5 months ago I took the plunge & registered for my first Half-Marathon. Something I had wanted to do for awhile at that point. I had contemplated both the Disney Princess as well as the 3M, both hosting cities having been home to me at one point, and fun races — I really thought they’d be great. Timing just wasn’t right… Then I found….. The inaugural Athleta Iron Girl Half-Marathon in Columbia, MD scheduled for April 29, 2012. I registered.
This was easily the biggest goal I had ever set for myself… Yes, I was on the State Championship gymnastics Team 2 years in a row and was competing at the Elite level. Yes, I have done some amazing things (to me) in my short time on this earth… However – running… THIRTEEN POINT ONE miles… That was on a whole ‘nother playing field. I honestly wasn’t sure, at several points during the beginning of my training if I’d actually be able to accomplish it. Sprinting comes naturally to me. I can go short spurts with big strides.. But, distance running! CRAP. I had bit off more than I could chew… Distance running does not come naturally to me the way 1-3 miles does.
Then, out of nowhere. All my weeks/months of training came to an end, and the day was here.
We arrived in Columbia around 6:40. Just enough time to warm up a little, stretch, and line up… This is when I realized I forgot my Nike+ watch…. I was actually a little relieved. I wouldn’t have the chance to stare at it the entire time. I decided to line up between the 10 and 11 minute pace groups. I wasn’t trying to stay with any pace group… I just wanted to start somewhere in the middle & enjoy the race. My only goals for the race were to finish, and to not be the last one across the finish line. (Spoiler Alert: I succeeded with FLYING colors!!)
The race started off immediately with a hill for the entire first mile. Well, fabulous. HA.. I cruised along and was very happy to see a downhill coming up at the 2 mile marker. I LOVE running down hill. I can book it down a hill! The next thing I know I’m at the 5k marker. I even thought to myself “wow, already?” (Things you should never say in the first quarter of your race)
Miles 4-6 blurred by. I was just enjoying myself – I missed the 5 mile marker entirely, and then my iSmoothRun app chimed in and let me know I was at mile 5.4something (btw I love this feature on the iSmoothRun iPhone app!) I was in awh of the course. There wasn’t much going on… Columbia isn’t exactly a big city or have any notorious land marks. It’s pretty much office buildings… But it was SO GREEN. The course took us on a route that was covered in these beautiful arches of trees, brilliant shades of green. I kicked it up a notch when I passed the mile 6 marker. Once again, I found my strong at the 10k point. (I need to work on making this happen earlier and last longer?!)
I was all smiles running through the half way clock in 1:25:29! I threw my hands over my head as I ran through it, but to be honest it was more out of excitement that there were bathrooms directly ahead. As we all know, running on a FULL bladder = OMG! It’s terribly uncomfortable and border line painful. If i didn’t see bathrooms soon I was ready to ditch it to the woods for a second… (Running helps us keep it classy)
Then I was off again…. To be wacked in the knee with a 4 mile steady climb… It really didn’t let up until about mile 11.5…. It was unforgiving. I knew going into this race that the claims on the TriColumbia website about this being a pretty flat course was a bunch of bull. The rolling hills of Columbia and Howard county are infamous. They are potentially worse than Owings Mills, and you all know I drive to the trails whenever possible to avoid those puppies! But, I was still taken aback by just HOW much they were off about the elevation…. I will admit, I walked more than I would have liked to during the last stretch of that hill.
At the mile 8 water stop, they were giving out pieces of chocolate. They were TINY little pieces, so I figured I should grab one… I hadn’t taken ANY of my fuel. I brought a gel and a pack of chews and used neither. I thought getting something in me was a good idea. WRONG. Almost instantly my stomach started cramping up. UGH. I spent the next mile begging it to pass and taking big deep breaths. Once I saw that 10 mile marker though I was all smiles and running again.
“I have never raced further than this” I thought to myself. However that high also quickly passed because, I WAS STILL RUNNING UPHILL. Ugh…. Thank the heavens that things started going downhill again at the 11 mile marker. Which brought on a huge wave of emotions.
I had never run more than 11 miles before. I was 2.1 miles away from being a HALF-MARATHONER. There were women walking all over the place with medals that motivated me more to keep moving. There were so many adorable little kids in the last stretch of the race passing out water & high fiving us all of us as we ran by! Then mile 12 marker came. I started booking it. Thanks to mister 4.5 mile hill in the second half of the race, I certainly didn’t negative split this half – but the fastest mile in the entire race was easily that last mle. My hips were screaming but I was on autopilot for my “magic mile”… I saw the finish SO CLOSE in the horizon and through gritted teeth and SCREAMING hips I kept bookin’ it across the finish line.
I’M A HALF MARATHONER Y’ALL!!!!!! I FREAKING DID IT!
My time was nothing incredible. I didn’t do any magic tricks out there, but I FINISHED my FIRST HALF MARATHON.
EEEE! Look at this adorbz medal, too!
&& Guys…. This is only the beginning! I loved everything about this race. Even when my hips were slowly dying and my stomach wanted nothing more than to stop moving – I was loving it. The mental challenge. Holy smokes is my mind a lot stronger than I ever imagined. My body said stop, my mind said “oh hell no”
All a result of DARING TO DREAM.
So, what’s next? am I hooked? Of course I’m hooked, I was long before running this 13.1… What’s next is a Summer of taking it back to the basics. Having fun and working on my speed!! With a Warrior Dash, and several 5 and 10 ks! I have HUGE PR goals for my next half marathon ( I’m already registered for two more later this year!) I’m really confident that I can get some speed into my distance running with my approach this summer!
If you can’t tell I’m still riding my high from the race.
OH and my favorite sign of the race “Happy Half Marathon Games, May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor Not to Puke at the Finish Line”
So, how was YOUR weekend?