My First 1/2 Marathon Experience

After registering for my first half marathon back in June, I did not know that I would find it such a nerve racking experience. I should have expected it seeing as I always feel nervous or under prepared. Yet I lay in bed – next to my wife and friends Kara and Michael  in the next bed (Michael was running the race as well) – not able to sleep. My heart felt like it was trying to jump out of my chest. Cindy, my wife, finally calmed me down enough to where I was able to get some sleep.

I woke up at 5.00am the following morning – eager a ever – so that I could make all of the necessary preparations to ensure a good race experience. I made some decent Seattle’s Best Coffee in the crappy coffee maker that you always get in your hotel room. I then put my D-Tag (a disposable race chip) on my shoe, got dressed and put my number (bib) on my shirt. I did not need an hour to do all of this but at 6.00am all four of us went down to the lobby for breakfast.

I wanted to make sure my body was perfect for the race so I had some steel cut oats (protein), some orange juice (vitamin C/hydration), and some water (more hydration).

We left the hotel, found parking, and then began walking to the starting line and this is when my bladder quickly began to fill up with the juice, water, and coffee. I felt like I would burst. Every line for each porta-potty on the way to the starting line was longer than the next but Michael and I finally settled on one nearest to the starting line. The race was to start at 8.00am and it was 7.40am, “More than enough time,” Micheal said. I was not so sure.

I got into my corral at 7.58am after letting all of my anxiety pour out of me. I felt great. I did a few quick stretches (all I had time for) and the gun went off.

From the beginning of the race I was pacing myself with everyone who was running at a ‘7″20 pace. I had all of this adrenaline running through me and I felt like I could conquer the world. Knowing myself I did not let my mind get away from my legs. I kept disciplining my pace throughout the race.

There were plenty of motivators throughout the race. The first came at Mile 1 where a guy was holding a sign that read, “If this was easy everyone would be doing it.” I remember thinking, “Damn straight!” The second came at Mile 5 or so when I saw Cindy and Kara cheering me on (they would wait in the same spot to cheer Michael on as well). The last was a set of girls – dressed as Kiss (this was a Rock N’ Roll Marathon) giving out high fives. I remember this being at a point when I was beginning to tire so it gave me one of those extra pushes that I would need.

Naturally pounding your feet against the pavement for 13.1 miles at high speeds cannot be all sunshine and rainbows and it wasn’t. Remember Mile 5 where I saw Cindy? Well on Mile 6 I began to feel that morning’s steel cut oats burning up in my stomach. Nothing major but not comfortable either. The real challenges came in the last four or five miles where it felt like I had nothing left. I was fighting a constant mental war trying to remember that not everyone could do this and at the same time thinking that all of these people cheering me on were chumps because they did not know what I was going through at this moment. I thought to myself, “Well I can’t just stop,” and as a result I kept trudging along.

Usually near the finish line of a race I put my foot on the gas and give that last stretch everything I’ve got but I had nothing left (something I have always tried to achieve seeing as I am always beating myself up for being too conservative in a race); I felt like I was lucky to be crossing the finish line standing up.

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