This is the second in a series of 'flashback posts' where I post events and races from the past (before I had a blog) that I think are worth documenting and sharing publicly. With the DC National Half Marathon on Saturday I thought it was appropriate to reflect on my first HM experience.
After my first 5K, I was itching for something more. Faced with a summer of research and free time I took the plunge and signed up for my first half marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon and Half on October 17, 2010. I trained fairly diligently all summer, and before I knew it it was race time!
Before the race, I had just started in my fall lab rotation. Another grad student in the lab was also running the half marathon with her friend and sister and she graciously offered to drive and house me for the weekend. Thanks Becca! :)
Becca, Mario and I hit up the race expo the Friday before the race. This was my first big race expo, so we took it all in.
Driving home, I held my bib number in my lap and suddenly it all became real. I was going to run a half marathon!
Sunday morning, it was time for the race. We woke up super early and got dressed for the chilly Michigan morning. I ate a whole wheat tortilla with almond butter, and then we were off to the start.
The rest of my running crew and I parted ways at the corrals. With 15,000 runners just running the half marathon alone, I stood around feeling scared and unprepared to run 13.1 miles. Becca's words rang in my mind, "Once you start running, your body knows what to do." After a few minutes of Eminem music (I love Detroit!), we were off!
The first few miles were so fun. As we ran through the cold air, we approached the Ambassador Bridge between Michigan and Canada. Being one of the world's few international marathons, I was so excited as we ran over the bridge into the sunrise and into Canada.
Mile 1: 10:46
Mile 2: 11:39
Mile 3: 11:47 (hand cyclist crashed and there was traffic!)
Mile 4: 10:11
Mile 5: 9:50
Mile 6: 9:52
Mile 7: 11:10
After running through Canada for a bit, we took the mile-long underground tunnel back into America. This was hands down the worst part of the race for me. The tunnel was hot, dark and reeked of gasoline and fumes. I had no idea when it was going to end and just felt gross. I walked for 1:00 minute and pressed on.
Mile 8: 11:40 (walking break)
Mile 9: 11:01
Mile 10: 10:51
Mile 11: 10:21
After running through the historic neighborhoods in Detroit in somewhat of a haze, I woke right up when I saw the turn around point for the marathon and half marathoners. I knew we were close to the end, and I pushed forward. It was at this point too that I began to get emotional: I was going to finish a half marathon!
Mile 12: 10:21
Mile 13: 9:58
Finally, after 2 hours and 20 minutes of running, I crossed the finish of my first half marathon. I was elated and incredibly sore. Volunteers handed me a medal, a heat blanket and a bag of food and I set off to find my group. I hadn't run with a cell phone and ended up getting lost for a while. Thankfully a sweet Canadian girl on the sideline let me use her phone!
I found them, and was happy to hear everyone smashed their goal time. After showers and stretching, we finished the day at a creperie in downtown Detroit. Wonderful.
Completing the half marathon renewed my sense of determination and strength. I was so incredibly proud of myself and still am today. This race motivated me to sign up for another half and a full marathon this year. It truly was the proudest moment of my life and I didn't stop smiling for a week :)
What helped you believe in yourself?