Four days later and I still can not believe it. I can not believe I actually ran 13.1 miles. But I did. Last Saturday, after 15 weeks of training, I got up at 5:00 am, got ready, headed out to the race location, and at 7:00 am I joined with the crowd of over 700 people to run a half marathon.
My friend, Stephanie, had flown in from Oregon earlier in the week and we ran the last few training runs together each morning before the race. We also shopped and lazed about and even enjoyed a free pasta dinner provided by Olive Garden for the runners the night prior to the race.
It was a great week and I wasn't hardly nervous for the race.
The morning of the race we planned it so we'd get to the race location an hour early. The race was on the base and I wasn't sure if there would be a lot of traffic getting on the base for the race. This is a pretty popular race in the area and I knew from the dinner the night before there were people there from out of town running. It turned out to be good that we arrived early, because we got decent parking and had plenty of time to warm up and use the restroom before it got really busy.
Like I said, I wasn't really nervous. I was super excited and couldn't believe I was really going to run 13.1 miles, but I wasn't worried about being able to do it. We both kept reminding ourselves it was just another long Saturday run.
The weather was supposed to be really nice and I knew I was ready. I was hoping to run at about a 12:00 pace, but made it my goal to simply run the entire distance, even if I had to slow up a bit.
I hit both goals. I ran the entire 13.1 miles without stopping and I averaged just under a 12:00 pace, finishing at 2 hours 36 minutes. Glory!!!!
Everything about the race was wonderful. Both participants and volunteers were polite and kind and the weather was nice. It was more humid than it had been earlier in the week and then sprinkled early on in the race. The clouds gave us a nice covering for the duration of the race, but no more rain came after the initial sprinkling.
If there would've been a "bad" part of the race it would only be the first mile or so when I always deal with feeling so slow as the crowd surges on ahead. There were a couple of ladies I thought I'd be able to keep up with, but as they went on ahead of me I felt I needed to stay where I was. I checked my pace on my Garmin and confirmed holding back was a good idea.
This has happened at every race I've participated in so far and it's really the only part of the race that intimidates me a little. However [insert dramatic pause] once again as the race progressed I began passing people and knew my slow[er] start paid off.
In fact, just as before, it didn't take but more than a couple miles for me to start catching up to people who were taking walk breaks and as I passed the halfway mark I started passing people I didn't even recognize from the beginning. Only a few of the people I passed came and passed me up again.
This, my friends, is my one glory and my best advice. Slow and steady wins the race.
I may have been towards the back of the crowd at the start, but as miles passed by I continued on strong and steady and even began to increase in speed naturally. It wasn't until about mile 11 that I began to feel it a bit in my legs and even then I was able to finish strong.
Just before mile 13 Stephanie jogged over to me and finished out the race with me. She had finished strong at 2 hours 2 minutes, also running the entire thing. Woot!!
At .1 mile I sprinted across the finish line and gladly received the finisher medal I was handed. My legs were a bit sore, my emotions were a bit raw for a minute, but I gloried knowing I did it. I finished something I never dreamed I'd do. And I ran every single part of it. *contented sigh*
After taking pictures and allowing my legs to rest a bit at the race location we headed out for breakfast with my girls. Then we went home, showered and rested a bit more before Stephanie and I went for spa pedicures sporting our new 1/2 Marathon t-shirts. They massaged our calves and feet and the whole shebang and we enjoyed it immensely. It was a great way to finish off the day.
Stephanie had to return home this past Monday, but we sure had a great time while she was here. She's been with me since the beginning of my weight loss journey and it was a blessing to have her come and share with me in this great undertaking.
I'll probably think about more things to share about the race later, but this will have to do for today. This was a race I'll never forget and I'm already looking forward to doing another one sometime in the future. :)