For as long as I've had the goal of running a half marathon I've dreamed about writing this blog post. That and a heavenly peanut butter banana Oreo milkshake from Cookout, which I promptly devoured when I got back to Richmond from my race last Sunday.
The events of last Saturday made my first half marathon experience incredibly different than I imagined. First, it totally messed up my pre-race eating and hydration plan. After making it down to Hampton on Saturday night we didn't even go to get dinner until 8:30pm and the best looking place near our hotel was Mexican, so we went for it. I was a bit hesitant as to how that would end, but luckily it went well.
I was certainly able to get to bed easy on Saturday night, but woke up on Sunday morning still emotionally exhausted and with a horrible case of puffy eyes which were captured in my pre-race Instagram. Honestly, I wasn't feeling much of anything. I wasn't nervous or anxious, but I just wanted to get the race both started and finished as quickly possible. It kind of made me sad to not be happy about something I had worked so hard to achieve.
I got in my race corral (the last one, of course) and about 15 minutes after the first corral took off it was our turn. I passed Mr. Young who was standing just after the starting line and then off I went. The first mile felt like ten thousand years and I was astonished to see people walking after thirty seconds. Did they know they signed up for a half marathon?
As the mileage increased, so did the heat. Unlike the 10 miler this course provided little shade and I was thankful for my last minute wardrobe change into an incredibly light, breathable tank and running hat. I'm pretty sure it was over 80* by the end of the race.
Around mile four we ran through downtown Hampton, and I passed the 2:30 pacer group. My mind was blown! At that point I got my head in the game and decided to not let that group pass me. We kept running, and running, and running. I think it was miles six through eight that we ran right next to the water and it was gorgeous. I tried to block everything out and pretend I was running at the Columbia, SC river walk, where I first fell in love with running. I started getting tired during the ninth mile and chowed down on some energy jelly beans I picked up at the race expo. Eating while running is dangerous.
At mile 10 I switched my train of thought, "I just have to run a measly little 5k. I've already gone ten miles so I can totally run a 5k!" Then the damn 2:30 pacer group passed me. Although my main goal was to finish, I had a secret time goal of coming in under 2:30 and being able to physically see my goal getting ahead of me was insane motivation. At that point I vowed to not let that guy get out of my sight.
As I got close to mile 11 I just couldn't keep running. I started walk/running and I would slow down for just long enough for the pacer to get about .1 mile ahead of me, and then I would run up to the group, slow down and repeat. I continued this until around 12.5 miles.
Even though I was hating life when I reached mile 12 I saw my friends and Mr. Young holding posters and cheering for me and I think this totally gave me the energy to finish. On so many long runs when I wanted to quit towards the end I thought, "Self, what if this was the half? Are you just going to up and quit at mile 12 after working that hard? NO! Keep going lazy!"
While I still walked a bit after I saw them, once I hit 12.5 miles I picked it up and ran strong until the finish line. I loved that my name was on my bib and spectators kept saying "Go Anna!" "You got this Anna, just a bit farther!" At first I was incredibly confused about how all of these strangers knew my name.
Then I saw it, the finish line. I started sprinting, or at least what I felt like was sprinting after running 13 miles. I took my headphones out and heard them call my name over the loud speaker, I did it. I was a finisher. I walked like a zombie towards the people handing out medals and pre-race fuel. After hobbling to the bathroom I met up with Mr. Young and company for lots of pictures, hugs and high fives. Then the best part of a J&A race was the food and beer. And by food I mean bread bowl full of crab chowder, which may or may not have been awful choice for people who just ran 13.1 miles in the hot sun.
I wore medal for the rest of Sunday. And now it's all over. I haven't ran once this week, and I've eaten like crap. As much as I'm enjoying some free blocks in my daily schedule I think it's a matter of time before I find a new challenge. Sprint triathlon anyone?