My First Half Marathon, The Big Sur Half Part 1

I have a passion for stories. Not just any story but carpe diem, today is the day, stories. It doesn't matter what you’re going through or where you are in your life, it’s never too late to try something new. It’s never too late to invest in yourself and push yourself to work for something completely out of your comfort zone. The only thing that standing in your way -- "Can I do it?” Can I do it is bullshit. The question you actually should be asking yourself is “Will I try?” I’ve been reaching out to my friends and Run, Selfie, Repeat-ers to see if they’d like to share their “My First 5K/10K/Half Marathon/ Marathon/Triathlon” stories because it’s fascinating and inspiring to me to watch people experience an endurance race. I love hearing how and why someone started running and what they’ve gone through to cross a finish line.

Today’s “My first half marathon” is a two part-er! I want to introduce you to my incredibly ferocious friend and BRILLIANT artist Katharine. Katharine and I met back in 2009 when we both attended a Summer Acting Intensive with the Steppenwolf Theater Company. It was a 4 week you spend 12-14 hours locked in a theater bearing your soul type intensive and it was life changing. A few weeks ago I noticed that she was tweeting about the Big Sur Half Marathon out in California and found out she had become a runner! I asked her if she would be willing to share her story with all of us. So ladies and gentlemen I give you Katharine Chin.

Hi, I’m Katharine! I’m a theatre-maker (actor, performer, writer) and an arts administrator living in beautiful San Francisco. Kelly and I met at theatre summer camp in 2009. She is as amazing as she sounds and looks on the Internet. I got hooked on running too and am here to tell the tale.

I started running because, although I consider myself naturally athletic, I’ve never been “good” at running long distances. I always thought my body type (big thighs and short stature) prevented me from running long distances. Then one afternoon my boyfriend Kevin and I stumbled upon the finish line of the San Francisco Marathon. It was towards the end of the race but a handful of volunteers were still on the sidelines, ringing bells and cheering on the last folks crossing the line. People of every shape, size and age were willing themselves across the finish line and that’s when I had my Eureka! moment:

These people are doing it, right now, I’m young and able…What’s my excuse? 

After seeing those runners cross the finish line, Kevin and I were both inspired to run (half) marathons. He’s been running longer than I have and is running his first marathon this Sunday, 12/7 in Sacramento. (Go Kev!!) I signed up for the Big Sur Half Marathon in Monterey and gave myself 14 weeks to train. 

I was most nervous about sticking to a schedule. I found a 12 week training schedule from the internet and added two weeks of walking / running. Using the power of Google Sheets, we tracked our progress and mileage day-to-day (actual versus scheduled). It had been at least a year since I’d gone for a run so I was really nervous about getting started. I was worried it would get too hard too fast and I’d just quit. 

I loved having a schedule. For someone who is chock full of excuses, a training schedule helped me break that bad, bad habit. Plus the added pressure and fear that missing a run meant I’d never make it to 13.1 helped me stick to the schedule. Keeping up with my cross training and strength exercises was harder. It wasn’t until I was running 5 miles that I started to feel the pain that came with skipping strength training. It was then that I stopped skipping strength but, if we are being honest, I skipped cross training and used them as rest days. (See? Soooo lazy!) Plus I didn’t have a readily accessible bike and I couldn’t focus when I had to do yoga by myself. (See? EXCUSES!)

I didn’t expect to love running so much. It’s everything I read about: it’s time to meditate and it just feels good. I learned how to push myself through pain and kick excuses to the curb. (Most of them, anyway!) I learned that one step at a time really does take you to your desired distance. I learned that I can push myself and that I am tougher than the pain. I can look ahead and keep chugging, good days and bad. I learned that forty minutes of running seems like a lifetime (much less 2 hours of it) when you can hardly run one mile. And that making 40 minutes out of your long day to run might start out as a chore but becomes precious time you that you grow to cherish.

What’s incredible about training is, after weeks and weeks of daily drops of effort, looking back I can’t remember what the bad days feel like. Even that one awful day I started late, the sun was out, I tried a new route, got lost and felt like the heat sucked everything from me. Even though it felt like I crawled the 7 miles to get home, eventually I got home and I finished 7 miles. My face was beet red, I was dehydrated and covered in sweat but I felt so good. 

A bad runs feel terrible while you’re in it because your ankle hurts, you’re hungry, it’s too hot or some other mental/physical snag. But you get yourself through it and by the time you’re done, your bad run has turned into a good run because you pushed through it and finished. Like a finisher. Yessssss. 

Stay tuned for Katharine's AMAZING "My First Half Marathon" recap tomorrow. (Seriously though, it's really really really good. Like goosebumps good.)

Running 13.1 miles isn’t something to be checked off a bucket list, it’s something to be experienced, remembered, and shared. My life changed when I ran a half marathon. Despite the fact that everyone runs for different reasons we all can all find motivation and pieces of ourselves in each others stories. So if you have a story to tell EMAIL ME at Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing. December is a crazy time of year. It’s a time of reflection and it can easily become an overwhelming mess. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or what you haven’t done, focus on what’s to come. It’s never too late to challenge yourself and do something incredible. Until tomorrow friends, #RunSelfieRepeat.