“You can never be sure. That’s what makes the (half) marathon both fearsome and fascinating. The deeper you go into the unknown, the more uncertain you become. But then you finish. And you wonder later, ‘How did I do that?’ This question compels you to keep making the journey from the usual to the magical.” — Joe Henderson, American runner, running coach, and writer
This quote might be about marathons, but it’s true for any distance. I completed my first half marathon a few days ago, and I’m still wondering how I ran 13.1 miles. Especially considering I *ran* the entire thing, minus walking up and down this one steep hill on the trail. This includes running on a trail, through neighborhoods, through woods, on two overpasses, and through a construction zone.
I didn’t advertise that I was doing this race. I think everyone suspected that I’d run a half soon- nobody runs 10-11 miles at a time unless they’re training for *something*. I was actually on the fence until about 3 days before when I decided to officially take the plunge and register.
I’m super analytical (ever notice how the word analytical has the word anal in it… yeppers) but worry too much, so I made a huge list of pros and cons to running it- my inner ENTJ. Then, I went through the cons and figured out that most of them weren’t actually “cons”- they were negative thoughts. I banished those and was left with this:
“You’ve never regretted any run, but there have been days you regretted not running. Even when you were sick and shouldn’t have, or if you time sucked- you always learned something.”
Among the pros- the fact that the race is in Florence, so I could sleep in my own bed the night before, drive 5 minutes to the race, then shower in my bathroom and get back in my bed that afternoon. I wrote a check, signed a waiver, and showed up, along with my friends Laura, Angela, and Beth.
The race started at 8 AM, and it was chilly but sunny and not windy. We ran the first three miles or so with the 5Kers. I was cool with that, but when they turned off, I realized that I was going to be pretty lonely pretty soon, because only 25 people did the half.
I ran on the trail through the woods, then on the paved trail, then up the construction zone that I drive through every morning on the way to work. I ran over the I-95 overpass, then the I-20 overpass, and I saw my fiance’s company. I probably could’ve seen signs for my company, but I was too ‘in the zone’ to look by that point.
The course had lots of volunteers- mostly Army, but some who work for the gym and others who are associated with McLeod and just wanted to volunteer. At one point, the guys from the Army told me to watch out for something, but I didn’t really understand him. Turns out, there was a crazy dog on the road that ran directly toward me- talk about motivation! Seriously- if a half marathon or race is taking place in your neighborhood, chain your dog up, keep the dog in the house, or put the dog out back- especially if he likes to chase runners! I doubt many people knew ahead of time, though.
Aside from that, the only other weird part was the wind, which really picked up about the last 2 miles. Of course, the wind was blowing toward us and gusting pretty heavy, so my tiny body is running *into* it- fortunately it was near the end of the race. I ran through another woodsy trail, under the scary overpass, then closer to the gym.
That was when I started hearing the finish line cheers. Tons of people weren’t standing at the finish, but they were LOUD.
Guys- there’s *nothing* more motivating on the last 1/2 mile or so than hearing people cheering for other finishers, and knowing that in about 4-5 minutes, they’re going to be cheering for *you*. And they did, at 10:08.
First Half Marathon (13.1) = 2 Hours, 8 Minutes, 25 Seconds.
I sprinted through the finish and I found my fabulous fiancé Clay, who woke up about 20 minutes earlier, sped to the finish line, and got there right before I finished.
Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not as fast as everyone else ;).
I hung out with everyone, drank hot chocolate, cheered on the other finishers, and talked a lot about the experience, other races, and just random stuff. Runners have a weird camraderie like that, I guess. It was pretty cool- not to mention watching the Tot Trot kids, especially those two little girls who ran it holding hands! If I ever have kids (many years from now), I definitely want them to do Tot Trots… so precious!
I got my finisher’s medal and award, then called my mom on my way home to tell her about everything. She was pretty surprised, but totally understood why I didn’t tell her before- because she would’ve worried WAY too much. I guess that’s where I get it from! She super proud and tells people she sees around town about my running. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she stood up in church Sunday and announced it, haha.
After all of that, I think I want to do another half. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. You definitely DON’T have to run the full 13.1 before you do a half- “race day adrenaline” and “runner’s high” are *very* real, especially the closer you get to the finish. I know for the last two miles, the only thing running through my head was “You’re about to finish your first half marathon!” and it kept me going.
It definitely kept me sprinting to finish and achieving my lone goal- crossing the finish line with a huge smile :).