Sunday, March 21, 2010

My First Half-Marathon

I was right about not exercising again until the race. Friday morning I was about to get up to go for a quick run, but Drew told me that he wasn't getting up to exercise and was going to take a long weekend off, so I figured that I had just better follow that plan as well. We flew down to Atlanta Friday night and got here without any delays (is it just me, or do airlines seem to be getting better?).

Yesterday I spent the day with my family going to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and then my cousin's first baseball game. Of course, the weather was beautiful and made me with that the forecast for tomorrow was looking a little better. My aunt made us dinner and then I was off to bed pretty early. Oh, and by the way, we had Indian for dinner. It was delicious and not an issue at all as most people tend to think. My stomach is pretty tough, though. As long as I stear clear of the foods it hates (bananas and almonds), I can pretty much eat anything and still go running.

This morning I got up about 5:15 and had some Muscle Milk and a Clif Bar. We headed off to the Start line and Drew dropped me off around 6:15. I walked around a little bit. I didn't have a bag to check, so I just stood in line for the bathrooms (port-a-potties, of course) before heading over to my corral. I was in corral I, which was about in the middle of the total number of corrals. While I was waiting for the race to start, two different guys started chatting with me - about my running hat and then triathlons. I guess all that chatting was a really good distraction because all of a sudden, someone was singing the National Anthem.

Before I knew it, I was crossing the Start line! I had thought that it could take quite a while to reach the start line, but I crossed it at 7:05. New York Road Runner races generally take a lot longer than that, so I was really impressed with how quickly they got us started. It was still dark for the first few miles of the race. I tried on some outfits last night and settled on wearing capris, a long-sleeved shirt and my Terrier Tri top over it all. I think that it was about 50 degrees the whole time. When I was standing in the corral, I was a little bit chilly. The first mile or so, I was a bit too hot. Then it started sprinkling and I was perfect. I felt a little bit like Goldilocks.

During the first mile, a girl fell down right in front of me. It was actually pretty scary, as I wasn't quite sure that I wasn't going to step on top of her, but I managed to miss her. I also couldn't believe that she fell, as the hole that she fell into was huge and I'm not sure how she wasn't able to see it. She did get up pretty quickly and say that she was okay, so I hope that she really was and finished the race. I can't imagine how bummed I'd be to fall in the first mile of a race and hurt myself!

Drew's plan was to try to see me around Mile 2 and Mile 3 and then again at the finish. The first time I saw him, I yelled out to him (since he was still walking to the meeting spot), but luckily we saw each other and he snapped these photos (I'm Bib # 10006):

I'm not really saying "I'm #1" here! I was trying to tell him a place to meet me and I said, "Bag Check #1". I realized as soon as I put my finger up the air that it'd make for a funny picture later on! I guess these photos show how dark it was at the start.

I saw him again around Mile 3. He then sent a text to my aunt, so that she could try to see me around Mile 8. I have to say that it was really great knowing that I had something to look forward to after the half-way point. I ran the first mile in about 10:05. And then I ran the second mile in 9:10. I don't know what happened there. As soon as I realized what had happened, I knew that there was no way that I could sustain that pace, so I told myself that I had to slow down if I wanted to finish this race. These are from when I saw Drew around Mile 3:

I know it sounds crazy, but I didn't really have a plan for this race. My whole goal was to finish. I didn't have a time goal - except to say that I'd like to finish in under 3 hours. I really was just looking at this as mental preparation for Timberman in August. Just to know that I can go the distance is a really big deal for me, so that was my whole plan for today.

There were a couple of funny moments throughout the race. The first one happened just after Mile 6. I passed a girl talking on her cell phone (really?) and she was saying that she had just passed Mile 6 and was already dying. I couldn't help but laugh a little to myself that she was on the phone. I hope she made it okay. The other funny moment was around Mile 8. Two guys were running behind me and they were talking about how one of the guys had put his arm around a girl and how it would be interpreted - friendly or something more. I turned around and told them that I didn't believe that guys really talked about stuff like this. They told me that they were really trying to be good guys. I'm guessing that after running for over an hour, maybe they had just run out of other things to talk about?

I saw my aunt and my cousin just before Mile 8. I knew the corner that I was supposed to look for them and when I got there, I was running really slowly trying to look through the crowd of people there. I was thinking that there was a chance that they might not be there since the weather was sort-of icky with the rain, but then I heard my aunt yell out and we all waved. It was just so great to have so much support out on the race!

I have to say that the running itself was fairly uneventful. I definitely took some walking breaks through the aid stations, even if I didn't always get a cup of water or Gatorade. I also walked up a couple of hills. I have to say that the course was pretty hilly. I knew that going into it, but I think I was expecting just a couple of big hills and instead it was roller after roller after roller. I really enjoyed looking at all the houses along the route!

I think it was somewhere between Miles 8 and 10 that I saw the 2:15 pace team. I really thought about joining them. Mainly because I thought that all of those pace teams were far in front of me and I couldn't believe that they were catching up to me. I am 99% sure I could have done it, but I decided just to run my own race and see how things worked out.

Around Mile 10, I got a huge surprise! Drew was there! I thought I wouldn't see him again until the finish, but somehow he managed to surprise me! That was really pretty awesome. Here I am:

After that, the marathon winner ran by us. Nothing like knowing someone else can run a full marathon faster than you can run a half-marathon to make you feel good about yourself! The course is designed so that the first several miles are shared by half and full marathoners. Then we split, only to come back together for the last few miles. However, they had barricades up so that the marathoners had a separate lane for finishing. In addition to seeing the first and second place winners run by, we were also able to see the mile markers for the end of the marathon. The girl next to me commented that we got to Mile 24 in record time. I told her that I think we had just qualified for Boston we were so speedy!

The rest of the race went by pretty quickly. I have to say that the whole thing wasn't too bad. My biggest complaint of the day was that immediately after I passed Mile 13, spectators kept yelling out "Just a half-mile more!". I was kind-of annoyed by that, because I was hoping to sprint towards the finish and I thought I could keep up that fast pace for a while, but probably not a whole mile and if I had known where the half-mile mark to the finish was, I think it would have been perfect, but I ended up sprinting to the finish once I could actually see it, so it all worked out okay in the end.

Me in my red hat heading to the finish:

Immediately after finishing, they put a medal on us and I got lots of snacks: apple, yogurt, pretzels, granola bar, and two bottles of water. Drew and I made our way back to his parking spot and headed back to my aunt's house. We got a tiny bit lost on the way back and then we got stuck in some traffic near her house, so we left our car and walked the rest of the way back to their house. We actually ran part of the way, which was a little bit funny to me.

After taking a nice long hot shower, we all went out and I celebrated my run by eating a hamburger and onion rings! It was definitely a great ending to a really great race. I was so happy and proud of my time and all the training that I did to get there.

Time: 2:22:32
Distance: 13.10 Miles
Pace: 10:48/mile
Calories: 1670
Maximum HR: 194
Average HR: 164


  1. Great job! When I read that the marathon winner passed you after mile 10 I was thinking - hmm the same thing happened on my first half. And then is saw that our finishing times were within one minute! Go figure :) Great job on your first half marathon!!

  2. Congrats! no post race pictures? come on you have to show off that medal!