This past Saturday was the day I had been working towards for a while–my first half marathon! I went into it feeling sort of nervous, sort of excited, sort of anxious…basically all possible feelings all at once. I was happy to have my cousin, Nathan, as an RnR buddy since he was running the full marathon, and I know Brian and Kathy were happy to have each other there while they were waiting for the two of us.
I had a few goals for this half marathon. The first was simply to finish since it was my first one and the longest distance I’ve run ever (including long runs). The second was to finish around 2 hours, but no later than 2:15. I accomplished that goal with a time of 2:07:45 (official time), including the potty break. Excluding the potty break it was more like 2:06. Even though it was close to the low end of my goal, I feel like I could have done better. I couldn’t get into a groove (so much going on!), and I wasn’t as mentally tough as I wanted to be. I walked twice (I think?) for about 30 seconds each time, and of course, in retrospect I keep wondering what my time would have been if I hadn’t walked. Then again, I had a slightly tender knee and a huge blister (not enough glide!), so who knows. Anyway, I do feel a little bit disappointed in the time because I know I could have been faster had I kept my wits about me. I feel like I did great up to mile 10, and that’s when I started to really get physically & mentally tired. It’s hard to tell, though, because my chip never registered at the 10-mile mark, so I don’t know what my time was at that point, but I think I remember it being 1:30 or something. So basically, after mile 10 is when I lost my speed. It’s okay – time to learn from it and improve for next time! I mean, even with the last few miles of mental struggle, I still finished in 2:06, so that means my first 10 miles were good! Brian also put it into perspective for me by saying, “Hey! You still beat the fastest marathon runner by 15-20 minutes!” and since those people are craaaazy fast, it did make me feel better.
Nothing can compare to the feeling of crossing that finish line, though. It was amazing! Brian and Kathy were both able to watch (even though I didn’t see them), and I was still smiling when I crossed the finish line. Afterwards, it was a huge rush of emotion, especially because all I wanted to do was see Brian & Kathy, but I still had a long (and very crowded) finishers’ section to get through. I was exhausted, excited, overwhelmed, etc. I ended up sitting on a curb next to other runners for a few minutes while waiting for Brian and Kathy to find me (I said, “You find me, I moved enough this morning and am not moving anymore!”), and when they gave me huge hugs, I will admit that I teared up and started to cry a little. It was such a huge accomplishment, I couldn’t believe I did it, and I was just so happy I was done! It was incredibly touching to see just how proud they were of me…I felt like a superstar all night! And I swear it was like giving birth – the whole time you’re doing it, you are thinking about how you can’t wait for it to be over, and then when you have finished, you are overcome with emotion & eventually start looking forward to your next one.
Afterwards, Brian & I headed to the car so I could change into warm, dry clothes, and then went back up to the Finish Line Festival where I got my medal engraved (had to, first half marathon), got ice packs taped to my knees (both knees ended up bothering me), and waited for Nathan to finish his first ever full marathon (and race in general). He did AWESOME and finished in 3:48. I think I was just as excited to wait for and watch him cross the finish line as I was to cross my own finish line! As a sidenote, RnR did a great job of tracking runners for their followers, so Kathy and Brian knew almost exactly when Nathan would cross the finish line. Since my 10-mile time never registered, I was more of a guessing game for them. Anyway, I LOVED how everyone was so genuinely excited for every single runner to cross that line…so nice to be able to cheer on others as they accomplish their goals.
I loved the atmosphere of this race, too. There were so many fans cheering along the way, and everyone was so encouraging. Everyone from random frat boys to older couples were along the course, and some were passing out gummy bears at the top of a huge hill, others were passing out water and oranges (separately from the volunteer tables), and of course people were passing out a lot of free high fives! Oh, and there were LOTS of cowbells and sequestration-related race signs (only in DC!). One of my favorite moments came while we were waiting for Nathan to finish. This one marathon runner stopped right before the finish line to talk to his supporters. We thought he was just saying a quick hi, but he was there for a long time (well, “long” when you are anticipating that someone wants to cross the finish as fast as possible). One of the other observers and I asked each other, “What is he doing? Doesn’t he care about his time?” What he was doing, though, was pulling his two young sons over the barrier so they could run the last stretch of the marathon with him. Instant tears right there! So touching – what a special moment! Brian & Kathy witnessed someone crossing the finish line doing the Gangnam Style dance, and I also loved this story about one marathon runner stopping his own race to help another struggling runner cross the finish line. These are the stories that make me so happy to be part of the running community.
Next up for me is the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on April 7, followed by the Parkway Classic 10-Miler on April 21, and THEN…NIKE WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON ON APRIL 28. This was a last minute decision because I am determined to beat my RnR time. This is actually a race I had wanted to run for a while, but when registration came along, I didn’t sign up because it was Foxfield weekend. Long story short, we are not going to Foxfield because I have class on that Saturday, so that means I will be around for NWM!
Here are official race stats! Not too bad for a first marathon. Can’t wait for Nike Women’s Half when the long-legged men aren’t going to be competition ;):
8,462 out of 19,945 total people (top 42%)
4,145 out of 12,525 women (top 33%)
1,316 out of 3,411 division (top 38%)
Here are some pictures of the day: