One word to describe my first half marathon?
Here is the craziest part. It has been in the 80′s here over the past week. Then we woke up this morning to temperatures in the low 30′s. As if that weren’t enough, we were dealing with 20 mph winds! Unbelievable.
I decided (after considering all of your advice!) to layer it up. My family joked that I looked like I was heading out to run in Alaska, but trust me – I needed every layer!
I wore: two sports bras (as usual), my “Wannabe Athlete” tank top, my bright yellow jacket, a throw away yellow zip up hoodie, and an ugly brown coat I bought at Wal-Mart in college and haven’t worn it at least 5 years. I also wore my Bondi Band, visor and a beanie I would eventually throw away at mile 11. I grabbed a pair of my husband’s socks (that already had holes) and used them as gloves. On the bottom, I wore my capris – and wrapped a trash bag around my legs while we waited to start. I am not kidding…it was COLD!
We headed downtown around 6:15am – and the race didn’t start until 7:30. Have I mentioned how cold we were? My dad thankfully found an alcove at Tropicana Field where we could hide from the wind. The only problem? We shared the alcove with a dumpster. Not such a problem in the dark – but we definitely didn’t want to see what surrounded us when the sun came up. Eww.
But we didn’t care. At least we were warm!
We came out of our hiding place to find the other IRunMommies who were running the race. We had quite a crew!
After the photo, we quickly retreated back to our warm alcove.
A few minutes before the gun went off, I headed to find Corral 11.
Since I’d never run a half marathon before, I really had no idea what time to predict. I wrote down 2:50 as an estimate, but feared I had sold myself short and would be frustrated dodging other runners.
Thankfully, I mentioned my fears to my friend KellyAnn, a seasoned runner. Her suggestion? Just start at the front of the corral – since they space out the starts of the corrals by about a minute, you have time to get going without tripping on people. SUCH great advice. Seriously. I am convinced it made the start to my half marathon SO much better.
I found Katie right before we took off (sorry for the blurry photo!)
And we inched to the front of the corral. It felt SO cool to have our toes on the starting line. I had a brief (and fleeting) moment of feeling like what an elite runner might feel like. Nothing but wide open space ahead.
Before I knew it, we were off! The adrenaline surged through me and I looked down at my Garmin and saw I had started at an 8:36min/mile pace. Whoa.
See those people up ahead of us? We caught up with them in no time. Some of them never ran a step of the race – they were walking already! Not sure why they were in the corral ahead of us…
I tossed my brown coat right before we started, but almost wished I had kept it for those first few miles. It took a while to get feeling into my hands and feet! Before we knew it, we were at the 5k mark – our 5k time was 33:36. Great start!
Right around that time, we saw our awesome spectators for the first time. Katie handed off her big cat and I handed off my yellow hoodie and sock mittens. I meant to give them my beanie too, but forgot – and later found myself happy I still had it!
I can’t say enough about our awesome spectators. As cold as we were running, they had to be even colder spectating. But they were there, offering their love and support. I can’t thank them enough!
I felt great at this point and may or may not have danced a little much to one of the bands playing “Living on a Prayer.” Fun stuff.
We crossed the 10k mark at 1:07:57, just a little slower than my 10k last month. Considering we weren’t even halfway done yet, I really didn’t mind.
We just took in the sights and enjoyed the ride. Oh and accidently took photos with my cell phone.
Around mile 7, Katie started feeling a little rough. Her knee has been bothering her for a while and it started giving her trouble, along with her feet and her stomach. She tried to convince me to go on ahead but I refused. I had committed to staying with her come hell or high water.
But I still felt great. Amazing, actually. Poor Katie had to deal with my “pep” as she put it.
Finally, around mile 10, I saw Mary doing her “cool down” run near the course and she jumped in to run with us. Katie needed a walking break and I asked her if she was SURE I could go on ahead. She insisted. And so I went.
My splits sure looked funny around that time. I went from doing Mile 10 in 13:45 to Mile 11 in 11:16. I hadn’t run a mile that fast since Mile 3. Seeing my family again definitely helped!
But it was there at Mile 11 that I finally started to feel the strain I was putting on my body. My hips started to ache and I suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that I had birthed a baby just eight months ago. My hips were the only place I had pain during pregnancy and that pain came back to visit me over those last two miles.
I seriously don’t think two miles have ever felt as long as those last two miles felt.
With less than a mile to the finish line, my little sister jumped in to run with me. I laughed when she said, “Do you want to sprint to the finish?” I responded,”I AM sprinting!”
Before I knew it, I saw the finish line ahead. I just kept repeating (out loud I think), “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”
I couldn’t believe it.
All those years of dreaming. All those miles of training. All those moments of longing.
I crossed the finish line at 2:35:33 – with the biggest smile on my face.
Was it easy? Not at all.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Will I do it again? You better believe it.
Katie came in in not far behind me, finishing strong!
While Katie and I were plugging along, my dad was running his own rockstar first half marathon. The longest race he had ever finished was the Gasparilla 15k somewhere around 1992. And until the 10k last month, he hadn’t run a distance race since that time.
But if you were out there, you wouldn’t have believed it. He rocked his first half marathon at the age of 53 with a 2:09:12 finish. That’s an average pace of 9:52min/mile. Unbelievable.
I have to give a big shoutout to Meghann who ROCKED her race – with a PR of 1:45:39! Despite spending all the time before the race together and going to brunch afterwards together, I don’t have a single photo of her on raceday. Not sure how that happened, but check out her blog for her recap! (Including some pretty hilarious photos of us hiding next to the dumpster.)
Last but not least, thank YOU for all your love and encouragement over this journey. You have no idea what your comments, tweets and posts on Facebook mean to me. Seriously. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible. I mean that. You made me believe in myself and now I can proudly say that I have completed a half marathon.
It’s going to take a little while for that to sink in.