Running a half marathon was one of my three primary goals for 2019. My race was October 6th and I'm very pleased with how everything turned out.
This isn't very interesting to read.
|Date||October 6th, 2019|
|A||Finish in under 2:30 hours||Yes|
|B||Finish in under 3:00 hours||Yes|
|C||Finish the race||Yes|
I signed up for the half marathon on New Year's day. I'd thought about running one for a couple of years, but it was never really a concrete goal; it would just appear in the back of my head from time to time.
Prior to sign up the furthest I'd ever run without stopping was 2 miles. I'd tried Couch to 5K with some success, but I was still firmly in the "run/walk" cycle.
For training I followed Hal Higdon's half marathon Novice 1 plan.
Training was not without its issues. I started running properly in July when temperatures regularly hit 80 to 90f. Most of my runs were early in the day, but as they got longer I would end up hitting the heat.
My soccer season started in August, and although I'd worked it into my plans it still game me some surprises. The first game I ended up splitting my eyebrow and getting it glued together with liquid stitches. It healed pretty quickly, but I couldn't run the day after which was my day for long runs. Injuries aside, playing soccer on a Saturday made it hard to run distance on Sundays.
Two weeks before the race I gave myself hematuria after my longest run. I was tested for infections and kidney stones, but thankfully it was just due to running without drinking enough. I took a couple of days off and everything cleared up on its own. Tip: drink something before and during long runs.
The weekend before the race was probably my worst run. The first 5 or 6 miles weren't too bad, but the last couple of miles I had no energy and ended up walking home. It was extremely disappointing and didn't fill me with much confidence.
My diet for the days leading up to the race was heavy on potatoes and protein. The night before was fresh pasta and meatballs. I'd tested both these meals during training and knew they wouldn't make me feel heavy the day after.
The race start was 7am. I woke up at 3am to eat a small portion of oatmeal. I'd tried it the week before with some success; it wasn't fun to wake up early it did help keep me going.
I went through my checklist, made sure everything was packed and then headed off to the race. Nervous excitement is probably the best description of how I felt. Seeing all the other entrants made me realize I was actually going to do it.
I went for a little jog and stretched out before heading to the back of the pack. The race starts as a combined 5k and half marathon, so the start area was quite busy.
The nerves were still jangling, but there was someone behind me on stilts which took my mind off things. During the national anthem a dog was singing along.
I knew I needed an
11:25 pace to meet my primary goal.
I'd run most of the route before, so I knew what to expect which was a big help. The weather was quite chilly at the start, but once the sun came out it warmed up to the mid 60's. It stayed dry throughout.
Nearly all of my training runs were solo, so it was a big change to have so many people around. Getting cheered along was a huge motivator, and just seeing people along the route kept me going. There was someone playing the trombone, and someone else was dressed as a cow with a sign that said "Moo-ve it". They made it a little easier.
The first few miles I ran with a friend who was taking part in the 5k. He's much faster than me, but hadn't trained for distance so he kept his pace slower for me. The first mile was slow and pretty hilly, plus there were a lot of people to navigate around. Things flattened out after that and we found a good rhythm.
It was nice having someone to talk with and to keep me focused.
After he split for the 5k I stuck on some music and got myself mentally prepped for the next couple of hours. I didn't put together a proper race playlist which I regret. Towards the end I really needed a boost, but I didn't have the mental energy to mess around trying to find music.
Everything was fairly smooth in the early miles and I felt pretty good - my pace was faster than my training runs and I felt full of energy.
I made sure to take on a little Gatorade at each aid station, and I had some energy chews that I ate every couple of miles near the end. I don't know if they actually worked, but even if they didn't they were still a useful placebo. They also gave my mind something to focus on, and I counted down how long to go until I could eat the next one.
Mile 5 and 6 were extremely tough. It was a little hilly, but nothing out of the ordinary. I felt like someone had wrapped a chain around me and was pulling me back. The pack had really spread out at this point and there were already people running the other way (the race looped back on itself at mile 6.5). It was a little disheartening.
Once I'd got through this part I was back to familiar territory for the rest of the race.
By mile 10 I was starting to slow down considerably. I knew that my pace was good enough to get me over the finish line in time, so I eased off a little. I did try to run faster for the last mile but just couldn't muster up the energy.
When I finally turned the corner and saw the mile 13 marker, I felt a huge wave relief. All I wanted was to stop moving. I did manage a final speed up for the last few meters as I crossed the line. They had an announcer calling out times and congratulating finishers, but I was so focused on finishing that I didn't hear a thing.
I was handed my medal and then walked to the recovery area. I felt quite light headed and my jaw was clenching once I stopped. I couldn't really enjoy the immediate post-race feeling as I was worried about fainting.
Post-race food was a protein bar and a sports drink. After that I and paced around for a bit, and then put on a clean shirt and some clean socks and shoes. After about 10 minutes or so I felt much better and got some photos taken. I stayed to cheer on some more finishers and watch the awards ceremony.