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More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon

By Jessica Bellofatto | Posted on April 19, 2011

Running. For some of us it is our joy. For others, the idea of running one mile, let alone 13.1 miles, conjures up a dread akin to having to appear in traffic court (as I did this morning!). I fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, although over the years my reluctance has shifted quite a bit, to the point where most days, once I get going (it is always the getting going that seems to be the hardest), I find running to be a beautiful and much needed respite. A forced break from emails, blackberry, and being indoors.

I had always been a casual runner through high school and my 20’s. Three miles was about my limit. (OK, who am I kidding, 20 minutes or the equivalent of about 2 miles at that time used to be my limit.) It was not until after the birth of both my kids, when I was driving along Long Beach in beautiful Sag Harbor, NY, where I am blessed to live, that I saw hundreds of people swimming in the bay for the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon and decided at that moment that I was going to train for one (although I had never cycled and was hardly what could be called a swimmer, OR a runner for that matter).

I started training shortly thereafter for a few sprint distance triathlons, an Olympic distance at the end of the season, and a half marathon thrown in for good measure. After my first race on a gorgeous July day three years ago, I was hooked. I ran every Sunday morning that first summer with a running group who were all training for the Hamptons Half or Full Marathon. Every Sunday, I would run the LONGEST distance I had ever run. First it was 7 miles, then 9, then 10. Every Sunday was a new hurdle, a new feeling of accomplishment, a newfound gratitude for the power of my legs and the distances they could carry me.

Since then, I have run a dozen half marathons, as well as a few half Ironman distance triathlons. I definitely consider myself now ‘a runner.’ So when Athleta asked me if I would like to run in the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park, NYC as well as emcee the Athleta Fashion Show at the Health and Wellness Expo, I didn’t hesitate to say yes!

I was, however, untrained. And as much as in the months leading up to the race I kept telling myself to step up my training, and that I had not run that distance since my last half Ironman in October, it has been a tough winter for me. I moved houses, am expanding my yoga studio, and we have had more snow and frigid temperatures than I can remember in a LONG time (and I hate the treadmill!!). So, before I knew it, the weekend of the race was near.

More-Fitness Women's Half MarathonI headed on the bus into the city with my kids and two black eyes from a surfing accident in Rincon, Puerto Rico the week before. I arrived to the Health and Wellness Expo and met some of the amazing Athleta team. A very talented makeup artist did wonders covering the purple bruises under my eyes (although I felt like I was wearing a mask and raced to wash it off after the fashion show), and I did my best representing Athleta and talking about the awesome running clothes to the women at the Expo.

Sunday morning I rose early to a gorgeous, crisp, New York spring day. I arrived at the race start and immediately my nerves settled as I began to soak in the power and energy of thousands of women about to all do the same thing, together. At the opening speech, we were reminded that the winner of this race last year was an amazing athlete who had just qualified for the Kona Ironman and was tragically killed in a cycling accident just a few weeks prior. Her sister was there on race day, about to run in her honor. At that moment, I cried, for this incredible young woman and the suffering of her family. And I was reminded, yet again, how important it is to be present in this life, every second of it, and to be grateful, every second.

The gun went off, and the race began. I had a decent race, a bit of leg cramping and knee pain around mile 8, but then the adrenaline kicked in and I finished strong in a respectable 1:50 and change. This race is such an incredible event, being the largest women’s half marathon in the country, and I was proud to be affiliated with Athleta who was a big sponsor of the event.

I was inspired after this race as well, to REALLY get back into my running (race season is near!) and have been running a lot more since race day. Here are some tips for rousing yourself from the slumber of winter, lacing up, and getting started!!! Hope to see you at the start line next year!

  • Schedule your runs into your daily calendar. Make them a priority, block out the time, and stay committed, as you would with any other appointment. The first step is showing up!
  • Run with a friend. Or an acquaintance. Or a co-worker. ANYONE! Find a few people who run at about the same pace as you, and run together. You are much more likely to keep that appointment if by not going, you will be letting someone else down.
  • Be sure to increase your speed and distance SLOWLY! I highly recommend investing in some sort of GPS watch to monitor your speed and distance. I love running with my Garmin watch. It enables me to find new routes of varying distances, gives me my mile splits, and makes every run fun and different.
  • Cross train wisely. Incorporate yoga, TRX, etc., to maintain flexibility and increase strength. Strong legs make you go faster!!
  • Get some new sneakers. Or a great running outfit (I am in love with Athleta’s Long Sleeve Wickit Workout Tee in Berry Swirl and the Quick Step Capri!). Something that you will be happy to put on and will get you excited to get up and go!
  • Have faith in yourself. You can do it. And you will always feel better that you did.

Happy running!


This blog was originally posted on Athleta.com