After all those chats we had during training I forgot to ever tell you about the REAL DEAL! I did in fact survive on race day and officially have my first half marathon under my belt. On that weekend (which happened to be right after I started my job), Jason and I drove up to Durham on Friday night. We stayed with one of my besties Katherine (my race buddy) and her sweet parents up there. The next morning we had a little breakfast then headed out to the race expo!
I’ve seen a ton of bloggers talk about race expos, but I’ve never actually been to one before! It was a fun way to start getting pumped up for the race and to buy any last minute things. I got one of those annoying 26.2 bumper stickers for my car (had to do it, #sorrynotsorry) and some running gels for race day. We also took advantage of some pretty sweet photo ops.
At the expo we met up with Katherine’s boyfriend (also a race buddy!) and together we all went for a stroll at the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market. For some reason our Georgia farmers markets are so tiny (with the exception of a giant indoor one, but it’s an international market not a local food one) so I always LOVE seeing markets in other cities. This one was amazing–tons of vendors and beautiful local goodies.
We got some stuff for dinner and cooked some simple pasta back at Katherine’s parents house before heading to bed. We had an early wakeup call for race day–they had told us at the expo to be there by 5:30am! I could hardly sleep that night anyway…combination of excitement and nerves.
3:45- My alarm went off…not like I was asleep anyways! I made myself a cup of coffee and a piece of almond butter toast and did a lot of jumping up and down because I was excited.
4:30- I took a quick shower and got into my race gear, a tank and capris and my new favorite Brooks shoes!
5:00-Did a little check to make sure I had everything I needed: race bib, timing chip, iPhone and armband, hydration belt, my ID, Kind bar, an espresso gel (got it at the expo, it has extra caffeine in it which seemed like a good idea), and some Clif shot blox!
And then we were off!
The three of us running together were all in different corals because we have different running paces (as you might remember from the last race I ran with her, Katherine is a speedy gonzalez) but once we walked to the start line there were so many thousands of people and we just decided to start off together sort of in the middle. There’s nothing like that feeling when you’re waiting behind the start line!
It was pretty chilly (I think in the low 50′s) but I decided to just go without my jacket because I didn’t want to have to deal with it later in the race when I got hot. While we waited I opened up that espresso gel that I had bought at the expo, which tasted super nasty and promptly got thrown away. So much for an extra caffeine boost! But at the time I didn’t care, I had enough nervous energy to keep me going.
Before I tell you about the race, I should tell you about my training. I started off strong and did pretty well with my long runs, but all that went out the window when I started working full-time in April. With trying to adjust myself to the working day schedule I just could not find the time to run! Not to mention we were also smack-dab in the middle of moving out of our apartment, and that was taking up any free time I would normally have. SO training went out the window. Before race day the longest distance I had ever run was I think 8.5 miles. A half marathon is 13.1. Oops. But I tried to forget about all that and just clear my mind so that I could stay excited and get through it! I had adjusted my method to Galloway (I posted about that here) so I knew I would be taking walking breaks every 3 minutes.
(Can you spot me in that picture above? HA!)
So here (to the best of my recollection months after the fact) is how it went:
Mile 1: WOHOO! SO much excitement and energy, but I know from previous races that I need to start slowly. After about 1 minute I let Katherine and Adrien pass me by and slow it down a little because I know that their pace is like minutes faster per mile than mine. The sun had barely come out so it was nice and cool and breezy.
Mile 2-3: CRAP. I already feel exhausted–how is that possible?? I’ve run much farther in training but I already feel totally drained. I hope I can do this thing.
Mile 4-5: This part of the race is quiet and went through a lot of residential type areas. I realize that I’m running right in front of a ‘pacer’, a runner who holds up a sign for the pace that they’re keeping as a guide for other runners. The pacer behind me is the 2 hour 15 minute one! This has me pumped because I’m estimating a finish time of 3 hours at this point. Also I see Jason cheering me on at one of the checkpoints which definitely lifts my spirits.
Mile 6-7: S.O.S. Slowing down! Slowing down big time. The pacer passes me and I don’t have much energy to care. Lots of walking going on. I’ve been slowly eating my Clif shot blox for the past hour but they don’t seem to be doing much.
Mile 8: Right before the mile 8 marker is a water stop (there have been a few along the course already but I ignored them because I was carrying water on my hydration belt), but this time they’re passing out gels. I figure I might as well take one, so I grab a berry flavor and pretty much devour it in a minute or two.
Mile 9: I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD! That gel gave me LIFE. I feel so energized and motivated and amazing. I KNOW I can do this.
Mile 10-12: Still feeling really good! There’s an awesome breeze that is rocking my world and I cannot wait to see that finish line. People around me are really starting to slow down and I use that as motivation to try and pass them one at a time.
Mile 13: The life that gel gave me is GONE. The only thing keeping me moving is willpower. I have never run this far before. I turn a corner and can see the finish line. “A Beautiful Day” starts playing on my playlist (not kidding, can’t even make this stuff up) and when the chorus comes I take a deep breath, gather everything I have, and SPRINT SPRINT SPRINT.
AND I MADE IT!!!!
You’ll forgive me for repeating myself….I MADE IT!!!!! I made it.
Even now, months after the fact, I feel so happy thinking about that moment. My time ended up being 2 hours and 48 minutes. That’s slow but it’s actually under what I expected and frankly the time did NOT matter to me! All that ever mattered to me was finishing, and I did that. Pretty much as soon as I was done I wanted to sign up for a full marathon.
I’ll keep you posted on that.
If you’re never run a race before I REALLY encourage you to do it! Don’t give me all that “ugh, but I hate running” stuff. No one likes it at first. At least no one that I’ve ever met. It’s hard. You sweat and pant and hurt and it’s hard. And that’s why the accomplishment feels SO good. You get stronger. You still sweat but you pant less. Distances that once seemed impossible become no big deal. And once you cross a finish line you will understand why so many people love to race. Go find a 5K in your area and DO IT! Go now!