Sunday, November 20, 2011

My First Half Marathon!

I think today is one of the proudest days of my life :). This morning I completed my first Half Marathon, the Women's Running Magazine's Women's Half in St. Petersburg to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! Back in February, several of my girlfriends completed their first Half Marathons. When I was approached by another friend to join her team for this race I thought it was about time that I gave it a shot (they later bailed so I actually ended up running alone :(). I registered online and got a free 12-week training program so I decided to follow it as closely as I could and only run on raceday if I had completed the training. For me, I found it easier to commit to doing a training program rather than the actual race which felt like a mountain to climb at that time. Anyway, the training went really well - one of the biggest challenges was learning to do long runs alone since I knew Mike wouldn't be joining me on the day :( - until about week 9 when I injured my ankle. I had already started to exceed the mileage on the long runs a bit so I think it was a case of too much, too soon. Anyway, after a particularly bad run one night, I actually passed out from the pain in my ankle! I took this as a sign to take a week off and instead of giving up altogether I decided to substitute the training runs for the crosstrainer at the gym and be a lot more careful, particularly on long runs. I was very nervous when it came time for the only 10-miler during training (the program only went up to 10 miles based on the assumption that adrenaline would get you to 13 on the day:)) but I managed to do it without too much trouble at all! That was the point at which I decided that I would go for it and do the race itself :).

There were about 7,000 registrants so the bib pick up is all handled the day before. We booked a hotel in St. Pete for Saturday night and drove over earlier in the day to get the fancy bag of goodies and T-shirt.


Just a little terrifying to see my name on the list...


One of the best pieces of advice that I had was not to do anything different from training on the actual day. With that in mind, I ran in my old Newtons and promised myself a pair of these if I actually managed to finish (and ever wanted to run again :))...


We caught the sunset after the Expo and took a walk on the beach on the way to the restaurant to 'carb up.'


When we got to the hotel, there was a wedding reception by the pool. They had fireworks while Maddy was taking a swim!


To ease my nerves I got everything organized and laid out for the next day. It didn't work; I barely slept at all :(...


We woke up to leave at just after 5am. At this point I just wanted for it to be over...


Aside from all the runners wearing pink, everything at the hotel was pink, including the Christmas tree!


When we arrived I was totally overwhelmed by the scale of the whole thing. It was quite reassuring to know I wasn't going to be suffering alone. That didn't stop the tears though and I didn't stop crying until we actually started running...

video

I planned on taking millions of photos during the race but very quickly decided to just focus on being present with the whole experience. The course route went past several landmarks in St. Pete and there were 7 live bands. I barely even used my ipod, the spectators were just incredible and I also met several fantastic ladies throughout the race! I did get a picture of the pier at mile 8...


After 10 miles I started to feel very nervous since I hadn't ever run that far before. It was starting to get a little too hot, the breeze had subsided and my feet were starting to get really sore. My favorite part of the whole race though was running through the air-conditioned Tropicana Field stadium on the astroturf and seeing the 12th mile marker right outside! I couldn't believe how close we were to the finish but I still didn't believe I would actually make it until I had less than a half mile to go:). I was also amazed at how close I was going to be to my fantasy time of 2:30! It suddenly occurred to me that I was just about to do something that I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I was capable of and I burst into tears (again) as I crossed the line and hugged the lady who gave me my beautiful medal :). 


The start/finish line was right outside the beautiful Dali museum...


Mike was so very proud of me!


After a couple of pics I was ready to go home and get some food and rest. When I woke up later on I took a walk to stretch out my legs a bit and reflect on the whole experience. I saw online that my time was 2:31:54 which I am completely thrilled with! So what next??? I'm really not sure. I'm pretty sure that I don't ever think I could take on a Full but I'm also pretty sure that I would do a Half again. For now, I'm going to celebrate for a while and wait and see how I feel later on :)...

3 comments:

  1. Congrats! Sounds like a great first experience. It won't be your last ;)

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  2. Way to go, mama! That is a HUGE accomplishment, especially nursing a bum ankle! I thought I saw you run past me at the mile 12 water station. I even cheered for you when I read your name of your bib. :-)

    So, what's your next half? You so got this. ;-)

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  3. Denise - I think I heard you? I heard my name just when I needed a lift at the end!!! I really need to volunteer for a race. Runners make the best volunteers!! I think I'll shoot for the RNR in St Pete in Feb? I'm itching to do another to prove that it wasn't just a one-off thing ;)

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