The First Half

This past weekend I ran a half marathon. A HALF MARATHON. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

Yes I’m aware I was training for this event for almost four months. However the idea of actually running 13.1 miles seemed at one point, impossible. Now that I’ve done it, I’m not really sure that it happened.

I finished my first half marathon at 2:04:42, about 5 minutes faster than my projected finish time. How is this possible? Well, according to my 12-mile long run which I average at just under 10 minutes per mile, I should’ve finished around 2:10. An admirable time for a first marathon in my eyes. So you can imagine my surprise when the gun time at the finish line was hitting 2:05. (And gasp! I even stopped at mile 10 to use the bathroom!)

Finish line
Near the finish line of my first half marathon.

The run was unbelievable. I keep recalling scenes from the race, remembering how I felt. Remembering more difficult parts of the races and not wanting to remember how that felt. Both my family and my Ironman friend were there to cheer me on. My mom made a sign, which I plan to keep. I high fived the crowd as I passed by and miraculously felt relaxed at times. I remember seeing other runners and how they ran, their gait, their clothes, if they carried a supply belt or how incredibly sweaty they became during the beginning of the race because of the humidity.

It is almost surreal that I actually finished. For almost four months I dedicated myself to the training plan and the advice of my friends who had competed before. I thought more emotion would flood forward when I finished, but I suppose most of my energy at the finish was focused on catching my breath.

The last 4 or 5 long runs will be some of the most memorable. Here’s a recap on a few:

  • the first 8 mile run: I did it in the rain. Never rain in the rain before.
  • the second 8 mile run: I ran with a friend and did not take any walk breaks. She also showed me a new route around town.
  • the 11 mile run: It was terrible. I tried to do it in early afternoon and only got past 3 miles before I had to stop to walk the last 5 because my legs were not having it. I walked the remaining three the next day. {this undoubtedly left me a little shaken – could I run 13.1 miles?}
  • the 6 mile improvised run – I made new friends in small town Mississippi training during a family trip.
  • the 12 mile run: (on a Wednesday) I ran from one point to another down a trail I’ve never been on before. It was a good, relaxing run (until about mile 10), but I finished! (and learned the value of compression clothing for recovery)
  • the 8 mile run (last long run!): This run was truly more relaxing than I could have imagined. At one point, the music on my iPhone was on a classical tune which reminded me of the movie “Man from Snowy River” where the horses are running slow motion through the snow before the music picks up and the horses are off again!

Ok so that was six, but they were all really important. And let’s not forget that I checked off running my first 10K as a part of my training!

I’m so thankful of all the support I’ve received over the years from former roommates who got me started running, to group fitness instructors who pushed me to new levels and friends who offered words of encouragement or my younger brother telling me to “man up”. A running legend even acknowledged my tweet about my first half!

I’ve been in “recovery mode” this week for what that’s worth. It’s an odd feeling. I look forward to starting up again for the next event soon.

And last, but not least and definitely (most likely) the most important part, is that I get to put a “13.1” sticker on my car.

Stay tuned for scenes from the second half…

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