I ran a half marathon, and you can too!


run half marathonI ran the Greater Des Moines Women’s Half Marathon in September! This was something on my bucket list that I wanted to complete while I still physically could. I finished (nearly) last, but I did it! And if I can do it, you can too.

How to Run in a Road Race

Here are my tips for reaching your road race goals!

Training tips

I did not set a time goal to run the entire race. I just wanted to finish it within the course time limit. My goal was to push my body to do something hard, not impossible. When setting your goal make sure to push yourself to be your best, but not to a point you will suffer an injury.

I downloaded the RunKeeper app and printed off a 10-week training schedule. The schedule includes a 5K and 10K road race as part of the training. I added two months of cross-training doing barre, Zumba, and weight lifting.

Running Gear

I bought a camelback for long runs, body glide, protein bars, and special runner vitamins to take during my training. I gave up drinking alcohol for the last month leading up to the race. Otherwise, my nutrition didn’t change much since I wasn’t doing this to lose weight. Over time, my resting heart rate lowered (which happens when you work out consistently). I slowly built calluses in the right places on my feet to avoid severe blisters the day of the race.

I ran into a friend during the race who was out training for her own run! We spent a few miles chatting.

The race

My 10K race was harder than my half marathon. And the difference was the support around me. During the 10K, I was all alone and didn’t know the course. The half marathon was full of women supporting each other.

At one point, a 5K runner who was passing me stopped, turned around to give me a high five, then started running again. I even ran into a friend who was out for her own training run. She did a few miles with me and we chatted about races. It was so inspiring and the most fun I ever had in a road race.

Bring your kids along for the journey

The best part of this entire experience was hearing my children yell for me on the course. My son declared me the winner (even though the course was nearly closed). My daughter watched my mileage on the RunKeeper tracking app, counting down what I had left to finish. During my training, she asked each workout how far I had run. When I finished the race she said, “Well, now you have to run 18.”

While I won’t be running 18 miles, I did realize this journey showed her an example of setting a goal and achieving it – then the value of setting a new goal.   

They made me feel like a winner, a hero. 

Now, on to the next goal!

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Niki grew up in Earlham, Iowa and now lives with her husband Ryan, daughter Riley, and son Merritt in Johnston. Riley has an observant stare that inspired the Facebook page Riley Is Not Impressed. Niki is an assistant director of public relations, social media at Drake University where she runs the university’s main social media accounts. She is also the director of the world-famous Beautiful Bulldog Contest. She has an Olde English Bulldog named Dexter, but he is ineligible to compete because she already knows he’s the most beautiful bulldog. She serves as President on the Board of Directors for Animal Lifeline of Iowa, which is a special needs, no-kill animal shelter. Niki is a two-time graduate of Drake University with a bachelor’s in journalism (2008) and a Master’s in Communication Leadership (2015).


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