Well. I’m three days past race day, and I am slowly starting to not limp a little when I get out of my office chair at work, so I think it’s time I recap my run, eh?
On Friday night, my sister, Kelsey, flew in to the Phoenix airport from San Antonio to run the race with me. We wanted to both run our first half marathon together, so she flew out here for the occasion. She’s been a runner for some time, and has always been athletic (soccer, volleyball, kickball…the list goes on! She was playing sports while I did musical theatre growing up!), but she has been having really weird issues with her shins and calves lately. She’s fallen three or four times while running, and described the falls by saying “my legs just quit working.” So while she felt prepared, she was nervous.
I, however, felt under prepared and nervous. I knew that I could finish — I didn’t doubt my physical ability to travel 13.1 miles, but I knew that I wouldn’t be finishing at an impressive time. Kels and I discussed how we were going to run the race: together, with walk breaks every mile. I had a feeling that she could probably maintain a faster pace than I could, but since we’d never really run together aside from a handful of times, we were just going to have to wing it. Because there’s no better plan than to WING IT when you’re about to run a half marathon, right?!
We picked up our packets at the expo, and bought a few goodies. Andrew bought me a really cute reusable cup (anyone else obsessed with them?! I hoard them, I swear) with “13.1” on it, and a vinyl “13.1” sticker for my Prius. We signed up for the 6:05 shuttle to the start line, and it felt like it was becoming real. We were really racing the next day! We went out for pasta for lunch, and made a quick trip to the grocery store for some protein bars to take with us the next morning.
As to be expected, Maisy was a complete booger the night before the race, and I didn’t fall asleep until 11 PM. My 3:50 AM alarm came really, really quickly. I put on my new race day shirt (omg I love it!), we ate some bagels and fruit and drove the hour to the shuttle drop off. I’m shocked that my stomach wasn’t in knots the whole way, honestly! I had a surprisingly cool demeanor and was just ready to run, know what I mean? I impressed myself a little bit with my ability to keep a cool head.
And now, I will inundate you with start line photos:
So check out our shirts. “Thirteen Point One: Been There, Ran That.” Yes, we were THOSE GIRLS who wore matching running tanks to a race — haters gon’ hate. It was my first half and I was going to be FESTIVE, ALRIGHT? ;)
Those photographers are literally EVERYWHERE. “Take your photo, ma’am?” “Uhm, sure!” I figured I’d want some photos of me before I got super disgusting from the race, ha!
…and a race wouldn’t be complete without a start line selfie! ;) I think I look a little giraffe-y in this photo, but I was just trying to get my head in the shot, promise!
So then we started running.
And I made the classic rookie mistake. I was pumped. I had adrenaline, and I was excited. So I ran too fast. Sole Sports sponsored a thing where they’d have a runner/employee run the race with a goal time in mind — 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30, 2:45, and 3:00. We had decided that we would keep ourselves in between the 2:45 pace group and 3:00 pace group, with a goal of 2:59:59 or faster.
So maybe somewhere in between mile 1 and 2, Kelsey was keeping pace with the 2:45 gal like it was nothing. I was not. I hung back a little for a bit. Kels turned around to find me, and I caught up. I ran with them for a little bit longer, and fell back again. I knew that if I tried to keep up with that pace, I’d be dead by mile 9. Kels turned and said, “I’m going to keep going as long as I’m comfortable, is that ok? (Yeah, go ahead!) Are you sure?! (YES! Run!) So our fairy tale of crossing the finish line together ended at mile 2, bahaha! Really, though, it was for the best. I ran my pace, and I had a lot more confidence in my ability to finish strong — or at all.
At the start of the race, I started my Nike+ app like I do on all of my runs, so I could keep track of my pace, time, and distance. Throughout the race, I noticed that it was a little ahead of what the course signs indicated — saying I was at mile 4 when I was maybe .25 miles away from the mile 4 marker. It eventually snowballed, and it was telling me I was a full mile ahead of where I actually was. NOT COOL, NIKE+. NOT. COOL. Come to find out, it didn’t even save my race data, so I have no stats from the race. Awesome. Pretty pissed about that, actually, and this might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I see a Garmin in my future.
Anyway! The Nike+ app told me I was running about a 12:20 pace from mile 2-6 or so, and that’s where I wanted to be, or even a little faster than my target. I kept telling myself, “as long as you don’t see the 3:00 hour pace runner pass you, you’re golden.” I had so much pure, legit FUN from miles 2-7.
After I crossed the mile 8 marker, I got really, really TIRED. I was getting worn out. It wasn’t my breathing, and it wasn’t a head game, it was just my legs literally getting worn out. I slowed down and tried to reserve a little bit of energy for the last few miles, because I knew I’d need it. I approached the mile 9 marker, and I was still having a good time and giving high fives to runners booking it in the opposite direction (and oh, how I wished I could trade places with them!).
Then mile 10 and 11 came, and they brought huge f*ckin’ HILLS with them. In hindsight, they probably weren’t that huge or horrible, but when you are pretty wiped out, those hills may as well been Mount Everest. This is actually when my favorite part of the race took place. I was in between mile 10 and 11, and I saw a small little woman run up alongside me. She was holding a pace sign.
And what do I do? I forget that I have headphones in and say, “SHIT!”
and everyone around me turns their heads and looks at me. Oops.
I kept pace with her for another mile or so, but I slowed my pace a bit and let her keep going. This was the only point in the race where I was bummed out. I was running, but literally watching my goal time run into the distance. Hrmph.
After being out-run by the pace runner, I just wanted to finish. I wanted to be done, and I wanted to at least run it in an acceptable time. So I dug deep and ran the rest of the race. My legs felt heavy, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am so, so proud that I did it.
I crossed the finish line at 3:08:25, and while it’s 8 minutes and 26 seconds over my goal time, I’m pleased. Plus, now I have a new time to beat for the next one ;).
After I was medalled (is that a word?) by some men in uniform, I saw Kelsey standing behind them. She had KILLED IT and ran the ENTIRE THING, SOLID. She finished with a time of 2:38:36! I’m crazy proud of her! She ran the entire race with that same pace group, and the pace runner held her hand through the last two miles to make sure that she finished strong. Things like that make me proud to be a runner. Yeah, we’re running a race, but we’re all really just racing ourselves, and pushing our own limits.
So what’s next?
Improvement. That’s the name of the game. I am not entirely sure what avenue I’m going to take to improve on my time and performance, but that’s the goal. I’m definitely going to run another 13.1 sometime in the near future, and I’m working to figure out the best way to train and prepare for the next race! I’m proud of myself, and I think it’s safe to say I’m hooked :)