My first half marathon! Despite a week of fretting about the weather and a restless night before the race (Ben's flight was cancelled and I woke up at 1am to thunder, bright lightning, and--finally--his arrival), my first half marathon was great! I ran/walked (4 minutes/1 minute) in 2:36:24.
The morning of the race is smooth for me. The alarm goes off at 6am, and I take a quick shower, have a banana, peanut butter toast, and Gatorade for breakfast, and head to the start line around 7:15. Parking is easy and the line to the portojohns is not too bad. Plenty of people get in line after me and there is always a line for the ones on the course--a note to the organizers: more bathrooms next year!
My parents and Ben come with me to the start. They joke around, snap pictures, and generally help to keep me calm before the gun goes off. I adjust my Camelbak lumbar pack and then readjust it. The weather--drizzle, mid-60s, some wind--keeps many spectators away, so it is nice to have my own cheering squad. There are several pacing groups holding big signs--this race feels friendly.
Mile 1: Mostly downhill. Add that to the excitement of the race, and I start out too quick with a 10:30-ish first mile. I start my favorite mantra for pacing: slow, slow, and easy, easy...
Miles 2-5: Mostly flat. Providence Road is straight and boring, with a mix of residential and commercial use. I'd like to give a shout out to two upbeat spectators cheering in front of St. Gabriel's at the corner of Providence and Sharon Lane--you helped me to keep running after the 10K-ers veered off to head home. Two women running a similar pace to my own do a funny dance and cheer every time they pass a mile marker--it's silly and uplifting! I hit mile 5 in less than an hour, and call Mom to let her know I'm feeling good.
Mile 6: Hooray for the cheerleader jumping up at down for us at the corner of Providence and Old Providence! Last water station before the dreaded uphill on Sharon View, and I'm still feeling good.
Mile 7: Mostly uphill. Mom and Ben take photos after I conquer the biggest hill. They get a quick wave as I run by. Feeling great--especially after the enthusiastic police officers at the intersection with Carmel Road!
Miles 8-11: Mostly hilly. There's a particularly short, steep hill after crossing Fairview and entering the Foxcroft neighborhood. There are quite a few spectators in lawn chairs cheering from their yards. Beautiful houses and gardens along this stretch. I hit 2 hours, but am starting to wear out--no phone call to Mom this hour.
Miles 12-13: More rolling hills. I'm starting to notice that my Mizunos with 350 miles on them lack the cushioning I need for the balls of my feet. (It was a toss-up between buying new shoes and risking blisters or running on old ones.) My feet feel like I've been running in high heels! I see Mom from afar on Richardson and walk with Ben for a few yards on Ferncliff. I complain about aches in my right hip, calves, and feet, and he tells me to keep going. Tough love just when I need it!
The finish line: Uphill--I kid you not. The last 0.2 mile is uphill. Not as steep as Mile 7, but dreadful nonetheless. I promise myself to push through, and I jog the last 10 minutes--I even manage to smile. I finished my first half marathon!
Mom, Dad, Ben, Lisa, Russ, and Lindsay all meet me at the finish. I've sweat so much that salt has formed on my forearms and legs--the granules are small, gritty, and bright white. I drink lots of Gatorade, change into dry clothes, and stick around long enough at the soggy awards show to hear that the winners finished this race when I had more than an hour left to run.
Did I enjoy my first long race? Yes! On Monday, I signed up for the Chicago Distance Classic on August 10, 2008.