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?