Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of weekly columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

Monday was the second training for the half marathon. This time our route was 6 miles. I was somewhat nervous for this run because I didn’t get as many runs in the previous week as I would have liked. Due to the running my body isn’t quite used to yet, I had to go to the chiropractor to get my hips readjusted and he told me not to run the night he adjusted me.

I got there about 20 minutes before our run was supposed to start. It seemed like there were more people at this training run than the previous one. I paid for my training shirt, as I have to have one for my first half marathon! I talked with Cecil Chapman before it was time to run. I have run with Cecil a few times, and he has given me pointers, especially when I first started to run. The announcer at the training pointed out who I was to the group. I was happy to have sunglasses on at that point, as I was trying to remain incognito.

It was time to start the run. It was the same route we ran last week, except we added a lap around the park this time. I was all on my own this run, I don’t really know anyone who’s on my pace at this time, so I put my headphones on and started off. I’m learning I start out slow, not that I’m not slow the whole time anyway, but starting off is definitely a challenge.

My legs usually feel tight and I feel winded right at first. Halfway through the lap at the park, I see people passing me left and right, and people much older than me as well. I know other runners have to think this in their head, right? So, I’m thinking at that point, I have a lot of work to do!

We finished our lap and headed toward PHS by going on Washington Ave. I was trying out a new arm band for my iPhone since I listen to music while I run. Music is just as much therapy for me as running is, so it is nice I can combine the two. I have already torn through two iPhone bands; this one wasn’t doing much better. An armband might not seem like a big deal during a run, but having to readjust it the whole time doesn’t help matters and keeps my head out of the run. My mission this week is to find a better arm band.

About a couple miles in, I felt like I was loosening up and getting a good stride. I saw a few of the people that I was in pace with last run, so I felt good that I was keeping up the pace even without a running buddy. During the run I had a lot to think about, especially since there wasn’t someone beside me to talk with. Being a teacher, my mind was running through all the end-of-the-year things I needed to get accomplished between this week and next. This school year is almost over, here’s a shout-out to all the teachers!

Halfway through the run, it was starting to get pretty warm. All the runners warned me that it was going to get hot throughout these trainings and that the first training would be the coolest we would get. They weren’t lying! I started running in the cold, so I really haven’t had any experience running in hotter temperatures; the hottest run I had so far was the Mother’s Day 5K run. We got our water stop a little over halfway through our run. I’m thankful and I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the other runners and walkers, we’re grateful for those who volunteer their time to give us that water! I got a couple drinks of water, caught my breath and started running again.

I felt better after the water break and felt like I was getting a little bit faster pace going. During my run, I use the Nike Running App because it will keep the time of the run and also the pace per mile. It keeps me honest. I kept running and listened to my music. I would try to run to someone I saw in front of me and at least keep pace with them, even if it was for a little while. Around the 4-5 mile mark, I really did start feeling winded but I kept pushing myself. Like I said, I never really ran in the heat, so I’m still getting used to running in warmer temperatures. I knew I could complete 6 miles so I wasn’t going to stop!

I saw PHS in my sights, which yet again, is a good sight because I know I’m close to being done. However, I knew I had Washington Avenue on the way back, which seems to be just a steady incline and really pushes me at the end of the run. I got behind two ladies that were running ahead of me because I knew on the last run I started to slack off at this point. There’s the hill right before we get to the park and I just pushed myself up it because I knew not long after that I got to go down the hill that leads into the park and we are done! I have noticed with more consistent running and the more races I have competed in, I’m getting a little better on the hills. Before I had to walk them, but at least now even if I have to run slow, I’m getting up those hills!

I got to the bottom of the hill and into the park and ran to the group of people who were already done. I got a cup of water and Gatorade, well maybe two cups. I walked around a little bit, then sat down under the pavilion to catch my breath. I stretched out my legs, especially since I have been having problems with my hips. I talked with a few of the runners; I still don’t know everyone’s name yet. During the run, I’m thinking what did I get myself into, but once the run is finished and complete my thinking changes to when can we go this again? It feels good knowing I got a run complete and I’m interested to see how far I can push myself.

I have enjoyed getting to meet new people, especially through the River City Runners and Walkers Club. They are all very nice and encouraging; I recommend running some of these races they put on! During the race, it’s not uncommon just to hear a runner encourage someone else and say “Awesome Job or “Keep Going”. I know during the YMCA Spring Sprint after one of those hills I was talking about, I started to walk and someone ran past me and said, “Keep going. If you got this far you can run the rest of the way”. I have no idea who that person was but thank you, it gave me the push I needed!

The next half marathon training is Monday June 9 at 6 p.m. at the Parkersburg City Park. Please join us if you would like to run with an awesome group of runners and walkers!