“You ran that thing like you had to save some lives, or the world, or both.” – Best post-race congrats I received from a friend
When I made the decision to register for my first half marathon I knew I didn’t just want to finish it, I wanted to race it. At first I didn’t have a time in mind of when I wanted to finish. It’s actually much simpler than that: I just wanted to know that I gave the race my all. I wanted to finish the race knowing that I physically couldn’t have gone any faster on race day. I dedicated four months of runs and countless hours at the gym training for this intangible goal. And finally it came…. race day.
I picked the Superhero Half Marathon as my first half because it is in my hometown of Morristown, NJ. I wanted my family to be there at the finish line cheering me on- especially my dad and husband. Even though race day ended up being a soggy, cold day my entire family still came out for the event!
The Starting Line and Beyond
Since I am now an experienced racer (with a whopping 4 races to my name) I have learned that it is best to start as close to the starting line as possible if you are there to race. I would rather be passed by faster runners than have to fight through crowds while trying to reach my ideal pace.
The fog horn blew and we were off! I was aiming for a 7:05 pace but started off faster than I intended; I ran the first three miles at a 6:55 pace. Holy moly!! I got caught up with trying to keep up with other faster runners and temporarily abandoned my original strategy. Bad idea!
Since it was my first time racing the distance I was nervous about how to pace the distance. I knew I was running too fast with 6:55’s, but another part of me simply wasn’t sure exactly what my body was capable of! I passed the half-way point at about 46 minutes and was feeling good. Miles 6, 7 and 8 were tough because the rain started to come down harder but I kept trudging on!
Then came mile 9, the hills and the chills. I suddenly started feeling very cold and had a nasty 1.5 mile hill climb ahead of me. The last set of hills nearly killed me. I checked my Garmin and it read a heart rate of 177! Good God that’s high! I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m dying. I’m dead. My heart is going to give out right here and they’re going to use the ambulance to drive me to the finish line.”
I don’t know how but I made it up the last set of hills, my heart rate steadied and it was downhill and then flat to the finish! Mentally this part was challenging for me. I was cold, wet and simply exhausted. I kept reminding myself, “You trained for months for today. This is it!! You don’t get to give up now. You don’t get another chance. You can walk at the finish.” So, I hauled ass and simply kept running as fast as my little legs could go.
And then I finally reached the promise land- that magical place past the finish line complete with bananas, water and smiling family members! My final time was 1:34:55 and I am happy with it. I know I could not have given any more of myself to that race- hey! I had the purple lips to show for it.
I can’t emphasize enough how amazing and challenging this experience was for me. At no point did I think that running at that pace was easy and I definitely did not cheerfully glide into the finish-line. But I did finish and I am proud of my accomplishment! I even managed to snag 2nd place in my age group and have a mini-trophy to show for it (super cool!). I will definitely be racing this distance again!
The best part of this race was having my husband, father, sister and brother (and their sig. o’s and children) there waiting for me! My super supportive sister even made a sign to cheer me on! I have the best family!