I completed my very first Half Marathon on Saturday, October 9, 2010. I ran the Hartford ING Half Marathon. I have been on such a high since I crossed the finish line. I know that right now would be a good place for some background information as this is also my first blog post, but I am going to save that for a bit.
It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was joined by my husband and son to the starting line.
The starting line was a bit chaotic with the marathoners and half marathoners starting all together. It was exciting to be surrounded by so many runners and supporters along the course. I could hear a whisper of the national anthem being sung from where I was standing in the back of the crowd. Then the gun sounded and we were off, sort of. I walked almost all the way to the actual starting line before I was able to begin moving at a slow jog. We all moved through the street together for about a half mile before the course split and marathoners went one way and we went the other.
I felt great. My breathing was steady. My legs felt strong. The weather was stellar, sunny, cool with a light breeze…a perfect fall day. I was smiling.
I didn’t see a mile marker but I was glad. I didn’t want to know where I was. I just wanted to run and enjoy every moment. I watched everyone around me. I reveled at the people encouraging us along the way. I paused my music when I ran by the entertainment provided along the course. The DJ at the 3.5 mile mark announced our position. That was the first moment that I had any idea of my mileage. I didn’t pay attention to mile markers again until I came upon the large arch announcing the half way point. I let out an exclamatory shriek and did a dorky fist pump at that moment. But seriously I felt fantastic.
This was turning out to be one of the best runs I have ever had. The course wound through lovely Elizabeth Park. Just before we entered I caught a glimpse of my time at the 8 mile mark. I was at 1:28. I did some rudimentary mental math and figured out that I was making decent time (for me). I went into the race with the goal of finishing by 2:30. I knew that it was easily attainable if I stayed at a comfortable pace.
Mile 10 had a time clock too. I was at 1:50. I couldn’t believe that I only had three miles left. I also couldn’t believe how wonderful I felt. The playlist on my iPod pumped out energizing music. The shouting supporters made me smile. I gave high fives to children who had their hands out along the way. Why doesn’t everyone do this? I was having the time of my life.
Then mile 11 presented us with a small challenge, a steady uphill climb. I trained on hills. I could do this I thought. I took it slow and kept my pace steady. My feet were starting to feel slightly uncomfortable, but nothing major. I focused on my breathing and I pushed on. Then I saw the mile 12 marker and we started running downhill. I took advantage of the decline and picked up my pace. I could hear the rouse of the crowd getting louder. Then I saw them all, people shouting, waving banners, signs, blowing whistles…all of them there to cheer a loved one as they crossed the finish line. I scanned the crowd for my guys but it was madness. I then looked up at the time clock 2:21. I could feel tears well up in my eyes. I threw my hands up in the air as I crossed the finish line. (just a funny aside, the crowd was going wild at this point because as I crossed the finish line so did the first marathoner. Truly amazing that someone ran twice as much as I did in the same time.)
I think I could have kept going. I felt amazing (does that cover every adjective to describe how I was feeling). Throughout the race I realized that I had completed an excellent training. I was well prepared. Despite this I was still in some disbelief. I just ran a half marathon – ME!