Sunday I ran a half marathon. I was not trained. For a while, I didn’t even want to do it. I was originally supposed to do a marathon, my first, but didn’t get far in training. I had a rough year and for some reason got a mental block about running.
I finally decided I needed to run the half. I signed up and paid and did not finish is better than did not start. I got up early yesterday morning and braved the (Phoenix) cold. I finished. It was a battle but I did it.
I started out at my normal race pace but knew I needed to slow down. I was running 10:30-11:00-minute miles for my first three miles. I took a walk break for a mile and knew I needed to slow down.
I tried to watch my pace and preserve energy for the later miles. I knew the (Phoenix) hill at mile 9 was going to challenge me. It does every year. You crest the hill and get to go down but then you have to turn around and go back up. It is the biggest mental hurdle on the entire course.
Then I hit mile 10. The road has a slight incline and is slanted. I wanted to stop. I almost just went to the side of the road to sit down and wait for the sweeper vehicle. I struggled to imagine finishing the last three miles. I repeated, “it’s only a 5K, you can do a 5k” over and over. I probably sounded like a crazy person.
At mile 11 I took a final walk break. I didn’t feel any pain until I switched to walking. My feet were on fire. My hips hurt. My toes felt like they were going to fall off. But then I hit mile 12 and started to run again. I knew the finish was within reach. I looked up and saw the marathoners coming in. I said to myself, that will be you next year. You will make it through this half and finish your first full marathon one year from today.
I tried to watch my pace but I just kept going. I have run this course three previous times. I know it like the back of my hand. The finish was so close I could taste it. I don’t think I have ever been more excited to finish a race, especially knowing I wasn’t going to PR.
To finish, you run over a bridge, make a right and go the last .1 (or so). Running over the bridge, I know how close I am and always want to speed up. I made sure to keep myself in check. Mile 13 was 10:39, my best mile. But when I turn the corner? All bets are off. I pretty much sprinted (for me) the last .10. I glanced at my Fitbit Surge and saw 7:40 at one point. I did slow down a bit but I ended the race with a 7:34-minute mile (for .10 of a mile).
I collected my medal and desperately wanted a Gatorade. The course was stingy this year. I think I got maybe an ounce at the three stations. I only carried water (in my new Nathan Hydration belt – amazing btw) and really wanted more Gatorade to give me a boost on the course. I also did not see any orange slices or Glukos packs at the stations (I saw the evidence all over the course though). Thankfully, I carry my own Gu packets for situations like this.
- There were a lot more walkers than previous years. I did walk (3 run/1walk) but there were a lot of people that seemed to be just walking
- The aid stations seemed poorly stocked. The first water station was half empty by the time I reached them. Yes, I was a tad slower than past years but not by much. We received maybe two sips of Gatorade at each station and as I said before I saw no food, or food like items, at any of them (it is possible I just missed them)
- There were no clear directions on how to leave the finish area. All it said was to go under the bridge. I did but apparently not in the right spot. I still got out, just had to do some off roading.
- I took a fruit cup and banana after because I didn’t want to be the person asking if there is gluten in things while a million people attack the free foods.
- The volunteers did do a great job at the finish, making sure people only took one. Someone was trying to grab for a friend and they would only let him take one. He was yelling to friend to come and the volunteer apologized and said she had to make sure everyone got one.
While I was at the expo on Friday I signed up for next years marathon. There was a special price and I received two free shirts. I plan to make 2016 my year so that I can conquer 26.2 miles in January 2017. I hope to document my year and would love if you joined me. I’ll have blog posts, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter updates. If you aren’t following me all over the internet, please be sure to do so. You don’t want to miss out, do you?