At that time, my immediate running goals were to be able to run a 5K with minimal effort in the near term and to consider a half marathon sometime in the calendar year. As I started thinking, though, I wondered if this was my opportunity to do the half marathon. After all, training and running the race would be a lot more fun with a friend. I'd started working with a trainer to help me meet my running and other fitness goals, and she thought the half was achievable as long as I used a walk/run strategy. Within a couple of weeks, I'd signed up for the race.
Throughout the training, I ran only once or twice a week, except when we were traveling and running was my only fitness option. I did most of my short- and middle-distance runs with another mom from our group, Erin, and then did most of my long-distance runs with Rachel (and sometimes her husband, who was also signed up for the race). The rest of the week, my workouts consisted of rowing circuits and strength training. In some ways, I wanted to run more often, but doing it this way kept me from burning out too much and was the only practical option given our schedule.
Then, on June 13th, I did it. I ran my first half marathon. Well, I ran the vast majority of it.
Here we are at the starting line.
The race was huge. We didn't make it to the starting line until more than a half hour past the original start. For the first several miles, maybe six or seven, the course was so congested that I had to really pay attention to make sure that I wasn't tripping on someone else and adjust my pace accordingly.
It was a hot day (ok, for Seattle), and a lot of the course was more exposed than the river trail where I did most of my training. The biggest hill of the race is right after 9 miles, and that's where things got messy. Physically, I was fine. Mentally, the end of 13 miles seemed a lifetime away. From there until mile 12, I took intermittent walking breaks while I waved Rachel and Ryan on. I was disappointed in myself at the time, and I'm disappointed looking back at it. I knew that (the mental aspect) was my weak spot from my long training runs.
From the beginning of mile 12 until the end, I ran with everything I had left in my body. I was really excited to finish sooner than the 2:30 that I had predicted when I signed up. Unfortunately, according to my Garmin, the 13.1 mile course was actually 13.45 miles. I saw George and the kids again around 13.3, and asked where I could find the $&*%-ing finish line!
Up a hill, and there it was. I finished in 2:33.
It wasn't pretty, but I'm glad that I did it. Despite George's sacrifice of the last many weekend mornings, he's already asking when I'm going to run my next half. It won't be particularly soon, but I do think I'll do another one.
Next time, I'm going to do more running and be more familiar with the course so that I can be mentally prepared. What lessons have you taken away from your first competition?