My first half marathon race was an interesting one. The morning started bright and early around 5:30am (I should say dark and early, because it was pitch black and had me complaining “is it the middle of the niiight???”). Mike and I made our way to the metro to ride downtown. Since I live on the Orange line, it was seemingly convenient to walk up the hill and jump on at Courthouse. By the time the first train made its way to my stop from Vienna, the train cars were already packed. We made it on as the last two into a car and stood, smashed against the doors until we got to Rosslyn.
At Rosslyn, and then each subsequent 10 stops later, more and more people pushed into the train until I was nearly hyperventilating. I typically do okay on the metro, but this was by far the most crowded and longest ride of my life. By the time we finally got to Stadium Armory, I was at full fledged panic attack status – weak in the knees, full body sweat, thisclose to puking all over my train-mates. So, instead of battling the crowd to get up a pair of esclators and out into the wide open, fresh air, Mike patiently waited for me as I sat on a bench, head between my knees.
If this all happened by 6:45am, how was the rest of the race going to go???
Luckily, as the crowd died down, I made my way out of the claustrophobic tunnel and towards the race start. By the time I entered my corral at 7:30am, I had pretty well forgotten the feeling I had down in the tunnel and was ready to start running.
I thought I’d “hold steady” until mile 10. Well, make that mile 6. The 3.5 miles or so between the 10k and 10 mile marks were by far my hardest. The hills, the people stopping to walk all around me, the water stations, all threw off my rhythm enough to mess with my head and my pace. I knew my time goal was out the window by mile 8. Then, I just focused on getting my butt across the finish line. I walked a little, I ran a little and I jogged a lot. I cursed the miles, my aching feet and the cramps that were building in my lower back. But I kept moving forward, even if it was slower than I wanted.
The race was well organized, the volunteers were fantastic, the bands along the course put out some major energy and the folks cheering us on were obviously having fun themselves. There was one guy dressed as Elvis at mile 11 that made me laugh and smile through a really tough mile.
Mike was waiting for me at the start of mile 13. Seeing him gave me that awesome bolt of energy when you realize, I’m not in this alone. I knew he’d been getting my split updates via text and he’d probably known before I did that I was going to be in major pain at the end of the race. He helped get my pace back up and run the 13th mile that I’d dedicated to my mom.
Finally, the finish line. The first thought I had past the line was, wow, I think I’ll stick to 10k’s from now on! But, the half is a great distance and perhaps I’ll run another. I finished and I like to think I PR’ed – the first time always counts as a PR right?
Cherry Blossom 10 miler is in two weeks. After a few days of rest, it is back to normal with some light training before the race. I want a better per mile average & I’m excited to have another chance so soon. But, hell, slow and steady still finishes the race. 🙂