Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kayla Dunn, who teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School, has shared her experiences training for the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. Last week, she not only completed the race, but did so in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Here is her account of that experience.

Last Saturday was the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon. It was one amazing experience!

The whole week I couldn’t believe it was time for the marathon. All of the training I have done the past couple months was all for this! I was anxious and nervous. I wasn’t really sure what to expect that morning. The night before, I made sure I got to bed early and I ate tons of carbs as well; I rather enjoy that part of the training. I couldn’t believe the level of support from my family and friends; I had so many texts, Facebook posts and messages from people saying good luck and they were cheering for me. It meant a lot that they were thinking about me!

That morning, I got up really early to get my mind ready. I ate a banana and drank a bottle of water. I met my friend Hannah who’s been training with me the whole time so we could have someone drop us off because we didn’t want to deal with parking. We walked around a little bit to loosen up and talked mainly to keep our mind off of our anxiousness. We went to the City Building and looked around at everything in the store. We found Cecil Chapman, who has been training with us as well and other runners who have run with us or talked with us quite a bit. We got plenty of pictures, of course! As more and more people kept piling in, it was starting to feel more real.

People started lining up toward the start line so we headed that way. We started whispering to each other because we weren’t exactly sure where we should go to in line! So, we found some of the people who were from the training and went next to them. A lot of anxiousness and adrenaline was going on. I was starting to see a lot of familiar faces and we were telling each other good luck!

Hannah and I hugged each other one last time before the gun was to go off. I had my music and my Nike App set. The sound of that gun going off and masses of people running at the same time is an intense feeling. All of the peopleput in a lot of time, sweat, and miles to train for this. I also enjoy that fact there are so many types of people running this race. There are the elite runners, there are runners who are just starting out, there are runners who have run quite a few of these, there are even runners who a few weeks ago decided that they were going to do it! I loved hearing some of the back stories of why they were running or walking the half marathon.

I’m thankful that I did the half marathon course training run. I knew what to expect and during the run I could mentally prepare myself for the next obstacle. I knew the first 3 miles we were put to the test right at the beginning. We go up toward the Marrtown Exit on the four-lane.

I was feeling pretty good going into miles 5 and 6. I was keeping strong on my time and was actually doing better than I thought I would. I took advantage of the water stops; I would grab a cup and just walk long enough to get a few sips then kept going. I was nervous at this, because during the training runs I usually stopped for a few minutes and stretched. Gihon Road and Rayon Drive include a lot of rolling hills. I started to see a few people that were in the training runs and was telling them great job.

A lot of people asked if I had a goal in mind. I wasn’t really sure what kind of goal to make since I never run one before, but I did have a time in my head. We were heading toward Camden Avenue and that part of the race is pretty boring. There weren’t a lot of people there and it seemed to be very quiet at that point. However Hannah’s parents were there with signs and cheering me on as I ran by them, so that kept my spirits high. I think a lot of the runners/walkers, myself included, were very focused and trying to maintain what they doing. I kept pushing through and my Nike App was telling me my pace and I was shocked I was maintaining the speed I was doing.

After Camden we start heading toward the Fifth Street Bridge. I still don’t know what it is about this bridge that is mental for me because it’s not that difficult compared to what else is on the course. But, I knew that after I crossed the bridge my parents would be on the sidelines cheering me on; that definitely kept me going. I saw them and of course my mom was taking pictures. I waved to them and kept pushing forward.

I knew the biggest mental challenge was ahead. After we cross the bridge we go onto Avery Street and head toward 13th Street, which has a hill. I say hill, but after someone runs almost 9 to 10 miles, to the very new beginner runner it seems like a mountain! During the training run I managed to get through it without walking. However, the hill did defeat me some during the half marathon. I had to walk a few steps on this hill, but only a few to catch my breath! Then I made myself run the rest of the hill. When I saw the 10 mile marker, I thought to myself, the rest of the race is a 5K. I can do that. I wish it helped me more, but those last 3 miles for me was the most difficult.

After 13th Street we go onto Lynn Street to head toward 17th Street. I knew there weren’t any more major hills or difficult areas; the rest of the run was pretty much flat. I lost a couple seconds on my pace, but I was honestly just glad the race was almost over.

Once we left 17th Street, we go onto Market Street. That is the second best feeling in the race is knowing you are on the street the finish line is on! There were quite a few people here cheering all the runners on and telling them to finish strong. Having people cheer for you that don’t even know you; it’s an amazing feeling. I had someone yelling my number out saying, “You’re looking good 724, keep it up!”

I got to the point on the street where the finish line was very visible and I started running harder until I got there. The best feeling is crossing that finish line. I looked up to the sky to thank God that I was able to complete my race. My parents and Hannah were there to greet me and give me hugs. It was an amazing feeling. I finished the race in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was completely happy with that time. I was completely happy that I completed my first half marathon!

I want to thank all of my supporters. I have too many to name and wouldn’t want to leave anyone out; but my family, friends, runners and co-workers family as well, have been the biggest support group anyone could ask for. I also want to thank the River City Runners Club as well. There are some amazing people in this group and I can’t wait to get to know them even better!

I’m really looking forward to seeing what my future in running holds.

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last 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 Saturday. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

The last training run was a 5 mile run. I had no problem thinking I could accomplish this with all the other training runs under my belt. I couldn’t believe that this was our last training run before the half marathon. I had a lot going on in my mind on this training run. School was starting this week, I knew I had a lot of things to get done. My running partner Hannah is a teacher as well, so we were talking about what both of us needed to accomplish this week. To all the teachers out there, have a great school year!

We went earlier than the actual training time due to things that we needed to get done for our classrooms so it was just Hannah and I running this training route so we made our own route. We decided to change up the scenery and run our 5 miles elsewhere since we couldn’t make the actual training run. It was so beautiful and it was nice to take it in while we ran our last 5 miles before the half.

The whole time I felt great. Hannah is a faster runner than I am, but I enjoy that because it pushes me to be faster. When I run alone, I feel like I’m not pushing myself to what I’m actually capable of accomplishing. So when she’s out ahead of me, I know I need to keep pushing myself. I’m actually very happy to say that the last Be Great 5K at the Parkersburg City Park I had my fastest 5K time! I really needed that confidence booster going into the half. The past few 5Ks I have ran in, I’ve actually ran slower so I was losing confidence in my speed. Other runners were telling me it was because I was focusing on my distance, but I still wanted to get faster.

This felt like such a short run especially compared to what we have been running the past few weeks. I can’t say I struggled with this run. We took it slow and steady and enjoyed the scenery. We both couldn’t believe the half marathon is this week. We were both talking about how we were going to get there, what we were going to eat the night before, where to park, all the important details. Once we finished our run, we ate dinner together and kept talking about other races we might want to do in the future.

I have to say I’m very excited for this half marathon. I want to thank all the people out there who volunteer their time to make this happen. The people who do the water stops are amazing. They have dedicated a night a week for as long as this training goes to make sure we had cold water when we needed it. I also want to thank the other runner who have either ran with me, gave me advice, or pushed me when I need pushed. I want to also thank the River City Runners Club for their encouragement and support. Everyone in this group is truly amazing; I felt like I could go up to any one of these runners and ask advice or questions if needed. Every run for the past couple of months is coming down to Saturday. It has been an amazing journey. I’ve had good runs, horrible runs and great runs and knowing all this hard work is for something greater is truly an amazing feeling. I also want to say thank you to my family and friends, they have been my cheerleaders all the way through this. I also want to say thank you to my baby girl. She is only 4 years old, but she’s my biggest inspiration of all. I know that she looks up to me and I want to be a good role model for her.

There are no more training runs for me to announce. However, the News and Sentinel Half Marathon is at 8 a.m. today. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces either running or supporting the runners.

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest 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.

Last Monday was our 7-mile training run.

I was without a partner that night so I knew I would have to push myself on this run. It was very hot and humid the whole day so I made sure to drink a lot of water that day.

I also made sure to eat some carbs for lunch that way I had enough energy for the run. I’m feeling more confident about these runs especially as the numbers of the miles are going down because I know I can do them. I have no reason to not be able to complete these runs. I always try to go to the gym before a training run because it seems to keep me more focused on what I’m doing.

I got to the park a little early so I could stretch and relax before the run. I didn’t know a lot of people at this training run so I just listened to music to get myself focused. They started announcing where we were running and where the water stops were located. The volunteers that take the time to do those water stops are awesome! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do that; all of the runners and especially me appreciate it!

We got started on the run and since I didn’t have a partner I tried to see people who I normally am in pace with the other training runs we have done. There didn’t seem to be as many people at this run. There was a group of people that I tried to keep pace with pretty much the whole run and I’m glad they were there because they kept me going. For me, it is hard to keep pace by myself, so it was nice seeing a group of people ahead of me and making sure I didn’t lose them, which was my goal on this run.

I struggled a little bit once we got to Seventh Street. It was very hot and humid and my legs felt pretty tight but I tried to keep pushing through. After the water stop on Seventh Street, I did walk for a few minutes because it was tough. I saw other people walking too so I didn’t feel as bad about walking for a little bit. I was thinking during this run that the half marathon is in a couple weeks! I’m excited for my first half marathon and already planning on doing my second one!

I didn’t mind running this training route alone. Like I said previously, running is therapeutic for me. If I have a lot going on either personally or at work I can put my running shoes on and my headphones in and take a run. It truly is amazing how different I feel when I get lost in the music and a run. I come back with such a better attitude and mood.

I started running again on Seventh Street and took the turn close to McDonalds to take back into the park. I love that part because that means the run is almost done. I have a love/hate relationship with running, it seems. Right before the run, I’m excited, during the run I’m wondering when in the world is it done, and after the run is done I ask myself, when can I do this again?

I walked a little bit on the way back to the park, though. I do feel that if I was running with someone I probably wouldn’t have walked that part. My legs felt heavy and tight and I had a hard time keeping them going. I’ve been running with different types of runners the past few weeks to stay motivated. I absolutely advise getting different running partners, because let’s face it, no one always has the same schedule. If running itself isn’t therapeutic, the running partners become your friends. During a run, especially a long run, there is plenty of time to talk. First, it helps keep your mind off what you’re doing and second it’s one more person to get advice from, get acquainted with, or share your crazy life stories. I have become friends with quite a few different people I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for running.

I got back to the park and ran to the water. I got a few drinks and stretched out some. It felt good to get this run done, because it was pretty hot! A couple different runners asked how I did and I asked how they were feeling. I didn’t stick around too long because I was going home to my daughter who has suddenly become interested in running. She is 4 and she did a 5K this past week with me! I ran/walked with her because she has been begging to do a “long race” with me. She’s already ready to do another 5K! I want to be a good healthy role model for her and I’m glad that she has taken an interest in it, whether it is short-lived or not.

The next and last training run is at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11, starting at the Parkersburg City Park. There will be a picnic after this run! I hope to see you all there!

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest 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.

Last Monday, we had our 10-mile training from the City Park to south side and back. I’m pretty excited that we are working our way back down in mileage. I’m feeling a little more confident before the training runs that I can complete them, whereas before I wasn’t so sure.

I wasn’t exactly in the right mind set when I got to the park that day because life got in the way and my car decided not to start. So I had to have my running partner Hannah pick me up, and we got there right on time! I usually get there a little early so I can stretch and just relax before the run, so trying to get my mind in it at first took some time because I was wondering what was wrong with my car and of course the cost to fix it.

We started off as usual leaving from the City Park to Washington Avenue. I had my headphones on and music going while I was running. Hannah was feeling good so I told her to go ahead and we could meet at the water stop. It was a nice night for a run; it didn’t feel too hot or humid. We got to the first water stop and I took a drink of water. I was feeling pretty good, so I took a few sips and kept going. We started venturing toward south side and I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t feel winded and didn’t feel like my legs were cramping. I was just running without worrying about the time. I know I’m a slow runner, I’m not sure I’ll ever be a fast runner, but I’m all right with that.

Like I said before, the Fifth Street bridge and the hill going towards Parkersburg South High School is always a mental game with me. I knew the last time I ran this route, I was already walking. I knew if I just kept pushing I could do it. Halfway up the hill to Parkersburg South, I could feel it getting tougher but I was going to push through it.

I finally got to the water stop and I was very happy I didn’t walk. Hannah was waiting for me at the water stop. So we took a few drinks and stretched out a little bit. She told me she wasn’t feeling very well and that she might walk some. So I told her I would walk with her. This is another reason I love running. I had a horrible run with the 12-mile training route. It didn’t go well at all. My knee was hurting, I didn’t feel good, and nothing felt right. She didn’t leave me behind. She walked with me when I needed to walk. I was very discouraged and mad at myself but she didn’t even mention running. We just talked about other things until we got back to the park. Now that she wasn’t feeling this run, I walked with her. I can’t stress the importance of having a group of friends that run. It doesn’t even matter if you run with them or not, just bouncing your discouragements or advice off each other helps so much.

We walked for a while and talked about work and the upcoming training we have. School is about ready to start so we both were talking about what we needed to do to get our rooms put together. Good thing was we were already halfway through our run. We decided to start running again and we ran to the next water stop off of Camden Avenue.

We took a few drinks of water and stretched out quite a bit. She said she still wasn’t feeling very well so I told her we should walk for a little bit. We left the water stop and started walking some. We got to Camden and decided we were going to run a little bit. At this point, we didn’t really see very many people around! But we kept going until we got to the next water stop right before Seventh Street. We got there and they had some Starbursts, so I ate a couple.

We took a few breathers and kept going. We started running on Seventh Street but Hannah said she needed to walk. She said she was feeling tight all over. So we walked on Seventh Street until we got to Fairview Avenue. Once we got on Fairview, we ran until we got to the park. I always try to end a run on a positive note. Even if the run feels awful and didn’t feel good just make the last 5 minutes count. It always makes me feel better.

We got back to the City Park and took a few more sips of water and decided that we just needed to get something to eat! Food always makes you feel better, right? We talked with a few of the runners and they were telling us not to get discouraged, that there are always bad runs. I love this group of runners. Everyone is very encouraging and friendly and I’m very glad that I decided to join the River City Runners and Walkers Club. Ever since I started running it has changed my whole lifestyle. I watch what I eat, I make sure to make a lot healthier decisions, I drink more water, I work out to supplement my running. It has changed my life. I highly recommend running or walking to someone who decides they want a healthier lifestyle.

The next training run is Monday, Aug. 4 starting at the City Park for our 7-mile run. I hope to see you all there!