Sub 30 in Sub 30 and Oh Hey I ran a Half Marathon Too.

30 11 2010

This has been an incredible week as a runner.

As a fairly new person to the world of running (I ran my first 1/2 block just this past February at 250 pounds) I believe there are events in your life that shape you as a runner. There is of course the first time you step up to  the starting line of your first 5k and just as equally important the first time you cross the finish line. There is the first time you buy your first pair of running shoes, not off some random shelf, but from a professional running store and they talk to you like “one of them”. There is the first time you run  double digit miles and survive to tell about it. There is the first time you get a swag bag and realize that the shirt that comes in the bag is not to be worn during the race but to be earned and worn after crossing the finish line. There is your first sub 30 5k finishing time and there is the time you run your first half marathon.

I did the last two less than 4 days apart.

I did them this week.

Neither of these two events are less important than the other. One does not shadow the other or take precedent. Both are momentous in their own rights. One helped me to see that the other is possible. One helped me to see that I am possible. I have been running now for close to 10 months but in the last seven days it has been cemented: I AM A RUNNER.

So let’s get to the races!

On Thanksgiving I did the Norpoint Turkey Trot with my friend Michael. It was cold. It was snowy. I was worried I was going to fall so the thought of doing 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes, while it was there,  it was the last thing on my mind. The half marathon was just a few days away and this was just going to be an easy way to burn a few extra calories before the food festivities. Now just a quick note here; Michael is a runner. He’s got long legs and can move pretty damn fast. I don’t. I know I can run about a 10 minute mile so the idea of actually doing my first sub 30 (in sub 30 degree weather) was on my mind but I didn’t want to say anything just in case I started running and it wasn’t going to happen. We cross the starting line (wearing our Santa Hats of course) and off we go onto the snowy streets of North Tacoma and I’m thinking about eating pumpkin pie…

We cross the first mile marker. I know I’m running faster than normal. My lungs are a little sore from the cold air but I feel great and hey I’ve got a Santa hat on so all is good in my world. I look over to my awesome running partner and say (a little labored) “What’s our time?”. He looks at me…Okay maybe he didn’t hear me. “What’s our time Michael”.


NO WAY!!! I mean I’m not dying. I’m not stumbling trying to keep up with my feet. I feel great. I feel like I can keep up this pace so maybe, just maybe I will finish this race and earn my first sub 30 time. I quickly do some calculations (because we all do math in our heads while running right?) and even if I slowed down to my normal pace I could squeeze in under 30 minutes. We keep running. Mile marker two and I look to Micheal…


I have just run the fastest two miles of my life. Ten months previous it took me the same amount of time I just spent running two miles to even run one mile. Another quick calculation and I knew that if I ran that last mile at a 12 minute pace I would not only PR but I would earn the elusive sub 30 goal. What started out as a fun run before the gobbling of the turkey had just turned into one of those events that shape you as a runner….

Oh snap!

The last mile?

All. Up. Hill.

Head down, I focus on the fact that it’s the last mile and no matter what happened at this point I’m going to finish under 30 minutes. I want this. I will have this. I don’t have to run fast, I just have to run. The entire time Michael is talking me up this hill and before I know it I’m cresting the top and running towards the finish line. I crossed over earning my first sub 30 time and blowing my last 5k (33:00) out of the water!


10 / 77 (age division)

88 / 468 (women)

260 / 861 (overall)

Something else happened as soon as I crossed over that finish line. I stopped worrying about the half marathon that was taking place just a few short days later. I knew I was going to show up to the starting line. I knew I was going to finish and it didn’t matter what happened in between because I had just accomplished something equally as important to me as a runner. I stopped thinking about the “what if’s” and only thought about the “I can”. I stopped with the “I wonder” and immediately began to think “I will”. It didn’t matter what happened because I am a runner and as long as my feet carry me over the finish line it was going to be a great race.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this beautiful experience? It didn’t just begin on Sunday morning when I woke up at 3:30a and began to think about earning my 13.1 wings. It didn’t begin on Saturday when I spent every waking hour going over in my head the check list of things that I needed. It really began Friday morning, standing in line waiting to pick up my racing packet. In a sea of runners, I was standing among them. No one knew me. They didn’t know the journey I’ve been on to reach this milestone. They had no idea that this time last year I weighed 103 pounds heavier or that this was my first half marathon. I was just one of them. Oh except for the fact that I kept crying from pure happiness to even be standing in this line, I was jumping up and down from nervous excitement and every time someone passed me I shouted “Good luck on your race Sunday”.

“Hello, my name is 9577”. This is the highest number I’ve ever raced in. I mean I’ve had triple digits but never quadruple digits. For the half marathon alone there were over 9,000 participants. In total there were 17,000 runners / walkers!!! It’s quite an overwhelming feeling knowing you’re going to be one of 17,000 people crossing the same finish line by the end of the day. It’s an overwhelming feeling knowing you are going to be crossing the finish line period.


This is the sign I had on my jacket while I ran. I don’t know about you but knowing I’m about to run the farthest I’ve ever run and do it with 17,000 other people, I need all the encouragement I can get. But this wasn’t just about needing encouragement. I knew there would be other people out there just like me. I wanted to connect with them even if just for a few minutes as we pounded the pavement towards the next mile marker and man did I connect. Every mile there was someone else spending a few seconds of their race with me. Congratulating me. High fiving and fist bumping and telling me to keep going. I met people that had lost a few pounds and were trying to keep it off. I met people that had lost 120 pounds and were fighting for their lives, one mile at a time.

There I am. I know it’s hard to see but look real close. Yhea, that’s me smiling. SMILING!!! I am about to embark on one of the most physically trying events in my life and here I am smiling. I’m nervous but I don’t feel out of place. My husband is taking this picture and God Bless his heart for standing there because once I take off there will be nothing for him to do for the next 2+ hours but wait for me to cross over the finish line. It’s cold and in a mile or so I’ll be warming up. Him, not so much. Oh yhea and that’s my bad ass running jacket that I got at the expo for half off (I run fast AND I’m thrifty!)

As I crossed over the starting line I took a long deep breath and had a conversation with EFT (Emotionally Fat Tara). I knew she was here with me. I made a deal with her. I wouldn’t run the entire 13.1 miles. I’ve been doing a 9 min run / 1 min walk split and I felt that this would really help me go the distance. Instead of relying on my HRM to tell me when it was time to walk I let the mile markers tell me. Funny thing is the mile markers were attached to the porta-potties. Each time I came to a mile marker I would walk for one minute. and I would let EFT say whatever shitty thing (pun intended) she wanted to say but under no uncertain terms was she to yap her mouth at me once the minute was up. Oh she thought she’d get the best of me (“Oh my God, we have to do this 12 more times?”, “You know you can always pretend to fall down and no one will know”, “Is that a cramp in your leg? Maybe we should stop”) but after mile marker 8 she pretty much  shut the hell up knowing I wasn’t going to stop for some silly little whining.

I had a goal of 2:30:00 so I knew as soon as I crossed over the starting line I would be spending the next 150 minutes running towards that medal waiting for me at the end of the race. I knew I was going to get it. I just kept reminding myself that this was my first half marathon: enjoy it. I didn’t need to prove to myself that I could run fast. That happened days before. The only thing I needed to do once I started this race was finish it and if you know me then you know my motto; “You only need to do two things: Start and Finish. Everything else is a party while you’re moving”

And it was a party!

I took in the environment around me. I ran with my eyes open and my mind clear. I let the encouragement from those around me carry me past each mile marker and before I knew it we were crossing the half way point and I was at 1:12:00 and feeling great. I had quickly adapted to those running around me and bobbed and weaved my way through throngs of people and since I had run this course of the race with Team in Training a few Saturdays before hand I knew the toughest part of the race was coming up and I was ready. Mile 7 – 11 was a steady incline. It was hard to run after walking for my minute but each time sixty seconds went by, I took a deep breath, waited for someone to give me a thumbs up as they passed and it was all I needed to keep going.

When mile 12 came by I was in uncharted territory. Everything up to this point I’d done in previous runs. From now until the finish line would be the longest I’d ever run. During that one minute walk I made it a point to say out loud “Can you believe we just ran 12 miles? How awesome is that?” and all the runners around me started whooping and hollering. I had been running with my music but as soon as I started that last mile toward the finish line I turned off my music to take it all in. I was running slow but still within my goal. My watch said I crossed over mile 12 at 2:11:00 (ish).

I was really going to finish this thing.

I had to work at keeping myself calm during this last mile. I didn’t want to be a crying mess and have them snap a picture of me finishing something I never even dreamed possible until a few months ago with snot running down my face (sweat yes, snot no). So many things cross your mind as you see mile marker 12 go by and mile marker 13 come into view:

I can’t believe I’m still standing upright.

I wonder what the medal looks like?

I hope I can find my husband.

Ohhhhh, my first space blanket!

I can’t wait to wear my marathon shirt first time I run after this.

Remember, look up not down when you cross over.

Wow, look at all the people cheering us on.



So I did.


397 / 590 (woman’s age division)

2779 / 4380 (woman’s half marathon)

There is so much more to this race. All the people cheering us on. The military holding American Flags at mile 6 with the names of fallen solders. The “where’s waldo” woman that kept popping up every 3 miles with her cowbell, dancing in the street telling us to keep going. Kids with their”run mommy run” signs or the dads stopping to snap a picture or two with their family before moving on. The people being tended to on the side of the road and all of us looking at each other wondering if that’s going to happen to us. The splitting of the 13.1 runners from the 26.2 runners on the course and saying a little prayer for them as you know they have so many more miles to cover and you smile inside because you’re pretty sure some day you’ll be doing the same thing.

Nothing I say will ever convey what it was like for me.

I am not the same person that started the race.

I love the person that finished.










34 responses

30 11 2010

Amazing job! This recap made me feel like I was right there with you the whole way 🙂

30 11 2010
KCLAnderson (Karen)

You are SO MY HERO!!! I always wanted to run a sub 30 min 5K but never did. And it’s okay now. I also wanted to run a half, but never did. And it’s okay now 🙂

You rock, Tara!!

30 11 2010
Tweets that mention Sub 30 in Sub 30 and Oh Hey I ran a Half Marathon Too. « 263 and counting --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zineb Said, Tara Martin. Tara Martin said: Sub 30 in Sub 30 and Oh Hey I ran a Half Marathon Too.: […]

30 11 2010

Im with scalewarfare and may take it one step MORE and count reading this as my cardio for today.
Im so flipping proud of you Woman.

LOVED seeing your early morning tweets and FBposts too.
I was right there with you.

30 11 2010

How awesome you are Tara. You are such an inspiration. You make me want to run a race, get past the fear.

30 11 2010

Congratulations! I just found your blog yesterday, and as someone perpetually at the beginning of this journey, you are such an inspiration! I hope to become a runner one day, too…reading about your journey gives me hope that this is a possibility!

30 11 2010

I read your blog through Google Reader, but I had to click over to say Congratulations! I love your blog and your story is so inspirational and REAL. You’re amazing!

1 12 2010

Thanks for this!

30 11 2010

Holy jeez, Tara. This recap gave me the shivers and made me want to cry (I restrained myself because I’m at work and there’s only so many times I can blubber in my office because of you without coming off as a little…strange!). I am SO FREAKING PROUD OF YOU!! You…WE…all of us have come so far. But watching you train for and make this half marathon a reality – has been so inspiring. THANK YOU for sharing it all with us. And CONGRATULATIONS on all of it – shutting up EFT, running a sub-30 5K in sub-30 weather, meeting your goal at the half. You, my friend, are a rock star.

1 12 2010

You’re the drums to my guitar! We ROCK!

30 11 2010
Meegan (redstar5)

I’m 100% echoing everything Val just said. (including the part about restraining myself from crying because I’m sitting in my office.) Pride doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface about how I feel about this. You are incredible. You are inspiration incarnate. This post is the VERY first time, the ONLY time I have EVER EVER EVER even contemplated that I might be able to run a half marathon. You did that. You made me think that I might be able to to do it too. I don’t know if that trumps your medal, but its pretty freakin’ awesome you give the gift of confidence like that to someone else through the power of your accomplishment and your words. xo

1 12 2010

And Meegan you’re the Bass guitar to this lovely rock band! We Rock!

30 11 2010

This is a beautiful race recap. I love reading race recaps where people are living every moment of the experience. Each moment we can step out there and participate is breathtaking to me. You are a huge inspiration to those around you and a living, breathing testament to the phrase “yes you CAN!”

30 11 2010

Woooo Hoooo!!!! I am so proud of you! I’ve been waiting for this post. 🙂 Here’s what I want to know- what did you eat after your half???? Congrats! You are a true inspiration.

1 12 2010

lol since I was in Seattle I had to get dim sum!!!!

30 11 2010
Rebecca - Thru Thin and Thick

this is a beautiful recap on so many levels..


30 11 2010

I am so fucking inspired I can barely see the keyboard.. because I am crying.

I am where you were when you started. You make me believe it’s possible.

1 12 2010

It is possible. It will happen!

30 11 2010

Tara- You are incredible. 🙂

30 11 2010

I just had to say congrats! and to also share with you our similarities.

Aug 09, started running at 252 lbs.
Aug 10 Ran my first half marathon at 180 lbs.

And i’m still losing it! 🙂

30 11 2010

You are -UH MAZE ING-!

30 11 2010
Jeremy Logsdon

Wow. I for real got cold chills reading that. Reading posts like this is what reminds me of why I eventually want to become a runner. You are amazing, and it sounds like EFT has finally learned her place. 🙂

1 12 2010

Let’s hope she’s learned and stays in her place.

30 11 2010

Tara you are such an inspiration. Reading your post made me feel like I was there with you, a part of it all. Thank you for sharing.

30 11 2010

Crying tears of joy for your achievement and your self-love. Way to go!

30 11 2010

I love that you brought eft along to show her what you can do…and that you loved yourself at the end.
I am happy and have tears in my eyes.
That was wonderful.

1 12 2010

Thanks Chris!

1 12 2010

Woo-hoo! Congrats!! Those are both amazing accomplishments, and even better to hear that neither was painful for you. I’m so proud of you and so impressed! Those are both momentous events for many runners — I also remember my first sub-30 very clearly (I’m now looking for that elusive sub-20, but have a lot of work to do before that can happen), and my first half (which was ugly for me at the finish and much slower than yours). Things you’ll remember forever! Be proud and have fun setting your next goals!

1 12 2010

What an inspiration you are! I’m filled with pride for you and for me and for all of us who are working so hard to make a change.

2 12 2010

I love you. I love watching you evolve as a person. I love the fact that whether you believe it or not, you have essentially said “screw the sky being the limit” and you are aimed somewhere out past my favorite non-planet.

4 12 2010
Tiffany endres

Gorgeously written. I also loved the folks with the flags, the lady with the cowbell and the fake fur coat. You rocked it.

9 12 2010

This is wonderful! I want to become a runner and your story helps me see that it’s possible to actually get there someday.

I’m moving (back) to the Seattle area and wondered whether you know of any track clubs for newbies?

16 12 2010

Dear BooBear,

Sorry it took me so long to read your recap. I LOVE THE PERSON THAT FINISHED TOO. And the 9 min/1 min interval sounds amazing. I think I need to give that a try. But what I’m most happy/proud of you for is NOT letting Fat Tara get inside your head and telling her to STFU because you know you’re better than that.

It feels good to start and finish doesn’t it? You are going to be my motivation for the next 6 months because I’m on a training plan now. I need to accomplish my personal goal before my birthday this July. Let’s keep moving forward together 🙂

20 02 2011
Dear Tara… « Life Changing Journey (LCJ)

[…] that’s you. Yep, that’s a half marathon. Yep, you did it 103 pounds lighter. You’ve continued to work harder than you ever give […]

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