May 1, 2010 5:30 PM
My Very 1st Half Marathon is Now History for Me!!!
Wow! Where do I even begin? This has felt like such a long day coming, I can’t believe it is over! It all began this January when I was at the gym and I saw a girl on the track wearing a t-shirt that said Country Music Half Marathon 2009. I was like, hey, I’d like to do that! I proceeded to check into the details to check 1st off if they allow walking as I am not a runner. Yep, then on a time limit, yes, that was doable as well! Now to come up with the entry fee….mmm…. tax time was around the corner, I could allot a C-note out of there to cover that. I called my niece Lori in North Carolina to see if she might like to do it with me. I knew she had been working out pretty heavily and may want to add a HM to her goals to set out for. Affirmative, wow, I now had company on this 1st Marathon Journey! A couple of weeks after that our good friend Martha who also lives in North Carolina decided she would like to join us as she was up to a challenge as well. Her last big structured race was in 2001, a full marathon ~ time to get out the running sneakers!
I looked all around the WEB on information and finally settled on a training course I found on MarathonRookie.com. It was a 12 week course that was very doable. I had been walking 5 days a week aimlessly with no training plan in sight, but now I had a real goal and set miles to do each day with a long distance walk on Saturday’s. The schedule even had three days off a week, where I had been taking only two. Hey, this sounded like a great idea to me. I started doing strength training on the off days and they felt like they were helping a lot.
Thursday right after work I went to pick up my race packet that included my race number, a nice race shirt and a bag full of samples of “stuff” and of course tons of advertisements of future Rock and Roll Marathon Racing Events. It was official; I was actually going to be walking my 1st Half Marathon!! The longest official event I had ever done was 5 miles, whoop!
Friday I took the day off as Lori and Martha were arriving that day. They got a good start on the day and were here by 11:30am. We set off to get their packets and visit the expo. It was packed at the expo and the excitement was high! Nerves were high as well as the weather report was threatening severe thunderstorms, and possibly a tornado for Saturday!
The girls wanted to drive the 13.1 course and we left downtown to do just that. The traffic was tremendous, I wasn’t sure if the other 33K participants were doing the same, but it took almost an hour and a half to go the 13 miles! Then off to the store to pick up some water and home to fuel up for the next days run.
We had grilled chicken breast, pasta with sauce and broccoli for some color for our pre-race meal. We were pumped and ready for the next day. By the time we got our clothes and gear around for the next day we did not get to bed as early as we had hoped. Setting both the alarm and the cell phones to ring a mere 5 hours later, we set off for bed. I tossed and turned a bit and the last time I saw on the clock left me with just under a 4 hour time frame to catch some zzzzzz’s! Yikes, it better happen soon.
We made it up on time and out the door leaving the house only 8 minutes later then we wanted to. Not bad, we were dressed for rain just in case and the weather was clear when we left the house, but the wind was pretty cool. We got parked and to the shuttle buses that would take us to the start of the race. They were very prepared with lots of buses and we only had to wait for one to load up until we got on. We were the 1st three on the bus and once settled we were able to look around to see where and how the more experienced participants had placed their ChronoTrack timing tag (which tracks your time at the start of the race and is placed on your sneakers) and race bibs.
Looking around we saw runners with tags placed in the 4-didgit numbers, we were in the high 6’s. Lori and Martha time choices put them in the 31,000 area while I was # 33,185. What happens when you register is that you choose a time you think you will finish with and they place you with the people that also choose that time frame in different corrals. Needless to say mine was the last and the girls joined me as you are not suppose to go up in corrals, but it is OK to go down.
It took us 45 minutes to get to the start line! WOW!! The runners that started the race would be practically done before we even started! (At least the HM’s anyway!) Once we started I decided to pace myself with Martha who does the Galloway training of 7 minutes jog and 1 minute walk. She does a slow jog, but even that was too fast for me since I am a walker! I was able to pace with her for only a few intervals and then noticed by HR was 172 and I told her I had to walk as my HR was too high! In the meantime we thought Lori was ahead of us when actually she said she had started with us but dropped back from us. It was pretty mobbed in the early parts and we were weaving in and out of runners/walkers and it was pretty crazy!
I won’t go into every mile as it was a bit of a blur! Once I had by HR back to a more comfortable rate I did pick up a very, very slow jog, usually only walking up the hills. It got really warm at one point the sun even came out and I started scanning the crowds lined up along the way looking for my friend Lisa. I knew I would be able to hand off my long sleeve shirt and jacket because by this time I did not care if it rained or not! I was tired of it around my waist and wanted it gone! I was wearing a belt with 2-10oz bottles of water just in case I got thirsty between the official water/cytomax stops. At the 5 mile mark, there she was! After practically running her over to get her attention, I stopped long enough to drop off my gear wait for her to snap a picture of me and off I went. Remembering I had my camera with me, I made her strike a pose and got one of her too! I had to have a picture of my support team!
A half a mile up the road can you believe I caught up with my niece Lori! I thought she would be long gone, but there she was. I jogged by her side for a short while as she walked beside me. She has such a long stretch; it takes a jog for me to keep up with her. When the next hill came up, I told her I’d see her after the race as I knew by that time my hip was starting to ache and I would be reducing to a straight walk at any time very soon. Between 7 & 8 miles, I was really starting to hurt; even a slow jog was painful and I was reduced to a walk. I had a slight vision of myself crawling across the line between 8 & 9 miles, but told myself it would be a walk in the park once I hit 4 miles to go! I stopped quite a few times prior for water/cytomax drinks but felt completely hydrated by the time I had 4 miles to go. The only reason I stopped at the next one is because it was the beer band aid station and it was just fun to sample some beer along the way! (I had to make sure I wanted the one they were giving away at the end!)
At the 11.2 mark there was a GU station and I grabbed one to try later as I had not yet tried the gel yet, only the chomps. (Which I had a package with me, but only ate 3 of them along the way.) Which I must add here, I had several chomps at the VIP bathroom area at the start of the race which was sponsored by Brooks and reserved for those of us that bought at least $150. at the expo from them. Money well spent as I “needed” the “official race jacket & hat” and the new sneakers too. Also at the 11.2 mark came the rain sprinkles with the impending heavy rain to follow. Back went on my new hat and the ipod stuck in a baggie and down my shirt for protection. Remember the rain jacket I had given to Lisa back on mile 5.
Needless to say the rain and thunder did little to quicken my speed. Even a light jog was out of the question. I walked faster then I even wanted but if I dwelled too much on the hip pain I wouldn’t even make it to the finish line! When I hit the 13 miles I starting jogging, the last 1/10th of a mile was the longest 10th of my LIFE!
Crossing the finish line probably with my arms in the air (it’s a bit of a blur now) I received my well deserved medal. What an amazing feeling to dwell in my accomplishments. I should have known my exact time as I wore my garmin forerunner but had turned it off and lost some time taking my jacket off. (I realized it pretty quickly and had it back on, but none the less did not really know my “official time”.) I found a tent that was engraving the medals and was able to find out I had competed the HM in 3:10:48! I had my medal engraved since it was 1st HM. It was my personal (and 1st) best time, faster then I trained! I was amazed that I had completed it in that time! I was excited to find out what Lori and Martha had done. They finished in 2:51 and 2:55 time, faster times then they had expected as well and they both made it in before the rain!
All in all, it was an amazing 1st marathon. I learned a lot and will do a few things different next time. My next HM is on 9/25/10 and I can’t wait! Happy trekking~ Mary S.