My alarm went off way too early, I rolled out of bed eager to get dressed and head from Odessa to St. Petersburg. Matt was a trooper, he decided to escort me to the race. Since this was my first big race, Matt suggested I get a photo in front of the start/finish line.
One of my Alpha Xi Delta sisters from Auburn was also running this race and it was fun to find her before the race. It has been MANY years since we've seen each other but try our best to keep up with each other on Facebook & Twitter. Cindy was also in town for Thanksgiving & ran the 5K with a family member.
I headed to my corral where I stayed near the side so I could wear my jacket until the last possible second. The wind coming off the water was crazy! Since I'm a rookie, I didn't know anything about throwaway clothes or wearing a garbage bag to fend against wind chill. Soon enough, it was time for the race to actually begin so I handed over my jacket and kissed my hubby goodbye (for good luck).
I knew I could run an entire 5K without intervals so I decided I would run straight through for the fist 3.1 because I had read it always takes a couple miles for the crowds to spread out. As all the corrals moved forward at the start I saw a sign that said "Run like there is wine at the finish!". At 7:16am, I was slightly over a mile in and two of the cutest grandmas PASSED ME! I could not believe it.
Now when you look at my split times, you'll see where this wasn't the best idea. I mostly train on a treadmill, so when I get out on the open road I do not know how to pace myself! I do not average an 10-11 minute mile pace, more towards a 12 (or closer to 13 when running intervals). I obviously was not pacing myself properly!
Miles 4, 5 and 6 were a much better pace for me, at this point in my training. I even found a nice interval pace around some other interval runners. One woman had "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13" on the back of her shirt and I just kept reciting it over and over to myself.
Around Mile 6 I noticed my iPhone battery was in the "red zone". I was using my iPhone to supply tunes, run Nike GPS, tweet mile markers & thoughts and text Matt my whereabouts so I knew when to look out for him. I decided to turn off the music at this point, it was smart but I really missed the distraction.Meghan, she looked great! I was very envious; I had been reading her blog and following her training. This was not her first Half Marathon (she was also training for WDWMarathon) so I reminded myself I only started running 5mo prior and pushed on.
Cindy planned to meet up with me around Mile 10 or 11 and she spotted me after my loop around Mirror Lake, I think I was walking as much as I was running at this point. It was right before Mile 10 when my iPhone completely died. I wasn't prepared for this, at all. Cindy & I walked a bit together, it was a nice break & she had some wonderful encouragement to share with me. We parted ways and I proceeded on towards Tropicana Field.
I finally made it to Tropicana Field and while it was cool to be running ON the field, the air in the building was stagnant. I couldn't breathe and decided to soak it in and walk it. Between 1st and 2nd base, the Sweaty Band crew started to pass me (they were running intervals too) so I decided I should try to use their timing since I had no way to pace myself. We eventually parted, I was exhausted and there were fewer racers on the course, though I could see I was still ahead of plenty of them (which made me happy that I wouldn't be finishing last).
It took all that I had to run the last half mile straight. As I got closer to the turn from 1st Avenue to Bayshore Drive, I could make out a recognizable voice. This voice was my mother, she was screaming at me...I ran faster to get away from her. I could see the finish line, then I spotted my dad, Matt, Abigail & my nephew Will, so I waved and sprinted to the finish. That's me in the teal shirt, saturated with back sweat. Gross.
My split times were a lot different than what the Nike GPS App on my phone had me at. Overall, I was proud of my average pace, it was what I was hoping to achieve but really had no idea after those last miserable three miles.
I am so glad I ran this race. This Half Marathon was intended to be a learning experience for me and it truly was! I was under trained for this race and I know I can do better, but I finished. In my book, finishing IS winning!
-Have you ever raced purely for it to be a learning experience? If so, what did you learn?
-If you are not a runner, have you done something to help you learn and grow so you can plan how to move forward?