Last weekend was my first half-marathon, The Dallas White Rock Marathon. I have been training for this event since late Summer, my goal time for the race was two hours. A few weeks before the start I was starting to feel unsure I was going to be able to meet my goal; I had yet to even run 13 miles during a training run, and that didn’t change before the day of the race. The furthest I had run was just over 11 miles with a pace just over what I needed to meet my goal. On top of that I came down with a horrible cough after the Turkey Trot that never completely went away.
Race day morning was a bit hectic. I meet up with my friend Trish who was also running the race to ride down together. We meet up at her house, which meant I had to wake up at 5 a.m. in order to make it to the American Airlines Center by 7 a.m. – the race start time was 8 a.m. Despite leaving early, we barely made it to the starting line on time. We tried to find shortcuts around traffic, which only made us have to wait even longer. While sitting in traffic we began seeing runners getting out of cars on the highway and make their way to the starting line.
After having enough of the stand still traffic waiting to get into the parking lot I thought of a place we could park about a quarter mile from the starting line, but during the process of heading over there we saw the traffic on the other side of the road was just as bad, so we made our way through some roads behind where the race started until we came upon an area I was familiar with. Our parking place was almost a mile away from the starting line, so we ended up having a nice little warm up jog to the start and had only 10 minutes to spare before the gun sounded. The worst part of this was I had not stretched yet, it didn’t even occur to me either until it was too late. I paid the price for it too during the run.
Just over a mile into the run I was already starting to feel my calf muscles tightening up. This wasn’t good. I kept plugging on though – trying hard not to thing about the tightness. Shortly after that I was distracted by a guy dressed as Michael Jackson running by me with a boom box strapped to his belt playing all the King of Pop’s greatest hits. There was a number of other costume bearing racers along the way that helped lighten up the run a bit.
I was also quite surprised by all the articles of clothing I saw ditched on the ground in the first three miles of the race. I saw gloves, hats and shirts runners had taken off once they warmed up. It seems the smarter ones wore trash bags, others stepped off course and hid articles of clothing in bushes. Me, I just sucked it up and was cold until my body warmed up. But, if one wished to make a few dollars they could have easily walked the first part of the course and picked up articles of clothing to pawn off on Ebay or a garage sale.
In addition to my calve muscles feeling tight I was just feeling out of it. I didn’t feel like the adrenaline was rushing like it was during the Turkey Trot just a couple weeks ago. Early on in the race I didn’t even think I was going to meet my goal. Even though my pace in the first mile was 8:50 it felt like 10 and I really did think it was closer to 10 than 9, even after checking the GPS.
Around mile five the urge to go to the restroom that hit me around mile two had already passed and I was starting to feel a bit more solid, but knew I still had a lot more to go. I was also feeling the effects of the course; there were a lot of hills. In fact, more than half of the course was uphill. Fortunately though the last 5K was pretty much all downhill. The elevation profile provided in the race packet was really deceptive. I faced a lot more uphill than I expected, but in the end I was really pleased with my pace considering that.
Things continued to go well, I enjoyed the bands playing throughout the course, the funny signs people were holding to cheer on family members and just runners in general. This all helped break up the monotony of the run. But then mile seven hit me. Even though my pace was still fairly consistent, I felt like I had slowed down a lot. I was even passed by an old lady twice during that mile; I finally ended up ahead of her (and staying there) sometime during mile eight.
The bright side of mile eight was I calculated that I only needed a 10 minute pace to complete the half marathon in my two-hour goal. At this point I was pretty sure it was a done deal, but still knew my legs could give out at any minute, the calves were still tight and I was feeling it. I felt they slowed me down a lot. It was though they had turned to concrete and I was throwing around all that extra weight.
So, after this I allowed myself to relax into the run a bit and save some energy for the last 5K that took me down the Katy Trail back to the American Airlines Center where the race began. Once I hit the trail I knew I was almost home. At this point I began to pick up the pace a bit, but started feeling fatigue again after a mile of this so I relaxed into the run again until I regained some energy. I later learned through the race statistics I passed 53 runners during the final 5K, and 127 passed me. That feels about accurate too.
Once I got to the final mile of the race I was finished drinking my homemade sports energy drink so I grabbed a cup of water from the aid station, drank it on the run and then kicked it into high gear for the last 1.1 miles of the course. Even though I was going pretty fast It didn’t feel like it. I felt like I could be going faster but just couldn’t make myself go any quicker. Turns out, my pace for that final mile was 8:11, the fastest of the 13.
As I neared the finish line all I could think about was crossing. I wasn’t even looking for the time clock; I did however raise my fist into the air and pump it wildly for the camera as I crossed over the line. I had my priorities right here I think, it was after all my first half marathon. I avoided stopping my RunKeeper app right away too. I waited until I was completely across the line.
After pulling the iPhone out of my back jersey pocket I was ecstatic to read 1:58:17 – 13.27. My official time ended up being 1:58:10. I did it! I beat my goal by running a sub two in my first half-marathon. At first I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but from what I hear others telling me my time was really good, especially for a first timer. That gets me really pumped. I am already thinking about my next race. I will likely run another half sometime in the spring, and possibly a 5K in the near future.
I currently don’t have any aspirations for a full marathon, but that could always change. For now I want to give me knees a bit of a rest and spend more time cycling and climbing. I feel right now my body needs a bit of a rest, so I am taking most of this week off and will resume lighter training either late this week or early next week.
For those interested, here are screen shots of my stats from the run.