I set the goal to run my first half marathon this time last year. My best friend, Meghan, was a big inspiration for this. She was training to run her first half marathon when Fletcher was born and was set to run the 2016 Flying Pirate race. Not only was she in great shape but she seemed happy and excited about running. So, I set my goal to run my first half by the time Fletcher was a year old. I chose the run the same race as Meghan for several reasons, but mainly because of the beach and mostly flat course.
After I was cleared by my doctor, about 6 weeks after birth, I started working out off and on but I didn't get serious about training for the half until January. I used the same training program as Meghan, because, why not. Jared got me a treadmill for Christmas so I could no longer use the "I don't like running in the dark at night" excuse. Finally, I started paying for Orange Theory to use as my cross training days. If I pay for something, I am determined to use it and make the most of it. With all the barriers removed, I could focus on running and increasing my mileage safely.
Jared was a huge support throughout all of my training. Especially the evenings where I had Orange Theory and Saturdays when I did my long outdoor runs. Since he is quite familiar with training for this sort of thing we was able to offer a lot of advice from pacing myself to race day prep.
Four months of training seemed to drag. There were days, where I wanted nothing to do with running. I wanted to be on the couch with Jared [and a glass of wine] but I did it because I knew I would regret missing a day. I slowly added miles to my bank and gradually saw my overall pace decreasing. This is what kept me going [and the fact that I told everyone I was planning to run a half]. Those that know me well, know I don't back down from a challenge and once I tell one person I am going to do something, I follow through. For example, natural birth.
I logged 172.4 miles and saw my average mile time go from 11min 30sec to 9min 30sec. I started to feel like a real runner.
|two days before the race with all my swag|
Race day was here before I knew it. I was so nervous the morning of the big day. Much more nervous than I had anticipated being. What if I failed? What if I got sick? Or hurt? What if I get lost? Not to mention the off and on rain that was testing me.
We left before Fletcher woke up. Not to fear, my mom and brother were at the house with him. Jared walked with me to the starting line. He reassured me the entire time that I was prepared for this. He promised me that I was not going to fail. But most importantly, stressed how proud he was of me. Good thing he stayed too because I couldn’t get my stupid headphones to work. Dang technology. At 5 minutes to 7 we were directed to go to our corrals. I was in Corral B because of my average pace time (as Jared explained to me). After we were corralled like some cattle, he kissed me goodbye and I was alone to run.
The gun went off, I shoved my headphones in and people started to move. This was it. No turning back now. The beginning of the race was very emotional for me. I felt myself getting teary eyed as I passed under the first time sensor. But then tears started flowing after I saw Jared had stayed to watch me cross the start line and was snapping pictures of me. Good golly, I have one sweet man. The touchy-feely-feelings didn’t last long because I was quickly reminded that I was running a race with 1199 other people.
I heeded Jared’s advice and ran painfully slow, like 10min 39sec slow, for the first mile. I didn’t want to rush and get a cramp trying to be a badass. I did have to complete 13.1 miles after all. I was here to complete the race not beat any records. Which I had to keep reminding my overly competitive self.
The course was beyond beautiful. We ran backroads through neighborhoods, along the Albemarle sound and were cheered on by locals (despite the cold and drizzle). I really felt a sense of community from the other runners and the spectators. I was actually having fun. The miles were flying by thanks to the gorgeous scenery and Jared’s epic Dad Jams 2017 playlist.
We came to a long flat stretch between miles 9 and 10. I could see a bright red NC State sweatshirt in the distance. There they were! Fletcher was bundled up in Matthew’s jacket and didn’t see me. Sweet Jared was holding a sign and attempting to clap and wave to me. My mom and brother were cheering so loud. It was just the motivation I needed to get me 3.1 more miles.
The last three-ish miles were spent in the Nags Head Nature Preserve. Tiny rolling hills and off-road terrain. I kept thinking how much Jared would love running back here. The narrow trail was lined with signs made from volunteers which contained knock-knock jokes and fun facts about the Outer Banks. The perfect distraction for the last several miles.
Mile 12 came and the course went from 3 to 4 people wide to just 1 and it was the hilliest mile. Some people were walking but I felt like I was booking it. Luckily, I trained in the rolling hills of Raleigh so I was prepared for this. I was passing people and feeling good. There was a volunteer at the bottom of the last hill cheering and letting us know this was the final stretch. At the top of the hill you could see the finish line. It was exhilarating. I just kept thinking, don’t fall and roll down this giant hill in front of all these people.
|the very unattractive "I just ran 13.1 miles look" at the finish line|
I sprinted through the finish line and saw my family again. Fletcher finally caught my eye and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. This was for him. One mile for every month he has been alive. Thirteen point one miles. I didn’t cry at the finish like I thought I would. But, I felt accomplished.
I finished just under my goal time of 2 hours and 10 minutes. The guy who finished in first completed the race in 1 hour 12 minutes 13 seconds #overachiever. But I did finish in the top 35% of the overall race and in the top 25% for my gender. Pretty badass.
We spent the next couple hours at the after-race party. Fletcher slept in the Ergo on me because who doesn’t strap their nearly 13 month to them for a nap after running a half marathon? We watched the winners get their awards. My friend Christa won the random $500 cash prize raffle so that was fun. But mostly, we were enjoying the free beer, company of other runners, and basking the glory that I had just finished my first half marathon.
|with Christa the big cash winner!|
It is a wonderful feeling to know that I completed this goal I had set for myself. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I assume thanks to the 4 months of training. There is something to be said for that cathartic feeling you get while running. I am actually thinking about running another one in November. I am sure that is the runners high talking though.