I made it through my first half marathon! It turned out to be a great way to celebrate my birthday! It feels amazing to have conquered this distance and gives me a boost of confidence as I start the last 3 weeks of training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon.
I woke up at 6 a.m. (though my nerves definitely got the better of me because I didn’t sleep great the night before). I wanted to get to downtown St. Paul fairly early so I could park in the ramp near the finish line. I was in the ramp by 7:10 a.m. and easily found a spot. I hung out in my car for about 20 minutes to stay warm. Then I ventured out so I could have time to walk to the start line which I knew was about a 15 minute walk.
I made it to the start area with plenty of time. It was a chilly morning and the wind made it a little worse. I found a spot to stand on the steps of the Cathedral that blocked some of the wind. Made for a nice view of the sunrise over downtown St. Paul too.
A little after 8, I made my way to the 10 min mile starting corral. I did some dynamic stretching while I waited for things to get going (which was also necessary to stay warm!). A bit after 8:30 the crowd finally started to shift forward and we made our way to the start. I took off and settled in to a comfy pace for a nice long run.
The first couple miles were all about getting warmed up — like literally getting blood pumping to my fingers and toes. I sometimes have a habit of going out a bit fast in a race because I’m weaving around people and the adrenaline is pumping. Knowing I had a long way to go, I reminded myself to take my time and try to stick close to my 10:20/mile goal pace. I had my dad’s pre-race advice in my head too. He said you’ve done all the work, now go out and ENJOY it. (Yea, my dad is pretty cool :)) I took those words to heart and let myself enjoy the scenery of running down Summit Ave. There were gorgeous homes, cheering spectators, and beautiful fall colors to admire. I think this helped me not get caught up in the crowd of runners and stick to my pace. By the time I hit mile 3 my body was warm and my legs felt good. Before I knew it, we were rounding the corner to East River Parkway.
I was still feeling good when I hit mile 5. I wanted to keep my energy level up, so I took my first GU to fuel this next part of the race. I was excited because I knew that a couple friends were going to be around mile 6 cheering. I spotted them and a bright yellow sign.
I gave them high fives and a hug. Before I continued on, Hyedi snapped a quick photo to commemorate the halfway point of my first half.
The rest of this part of the race was pretty uneventful. I felt good and kept my pace.
I could feel my energy level dropping a bit, but my sister and a couple friends were going to be cheering close to mile 10, so I distracted myself a little by scanning the spectators for them. I spotted them and their cheers gave me another boost of energy to push on. I took another GU to get me through the last few miles. These last few miles were a bit tougher. I could feel my legs getting more and more tired. Then we hit a pretty sizable hill at mile 11 that didn’t help the tired legs. Even through that, I stayed right around my goal pace of 10:20. Before long I saw the 12.5 mile marker up ahead. Right then, the 2:15 (10:18/mile) pacer appeared next to me. I didn’t have a whole lot left in the tank, but I felt like I had the right amount of energy to keep up with him and that would mean I’d meet my goal time. I kept up and soon the finish line was in sight. I got a smile on my face and picked up my pace just a bit to head down the straight away and cross the finish line!
Here’s how my half marathon goals stacked up:
- A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours and 16 minutes or less (avg. pace ~ 10:20). Check! My official time was 2:14:45!
- B: Run the whole way. Check! With the exception of slowing down a little at water stops and to say hello to friends, I ran the whole way!
- C: Finish. Check! See below 😉
There were unfortunately a few logistical issues with the race. Some runners’ times didn’t get recorded properly and there was a lack of food and water at the finish. I was given a little bag of pretzels and a few pieces of candy, but bananas were all gone when I got to the other food tables. (How do you run out of bananas after a half?!) They had little glasses of water at the finish, but a bottle of water or at least a larger plastic cup would’ve been better (oh, and maybe some Gatorade or something). I had heard that Team Ortho commonly has logistical issues like that with races. I’m glad I did it, but it will probably be awhile before I do another Team Ortho race.
But, back to more positive stuff. I felt like I had a great race. It makes me really excited to take on the Las Vegas half marathon in a few weeks!