I did it! My first half-marathon went down yesterday and I not only survived it, but beat my (very conservative) goal time by 27 minutes. Ha ha!
Training for this race went wonderfully and aside from a nasty cold about 3 weeks before that waylaid me for a couple days, I was injury free and just enjoying the ride.
I was so lucky to have a great training partner towards the end...a good girlfriend who's completed marathons (and even an Ironman!) ran my last 3 long runs with me leading up to the race. It was so helpful to be able to pick the brain of an experienced distance runner. She was supportive and encouraging, convincing me that I have what it takes to run a half and even a full marathon.
Yesterday, race day, I woke up with butterflies but managed to choke down a Clif bar and a banana- a breakfast that's been proven (for me) to stay down and not cause any 'gut-bomb' feelings. Oh, and coffee, of course. My friend and I rode down together (the Husband and Kiddo were planning to leave later and meet us at the finish line). It was good to have company and conversation to distract from the nervous energy I was feeling.
After sunscreening up, deciding on how much/how little clothing to start out with (it was in the 50's but sunny so I opted for a tank and shorts, leaving my arm warmers in the car at the last minute) and peeing (yay for lots of porta potties!!) we were ready to go.
There were a shit ton of people at the start...I read later that nearly 1500 people finished the race. By far the biggest race I've done! My buddy moved ahead in the pack, knowing that she wanted a faster start. I hung back, knowing that the first 2 miles of the race were straight uphill, my strategy was to go easy and then pick it up later when the course flattened out again.
And suddenly, we were off! People clapped and cheered and photographers took pictures and we all started the (torturous) climb up the first "bitch" (I learned over the course of the race that the 4 hills are commonly referred to as the 4 bitches. Heh.)
Miles 1-2: My plan to start easy and make my way up the first and biggest of the hills really paid off- after the first two hills, I was feeling strong and seeing many folks who had bolted ahead of me starting to flag and we weren't even at mile 3!
Miles 3-4: Uh oh- even though we peed 20 minutes before the start, I kinda need to again. I spend the next 20 minutes or so thinking "Should I stop? Should I hold it? "
Mile 5: The 2nd aid station and a porta potty with no line- I make a split second decision to stop. Best 30 second investment I could have made! I can now run comfortably and think about something other than my bladder.
Miles 5-8: We roll along over a couple more hills, along a reservoir, and through green farmland (complete with manure smells). At one point we pass a pen with Shetland ponies and I nearly cry out "Look, its Little Sebastian!" But quickly check myself realizing that 1) no one will probably know what the hell I'm talking about and 2) people with think I'm "off" either way.
Mile 8.5: The course at this point leaves the road and goes onto a bike path- I power chew a GU Chomp at this point and gulp down some water.
Mile 9-11: These are the hardest miles for me. The bike path leads through an open, exposed field with a quarry or construction site of some sort on one side. The scenery is boring and the cement path is starting to feel hard on my joints. I manage to keep my pace but am constantly looking ahead for some hint of trees or something more interesting.
Mile 11.5: Another chew and some more water. We're in the home stretch now! I concentrate on keeping my pace up and maintaining my form even though I'm getting tired.
Mile 13.1: Somehow, I charge the finish line, digging deep and ending strong. I look for the husband and Otto but after waiting a while, they pick that exact moment to be crouched down putting on sunscreen :( They didn't see my triumphant finish or get to snap my picture (sad!) but are proud of me just the same. I collect my finisher medal, my free beer glass and water. My friend (who finished 8 minutes before me) and I listen to live music as we sit in the grass and rehash the course. Otto asks, "Did you win, Mama?"
After the race, we forgo the heavy BBQ post-race lunch (just the smell turns my stomach) and opt to leave and go for light, fresh Mexican instead.
Today, my legs are tired and a little sore but I'm still riding the high of finishing my first half. So proud of myself and already looking forward to the next one!