I did it. I finished my first half marathon this morning. It was a little anti-climatic compared to my first marathon back in March, but it was still an exciting time.
We began this adventure Saturday afternoon with a 3 hour road trip down to Salisbury, MD. For those of you unfamiliar with Maryland, the state is divided into by the Chesapeake Bay. To get there we had to take a trip across the “dreaded” Bay Bridge, a large 4.3 mile bridge that connects the rest of Maryland to the Eastern Shore.
We stopped at a favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch and hit the road back down. It was a rather uneventful trip down and we made it to the civic center to pick up the race packet. There was supposed to be a Fitness expo going on and Jen was excited to hit up the booths. I knew better. Last year the race consisted of about 300 runners total for the HM and 5K. I figured there might be a couple of booths there. Maybe a couple of the sponsors, and a store or two. Yeah, it was one tiny booth of clearance running apparel. Jen was quite disappointed!
We checked into the hotel and rested, or should I say, I rested, Jen and Paige watched a movie, and Connor, well he did what he does best, annoy everyone! We hit Olive Garden for dinner and I had a yummy Seafood Alfredo. I wasn’t feeling too well, thought I might be getting sick, and afterwards we headed back to hit the hay, dreading the forecasted rain, we stopped by Kmart for an umbrella for the family and a poncho for me.
This morning we awoke about 6am to find NO RAIN! It was foggy out though. We had breakfast and headed to the race. There were quite a few runners, but still it was a small race. The mandatory bathroom stops and we were off to the starting line. I got in place, the family shortly behind to cheer me on. We listened to a horribly slow version of the Star Spangled Banner and the race was on.
Mile 1-2: I started off with the same strategy as my marathon, take it slow from the gate and build up from there. While everyone else gunned it with the energy of the race, I was quickly positioned in the rear, only a few people behind me, just where I wanted to be. About 1/2 mile in, I meet up with a woman that looked to be attempting run/walks and I offered for her to run with me. She kept with me for about a mile, then started trailing off. This happened with another woman (this one claimed the longest she’d run was 3 miles, I wonder if she finished?). Again, I soon left her in the dust.
Mile 3-4: The family was planning to find a spot at mile 3 to cheer me on, we even drop by yesterday to figure out where the race crossed. The one thing we did not plan, an underground tunnel. Thankfully the were waiting on the other side and I did “knuckles” aka, a fist bump, with the kids then headed on. From there it weaved through Salisbury University then off through some residential areas.
Miles 5-8: I can sum these miles up as residential with a view. There are some beautiful lowland waters that we ran past, and many of the houses were really nice. As for the race, I steadily continued to pass people. With starting out in the back, I had a lot of rom to catch up on, and it seems nobody else was using the same tactic. I passed people, nobody passed me. I did not bring my Gymboss to run with and was at the mercy of hearing my watch beep, so I decided against using headphones. I put the music on my Droid 2 phone and turned it up. Some people complimented me for it and said they should run with me. In a small race such as this, I think it was fine. I would definitely not do this for a large one.
I again crossed the underground bridge at mile 8 with the family cheering me on. There where few-to-none spectators for this race, and as I am told, Paige and Connor did an excellent job at cheering for all the runners. Maybe we should go to a few races just to cheer. The vast majority of non-runners were either police at intersections or water station crew. There were about 8-9 water stations on this race, far more than I’m used to. Everywhere I turned I had people asking “Sir, water or Gatorade?” It was nice!
Mile 9-10: These miles were out along some farmland. Nice and flat and I enjoyed the scenery. I continued passing people, but not near as quickly as before. Still, nobody had passed me yet. At this point, I was wondering if I started out WAY to slow and would be trying to catch up with my pace the entire race. I was starting to feel the fatigue but was still going strong.
Mile 11-12: Shortly after the 11 mile mark, a woman challenged me. We were doing the run/walk shuffle for several turns. I’d pass her while running, then she’d pass me while I walked. I guess she decided she was not going to let this “walker” get the better of her and sped up enough to pass me for good. There went my streak!
Not a single runner passed me outside of the beginning (unless you count just passing them then hitting a walk, but as soon as m next run started I would leave them in the dust!). Two more people passed me before the end of the race. It was very motivational to start in the back and do nothing but pass people.
Around mile 12 I had a sharp pain hit the outside of my left knee. My first thought was ‘Oh shit! not another Army 10 Miler”. I took a few extended walking intervals and slowed it down some. It did return after the first walk, but not the second. I kept it cautious and trudged on, knowing full well that my hope of a 2:30 just got shot. Up to that point I was hovering around the goal the entire race.
Mile 13: The last mile was an incline, not steep, but not what you want to have at the end of a race. I was feeling the tiredness, and was treading on thin ice with my knee. I plowed on through to the finish, but did not have it in me to gun it at the end. I came in a little over a minute behind my Hopeful goal of 2:30 with a 2:31:21 (watch time, not gun time). I met my my middle and basic goals of finishing and being under 2:45 so I’m happy. I know that had my knee not felt that pain, I would have pushed it at the end and would have met the 2:30. Oh well, I really can’t complain. The pain hasn’t resurfaced and I’m willing to bet it was just a phantom pain. I’ll definitely keep an eye on it though. The Army 10 Miler is in two weeks and I WILL NOT have a repeat of last year!
Conclusion: The race was a success. I won’t say I felt as good as I did after the marathon, but It was still fun, I got a good workout, obtained an automatic PR, and I would recommend this race to others for next year. I can’t say I’ll do it again, but who knows. I’m still brewing a plan for the Runners Bug 2012 Season.