I guess I should be honest - this wasn't just my first half marathon, it was my first real race. I did the Race for the Cure 5K with my sister the week before, but that was a whole different ballgame.
The week before the race I was feeling good - a little antsy from lack of workouts but altogether not bad. The day before the race, Saturday, I had a normal breakfast, big pasta lunch, and probably not the greatest dinner - a black bean burger (with french fries, eek!) but I was fully loaded with all the carbs I needed and ready to go.
The weather looked like it was going to be perfect running weather on Saturday morning, but that all changed on Saturday night. The rain started, and it did not stop. It got harder, and the temperature plummeted.
I got downtown early to meet my running group and warm up, and believe me that warm-up was sorely needed. I started out with cheap-o knit gloves, long pants, a long sleeve tech shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt over that, and a windbreaker over that. Oh and of course a hat.
I stood in line at the port-a-potty for about 15 minutes, realized I wasn't going to make it if I wanted to start on time, and headed for the starting line. The gun went off (okay there was no gun, but we started) and the rain continued to fall. I was feeling good though and excited that I was actually about to do this!
I started out pretty slow, just trying to get my legs and make sure I didn't bonk. The Denver Marathon and Half Marathon are amazing because they take you on a great tour of the city, and I was having fun pointing out various landmarks to my buds in my running group. There's my hair salon, there's my favorite restaurant, etc. I'm a dork, what can I say.
Around mile 3 I started getting a little warm, so I tossed my little gloves and my long sleeve shirt at an aid station and put my windbreaker around my waist. That lasted for about 4 minutes, at which point I realized I was going to be drowned if I didn't put my rain protection back on.
I was starting to get really cold around mile 5 and dreading the run up the 17th st. hill, but I was energized when I saw my husband and my sister on the sidelines cheering for me. It turns out this was the first of many times I would see their smiling faces throughout the race, cheering me on even though it was freezing cold. The race was also my anniversary and my husband had made some super cute signs for me and was so incredibly supportive. It meant everything for me to see them out there shivering in the cold waiting for me.
I also saw my friend I. at about mile 7, cheering me on with a megaphone, which was partly hilarious and partly embarrassing, but really great. She was cheering on all of the runners, which makes having your name on your number really awesome. It's so great having someone cheer you on by name.
Miles 8 - 11 were really tough - we ran around City Park and back downtown and by this time I was frozen solid and my right hip and knee were starting to hurt - I think my muscles just couldn't get warm and they were rebelling. My pace was really starting to suffer too - I think I did mile 9 in like 14 minutes - that's like a turtle's pace. But it was all I could muster given the situation.
By the time we had 2 miles left, I knew I was going to make it and I was just trying to finish and get warm. I tried to speed up over the last mile, but I started sprinting to early and had to slow it down just before the end.
Seeing the finish line was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had in my life.I had accomplished a huge goal of mine - something I'd been training for for a full four months, and I was done!
My official finishing time was 2:53:28, well under the three hours I wanted to finish under, but still pretty darn slow. No matter though, I finished, and that's all I really wanted. My mom, sister, her boyfriend and my husband were all at the finish line trying and I stopped to hug them all and thank them for all of there support. Once I stopped running, I had to limp around because my muscles were so cold, but I didn't care, I was finished and I had a medal to prove it!
I changed clothes in the car and we headed to breakfast, where we consumed lots of Bloody Mary's with friends and enjoyed the warmth. It was a hard, cold day, but I wouldn't take it back for anything, and frankly, I've never been prouder of myself. I ran 13.1 miles. And not that many people do that.
Anyway, that's the story of my first half-marathon, which may very well be my last as well. I haven't decided if I've been bitten by the so-called running bug or not in terms of additional races, but I know I'll at least keep doing it. I like that I can run that far. Or even just run ten minutes for that matter.
As a side note - I decided to go to WW tomorrow or Thursday instead of today because of a crazy work schedule, so I'll let you know how my weigh-in goes once it happens.
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who stops by and reads this blog even though my posts are sporadic at best. Your support means so much to me - it's so great to know there are others out there going through the same things I am. You guys are the best!