Looking Back: A Recap of My First Half Marathon

Right now I’m off running my fourth half marathon, and I thought it would be fun to look back on the first one I ever ran!


So plenty of time has passed now for me to reflect on the half marathon on Sunday. The days between then and now have been packed and crazy, but today was my first day back to running, with an easy four mile recovery run. My legs feel great and rested. But first, back to the race!

We picked up our numbers on Saturday and watched the little kids fun runs. They were so cute! I also couldn’t help but think about “Born to Run” and barefoot running while watching them. All the little kids ran just the same and looked so happy to be out there running. I was taking inspiration in all forms, even from the two year old in the bright yellow crocs! I was pretty nervous on Saturday.

Early Sunday morning, I met my friend from high school at the T and we headed over to my sister’s apartment. I packed SO much stuff and was convinced I was going to forget something. A quick pit stop at CVS to grab some moleskin was necessary before heading off. We got to Kate’s, and it took about four phone calls to wake her up. It was cold outside! We went in and dropped off our stuff, and worked out the disposable timing chips. I made Kate pin on my number because she always teases me about putting it on crooked. We headed out to the starting line at 7:40; the race started at 8:00.

It was so crowded! I couldn’t get over how many people there were. We slowly made our way backwards from the start line, and stopped between the 9-10min areas. It was too packed to try and push any further back, so we just went with it. It took about 4 min for us to cross the starting line, and then we were off! Luckily everything started on time, because it was cold in our running gear!

For the first two miles everything was so crowded that it slowed us down, which was good. I try never to go out too fast, and I’m usually pretty successful, but I know I could have easily been caught up with all the people and run faster than I meant to. We ran ~9:40 for the first two miles.

The first half of the race had a lot of “rolling” hills. My sister and I had run “the course” about three weeks earlier, but we ran on all the paths and trails, not on the roads because of traffic. The roads had a lot more hills than the paths that run alongside! The paths around Jamaica Pond, for example, are really flat, but we climbed right up hill on the road alongside the pond. Between miles 4-5 the elite runners were already coming back on the other side of the out and back course. Everyone cheered and yelled and clapped as the first men went by, and several minutes after, the first woman. It was a nice little extra to have that out and back portion in the race so we could see the elite runners.

Through mile six we were climbing up pretty steadily towards the zoo. When Kate and I had run our version of the course, there was a wicked hill that I kept looking for, but apparently it wasn’t part of the actual course. Luckily it helped prepare us for that steady uphill though! At this point I was still maintaining a 9:15-9:30 pace, and I was worried about it. It seemed so much faster than my plan, which had been to go out at a 10:15 for the first half, and come back around a 9:45. I felt really good at the 9:30 pace though, but I was concerned that my legs would quit before I made it to the end.

Coming out of the zoo through miles 7 and 8 was a serious downhill. I cruised happily down it, even as warnings of “trashing my quads” swirled through my head. I lost my sister somewhere on this down hill. Luckily, my ipod playlist was pretty awesome and I was singing along to myself as I kept chugging along. I went through mile 8 so fast, that when I hit the next mile marker, I thought something was wrong because the time on the clock just didn’t make sense to me. I did mile 8 in 8:15! I would definitely have taken it a little slower here if I could redo it. Right at mile 8 the two girls I’d been following jumped out of the race to take a picture with their grandparents. It was really sweet, but now I needed a new race buddy to focus on up ahead. Mile 9 I slowed back down to my 9:30 pace. (when did 9:30 for a half marathon become slowing down?!)

When I hit the mile 10 marker, all I could think was “Just a 5k left!” My legs were pretty tired though. I ate 4 sports beans at this point. I had a few in single increments in the early miles, but was hoping for a big kick of energy to get me to the end. The last 2-3 miles were pretty flat, and I just kept wishing that there was a downhill I’d forgotten about. At mile 11, I was really tired, but I just visualized the two mile loop that I used to run at home when I could first run two miles (and it seemed so long!). That helped me get to the 12 mile marker. From there, I visualized the very first 1 mile loop I used to run, just a year ago when 1 mile seemed SO FAR.

For the last two miles there were tons of great spectators. I was searching everywhere for my dad with his trademark orange hat, but no luck. As I came towards the end and hit the 13 mile marker, I saw my dad cheering and waving his orange hat. I heard him yell “Run faster!” and I raised my arms over my head and gave him a big grin before charging across the finish line.

My Garmin gave my time as 2:05, and my official time was 2:05:10. I’m really proud of that, and can’t believe how far I’ve come since I first started training for this race. At that point 7 miles seemed so incredibly long, and my average run pace was around 10:45-11:00 min/miles. My longest run over the course of my training was 14 miles, and over the last six weeks my average pace for my runs has become 9:50-10:00 min/miles. 12 weeks ago I would never have imagined that I would be able to run a 9:30 pace for the whole half marathon. I was worried about finishing before the course cut off in 2:30. I love how you can really see the progression in your running when you dedicate to the training.

So what’s next? I’ve got two 5k races in the semi-near future, one a Turkey Trot near my parents, and the other is the Somerville Jingle Run. I’m going to rededicate myself to some speed work and try to drop my 5K PR. I’d love to get under 26:00, and it would be amazing to get under 24:00. Just because I dropped 2 minutes off my 5k a few weeks ago, doesn’t mean I should expect that to be the norm though! After that… I think there may be a full marathon in my future :)

Do you remember your first race/half marathon/marathon?  I was so excited to find this old recap on my computer.


Looking Back: A Recap of My First Half Marathon — 3 Comments

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