I did it! I ran 13.1 miles and finished my first half marathon!
I couldn’t be more prouder of myself and my roommate Steph – who PR’ed!
Let’s go back to yesterday. The night before I packed everything I would need in my bag, created my playlist, and charged my iPod.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early. I slept like a BABY – I was really surprised. I thought I was going to be nervous and toss and turn all night. I had my normal pre-run breakfast, got dressed, and off we went. New Bedford is about an hour and ten minutes from Boston, and we made it in about that time. No traffic. Parking at the race was actually really easy. There were a ton of people there, but parking lots were numerous and had spaces left.
Steph and I made our way to get out numbers and boy, was it crowded! This year they had their largest field ever – 3,350 runners. Last year it was 2,730 – the largest to date.
After getting our numbers, we got ready, warmed up, and took some pictures to remember the moment. My parents came from NY to watch, and our Boston support group included Bernie, Steph’s boyfriend Micah, and our friend Devon.
Then we made our way to the start. It was a beautiful day in New England – 60 degrees and sunny. Perfect for a race.
And we’re off!
For the first two miles, Steph and I ran together. We were going at a good pace and I felt really good, but I knew something was wrong. I was going WAYYYY too fast way too early. For the first two miles, I averaged an 8:30 – 8:40 pace. I knew I had to slow down, so I told Steph to go for it, and off she went. After mile 2 there was a HUGE hill. It looked scary and it sucked, but since it was so early in the race, it really wasn’t that bad. I was enjoying the race and loved seeing all the signs that people brought to cheer on the racers. At the 10k mark, I clocked in at 55:32. But then. The wall.
I have never actually hit the proverbial ‘wall’ while running. I think it was a mixture of the heat, the constant sun beating down on us, and my big rookie mistake – going out too fast too early. As you can see from my splits, everything went down hill at mile 8. I was overheated, dehydrated, and tired. I had nothing left. I took a Gu at mile 6, but it sat like the biggest rock in my stomach.
The last 5.1 miles were the roughest miles of my life. At mile 8-10, the course looped around the edge of the ocean, so the breeze both cooled me off, and slowed me down. At this point in the race, I knew my goal of running a sub-2 hours was not within my reach. My goal at this point was to just finish strong. I began to walk through every water station, taking in as much water as I could. Every mile, I promised myself that I would walk for 30 seconds.
I hated myself during these miles. I started to beat myself up for quitting. I felt like my Gu was going to come up for a few miles. It was the toughest moment of my life. Mile 12 was another hill, a sort of heart-break hill like in the Boston Marathon. As I was running up the mile 12 hill, I started to see more and more runners who had already finished lining up the sides of the course, cheering on runners. At one point, a man who was sitting on the curb with a finishers medal around his neck looked me directly in the eye and said, “Don’t stop! You’re almost at the top…it’s all down hill from there!!”
That was it. I was going to finish. At that point, I knew that I was going to finish the race. I turned the corner and saw the finishing line. It was the most glorious sight I had ever seen.
One of our signs. Probably my favorite.
Then, I spotted them – my cheerleaders! They had made a couple of signs and once I saw the “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking so much ass!” sign, I knew it was them. Clearly I was happy.
I crossed the line in 2:12:58, and honestly, I didn’t care. I finished. I finished running strong and I didn’t vomit on myself! I was so ecstatic! It took a few minutes for it all to sink in. Once I found everyone, I found out that Steph beat her last half marathon time by a whole 15 minutes!! She finished in 1:49:56! She’s a rock star and I’m so proud of her!
Bernie came up to me after the race and said “I had a great time! I totally see why you did this! I want to do some 5k’s with you!” That took me back completely. Bernie has been very supportive during my training, but he always thought I was crazy. He didn’t get it – why would I run this? Only crazy people run long distances for no reason. After he experienced the excitement of the race and the energy, he was totally into it! I’m excited that he wants to do some 5k’s!
After the race, we stretched out, changed and went to find some food. My stomach was pretty unsettled for a good hour after the race, and I couldn’t even think about food, but we ended up at the Waterfront Grille for some seafood and beer. Steph and I had some celebratory drinks while we waited for our food.
Devon and Micah
Overall, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The satisfaction and pure joy that I experienced when I crossed the finish line was worth every shitty mile. There is another half I plan on doing in October, so I’m going to take this experience and learn from it. There are definitely a few things that I know I will fix for next time:
- Wear my fuel belt with my own water. I got so dehydrated and I was jealous of every person with their own water on the course.
- DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST. I need to slow the hell down! I went out way too fast. If this was a 10 k, then I did awesome. But it wasn’t.
- Eat more breakfast if I’m eating 4 hours before the race. I only had one piece of pb toast and banana for breakfast. My stomach felt weird in the morning, and I didn’t want to stuff more food in it. Bad decision. I needed more fuel. And the chomps I had right before running did not settle well in my stomach.
- Wear sunscreen, even if it’s a March race. I got burned. Ouch. Who wears sunscreen in March?!
For now, I’m still basking in the glow of the race. Now I’m off to foam roll my tired muscles. Thank you to everyone for all your comments of encouragement on the blog yesterday! It definitely helped! And a big thank you to Steph, Micah, Devon, Bernie, and my parents – you guys were the best cheerleaders/supporters ever!