Sunday, November 6, 2011

Race Report: Marshall University Half Marathon

I did it! I am now officially a half marathoner. For someone who never thought she COULD run, never thought she would want to run, and never imagined she would love to run, that’s a huge accomplishment.

I totally under estimated how hard this race would be. Not the physical part (although it was), but the mental part. I’m used to running my long runs with either my husband or music, or both. Due to Marc’s late night work schedule, early morning races aren’t something he’s able to do; and according to race rules, ipods and headphones weren’t allowed. So I was without both of my main motivators to keep me going strong. Running alone and quiet leaves me too much time in my head and I dwell on how much farther there is to go, how tired I am, how much this foot hurts or that knee hurts, or whatever. And, this is probably a bit TMI but it is what it is, the appearance of my “monthly visitor” sometime during the race added to the emotional and mental difficulties.

Anyway, I digress from the recap… Here goes:
I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4:45am and left the house at 5:30, which got me to the race with plenty of, almost too much, time to spare. So I sat in the nice warm car for a while before venturing out in the cold to warm up a bit and head to the starting line. I had the garmin set for 3 minute run intervals with 1minute 30second walking rest intervals, which is what I had been training with and works really well for me. I decided before the start that I wasn’t going to look at the garmin to see how far I’d gone, how far I had to go, or even what my pace was; I was just going to listen for the beeps and run or walk when it told me to, and hope for the best. I had a goal (finish in 2:30) but I totally wasn’t going to push it – all I really wanted to do was finish.

The first 7 miles were awesomely easy. Running through the gorgeous yellow fall foliage in Harris Riverfront Park was breathtaking (in a good way); wish I had had a camera to take a picture. Since I’m not all that familiar with Huntington, the fact that I didn’t know exactly where I was or where I was going made that section of the race easy. But after mile 7, I entered familiar territory, having participated in a couple of Huntington’s Critical Mass rides, I had ridden my bike through that part of town, and knew just how far it was that I had to go. And as I said, without my music and my running buddy, I got too into my head and dwelled on it way too much. Another difficulty for me was the trail through Ritter Park; for some reason I found it hard to run on. Time #1 when tears threatened – it was cold, I was getting tired, I was lonely.

After finally getting to run on the solid surface of the road again after leaving the park, I brightened up a bit. But when we turned away from the stadium, things started getting hard again. Add in a fairly long straight stretch ( I hate long straight stretches) and I was down in the dumps again. Time #2 for almost crying – especially when I saw the 11 mile marker; didn’t think I had 2 more miles in me – I was tired; I was starting to hurt; I was still lonely. At this point I decided I was going to walk through my next running interval – better to walk then instead of walking at the finish. The extra 3 minutes of walking was just what I needed.

The return trip through Harris Riverfront Park was just a pretty as the first time. And I have to say, the full marathoners running past in the other direction (on their 2nd lap) gave me a little boost of motivation (their “you’re looking good” ’s and “keep it up” ‘s were helpful. But then it was back out onto another long straight stretch and the stadium looked SO far far away. I kept going but was feeling incredibly done with the whole thing. A full marathoner’s remark of “less than a quarter mile to go” was not as motivating as I’m sure he meant it to be. Time #3 for wanting to cry – I felt like I couldn’t go another quarter step, let alone another quarter mile. But I soldiered on. And there, parked on the side of the road was my mom and dad’s car (time #4).

The stadium was now an attainable goal – it was right there! Crossed the street, and at the corner I saw Mom & Dad. Amazingly, seeing them made me smile instead of cry (yay!) And they managed to catch a smile and a wave in the pic they took. On to the finish line! This small section there at the end was quite chaotic, with all the people who had already finished hanging and walking around. But I found my way into the stadium (that short steep downhill into it was kind of cruel – can we say painful) and out onto the field (Astroturf is also hard to run on in my opinion). Rounded that last corner and saw the clock: I was under my goal time! They announced my name (sort of, nobody can pronounce it right, but that’s ok) and I crossed the line. I was done! I did it! I can officially call myself a half-marathoner! And for those of you wondering, I finally let the tears win and cried when I saw my mom after the finish. Tears of relief that I was done; tears of amazement at what I had done; tears of pain and tears of joy.

It was hard. It was painful. It was challenging. It was probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I can’t wait to run the next one.

Garmin time:
13.18 miles in 2:25:47, average of 11:03mpm

Official time:
2:26:25, average of 11:11mpm


Mile 1 - 11:23
Mile 2 - 11:21
Mile 3 - 10:42
Mile 4 - 10:53
Mile 5 - 10:49
Mile 6 - 10:36
Mile 7 - 11:16
Mile 8 - 10:52
Mile 9 - 11:27
Mile 10 - 10:40
Mile 11 - 10:57
Mile 12 - 11:57
Mile 13 - 11:12

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