Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I am Janae’s brother.
Last week I ran my first 1/2 marathon with Janae in Las Vegas. In addition to being an amazing little sister, Janae was also my long distance coach and helped keep me on track during my training for the 1/2 marathon. She sent me weekly run schedules, motivational texts, checked in randomly and adjusted my training constantly to fit within my schedule and to account for various roadblocks along the way. Janae asked me if I would write some thoughts about running my first 1/2 marathon. Well, it was amazing. It was beautiful. It was very emotional, for both me and my wife. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work. But before I get into my race day experience, let me begin by sharing a little about myself.
First off, I am a married to this amazing woman.
She is my best friend and my life’s biggest cheerleader. She is an RN, mother of 4, weightlifter, and a fantastic cook.
Second, I am the proud dad of these 4 hooligans.
From left to right, there’s Jace, Camryn, Luke, and Andee. They are all very energetic and all partners in crime.
Third, in the year and a half leading up to this 1/2 marathon, I lost over 120 lbs. I was able to do this purely through diet and exercise changes. Don’t worry, I’ll write another post soon all about the exact diet and exercise changes that I made.
In the meantime, here is a nice “before” picture for you to enjoy.
Fast forwarding now to race day, here are some of my thoughts on my first 1/2 marathon and suggestions for anyone considering signing up for their first race.
1.) Run your first race with someone. Preferably, run with someone who has run the race before and is a more advanced runner. I was lucky enough to run every step of my first race with my sweet sister-in-law. She has run a dozen or so 1/2 marathons in the past (including this one last year). She helped me navigate through the whole race experience; from signing up for the race, picking up the bib, getting to the buses, choosing the right gear to bring, and most importantly, making sure I didn’t give up. Here we are together at the expo.
She kept me running the entire race. She set the pace and checked in with me about every mile to see how I was holding up. At one point, around mile 12, I was exhausted physically and mentally and ready to stop. I needed to catch my breath, so I pulled off to the side and started walking. My sister-in-law gave me exactly one minute to have a pity party for myself and then she turned around and while running backwards started cheering me on. It was more than enough to jumpstart my engine and get me running again. We finished strong.
2.) Set multiple goals of varying difficulty. Two years ago, I’m not sure I could have run up a flight of stairs, so, my main goal was just to complete the 1/2 marathon. I didn’t care what my time would be or if I had to walk half of the way. Measuring from where I started (at > 300 lbs), just finishing a 1/2 marathon would be an enormous accomplishment for me. My second goal was to finish the 1/2 marathon at a 10 min/mile pace. I set that goal back in December when I ran my first mile on a treadmill (at a 12 minute pace). At the time, I felt like a 10 minute pace would be a huge accomplishment, so I stuck with that goal throughout my training. As my training progressed over the following months, I started feeling more confident about goals one and two. Toward the end of my training, I decided to set one more stretch goal, a sub 2-hour 1/2 marathon. This came out to about a 9:09 min/mile pace. I had accomplished a few 6 and 7 mile runs at that pace, but had no idea if I could hold it up for 13.1. I made the “mistake” of telling my sister-in-law about my third goal the night before the race. She was determined to help me achieve it and set our pace throughout the race accordingly. I ended up finishing at 1 hour 54 minutes, an 8:43 average pace!
I was happy to achieve all three of my goals, but, even if I had just achieved one of them, it would have been a huge deal for me. Heck, even if I had achieved none of them, at least I would have tried. Eventually, I would try again and hope for improvement. I believe its important to set goals, even stretch goals, but, I also think its important to never lose sight of our improvements, no matter how small they might be or how far below our goals they might fall. Improvement is improvement, and its worth celebrating.
Thank you so much Dan for sharing your amazing journey. I am so incredibly proud of you and can’t wait to be at many more finish lines cheering you on!
Questions from Janae:
Any goals that you’ve achieved recently?
Ever completed a race with a friend or family member? How was that able to help you?
Feel free to cheer my brother on in the comments… He’s pretty amazing!