I always love reading the race recaps on the blogs I follow and I think it is a wonderful idea for writing down how you felt during the race and after then use it to remember that race. Whew… that was a long sentence and probably a run-on but oh well. Anyways. My race day started nice and early at about 4:50 AM. Alex and I decided that we would drive to the race instead of take public transport because it would have taken over an hour and a half to get there by bus/train. Driving=30 minutes=more sleep. I woke up about 10 minutes before we left as I had packed the night before. I drank some coffee while I made my typical pre-run breakfast of 2 whole wheat waffles with cream cheese and chia seeds. My plan was to eat the on the way. Once I was ready, Alex got woken up and we climbed into the car. We picked up my sister on our way since she lives so close. The whole way to the race my stomach was a mess. I was so worried about not being able to finish or getting picked up by the slagging wagon. I had not prepared very well for this race which didn’t help matters. I picked at my breakfast as I drove and once we got there before giving up on it half way through. Once we reached the park where the race started, Alex switched places with me to go park while Amanda and I headed to the port a potties.
After using the bathroom we walked around to warm up my legs a little bit before finding my parents and little brother. . We met up with my Aunt Cathy (who did the half) and Uncle Mike (he did the 5k). After the national anthem my Aunt and I headed to our pacing groups. The weather was a little warmer than I would have liked at the start and the air in the park was thick and heavy
It took a while before we were moving and the 5K start line was before the Half-Marathon one so everyone started running about a quarter mile early. Once we were off I was feeling good. I knew I would see my family around mile 4 so I just focused on the runners ahead of me to help keep my pace.
My legs felt really good right off the bat which helped ease some of my nerves. The water/aid stations were well spaced and it seemed that every time I felt thirsty or thought I could use a shot of Gatorade I would see a sign for aid station ahead. My only real complaint with this race is that the drinks are one sided which caused a huge bottle neck at each and every aid station. I tried my best to keep moving but when I wanted to Gatorade I knew I would be walking really slowly before I could grab them. I took a gatorade only at the first three stops then started taking one each of water and Gatorade around mile 6. By mile 10 I was only taking water because the sugar from the gatorade was making my stomach hurt but I am getting a head of myself.
As soon as we turned onto Lake Shore Drive from the park there was a collective sigh. The air cleared, the wind picked up slightly, and we all cooled off significantly. The race from miles 2.5-13 were all along LSD which runs next to the Lake. That lake effect has never felt better. At this point in the race there was great cloud coverage too which helped regulate the temperature. I found my family standing on the median right about 4 miles and gave them a cheesy grin and thumbs up before continuing on. I knew I wouldn’t see them again until the end of my race. Luckily there was awesome crowd support throughout the entire race. Many funny signs to pass the time, people on overpasses yelling down to cheer us all on, and the kids working the aid stations were wonderful! They cheered everyone on as they passed out water and Gatorade trying to say the names of people if they could read the bibs.
I stayed feeling good until about mile 8-9 when I realized I needed to use the bathroom. I think I had over-hydrated with all of that double drinks at the aid stations! There were lines at all the aid stations so I kept on going until it became too distracting. I found a port a potty spot with no line and was able to get in and out in about 30 seconds which I thought was pretty awesome. I was able to pick my pace up for a little bit until mile 11 hit. Mile 11 was rough to say the least. At this point I could feel my legs getting tired and I struggled to hold my goal pace. I let myself take a longer walking break at the next water station before doing a walk/run combo. I would walk for 1 minute then run the remainder of whatever song was on my Ipod. I found a last wind for the final 3/4 of a mile and was even able to sprint to the finish for the last 0.1 mile.
The feeling of crossing that finish line was awesome and I felt even better when I realized that I made my goal time! I really enjoyed this race and want to do it again next year. I’m hoping to talk some friends into running it with me!
What was your first half marathon? If you asked me back 5-6 years ago if I would ever run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed in your face and walked away. I cannot see myself running a full marathon but I may just be in love with half marathons now!