that is Heinz (we had just started dating then). 3. At a wedding and 4. later that same day fighting over the microphone at the wedding reception -we tend to do that-.
She ran her first half marathon on sunday and these are her words on running and the race.
I started running approximately a year ago. It will be a year this June! One of the main reason I started was friendship. Some of my friends had started running and I kept listening about their joys, accomplishments, falling down stories and the truth is I felt left out but a part of me absolutely refused to run...because I was NOT the type of person that would get up early! and I like to point out the past tense "was" because now I am! I wake up early five days a week and some times even weekends. I hated waking up early because I simply love to sleep! The first days I started running my family was amazed and even made funny faces because just like Ruth I was never the sporty one in my family (I have a brother who was a swimming champion while I never played anything)
One day after giving it a lot of thought -and after many running invitations from Ruth and my friends- I realized running made them happy. By that time I was going through complicated issues with my job. I was stressed out all the time, moody, grumpy and snapping at everybody. Work saturation, love disappointments (and I laugh but it's true) were not doing me any good so I decided I would change my life. I told myself I had to fight my sadness, fatigue, anger and frustrations by doing something positive for me. I had to run.
-Hey! After all running is for free! Well relatively speaking because there are no memberships to pay but I did have to "invest" in cute outfits so I could feel good AND look good-
The point is I decided to run for myself. The first time I ran I fell in love. I felt full of energy for the entire day. I was filled with adrenaline, happiness and my problems were still there but the difference was the way I saw them. I stopped being so annoying to me and my friends -I know I irritated them with my whining stage and for that I am sorry :) - Running is good for me. I see things differently now. The sunrises, feeling alive, knowing I am moving forward. That is what makes me get up early everyday.
What I like most about running is filling my eyes with the spectacular sunrises we have in our country, the endless running talks and obviously those toned up legs!!!! I love them! I love all the comments I am getting from both men and women - ok ...mostly men-
I decided to run a Half Marathon because I like challenges. I like to overcome limitations and it is inspiring to feel that every time I started running I could push myself a bit harder. The Half Marathon was this year's challenge! I was nervous -of course I was!- my family was worried to! But I loved it. Setting a goal and reaching it is what encouraged me and also -I can't leave my friends out of this- Ruth and our running "coach" Mema played a huge part in encouraging me. I admire Mema because she is really tough and she taught me not to give up, she told me everything was in my head and to keep running even if my legs didn't want to. They both believed in me and motivated me to run the race.
With a strong will many would say I am hard to mold but I listen and I like to learn. On race day I followed Ruth and Mema's advice to start slow and save up energy. There were moments I knew I could step it up -like downhills- but I mainly kept my pace. I didn't want to give out everything on the first part, I hydrated on the water stations and wet my head to fight the heat. Around 14K I felt I was dragging my legs but I also felt at this point I was running on auto pilot. I passed some runners and this pumped my energy. I kept repeating to myself "You can do this Linda Castellanos" -together with a salvadorean expression that is hard to translate but just so you get the idea the word balls is included-. I tried to enjoy the view on the streets and our runners unfriendly culture! The cars had no respect for us!
When it got particularly hard I remembered my dad's words: The determination, tenacity and effort you have put in your training and this race makes me feel proud of you. I didn't get the best time in the race -I finished at 2h40- but the pride I feel of having my dad tell me this makes me feel accomplished. Getting to the finish line and have my friends supporting me with a huge smile made my race complete.
The day after the race - I can say - everything hurts! Even my hair. My legs are sore and I am walking funny today but I am happy and proud. I am even tired of describing the route! every body keeps asking me to describe the route of the race. It helps that my friends and my family have showered me with compliments today.
Looking back on my training I will definitely include more sprints and speed training next time. I have to work on my breathing and I need endurance. I would like to improve my times for next year's race and try to cut down time from my long runs.
What I learned from my training was not to go crazy on the long runs. You have to built it up little by little. I reached 8K and built a base in that distance. I increased millage little by little from 2 to 3 kilometers each time ending with a final 17K run I did with Ruth and Mema the weekend before the race. I ran 3 days a week and did some bicycle 2 times a week. I did one session of speed training and the week before the race I only went out twice in the bicycle. Regarding my diet I try to eat healthy every day regardless of the training and before the race I took some fluid supplements which helped me a lot.
Looking back at my training I can say speed training was particularly hard and also the final part of the runs. At the end I feel tired and it made me slow down my pace. The sun and the heat are tricky factors as well and is hard to learn how to handle them.
What I would like to say to people who see a half marathon as an unreachable goal is to -first of all- believe in yourself. That is your first goal. You have to surround yourself with positive thoughts and positive people (like my friends Ruth and Mema) who will support and contribute to your goals. These type of people will help you feel better!
If you've decided to run you have to know there will be days you'll want to quit, give up, stay in bed and there are also injuries -I had one- but it is important to keep positive, learn, work, repeat, read, embrace there are things you can do and some you simply can't. Set up goals and clear objectives.
Being determined and establishing a discipline helps improve your environment but most important it improves how you feel about yourself and those around you.