Last Sunday, in a monsoon with temps in the 40s, I completed my first half marathon - The Love Run in Philly.
I'm still in awe that I completed a half marathon - my app said I went 14.79 miles total, not just 13.1. Add the 1.5 mile walk from the hotel to the start line, plus the walk back to the hotel and I covered a lot of miles.
I'm not sure what possessed me to do a half marathon in March, but the winter was a rough one and my training suffered. I was seriously considering bagging it and eating the registration fees about 2 weeks out before someone posted on the race's Facebook page that "anyone can do a half marathon - there was no need to run the full distance." With that in mind, I was determined to finish, knowing there was no shame in walking part of it.
The morning of the race I found myself chatting with a few other women in the corral before the start. I ended up trading places with one of them the first 3-4 miles until I finally put some distance between us. I managed to run/walk the first 6-7 miles comfortably, taking advantage of all the water stops, even though it was anything but warm. Stay fueled and hydrated is what all my friends reminded me.
I'd been holding off using the port-o-lets until the last possible moment - but after the 8 mile mark, I could hold out no longer. That was a mistake. I was soaked to the bone by this point and while I got my pants down easily, getting them back up was a challenge. I think it might have been better if I had simply squatted by the side of the road and peed. (Sorry!)
About the 9-9.5 mile mark I hit the wall. My legs started to ache and the cold got to me. The only part of my body that was dry at this point was my face - that was only because a had a baseball cap on and the rain wasn't blowing sideways. I slowed to a walk about this time when someone came running up next to me and said, "I thought that was you. Can you run a bit?" It was Chris, the woman I had been chatting with in the corral.
Together she and I walked the last 3.5-4 miles, keeping each other's spirits up and encouraging one another. At one point we encountered the course photographer, so we stopped and posed for a photo together. We both we dragging by the 12 mile mark - but knew the end was close.
When we hit the 13 mile mark and turned the corner to see the finish line, we looked at one another. She asked me if I had enough gas to finish strong. With a nod we both started running and crossed the finish line together.
When they placed the medal around my neck I started crying.
I DID IT!
Me, the girl who ran her first 5K in July 2013 had completed a half marathon - in wretched conditions nonetheless. Seriously, I don't think that I could have had any worse weather.
My official time was 3:25:14. I went into the race without any time expectation. There is a part of me that is slightly disappointed I didn't finish in under 3 hours, but given the weather conditions, I'm just happy I finished.
I asked Chris if she would take a pic of me at the finish and she kindly obliged. We made our way over to the refreshment tent and I thanked her for keeping me focused and motivated to finish. I wanted to give up so many times towards the end, but having her companionship those last miles was enough to banish those thoughts. Plus I wanted the bling! I'd gone too far to concede now.
Once I got home to Jersey, I stood in the shower until the hot water ran out. My legs hurt. My feet were fine. I found that walking downstairs was the hardest thing to do. I didn't think I would ever walk normally again. I took some Advil and crawled into bed around 8p. I slept until 8:30a the following morning. I was surprised that I felt much better the next morning. I scheduled myself a massage for Monday afternoon - best thing ever. By the time that was over, I was feeling really good. Slept well on Monday night and this morning I was feeling almost normal.
Despite the craptastic weather, I really enjoyed the experience. I'm looking forward to my next half this fall with friends - the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton. But first, I've got a 5K next weekend - in Philly again. Maybe after that I'll have enough energy to channel my inner Rocky Balboa and run up the art museum steps.