My First Half Marathon
Today, I ran the Five Points of Live Half Marathon in Gainesville, FL. Less than a year ago, February 27, 2010, I ran my first 5k, and today I ran 10 more miles than that. I ran the entire thing, which was probably a mistake for my bones, joints, and ligaments, since the furthest I had run nonstop before this morning was a little under 6 miles. I definitely broke the 10% rule.
The race started at 7am in front of the sand volleyball courts on Hull Rd. on the University of Florida campus. I lined up with three very nice and super encouraging women I met while walking over from the parking lot. They’ve done the race every year since it started, and they promised me I would do great. We took off and turned up 34th street towards Newberry Rd/University Ave. Around mile 1, I was keeping to my target 10k pace and I passed Bear, and puppy from the building next to mine, and his owner, which put a smile on my face. From Newberry, we moved up 43rd Street to NW 16th Ave; by mile 3, I was still feeling great and going rather fast (about 9 min/mi.). Then came the rolling hills, which I refused to let conquer me. Just past mile 6, I saw a man waving a sign reading “You Beat the Hills;” joy washed over me. That’s when I realized I’d been running for an hour and I still felt like running. I abandoned my plan to walk and run in intervals the rest of the way for another mile, and then another, and then another. I did slow down a bit from the 9s into the 10s so that I’d have a chance to keep the running going.
My favorite part of the run was after we hopped down from 16th to 10th along 13th St. and entered the Historic Duck Pond area by the Sweetwater Branch. This is definitely one of the most beautiful areas in town. We spent most of mile 8 surrounded by the creek and beautiful, historic homes. I had slowed my pace to between 10:30 and 11:30 min/mile. A quick job down to SW 2nd (and past Volta) had us running towards campus and then down 12th St. to Norman Hall. We ran under the tunnel and towards Newell. From Newell, I ran up to Dauer Hall—a wonderful moment for me—and over to Stadium Rd. Right before the turn into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a young boy at the water station gave me a THIN MINT. That was the best thin mint I have ever—ever!—eaten.
I hit mile 11 while rounding through the stadium to come back out onto Stadium Rd. by the Bull Gator. I was ready to walk, but I didn’t want to. I was worried, too, that if I stopped running, I’d cramp up and feel the pain in my ankles that I knew was waiting for me. Only two more miles… I’ve done that so many times. Plus, the leg down Stadium Rd./Fraternity Dr. and then to Museum Rd. is a path I’ve done in reverse on more 5ks than I can count. I delighted in the trip past Lake Alice, and I let out some audible laughs at Saturday’s episode of Wait Wait! Don’t Tell Me, which had now replaced my 100 minute playlist on my iPod. About half way through mile 11, my iPod told me I had reached my goal, which obviously I hadn’t and was a cruel, cruel trick of poor calibration. I had slowed to between 11 min/mile and 13:30, but I maintained a running stride and pushed through. When the turn off to split the half-marathoners from the marathoners came at Hull Rd and I could see the finish area ahead of me (and slightly uphill from me! ugh!), I struggled to keep from crying. I really could not believe that I was still running and that I was way under my 3h20m goal—way under. I was kind of on the verge of crying again when I crossed the finish line; one of the ladies handing out medals thought I was injured, but I was simply having an overly emotional response to the entire experience.
I crossed the finish line with a clock time of 2:40:14 and an Nike+ time of 2:39:53 (note that I took who knows how long to actually remember to turn the Nike+ off). I’m excited to get my chip time sometime in the next few days. I grabbed a bottle of water, a Clif sports drink, 5 mini LaraBars, a piece of focaccia from the Sweetwater Branch Inn, and two bananas; I drank the water and ate one banana and the focaccia while simply adjusting to this new reality that I had run—RUN—a half marathon. I walked to my car, drove home while nursing my Clif drink, cried in Matt’s arms (the effort made me super emotional), and then ate the best everything bagel with veggie cream cheese I’ve ever had; it joins the thin mint in that fame. I wore that damn medal to the bagel shop, too.
When I got home, I took a hot bubble bath and called and texted the necessary people. I also pasted an important number of IcyHot patches to my knees and ankles. The next important task: going to Lloyd Clarke Sports to get a 13.1 sticker for my car, the best $2.11 I’ve ever spent—are you noticing a trend? The sticker is pink, like my ipod, the shirt and underwear I ran in (too much information???—too bad), the accent on my black running capris, and the Nike swooshes on my socks (oh, and the four of five men dressed as flamingos for the race!). I can’t wait to clean my car and tack that thing on its rear.
Oh, and I beat those three women… not that I was trying to, but it still feels good… as will the hot tub at Gainesville Health and Fitness a few hours from now.
UPDATE: Official Results
Age Group Place: 46
Clip Time: 2:39:34.8
Overall Place: 574
Female Overall Place: 291