Wow!!! I still can’t believe that yesterday I completed my first half marathon and ran further than I ever have before! This was also my first “big” race with an actual expo and substantial amenities before/after the race. The whole thing was also made more special by the fact that my mom drove all the way from NY on Saturday morning to be there when I crossed the finish line.
Backing up to Friday, I went to the expo to pick up my race packet and of course could not resist doing a little shopping. I have been meaning to by a belt of some sort to hold mid run fuel, keys, phone, etc…. instead of just shoving everything down my sports bra (sorry for the over share)… and since most things at the expo were discounted I finally decided to buy one. I was a little worried about wearing it for the first time during the race and having it be uncomfortable but the Nathan belt I got was amazing! I barely noticed it during the race and can fit a lot of stuff! Another perk of the belt is that it comes with a built in ID tag. I have also been meaning to by a RoadID tag so this saved me on having to make another purchase :) After leaving the expo I headed over to my yoga studio to take a great hot yoga class. I mentioned to the instructor that I was running the race tomorrow so he put some extra focus on hip openers/pigeon pose for me. The rest of the night I spent cleaning up my apartment for my mom’s visit and making sure I was sufficiently hydrated and carb loaded :) I forced myself into bed around 10 and finally passed out sometime around 11.
Luckily the half marathon had a late start of 9:45 so I was able to sleep in until 7am. I was surprised that I actually slept up until my alarm went off! I sprung out of bed, got dressed, double-checked that I had everything I needed, and prepped my breakfast (whole wheat sandwich thin, pb, and 1/2 banana) plus coffee to take with me while traveling to the race. Everything was going smoothly at this point, but unfortunately that did not last much longer…
I knew parking was going to be difficult at the stadium and did not want to have my car down at the race if my mom was going to be there with her car too so I decided to take the bus down to the race at Camden Yards. I have only used the bus system in Baltimore once before, so I made sure to call the transit authority and double check that I was taking the best route/that all the times were correct. I made it to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare, but was still so relieved when it finally pulled up. I boarded the bus and immediately double checked with the driver that I was on the correct bus. This is when things got bad. The driver informed me that because of the race, he was only going as far as the next stop and that the next bus running wouldn’t start again for another 2 miles. I immediately started to freak out. Not only was I already on the moving bus, but I also did not have any extra cash/credit cards on me. The bus driver was really nice and refunded my fare so I could get on the another bus, but I still had to get to it. Lets just say speed walking for 2 miles before having to run a 13.1 mile race is not fun. While hauling a** down the lovely streets of Baltimore I called a few of my friends to see if they could help, but no one answered. After 2 very fast miles, I finally made it to the train station and was able to jump on a light rail train that would go to the stadium. So of course, everything worked out ok, but I was already a bundle of nerves and didn’t need extra stress.
The light rail ride down to the stadium was a breeze, and the whole car was full of runners so it was fun to chat with people beforehand. I ended up talking to another girl my age who was also running it for the first time and we stuck together up until we had to get into our respective corrals. At that point it still hadn’t really hit me that I was about to run 13.1 miles. I was talking to a few people next to me the whole time and as we made our way closer and closer to the start it still hadn’t really clicked. Regardless of how ready or not I was, the horn sounded and we were off!
I had participated on an organized training run a few weeks back on the actual race course, but that started at mile 3 of the half marathon course so the first 3 miles were totally new to me. And wow! Those first 3 miles were rough, lots and lots of hills. This was only tough because I knew that miles 5-7 are basically entirely uphill. I managed to keep up a really good pace and passed a lot of people in the first few miles. I kept telling myself that I was just going to run my race and let my legs determine my pace not a watch.
I was going pretty strong for the first 6 miles but then started to fade. I kind of anticipated this, however, and took my first hammer gel at mile 6 and allowed myself to walk a few times throughout miles 6-8. Those 2 miles were really hard though. My butt was on fire and I just could not wait for the hills to be over. At mile 8 I knew I could start working hard again so I took 1 cliff shot block and my legs felt 1000x better. Once I hit mile 10 I really started to pick up my pace again. I could feel myself moving faster with enough strength to support an increased effort. This may be TMI, but I also started to go faster because at that point I really had to pee! I kept thinking to myself that the faster I run, the sooner the race will be over, and the sooner I can use the bathroom :) I barreled down what seemed like the longest finish line ever through Camden Yards and crossed the finish line with a clock time of 2:02:30!
I was soooo excited because that meant that my chip time was under 2hrs since I was in the 3rd wave and started a decent bit after the official start of the race! After catching my breath for a minute I started through the path toward the finisher’s area and picked up my medal and a few bottles of water along the way. The line for food was crazy long and at that point all I wanted to do was find my mom. I made it out of the runner’s area and almost immediately heard someone call my name. I turned around and there was my mom beaming at me with pride. I ran to her and gave her the biggest hug and gushing about reaching my goal of under 2 hours!! My mom and I then headed over the the bag check area, grabbed my stuff, and headed over to one of my favorite restaurants for some post race food :) I had the biggest/most delicious whole wheat blueberry pancake I have ever had/seen in my entire life (like no joke it was 1in thick and bigger than my head) and an omelette with mushrooms, peppers, onion, and jack cheese. I made a pretty impressive dent in both, and during breakfast/lunch I was finally able to check my official time…
I came in with an offical chip time of 1:53:19!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could not believe it when I saw my results and was so happy I started crying. Everyone had told me how hard the course was and that for my first race trying to beat 2 hours was probably unrealistic. Not only did I come in under 2 hours I finished way faster than I thought I did!!!!!
The rest of the day was spent shopping with my mom and basking in my post race glory. We headed out for an earlish dinner of sushi and then my mom had to hit the road to go back to NY. I came back to my apartment, relaxed for a bit, ate some yogurt and cereal and then passed out around 11. I was exhausted!! Normally after long run days I lounge around a lot and could definitely feel the difference not doing so…
I am still totally on cloud 9 though and can’t believe what an amazing/challenging experience the race was. I’m already looking into more races and can’t wait til I get to run my next half marathon…and maybe one day a full ;)