Life lessons I learned from my first half-marathon

Ok look, I know I promised I wouldn’t write any listicles. But I’m about to drop some real truth bombs, so listen up. For the past, what feels like 2839473289 months, I’ve training for my first half-marathon. I started off not being able to get through a single mile. Literally, when the treadmill hit 0.66 miles, I had to stop to catch my breath or nurse a leg cramp or something.

Even when I pushed myself to run more, I had to deal with all kinds of ridiculous beginner runner injuries like shin splints and swollen ankles and knees and I pretty much felt like an old lady limping on one foot around campus for many weeks. But thanks to the Couch to 5k app, a lot of Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid m.A.A.d. city” album on repeat, and the Map My Run app, I can now proudly say that as of Feb. 15, I’ve run a half-marathon in 2 hours and 30 mins, at an 11:04 pace. Not the greatest, I know, but to be honest, I’m just so proud that I finished. Running for hours at a time allows for a lot of introspection and unnecessary navel gazing so here’s the closest I’m going to get to disclosing the meaning of life on this blog.

  1. Consistency trumps skill. To get from 0.66 miles to 13.1, there is literally no shortcut. There’s no crash-course. You can’t “cram” training the night before, like you *cough* I *cough* study for exams. There’s no way to get from 0.66 to 13.1 other than consistently training for multiple days a week. I feel like if I applied this to all of my other goals, I would be much more forgiving of my initial inability, and have a lot more patience for the process it takes to go from mediocre to competent when you’re trying to develop a new skill.
  2. Competition is a good thing. When I was training by myself, I was running at a pace that was usually slower than 12 minutes. It was pretty bad. But just being surrounded by people on race day — people of all different skill levels and abilities — it pushed me to run and hold a pace much faster than I thought I was capable of. If I looked at competition as a healthy motivator instead of taking it as an attack on my personal abilities, I’d probably have a much healthier relationship and state of mind when dealing with it on a day to day basis.
  3. Don’t compare your first race to someone’s 20th. I was pretty happy just to finish the race. It’s ridiculous to expect to kill the game if it’s your first time playing. It’s great to have people to look up to and to motivate you and give you a goal to keep in mind of where you want to head. But putting your accomplishments in context with your experience is important.
  4. Rest and recuperation is just as important as training. This is something that I only realized in hindsight because “rest and recuperation” feels a lot like doing nothing. When I was dealing with pretty frequent injuries, making sure to abide by my rest days and making sure to cross-train are what helped me get over them. I guess that extends to every day as well. Don’t feel guilty about taking a reasonable break if that’s what’s preventing you from burning out.
  5. Mind over matter. Every time. When I was training on my own, exhausting the same routes and same music playlist every week, I was able to run about 6-7  miles without having to stop. On race day, with an entirely different and challenging route, a new playlist, and the energy of people around me, I was able to push through 10 miles without having to stop. It’s crazy how much of the challenge is a mental one.
  6. Success isn’t a defined destination. This is a conclusion that I’ve been arriving at, not just through running, but in other aspects of my life as well. You always feel like a beginner. There is no moment of “making it,” no matter how many goals you achieve and hurdles you overcome. I finished running my half-marathon, a goal I was working on for months. But immediately after finishing, I found myself idolizing the people with faster paces, or the people who went on to finish the full marathon. There are always people ahead of you, and always people behind you. The expression “Work until your idols become your rivals” is bullsh*t, because it assumes that your idols aren’t working towards their goals either. Your idols are not waiting for you to catch up, so the best you can do is keep working until you attain a level of self-contentment that’s not dependent on the achievement of people around you.
  7. It takes a while to love something. I think all of us have this secret wish that we’re going to find a skill that we’re magically amazing at and love immediately. But with running, I didn’t actually enjoy the process and look forward to running until really late in the game. I guess with anything, you have to invest energy and effort to really develop a passion for it. Now, after my first rest week in months, I’m anxious to get back to running.
  8. Sometimes, problems look worse than they actually are. During the half-marathon, we ran on NW 16th St., that Gainesville natives know, is absolute hell. Crazy rolling hills that I’ve never run before. Every time I’d see a hill, I’d think, “There’s no way I can run that.” But every time, I’d start the incline and realize that it was nothing close to the struggle I thought it would be. Definitely need to apply this my life. The most difficult part of a lot of challenges is to just get started.

Ok that’s it for now. This half-marathon has been a great confidence booster for me, and I’m hoping to ride this wave of motivation through the rest of the semester.

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“Good writing is re-writing”

Today was the first day of my Reporting class and it was great. I am so pumped. Slightly nervous. Definitely a little bit anxious. But, for sure excited. Just in the first day of lecture, I feel like I’ve picked up so much writing advice that I am ready to try out and work with. Current attitude: bring it on. It’ll be interesting to see how that’ll change as the semester goes on — because let’s be real, it definitely will.

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That being said, I’d like to add a new goal to my already extensive list of goals for this year: stop complaining. I don’t want to be that person who’s most defining character trait is “tired,” because I feel like that’s what I hear from a lot of people when you ask them what’s up. We’re all students, we’re all busy, and we’re all tired. It’s not a point of pride to brag about how tired you are, and it’s not impressive or pleasant to spend a conversation listing off the reasons you’re so exhausted. It’s — dare I say it — tiring. So from this day onwards, I’m going to work on minimizing the word from my vocabulary. If someone catches me doing otherwise, I’m going to need them to call me out.

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Another high point of today, besides Reporting, was finishing an 8 mile run this morning. I’m still in disbelief because whenever I see the milage slowly increase one at a time on my health app each week, I keep remembering how before I started running, I would have to stop to catch my breath the moment the treadmill hit 0.6. I keep waiting for shin splits to come back and ruin my life like they used to, but *knock on wood* it hasn’t happened yet. This half-marathon may actually happen — who would’ve thought? Definitely not high school me. Maybe not even college freshman me.

Ok pEaCe oUt for now. This week is so far panning out nicely and can’t wait for the semester to start rolling.

University of Florida issues warning after Twitter threats

The University of Florida received 15 simultaneous Twitter messages Tuesday evening with the threat, “Im gonna shoot up the college tomorrow.”

In a campus-wide alert sent by email at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, the University of Florida Police Department said the threat is “general in nature” and that the “credibility of the threat is considered to be low at this time.”

For full article, click here.

Picture source: http://www.floridapolytechnic.org

Pentz lives in housing through Southern Scholarship Foundation

Dinner at Hansen is homemade lasagna prepared in a communal kitchen by the students themselves – a stark contrast to the infamous dining hall grub that other college students at UF are eating.

Ansley Pentz feels right at home.

Pentz, a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Chiefland, Florida, doesn’t hesitate in the slightest to call her 16 other housemates family. Living in Hansen, one of nine houses in Gainesville that are part of the Southern Scholarship Foundation, she couldn’t be happier with her housemates and the warm, home-like atmosphere the program provides.

“It’s so nice to come home to smiling faces,” Pentz said. “I love having someone to share things with.”

SSF provides rent-free housing to students across Florida with financial need and academic merit. Gainesville has nine houses: three for men and six for women.

The houses are a much more intimate setting than the standard dorm or apartment-style housing – possibly setting the state for quarrels and disputes. Pentz disagreed.

“Overall, the experience is really good because people are so carefully selected,” Pentz said. She emphasized however, that the house rules keep everyone in check.

“I really rejoice in the rules,” Pentz said. “I know I can come home to a safe, nice environment.”

After an extensive application process, Pentz toured the home before her freshman year and felt that the program would be a good fit. But, taking the plunge into communal living with 16 other people, Pentz had her hesitations initially.

“It was a little daunting at first because you’re living with all of these strangers,” Pentz said. But she quickly acclimated to the experience and became close with many of the women – bonding over similar majors and life experiences.

“I definitely Facebook stalked everyone first though,” Pentz said.

@Ansley_Pentz

Picture source: http://www.yt3.ggpht.com

University of Florida aims for ‘zero waste’ football games

A general view of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The University of Florida has ambitious goals for their nationally recognized football stadium, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The UF Office of Sustainability is working to achieve the status of the first ‘zero waste’ stadium in the Southeastern Conference, and have already had remarkable success.

For full post, click here.

Picture source: Kim Klement – USA Today Sports

 

5 Ways to Avoid the UF Plague

Cooler weather is in the air, but with it comes something much more unpleasant: the UF plague. If you haven’t been taken as a victim yourself, you most likely know at least a couple people who have. Here are some pointers and reminders on how to arm yourself against this seasonal inconvenience:

1. Wash your hands often 
As intuitive as this sounds, we could all use the reminder. You touch so many things throughout the day with your hands that other people have come in contact with too. Door knobs, faucets, money, tabletops and even the escalator at Library West are all touched by hundreds of students each day, which makes them prime surfaces for the spread of viruses and bacteria. To do it right, wash your hands and wrists for a full 20 seconds with warm water and soap. If a sink or soap is unavailable, hand sanitizer that has an alcohol content of more than 60 percent works great as well. Don’t worry. Your Bath & Body Works mini hand sanitizers contain a full 68 percent.

For full post, click here.

Picture source: i.huffpost.com

Why Being a Sophomore is Better Than Being a Freshman, as told by Harry Potter

Although the beginning of freshman year was riddled with anxiety, stress and unrealistic expectations, I can say from personal experience that sophomore year is a major improvement in all aspects of college life. Here are just a few of the things that make sophomore year so much sweeter:

1. Sophomores already have a group of friends to come back to. 
Freshman year was full of introductions, cheesy icebreakers and pressure to immediately become best friends with everyone you met, but sophomore year is not. There’s already an established group of friends whom you love and have seen through the best and worst times. Although there’s plenty of opportunity to meet new people and see new faces, sophomore year comes with the comfort of having people around that we’re already close to.

For full post, click here.

Picture Source: images2.fanpop.com

This post was a top chapter article on Her Campus, on Sept. 16, 2014!