Recently my friend Bill and I were chatting about the Buffalo Marathon. I told him that it has been on my Bucket List for years to run a Half Marathon. He suggested I run the Buffalo Half in May, and I laughed. He rebutted with “if I can run two half marathons, so can you!” I was still skeptical, so I started asking a LOT of questions. If this is on your bucket list too, keep reading.
Late 30s, Husband, Father of 2, Senior Photographer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute
- What Motivated You? It was May of 2016. I was a non-runner and decided I wanted to change that. I started with a few 5k races and 1-2 10k races. Then, I ran a 1/4 marathon with a friend without training. My time was good, so I decided I should try the Buffalo Half Marathon!
- Where did you start? I started the Hal Higdon 12 week program (Free, HalHigdon.com). My wife is a marathon runner and knew it would help a ton with my training. I prefer running outside, so I did. (I do suggest using incline if you train on a treadmill). I was running 4 days a week, 3 short runs and 1 long. Every week, you are challenged to run 1 more mile. The most I ran was 10 miles and took a 1 week break before the big day. You definitely want to stick to the program. Don’t overdo it, it is designed specifically. I also used an app called mapmyrun to plan out each route. I am the type that needs a plan, and I like variety. Shorter runs are meant to be run faster, and longer a bit slower. Start out slower during first mile, then gradually speed up. It becomes routine after 4-6 weeks, and you’ll surprise yourself every milestone. Other types of cardio like spinning, and even yoga are great cross training days. The Buffalo Half Marathon is probably the best race to do for your first long distance race.
- Was it ever painful? Any injuries? I felt ok – but I did get better every day. When I was really sore, I would take a day off or run 1 less mile. I definitely learned the importance of stretching. Before and AFTER running, you must stretch. EVERY TIME.
- What did you eat? I ate a LOT more than normal. I tried to have a small snack and water 30-45 minutes before a run. I did “CARB LOAD” the night before a race. But, I will admit I didn’t make the best choices because I was really hungry due to the increased activity and didn’t always plan well. This time I am adding Isagenix to the mix, for high quality nutrition in a convenient form.
- Did you listen to music? Yes!!! I love the Spotify app for music. It has a great shuffle option and builds playlists based on your favorite artists. It also has a “Running” feature where the music matches your tempo! I also use the Aaptiv app (another recommendation from my wife). It has audio-based fitness classes led by personal trainers. I especially like Meghan Takacs. She is a more technical trainer, and I love her HIIT workouts. She even forced me to change how I run. I no longer run heel/toe. Midfoot strike all the way! I used their Marathon program during the long runs.
- Any specific gear you used? I did use a hydration belt, but I would not do that again, because it was too cumbersome. I would just use a belt to hold my phone, and stop for water at the race water stops. The right running shoes are also very important. I’d recommend a visit to Runner’s Roost!
- What did you do the night before? Got a good night sleep, and watched this: https://youtu.be/G8jjBroKK8k
- How was the race? Overall, good. I was hurting the last 3 miles. I was exhausted. But, the crowd was amazing. I was reading signs like “If Trump can run, you can too!” and “Smile if you peed a little” and that really helped.
- How did you feel after the race was over? WONDERFUL. I felt like I wanted to do it again. It was actually a little crazy the first 10 minutes, one of the best feelings ever. They also have an amazing after-party at the Buffalo event. Flying Bison makes a special beer! But of course, you settle down soon after. It was all definitely an adventure and I learned a lot about myself. And patience!
- Words of advice? Have your spouse/family on board. I could not have done this without my wife’s support. She gave me the time to train too! A Half marathon is a pretty friendly distance. Some people even run it without training. It is not impossible to do! I’ve heard of a man who runs blind! It is a 12 week commitment to properly train, just 12 weeks of your life. I look at it this way…some people are fighting cancer with 12 weeks of chemotherapy. I am healthy, and I can run, so I will! I do it for those that can’t! Finally…..it is normal to feel nervous. You feel less nervous after you sign up.
As of press time, I have decided to join Bill and run the Buffalo Half Marathon. I would love to have some friends join me, so we can check this off our Bucket List together. Contact me so we can be crazy together!