I Ran a Half Marathon!

Samantha and I had a weekend full of running, and nobody was even chasing us. Today, for example, I completed my first ever half marathon –13.1 miles in 2 hours 23 minutes and 20 seconds. That’s about 10:56 per mile on average. I’m not particularly happy with this time, but going in I was thinking that I’d be satisfied with two hours 20 minutes, happy with 10 minutes less than that, and ecstatic if I could finish in 2 hours or less. But really, if I finished on the same day that I started, I’d call it a success.

As I said, this was my first half marathon and I’d been training for it for months. I did a 13.1 mile treadmill run a few weeks ago so I knew I could finish, but I wasn’t sure beyond that given that this race would be a) on the ground, and b) starting at 7 in the frigging morning. Here’s how the time line broke out:

  • 5:00 am – Wake up after maybe 6 hours of sleep (probably closer to 5), dress, eat oatmeal and drink large mug of coffee.
  • 6:00 – Leave the house.
  • 6:30 – Arrive at the race site. Visit the horror that is the port-a-potty to deal with the large mug of coffee.
  • 6:58 – Oh, man, I need to go to the bathroom again, but the race starts at 7:00! Do I have time?
  • 7:00 – Nope.
  • 9:23 – Cross the finish line, bladder still demanding my attention

The course took us through various parts of downtown St. Louis and the surrounding areas, including treks past the Anheuser Busch brewery, Busch Stadium, Union Station, and the Soulard neighborhood. The latter was fun, as in keeping with that area’s quirky character, many of the spectators were drinking bloody marys and cheering us on while wearing pajamas and bath robes.

I started off doing great, reserving my strength and maintaining a pace between 9:00 and 9:30 per mile, as per The Plan. I felt great for a long time, stopping to walk only when I hit the water stations and when I snarfed my Cliff bar at about the halfway point. Things were fine until around mile #11, when suddenly the bottom dropped out of my energy levels for some reason. This coincided with a really long, gradual hill that sapped what juice I had left. For the rest of the run I had to alternate between running and walking, and the former became increasingly more difficult. Upon approaching the finish line I tried to sprint to cover the last remaining ground, which in hindsight was probably a mistake because after crossing I seriously felt like I was going to either throw up, black out, or both.

Still, I finished and I got my medal and some little granola bars. Also some “Gu” which is a kind of high energy goop that’s supposed to be great, but which left me feeling like I had a mouth full of vanilla flavored snot. I think I’ll just pass out next time, thank you very much. On the plus side, I still think the best part of these races is how after hitting the water stations you get to just crumple your paper cup up and throw it on to the ground with complete impunity. That’s worth the $80 entry fee right there. And over all, I enjoyed myself despite the weak finish and I’m going to try to do another half marathon in October and see if I can’t get my time closer to the 2 hour mark. Need new training plan!

In other news, the day before my run, Sammy had her own event –the Read, Right, and Run Marathon. The idea was that in the weeks leading up to the date she and her participating classmates were supposed to read 26 books, do 26 good deeds, and run 25 miles (one mile at a time, of course). On Saturday they topped off the mileage to marathon length by doing a 1.2 mile run. Sam did pretty well, though like me she crossed the finish line dragging pretty hard. But we’re proud of her, and she wants to do it again!

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