So Saturday, I ran my first half-marathon!
As you know, I've been training for the last 8 weeks or so since the 10k -- 4 miles twice a week and one long run increasing by one mile each week. The furthest I ended up running was 10 miles, and all of my runs were on paved surfaces. This was an off-road race through an old farm/airfield in Mt. Dora, so I wasn't really sure what the course would be like, or if I would be trained enough for it.
I really thought I was trained enough for it, but there were a number of factors that worked against me. First, the race organizers made the mistake of only ordering two porta-potties for 200-300 people, resulting in a mile-long bathroom line before the race started. Then, rather than cutting the line off and starting the race, they delayed it twice to give people more bathroom time. So, the race was supposed to start at 7am, when it was cooler outside, and instead it started at 7:45, when it was significantly hotter (and my breakfast had worn off).
The next challenge was the first 4 miles of the race. What I assumed would be a flat grassy surface turned out to be much taller and required more of a high-step run. The grass was also damp, so my shoes and socks were immediately soggy. I was rocking some major blisters by mile 4, along with what I could tell were worn out leg muscles, and a slight case of "I've made a huge mistake."
I was carrying my own water + gatorade, but I made sure to stop at each of the race's water stations, which were set up about every 2 miles. This turned out to be a good idea because lawdy, it got hot. Many of the other runners did not carry their own water, and I'm not sure how they survived. I also brought along two energy goos and picked one up at the halfway point water station, where they were handing them out.
Eventually, the course turned from grass into a gravel/dirt path, but by this point, I was ready to be done. I felt like I literally could have laid down in the grass and fallen asleep. I was tempted to text my husband for encouragement, but I didn't want to need it. I was super bummed at how much I was sucking.
The next 7 miles, I don't even know. I don't know how I got through them. I didn't have any grand mantras that popped into my head. I didn't feel like an athlete. I didn't feel like this run was an investment in the next one. I didn't take solace in the amount of calories I was burning. I just ran until I couldn't, and then I walked, and then I ran again. I wasn't alone, of course. There were lots of others who looked like they were a few sweat drops away from seeing a mirage. Around mile 10, a girl came up to me and handed me a stick that was her "relay baton," we had some good lolz, and I handed the "baton" to the next person I passed.
The 2nd to last water station had run out of water, but they had plenty at the very last station, and I knew we were close to the end. I started getting some cramps in my calves, but I stopped to stretch and seemed to work it out enough to keep going. I finally turned that last corner and saw the finish line.
My first race medal!
At every other race I've been to, people sprint for the finish, but not this one. I was the only crazy person in range that was running at the end. I crossed the finish with very little fanfare -- there was one woman sitting in her truck cheering for me, but there really weren't a lot of people around, there was no official race clock, no photographer. This was a small race. They were supposed to have a person logging everyone's time at the end, but she apparently was not there when I finished because I am presently listed as DNF on the official race results. It's a bit heart-breaking, but I suppose it doesn't matter. I have my RunKeeper entry, the surprise of knowing my time was smack in the middle of my age group, and the confidence that next time I do a half-marathon, there's no way it will be as hard as this one. That's a good feeling.
Trying not to sweat on Carlo
Huge thanks to my husband for supporting me through all this -- not just for driving me home, but for putting up with all these Saturdays of long runs, napping, and letting me steal your Blendr bottle. You're the best.