As I get ready to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon this weekend (and photograph Lisa's wedding the following weekend!) I thought it was about time to finally share this experience with ya'll! I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love my clients. Lisa and I discovered that we'd both taken up running this past spring/early summer. It just so happened that she was going to be in Orlando for her bridal shower the same day that I was running Disney's Halloween 5k, so I invited her to run with me (we had a blast and she kicked my butt, but that's another story). Before that race was even run, I got an email from Lisa with the subject line: "1/2 marathon"
Terrifying. At that point, I hadn't even run a 5k. But Lisa had faith in me. More faith than I had in myself. She was inviting me to come stay with her and David and run the Philly Half Marathon with her. I mulled it over for a day or two. Then I found a great airfare. Texted Lisa, "I'm in" and pulled the trigger. And promptly had a "what the heck was I thinking?" panic attack.
But I got over it. And I trained. 5 miles turned into 6, then 7, and eventually 10 and 12.
As for the actual race? This about sums it up.
Saturday morning I flew from Orlando to Philly and headed over to Lisa and David’s. I got a walking tour of Philly as we headed over to the expo. The expo was kind of a zoo and since none of us were really into shopping, we kind of breezed through it to grab our bibs and goodie bags. At this point, I still don’t think it had sunk in that I was running a half marathon the next day. No nerves at all. We had a carb loaded (mmm...chicken parm) and called it an early night. Still no nerves and I passed out fairly quickly.
Race day Wake up time was early. Too early. I was up even before my alarm. Got dressed, had a bagel with peanut butter, and walked over to the start. I was in the second to last corral (Lisa, being the speed demon that she is, was a few corrals ahead of me) and froze my fingers off waiting for the start. Couldn’t hear any of the starting announcements, but eventually we were moving up, being herded like cattle to the start. I think we crossed the start about 20 minutes after the first runners. It was pretty crowded and I did a lot of bobbing and weaving to try and find a place to run. I knew going in that I wanted to keep a sub-12 minute mile (11:30 would have been lovely) and those first few minutes were in the 14’s thanks to the crowding. In hindsight, I went out too fast once I found a space to run and was running in the low 10’s. Not good. I'm just not that speedy.
Somewhere around mile 9-ish, the hills started. I run in Florida. A speed bump is the biggest hill we have around here. These babies were killer – and it wasn’t just me – so many people were struggling! Between miles 9-11, it was a hilly, crazy mess. That’s about the time I started walking intermittently.
The turnaround at mile 11-ish got us back into the flats, but at that point, my body was beat up from going out too fast and the hills. I was struggling with the mental math but thought I had a chance at sub-2:30 and knew that, unless I blew up, I was going sub-2:45. So I ran when I could, walked when I couldn’t. At mile 13, the full marathoners split from us. And it was somewhat horrifying to me to think that they were going to do the mileage we had just done all over again. (I don't know that I'll ever want to do a full marathon!)
After mile 13, I remember coming around a corner under a bridge. And not quite seeing the finish line. Boo. But still, I gave it whatever I had left in me and started to run. Finally I saw the line and started running like crazy. There were two lines and the left line was full of people finishing and the right was empty. Just was I was approaching the announcer said that both lines were open so I veered right so that I could get a nice finishers picture (Yep, I was still thinking of pictures, what can I say? Once a photographer, always a photographer). I think the picture above was worth it.
After the race, I got my medal and my space blanket and some how missed the finisher photo station and the food. I was a little spacey and was focused on getting to the chocolate milk tent to meet up with everyone.
And then I saw the lemonade tent. And that was all I wanted. And itt was the best thing ever!
Hindsight being 20-20, I later realized that I never stretched after the race. Then I jumped in the car for a 3-hour ride (as a passenger). My legs made their displeasure know when I tried to get out of the car.
I had a low-key evening and went to bed around 11pm or so and woke up at 3am absolutely ravenous. Getting down the stairs for food was a feat – my quads were so SO tight. So I stayed on the couch and surfed the web for a while. Post-race insomnia? Check.
I spent the following day eating, sleeping on the couch, doing some light yoga, and I even walked a mile to stretch my legs. I felt pretty darn good except for my quads.
By Tuesday, I was in pretty good shape and other than climbing stairs, I was walking like a human being.
So that my friends, is the story of my first half marathon.