(I wrote this yesterday after the race.)
I ran my first half-marathon today. I thought it would be best to get my thoughts down immediately, because I have a feeling this may be like child labor – you forget the unpleasant bits and cling to the good.
I know I’ve already talked about it some, but I was really, really nervous going into this weekend. I think I may have started freaking people out a bit, because whenever anyone would ask, “Are you ready?” I usually responded with something like, “I guess.” or “I hope so.” You know, things that aren’t very encouraging to supportive friends and family. By Saturday, I realized what I was doing, and I began trying really hard to be more positive – not only for others’ benefit, but for my own, too.
I wasn’t worried about the distance or finishing; it was just that this was such a new experience. I travelled to a town I’m unfamiliar with to line up with thousands of strangers to run a very long race. What if I didn’t make it to the start line on time? How would I know where I was supposed to be? Would my family even see me cross the finish line, or would it be too chaotic?
The night before the race, my parents did me a wonderful favor. They let the kids sleep in their room. I didn’t have to worry about coaxing them to sleep in a new place, or keeping them from staying up late playing in bed because sleeping in the same room is a novelty. All I had to worry about was me getting a good night’s rest. It was the best I’ve had in months. In the morning, I was able to get up early, eat breakfast, dress, and mentally prepare without worrying about waking anyone or getting anyone else ready for the morning. It was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my first big race day.
My arriving on time fear turned out not to be completely unfounded. Our hotel was located right along the DART line here in Dallas. We looked into ticket prices the night before, but only glanced at the train schedule. Mistake. The one we needed only runs every 30 minutes on Sunday, and it was pulling away as we arrived at the station. It took us a while to realize this. The starting line was about a mile away from our hotel – not ridiculously far for the adults, but a little daunting with a three- and six-year-old. Luckily, the train arrived as we passed the next station, and we were able to ride anyway. I didn’t show up as early as I wanted to, but it was enough time to wait in line for the bathroom, stretch, and find my corral.
My father was extremely amused by the bathroom lines. I lost count of how many photos he took. He even took one of me exiting, saying, “She finished the race!” Sometimes, it doesn’t take much. 😉
Enough pre-race already! Let’s get to the nitty gritty.
The first five miles were a piece of cake. I hit my stride pretty early, so It was smooth sailing for a good while. I felt awesome. I’d say between mile five and mile eight is where the most daunting hills were lurking. If you live somewhere hilly and are used to them, I’m sure you think I’m a big weenie. Where I live and train, it’s pretty flat. I am only accustomed to smallish hills. I ran up as many as I could. The rest I walked. Meh. I’m not upset. I’ll find some hills and do better next time. The last four miles were either flat or downhill. Hallelujah! Finishing was amazing. I felt like a rock star.
If you’ve ever considered a Rock and Roll Half-Marathon, do it. They’re very well-organized. My worries about finding my way on race day were needless. There is lots of good energy. The bands along the course make it fun – a Guns & Roses cover band was my favorite, surprisingly. You might even get to line up with a mohawked Elvis. You’ll also be supporting Susan G. Komen and breast cancer research, which is something that is more recently a concern of mine after two young friends having been diagnosed (and beating!) breast cancer. Just be forewarned – if you’re a softie like me, you will probably tear up whenever you see a survivor running, or someone with a “in memory of” bib.
I finished the race in 2:37:44 – about 12 minutes per mile. I’m proud of it. Since it’s my first half-marathon, I’ve earned myself a PR regardless. Woot! Woot! Also, Dad and Aidan saw me cross the finish. 🙂
How did I feel afterward? Crummy. I walked for a few minutes, but I got light-headed and had to sit down pretty quickly. I stretched, drank some water and Gatorade, and slowly tried to move again. It was slow going getting to the train station to head back to the hotel, between me and two hot, cranky kids. I can’t really put my finger on why I felt so yucky afterward today, other than my being unused to the hills on the course and the fact that I react really badly to my own adrenaline. I could feel the nausea happening a couple of times while I was running, and I pushed through. It may have finally caught up with me at the finish line.
After a hard-earned shower, lunch, and a catnap with my youngest, I feel human again. My feet are still a little angry, though. And yes, it is fun to spend a few hours in the company of thousands of other masochists. I will probably do it again sometime, just not right away. 🙂
I’ll try and remember to share some photos when I have a computer to dump them onto.