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Yesterday was the start of my training for the 2014 San Francisco Half Marathon.  Everything I do from here until then is designed to somehow help me prepare for it.  The first thing I did was run the Golden Gate Bridge.  I am a native of the area and I can honestly say I have never even walked completely over the bridge.  Isn’t that always the way?  It’s like my husband who is from Ireland- I have seen more of the island than he has!  We take for granted what is around us.

My running buddy suggested we start with the bridge- A) its part of the actual course.  B) it has an incline practically the whole distance of it in one direction or the other, so its a great place to start some conditioning work.  and C) it’s so beautiful and got us so pumped up for the beginning of our journey!

Everyone says how the bridge has an incline and its a little bit of a surprise if you’re not ready for it.  I felt it immediately!  It’s just a reminder of how much further I need to go getting ready for this thing.  My legs were burning!  I did pretty well going from the Marin side to the S.F side.  I felt it a bit, but I was able to keep chatting, laughing, waving at the tour buses, and generally enjoying how much fun we were having!  My friend Nette is in much better condition from riding her bike all the time, and she was a serious runner back in the day.  She is also much lighter than me.  That’s a serious thing I have going against me.  I can tell I have come so far when I look back at pictures of myself.  I use to cringe and never want to be photographed.  Now, 90% of the time I am totally good with it.  I feel confident in how I look and see the improvement in my fitness, but in order to run these hills and this distance I need to drop at least another 30 lbs to make my running life a lot easier.  It will happen, as I am already taking this so much more serious.  

She was running ahead to take pictures of me and my first time running the Bridge.  It seemed much easier for her, no doubt.  I was appreciative that she cared so much, and wanted to document this moment for us!  It was like my first day at school!  I am not use to people making a fuss about me, and I have to say, I love my running friends.  I feel so loved and special. They aren’t just running friends, its more like running has brought us closer.

On the run back by mile two I was looking forward to some downhill, as it felt like going south was 75% uphill.  Wrong! Going north was, in my opinion, even harder.  I was sweating by this time and my heart rate was in the 160’s.  Nette is chatting about the sunset and look at the light over the Marin headlands….by this time I am smiling politely, but managing to say through my smile…. “I am focusing on just breathing at the moment..” followed by an occasional, “holy CRAP…. O.M.G…”  under my breath.  Yes, I was and it helped me feel better, too!  But, I didn’t stop.  I just kept breathing and moving and telling myself I only have to make it to the end, and I can see it.  And, I did.  I managed the 3.4 miles and it was a great work out.  I burned over 650 calories running that bridge!  I honestly need to do the bridge more often.  I also decided I need to run hills and roads with hills, and keep my flat surface runs for a “treat.”  The difference is night and day.  

I did manage to keep an average 13 minute pace the whole run, which is promising as I only need to manage a 12 minute pace in the half marathon to finish in the time I am allowing myself.  That is a realistic goal.  But, I need to work harder to get there. 

This run really brought it home to me how serious I need to take this training.  But, also making me feel a bit insecure.  I thought I had come a lot further than what that run showed me.  I began questioning myself.  Can I really do this?  Then I thought, Yes, damn it.  I can do this.  Carla, you just need to train hard for it.  If I really, really want to do this I need to train like I really want it.  I need to prove to myself I can do this.  Even the damn UPS guy heard I was doing this half and stopped me as I walked to my car, ” I hear you signed up for a half.  Are you sure you want to do this?  Why don’t you start out with something smaller?”  He was like seriously worried about me! I responded,  “I think you need to take up running!”  

I was thinking back to when I started.  It was only in June, I believe, that I hired a running coach to help me get ready for the Clo Cow 5K run.  That is when I really began taking it more seriously.  That is only 5 months ago!  I was really out of shape when it came to running, and I had never ran before.  I need to trust the 5 months I have put in have moved me closer to realizing this goal and keep moving forward, and not listen to the the doubting voices. 

I also realize I need to try some new things, such as socks, and clothing in general.  After running more than 4 miles I notice my socks slide around too much and my feet feel bothered.  I am going to start researching things.  I want to try compression socks for my legs either while running or after running, as well.  The circulation in my feet could use it.  So, as I try different things I will add to what I find works best as I begin to increase my distance.  

Tomorrow I run a 5K  for a really great organization named, “Girls on the Run.”  It’s an after school program that helps young girls through running with self esteem and to have a positive self image.  I know as a 40+ woman how much it has helped me with all of those things, so needless to say, I think the program is amazing.  I am all about empowering young girls to be the best and most confident, independent women they can be.  I am also hoping the flat surface route I might see some improvement with my 5k time! Ha Ha!  I flipping hope so, if only to validate all my hard work is paying off with some kind of improvement.  Until then…..  I will keep running!