You only get one first race- yesterday was my first half-marathon and as it turns out, it was also one year ago exactly that I ran my first 5k. What a difference a year makes! My first 5k I ran in 39:35…a 12:47/mile for only 3.2 miles. Yesterday I ran 13.1 miles at 11:14/mile!!!
Finish Time: 2:27:02
Pre-Race: Wakeup call was a very early 4:30am! Once again, like Broad Street, it was a cold morning and I had to change my pre-planned race outfit to accommodate colder temperatures. Breakfast was my standard ½ English muffin with BetterNPeanut butter; had to settle for a glass of juice because I forgot to pick up vitamin water. Left @ 530 and picked up my friend Brian. I had driven to DE (only a 40min drive) the night before with my mom for the expo and dinner so we already had our packets. We got to the park and just hung out for about 30mins before the race. Then came the rain. And the wind. And more rain and more wind. I had been really hoping the rain would hold off until the start but Mother Nature had different plans. By the time the race began, it was pouring!
Race: As if the freezing cold rain and heavy winds weren’t enough, this was the most bizarre course I ever saw. Now granted, it was also the first half-marathon course I ever saw, but based on other distances, this was just odd. First we ran down a side street…then around a strip mall (??) and then on a boardwalk type terrain and then another side street. Those were the first 3 miles and I was pacing really well and feeling great. Then came mile 4 and the first of what would be many hills. Mile 4 was up and down and didn’t go flat for what seemed like forever! I had no idea Delaware was this hilly!!!! As I came upon mile 6 I checked my watch and I was at exactly an hour- despite the rain, cold, wind, puddles and hills, I was still feeling really great. At this point miles 7-9 kind of mesh together but I do know it was during this time the rain finally stopped. And it was also around this time I came to a bridge. It was SO HIGH above the water! And it wasn’t the safest looking bridge I ever saw. It was a wooden walking bridge in the MIDDLE of a race course!! What?!?! So here’s the thing…I am petrified of bridges. I hate driving over them and really did not want to run across one. It was only about 4 foot wide and there were so many people on it and it was shaking and moving and I was freaking out. There was another girl really struggling to get across so we held hands and went across together- screaming the entire way! Whew! Then…more hills and some trail running…and more hills. I finally got to mile 10 and felt both good and bad. I felt good because I was @ 1:47 which was pretty much on target with my Broad Street time and I was happy because I knew there was only about a 5k left to go. Unfortunately, I was also starting to feel like crap too. My knee was really starting to act up (the hills were killing me) and I was losing my mental game. I was really starting to become frustrated and began to concentrate on the pain which was (as we all know) a huge downer. So of course I called my mom. I was really upset bc both my knee and my foot were hurting and I thought I was going to have to walk. My mom gave me some positive words and I realized it didn’t matter if I had to walk…I just had to keep moving. That 11th mile was definitely the hardest one. I really struggled. I cried a little and was really getting mad at myself…but then I thought of my blogger friends- I thought of all of you and how hard you have all fought when you were frustrated or sad or down…and I fought. I started a run/walk and put “Move Along” on my IPOD on repeat and just pushed on. Just before I hit mile 12 I saw my friend Brian coming back to find me and it was the EXACT motivation I needed, especially because mile 12 was a huge UPHILL climb. Brian knew I wanted to come in before 2:30 and we both knew it was definitely in my reach, so he just kept pushing me along up that hill. My stomach was turning, I was freezing cold and my knee and foot were throbbing…but I saw that 13 mile marker and adrenaline completely took over. That last .10 mile was exhilarating. I could hardly contain myself as I came upon that finish line and saw 2:27 on the clock. It was one of the best moments of my life. I am still kind of in shock that I did it- I keep looking at my pictures to remind myself it wasn’t a dream!
Post-Race: Pretty much within 5mins after finishing all I could think of was food. I had taken a GU around mile 6 but I was STARVING. They had the best food tent EVER. Seriously…there was pizza, pretzels, sandwiches, chips, protein bars, ice cream sandwiches, bananas and a variety of juices. It was amazing. I am so used to getting the crappy scraps at the end of a race so this was a very nice treat. I even took a sip of the free beer they offered all the finishers. I am not a beer drinker but I had to indulge a little bit purely for experiences sake! After my beer we went right to the car to put on some warm clothes and drive home. My mom and I dropped off Brian and went to eat more food at the local diner. Afterwards I came home, napped and later took an ice bath. Ice baths are no joke!
As I look back on it a day later I am still so amazed at myself. Having finished despite all the elements, with a good time, is awesome. My legs are still pretty sore and I am quite exhausted even after taking today off of work (my treat to myself) but I already can’t wait for my next race. I will say…I am super glad my next race is flat. I don’t want to see another hill for a very long time!!!
I want to thank each and every one of you for all your support! :)
Here is a pic of me enjoying my post-race beer!