My First Half-Marathon {THE Post}

I honestly don’t feel like I have that many words to describe my first half marathon experience … the one word that comes to mind most often when thinking about it is … AMAZING.
It really was. I mean not amazing like giving birth to a child, but trust me, there are several parallels and similarities. A half-marathon doesn’t hold the weight and meaning of a new life, but in my life, in my own race, it was a really big deal. 
I already shared my training plan and how I arrived at the Portland Rock-N-Roll for my first half-marathon. Now here’s a peek at the day before, the day of and a few words and thoughts in between. 

Brooks was one of {or the main} corporate sponsor for the event and put on a great set-up at the Expo where we picked up our packets Saturday. It was by far, the most fun packet-pick-up I’ve ever experienced! 

Of course I love Brooks. I’ve been running in their Adrenaline’s for 3 years.
I also really love their “Run Happy” slogan.
In fact, Erin {my roommate for the weekend and running “Douala”} and I both picked up a ‘run happy’ visor to sport at the race the next day.
“This is what a runner looks like!”

A little pre-race shopping … at the only 2 story Athleta!
This was the first time I really carb-loaded before a race.
deep fried mozzarella + flatbread pizza at Oven & Shaker.
MmmmmHmmmmm. Worth every calorie.
Ben & Jerry’s + public transit. We should have gotten a triple scoop as we may have gotten a bit lost.
I had grand plans of being in bed at 9PM with lights out at 10PM. 
I think I was in bed at 11PM with lights out around midnight? 11:30? Too late.
Gear checked and double checked ready to go for the EARLY morning.
5AM early.
Honestly, through out the weekend I was pretty calm about everything. It was only when I really thought about the half-marathon and running 13.1 miles did I start to get butterflies. I managed to sleep pretty well. Not great, but not horrible … which is par for the course when traveling, race or not.
We got dressed, hopped in the elevator … 
admired our sparkle and set off for a light breakfast. 
water {hot & cold} + oatmeal
My best friend’s husband was doing photography for the City of Portland {this was their Rose Festival kick-off event} so we met up with him to grab a few pictures before we headed for gear check, bathrooms and then lining up in our corral.
Bathroom lines. Necessary evil.
The weather could not have been nicer for a run. Mostly overcast 50-60 degrees. Perfect.
You can read about my clothing choices/preferences here.
After waiting in line for the bathrooms, we didn’t have much time to waste. We quickly made it to our corral as the first ones started off. We were in corral  14 so we had a little bit of time but before I could get too nervous, we moved up to the front and were on our way.
There we are, a little overly excited? Compensating for the nerves?!?
Erin and I ran together for about a half mile before I settled into a pace, got in my head and ran off on my journey. We knew that most likely we would not run together. Erin was such a great encourager and knew we were at different places training wise … this was her third half and she was there to have FUN more than anything.
The furthest I had run before race day was 10 miles.
Goal Time A was 2 hrs 15 minutes.
Goal Time B was 2 hrs 20 minutes.
Because I knew I had to go another 3.1 past my furthest distance and knowing that a race can push you into a quicker pace at the beginning, I really focused on slowing myself to a steady 10:30 pace for the first 3-5 miles. I had set up text alerts to family and friends and thought they were getting them every mile. This ended up being a great mental motivator as I DID NOT want them seeing me slow down. {Turns out they only got them every 5K, but I’m glad I didn’t know that!} I was feeling really great. 
Around mile 5 I decided to walk through one of the aid stations, drink some water and have 1/2 a package of my Honey Stingers. I wasn’t really feeling like I needed them, but didn’t want to wait to long either.
Around mile 7 I decided it wouldn’t hurt to look for a bathroom again instead of waiting until it was urgent. I spotted one next to one of the bands and avoided any lines {whoo-hoo} but ended up in a porta potty with no toilet paper {ewwww}. I suppose some runners just relieve themselves while running, so no toilet paper was the least of my worries. 
Details start to fade {even later race day I had trouble recalling … I think I was in a ‘mental zone’}, but I do know that miles 9-12 were probably the hardest. I walked through a few aid stations drinking water and having the rest of my Honey Stingers around mile 10 when I felt the energy leaving my body. I wouldn’t say I hit the wall, but it was a new experience for sure.
I wasn’t really watching my pace at this point, I was just trying to focus on continuing to move. I would break the race down into individual miles or 5K’s and focus on that shorter distance. 
When I hit mile 12 I really wanted to be able to finish with a strong last mile. As I climbed up a small hill and headed back to the downtown area, there was a girl holding a sign that said “F*%$ Yeah” … as crass as that might sound to some of you, it was just what I needed. It summed up how I felt, put a little kick back in my step and I harnessed all my physical and mental energy into that last stretch. 
I finished that last mile at a 9:30 pace!
I was blessed to have both of my boys {My Sweets and My Little} there cheering me on along with my Bestie. I spotted them about 1/10th of a mile from the finish line … and as much as I wanted to acknowledge them, I knew I would just loose it and have a hard time finishing. I gave them a quick wave and smile, chocked back the lump in my throat and finished strong.
And then I found them and let out tears of joy, tiredness and accomplishment!
My training had paid off, my body hadn’t failed me and my mind finished what it set out to.
Amazing.
I had no regrets. If I had to change something for the next race, I wouldn’t pace myself quite so slow at the beginning. I finished so strong {for me} that I feel like I didn’t quite leave it ALL on the course. I could have sped up a bit in the beginning and still held it through to the end. BUT, I’m glad I wasn’t walking or crawling across the finish line. I mean this picture says it all …
 
 Finish time 2:18:10
Right in between Goal A & B … and not bad considering I had a potty stop.
The course was beautiful with bridges and water, old neighborhoods with kiddos in pajamas cheering us on, small districts with restaurants and shops, tree lined streets and the downtown park along the river. A few hills, but nothing TOO challenging
Perfect!
Now, what half-marathon should I sign up for next?!?
Anything I missed? Questions?

{Thank you Tim & Erin for letting me use your photos to pretty up this post and keep the readers interested in my running blah, blah, blah!}

Comments

  1. I’ve been following you on IG. LOVED reading about your first 1/2. Sounds very similar to my first half which was the Rock n Roll in Dallas this past March. It was def an awesome experience! I can’t wait to cross the finish line again! :) I’m running my next one in Dec. at St. Jude. Can’t wait! :)

  2. Well done x You just had me in tears, what an accomplishment x

  3. So exciting! YEAH YOU!!
    ummmmmmmm, what do you mean by “I suppose some runners just relieve themselves while running,” ????

  4. Sandy says:

    LOVE!!! Go you! The sign that motivated you at the end totally cracked me up– ha! You are awesome and that finish photo is amazing.

  5. Seriously was tearing up at this post?! I’m a basket case apparently! Just over the moon proud of you and your hard work getting here!!

    XOXO

  6. Congratulations!

  7. I also teared up reading this! Thank you for sharing this! Congrats and I can’t wait to see which race you do next!

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