On the last weekend of July, I ran my first half marathon! 13.1 miles, 22 kilometers. I know a lot of people run half marathons these days, but to me this has been and still is a big deal! I signed up back in March and at that time I was in really good shape. It turns out after months of vacation, pollen allergy, starting a new job and lack of motivation, not so much! You can read more about my last weeks of training here. After a three day conference, stomping around on concrete floors with flat sandals, with limited sleep and some extra wine I set my alarm to 4.30AM on a sunday morning to run my race.
Before the race, I had run 10 miles at the most and even though I was confident I would finish, I was still nervous! Once you start telling people you’re doing something like this, they feel compelled to tell you all the horror stories! Why is that? I have heard stories of people getting injured, having the “runners run” both before, during and right after the race (Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is!) and many more disturbing scenarios. I was actually more worried about anything weird like this happening, than actually running 13.1 miles!
So back to my race morning, I got up at 4.30AM (why would anyone do that?) and after gobbling down an egg, I walked down to meet my friend Jenny at the starting area. We thought we would be running together but turned out we were in different waves, major bummer! I got lined up in my wave and took a look around me. It was 6AM and the sunrise was beautiful! I tried to just take a moment to really appreciate what I was about to do even though I was filled with butterflies. The start gun went off, and I started running.
The one thing everyone has told me was to go slow in the beginning. Go slow and steady, that’s how you win the race. So, I tried not to be discourraged by people passing me and held a steady pace. Mile 1-3 was pretty easy, flat and comfortable. Then at mile 3, my knees started to ache. What was this? They hadn’t really done that during training. Probably those concrete conference floors…Not being able to do anything about it, I just kept going and tried to change up my stride once in a while. Mile 4-5 was pretty good and I felt like I had found my stride. The first hill was in front of me and I powered through it. The change in incline was actually doing my knees some good.
After mile 5, I started the steepest incline up to the bridge and decided to walk fast during the steepest uphill instead of jogging. I actually think I was able to keep the same pace as the rest of the people because I am 5.9, with long ass legs. Win! I had imagined in advance that running over the Golden Gate Bridge would be somewhat magical, and it was the first time it did it for training, but during the race it was a little different. They blocked off three lanes on the right side of the bridge for us to run both going there and coming back. In other words it was kind of crowded and so far down from the sidewalk edge that you couldn’t really see anything…
After the bridge I knew we were at 10 miles+ and it was just for me to finish! That’s really when the big portion of the uphills really start (insert face palm) Although, there is one long downhill in the middle there! People told me to go slow on the downhill so I wouldn’t hurt my knees, but I figured I was hurting anyways and I just wanted to finish, so I killed that downhill! This is when I started to realize that I was almost done! I had ran 12 miles all by myself!
I had my Fitbit tracking my distance as I was running, but I knew it was a little off so when it hit 13.1, I still had a little to go. In my mind though I thought I had a lot longer than I did, so when I saw that finish line, I felt a huge relief! I was done! I had completed 13.1 Miles, a half marathon! And then all of a sudden I didn’t feel as tired anymore! Weird huh?
– It’s all mental!
– Unforeseen things might happen!
– Testing out the entire course in advance (in pieces) was the best thing I ever did in training!
Have you ever done a half marathon? How was it?