A Look Back: My First Half Marathon

Tomorrow, I’ll be running my second half marathon! After my first one, I can’t believe I’m actually attempting 13.1 miles again. I’m so excited, though. I’ve definitely trained better for this one, and I’m a much healthier person this time around. Looking forward to tomorrow, I want to share my first experience from the Half at the Hamptons on February 21, 2010.

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2009 Nike Manchester Invitational

I was a senior in high school, and I was loving Cross Country. I was the team captain, and I had been recruited to run for a D2 cross country team in college. Being on top of the moon with life at the time, when my coach brought up the idea of a half marathon I thought – sure, why not?!

I signed up, and then next thing I knew the season was over, it was Christmas and I hadn’t ran in 2 months. Oops. My coach told me I shouldn’t go on with the race, but I knew I wanted to do it. My crazy little mind told me I could totally train in 2 months. It was cold, icy, and snowy in New Hampshire, so I trained for the race completely on a treadmill.

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I think I can, I think I can…

Come race morning, I was scared sh**less. I had just squeaked by with training. I remember doing pretty well with it, until I hit my 10 miler. It was so hard, and I spent the next four days limping (10 miles is still my hard distance now, ugh). I ran two days the week of the half, but I knew I was pushing it. I had trained to run a 10:00 pace for the whole time, and thought I could easily attain that.

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I lined up with my teammate Rachel, knowing she would leave me in her dust. My plan was to find the 10:00 pacer and stick with the group the whole time. Well, I took off and it was around mile 4 that I came across the 9:00 pacer. Whoops. I kept going pretty well anyways, until I hit a 1 mile long hill at mile 6ish.

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My family surprised me at mile 6.5 and everything went downhill from there, literally. Miles 8-13.1 were downhill on the beautiful coastline. I also went downhill physically. I don’t remember drinking any water until mile 8, and I was bonking hard. I tried to take a Gu, but ended up spilling it all over my face and gave up. I had no idea how fast/slow I was going at this time, but I knew I started slowing down after I saw my family. I was crawling along but I did not walk. This was mostly because I tried once and it was more painful than running. Right before we hit the coast, I remember a searing pain in my left arch that never went away.

Once we reached the coast line, I went from running in a group of people to being pretty alone, probably because I slowed so much. I remember miles and miles of stopped traffic but it was awesome because everyone became our cheering squad. Those people really did get me through. Once I got back into the Hampton Beach area, I felt such a relief. I hit Mile 12 and although I was in so much pain I knew I could finish. It was mile 12.5 when my coach came and found me because I was so far behind my goal time. All I wanted was for him to carry me to the finish, but instead he ran until mile 13 with me and let me finish on my own.

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I finished with a net time of 2:28:58. 2:28:58 full of smiles. After the race is a little bit of a blur – I remember people holding me up and me just wanting to lay in the sand on the beach. I was forced to eat soup for sodium…all I wanted was some pizza but I couldn’t have any because it was at the after party that I couldn’t go to since I was only 18 (not cool, race organizers).

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Post race recovery was a beast of it’s own. Finds out, my left shoe literally fell apart and my right shoe was about to as well. No wonder why I was in so much pain! I sustained that pain for weeks, and I finally went to the podiatrist. I learned that I had tendonitis in both of my legs, from my arches to my knees. This was due to overtraining, improper shoes, and the fact that I wasn’t nurturing my body correctly. After resting for a few weeks and getting orthodics, I could get back into running if I wanted to.

But I didn’t. I simply stopped running. I gave up being on a college D2 team and my goal of completing a marathon before graduation. Instead, I actually started realizing how important it was that I became healthy. Little by little, I started to nurture my body more. It took me years to become healthy with my eating habits again, but I really do look back at the half marathon as a turning point in my life.

4.5 years later, I am ready to conquer the half marathon again. So much has changed since than and I learned so much from that day that will not be reciprocated tomorrow. I will drink water (and Nuun) and (correctly) take gels during the race. I’ve trained a lot. No, it hasn’t gone perfectly and I don’t feel 100%, but I got in two 10-milers and did a 12 mile race so I know I can complete this half.

While I believe in goals, I’m going into tomorrow a different person and I simply want to finish. While I have set three goals, I don’t want to be upset if I don’t achieve my A, B, or C goal. I will be proud of my achievement and finishing the miles healthily.

Goal A: Hit 2:17. That’s an average of 10:30 and I have completed long runs at and below that pace. However, I don’t know what the hills are going to bring or how my quads will feel past mile 10.

Goal B: Beat my current half marathon PR of 2:28:58.

Goal C: Beat my Charles St 12 time of 2:35:35.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic to head to Lake Placid tomorrow. It is the absolute perfect place for this race. It’s a challenging course in a beautiful, historic place. I don’t know what to expect from the day or from my legs but I do know I’ll be smiling the whole way (or trying) and feeling like an Olympian.

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5 thoughts on “A Look Back: My First Half Marathon

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