Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My first half marathon. The story.

October 31, 2013. That is the day I decided I would do it. It was a spur of the moment decision, really. 
For years I said I was NEVER going to run more than a 5k. Okay, sometimes I could be convinced to do a 4-miler (such as Resolution Run), but that was it for me. I had zero intentions on EVER going farther. For me, a long run was 4 miles. No more. I mean, come on, who would WANT to run for any longer? Who would enjoy doing such a thing? 
Well, me it turns out. 
The day I decided to do it, it was a pretty easy decision. I basically work up and was like "oh hey, i'm going to run a half marathon. I don't know when, but i'm going to do it."
And I did.

In the beginning, like December, my older sister was planning on running Gazelle Girl Half Marathon (with a friend of hers). She's not a runner. And so it was like, I knew I was going to run one eventually, so I better get on this bus too because I can't let her beat me to it! Maybe I am a little competitive at times after all. 

I began training for this race at the start of the year. By that I mean I began long runs. That was the only element from the training guide that I decided to follow. I was already I die-hard runner. I only needed to add the weekly distance run to my routine. It was easy at first. But that's only because it basically started from square one, and so I had already been doing the distance that it was instructing. 
I signed up toward the end of January. The day that I did my first 8 mile run. This was like a breakthrough to me. I was like "AHHH! I ran so far! Wow!"At the time I signed up, the race was so far into the future that I tried not to think about it. Though, as the date drew nearer that kind of became hard to do. Considering my long runs were actually becoming long runs. Since the first of the  I signed up for Gazelle Girl toward the end of January 2014. It was at this point that I was committed. I mean, I wasn't going to spend all of that money and have it go to waste. That would be silly. 

February rolls around. As does my first 10 mile run. Up to this point, I had been doing my long runs on Wednesday. I did this for the following reasons:
A. I had a 4 hour break between classes, so it was something to do. 
B. I could run indoors. The throughout of running outside wasn't too appealing. That, and not necessarily safe on some of the days. This winter was crazy.

So yeah, I had been running inside, but on this day I was on spring break. Not at school. And so I had to run outdoors. My first outdoor long run. I hated it.  So cold. So much running. It took forever. 
Also, unfortunately my sister's knee was injured in February and was told my the Dr. not to run on it for a good 6 months. So she was out of the race. March rolls around though and my sister-in-law signs up. So that's cool. 

March was an amazing month for me. I got a new high in miles. And grew a love for long runs. I hit the 13 mile mark and was like "okay, downhill from here."

And then came April. Ahh, April. Really, i'm not sure that there was a time where the race wasn't in the back of my mind just a little bit. The week before the race was the worst. I was so nervous. But as the week before turned into just days before, the nervousness wore off. I resigned myself to the fact that it would happen. And took comfort knowing that a week from then, it would all be over and I would be able to say that I had done it.

The day before the race a did a really easy 3 mile run. It felt fantastic. That night I was able to fall asleep surprisingly easy. 
And then, it was the day.

April 13, 2014, 6:05AM. My alarm goes off. Actually backtrack like five minutes. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm having no idea what time it was; I didn't know if there was minutes before my alarm, or hours. But I didn't want to check around for my phone, because then if it was hours I would be too awake to fall back asleep. So I laid there contemplating what to do. That is, check the time, or not check it. As I said before, I didn't want to check it because I didn't want to stay up. But as you can see, it didn't really do me much good because I was still quite awake in my thoughts. 
A few minutes pass and I hear my dad downstairs. This is good news, because it means that there is only a few minutes until the alarm. And so I continue to lay there, waiting for the alarm to chime.  

Okay, back to 6:05AM. I got out of bed. Did normal waking up stuff (wash face, pee, etc.) and then had breakfast. Afterwhich I brushed my teeth, gathered my belongings and was out the door my 6:30AM. I was dropped off at Colin and Lisa's apartment to ride with them  to the race. On the way Lisa handed my bib to me. Excitement grew. I had no nervousness. I knew it was the day, I knew it was happening, I knew that it would all be done within the next 4 hours. 
Photo Credit Lisa
And then we arrived. After parking, we walked to Rosa Parks. As we crossed the bridge, Colin said "I know, let's play the "who can spot the most runners wearing their race shirts" game."This was in sarcasm, and referring to our being against when people wear their race shirts during the race. In my opinion, you don't wear it until after you run it.

Photo Credit Gazelle Girl Half Marathon Facebook Page
We got to Rosa Parks probably at 7:30AM and stood around. People begin to fill the starting corral, the pacers included. Only, at first there was only the 9min/milers-the 12min/milers in the gate. And so I said to Colin "I guess people don't think that women can run any faster than a 9min/mile in a half." He laughed. In the next drew minutes though, the 8min & 8:30min pacers entered.
7:50AM rolls around and Lisa and I decide to enter the corral. Colin gave me a hug and told me he was proud of me. After Lisa and I entered the starting area, we wished each other luck, and headed our separate ways. I had no idea what pace I would be running. I didn't time myself during training. At all. And so, with Colin's advice, I just went to the front (as my last race I had been doing 6:47min/miles).

8:00AM. National anthem. A guy rambles, burning time because a car is stalled 15ft in front of the starting line. People can't get the car started, and decide to just begin the race.
And GO.
Photo Credit Lauren Petrecca for Mlive.
You can see me in the photo above. The one in the gray and purple tank, smiling at the camera.

It was honestly so exciting, that I ran a good 30 yards before starting my iPod. And then I was like "Oh wait, there's no music going..." And side note, my plan for this race was do mile 1 with music, miles 2-4 with Adventures in Odyssey, mile 5 with music, miles 6-9 with odyssey, and the rest music. 

Mile one was a breeze. I recognized this part of the course. It was the same as the turkey trot. 
Mile two. Again, easy. Colin was at the mile two marker, that was cool:) It was fun to have him encourage me. And he got a few photos too. 

Photo Credit Colin

Miles 3-4 were still easy. And fun. Like, this was still the distance of my no-doubt-every-day run.
Miles 5-8 were tricky. Not as in I was tired, it was just mentally difficult. There was just so far to go yet, and that's really all that I could think about. But once I hit mile 9, it got a lot better. I was past the half way mark, and from here it was only only 4 miles to go. Which, when I run at home, that's a distance I often do. 
Photo credit Rob Meendering for StellaFly
Photo above is around the 9-mile-mark.
Mile 10 was super encouraging. I heard the 8min pacers behind me call out "It's a 5k from here, baby!"
Colin was waiting at mile 11.5ish. That was encouraging and fun to see. His cheers encouraged me a lot. 
Mile 12 was annoying. Because it began with a hill. Hill's aren't something i'm unfamiliar with, for the roads at my house are purely hills. My reaction was more just like "ahh, seriously?"
Finally I came to the blue bridge. And then through the city. And then 1/4th of a mile from the finish was Colin. He snapped a picture of me and then sprinted alongside of the road making me go faster.
Photo Credit: Colin
And then came the finish! That part is kind of a blur. It was just an amazing feeling to sprint down through the corral, which was surrounded with so many people watching, and cross the finish line.
Photo Credit Robert Wilcox for StellaFly
I did it. Half Marathon. 
Time: 1:43:55
Age division place: 3rd!
Overall place: 60th!
I was quite pleased with these stats, it being my first half marathon. Less than 8min/miles. I was also less than a minute behind the person who placed first in my age division.
Photo Credit Colin
I'm totally going to do another in the future. Also leaning towards doing the Riverbank 25k in a few weeks...

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