Good, the Less-Good and the Really Ugly: Lavender’s First Half Marathon

Lavender at her first half marathon!

Hey Saltines! Remember how in my first post, I talked about how I am getting ready to run my first marathon in October? Well, when I wrote that, I hadn’t even raced a half marathon! As you can tell from the title of this post, I am about to share with you good stuff, rough stuff, and stuff nobody ever wants to know about my first half.

One Friday afternoon last October, a friend from work who paces at a lot of local races recruited me to help pace a half last minute. Don’t yell at me! It was last minute and they needed people, and the pace I signed up for was an easy pace for me. I was also paired with an experienced pacer so it was low pressure. And so I ran my first half marathon, not as a racer but as a pacer. I hadn’t really trained for it, so my legs basically died. I could barely walk afterwards. The next day I was going out of town for a job interview and I could tell by all the people staring at me that I was waddling like a penguin in the airport.

This time, I trained for, paid for, and raced a half for the first time, choosing the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon. I experienced carb loading and taper crazies for the first time. What a roller coaster!

My primary goal was to finish the damn thing. My secondary goal was to finish under 1:45, so I started with the 1:50 pacer (8:23 pace). After the first mile, I picked it up a bit and ran the middle miles at 7:45 to 8:00 pace. I had a few miles in a row that were 7:50 on the nose!

At mile 5 or so, I attempted my first-ever mid-race water sip…really! I’ve had lots of people tell me how, and I’ve seen others do it. I know the thing is to “fold the cup and then pour it right down your throat, easy peasy” … but this did not work for me! I had water going down my shirt, up my nose, onto the ground, basically everywhere but into my throat. I am going to have to work on that before October!

I have a newfound respect for people who run half marathons. Miles 10 through 13, I was really bargaining with my higher powers! I kept thinking about how much I wanted a nice tall glass of water to throw on my head and then another to drink, which was truly cruel given that I was remarkably incapable of drinking the race course water.

At mile 11, I came to a dead standstill to rip one of those little water shots. And then a second. And then a third. And then as soon as I starting running again, I regretted drinking so much darn water! At some point not long after that, I thought I had pooped my pants. Thank God I was wrong, but I am nonetheless so sorry to whomever was directly behind me when I thought this was the case.

Somehow, though, I was able to pull a 6:15 pace out of somewhere for the last 0.1. I finished in 1:44:06 and immediately bent over. And then made my way to the free post-race massages!

The good news is that my race day manicure is still intact … and I can actually walk afterwards! Turns out training does make a difference. I once ran an 800 within 2 seconds of my PR after a month of only easy runs, but after this experience, I’m starting to understand that longer distances are different.

What did you learn at your first half marathon?

I'm a 22 year old in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I work in insurance and enjoy cooking, reading, and calligraphy as well as running. My running goal right now is to adjust from running middle distance in college to longer distances as a graduate! I write about racing, inclusivity and mental health as they relate to running, and cookies.

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