This is me, standing in the finisher’s area after completing my first half-marathon.
That smile… it was absolutely fueled by adrenaline, pride, gratitude and all the “holy crap did that just happen?” that you might expect.
I have to say that the Historic Half was a great event in and of itself. The community support was outstanding. People were out in their yards and along the sidewalks. One family made a BINGO (well… RUNGO) board and the kids were marking off athletes who carried flags or wore Marine Corps shirts or pushing strollers.
Other families offered watermelon and water between the official pit stops. There were cowbells and signs and sidewalk chalk. It was clear that they were there for the long haul, ready to support the fastest and the slowest and all of us between.
The route was challenging. I was as mentally prepared for the hills as I could be, since we drove the course on Saturday. At least, I knew kind of what was coming. What I didn’t know was whether my legs were truly ready. There’s only so much hill work on can do in the flat lands of Central Florida.
I blazed through the first 5K and thought, “well, I hope I didn’t just burn up my last 5K.” When I got to the 10K mark (not quite halfway), I was still ahead of my expected pace, despite lots of rolling hills. But I still felt really strong and was breathing well, so I figured I’d just keep adding to the cushion.
That’s pretty much the way things continued. I was paying attention to my legs and my lungs, pushed up the hills and relaxed down them, was able to chat a bit with spectators and other competitors… and then we were at the last 3.1 miles, 2 of which are mostly uphill.
I found myself powering up Hospital Hill (the infamous part of the course), past other folks who were struggling, grabbing a water at the station and taking on the last hill over a bridge into the home stretch. And yes, there were a few tears as I entered the last .1 of the 13.1, but I totally enjoyed the moment as strangers cheered me into the finishing chute. My intrepid sister/cheering section was right there yelling my name and reminding me to smile for the camera this time.
Not that I really NEEDED reminding. Endorphines are good for that!
How did you feel about the race, technically? I finished about 10-15 minutes faster than my “it could happen, but not likely” goal. My splits were pretty even, and the 5K and 10K both beat my current bests times at those distances as standalone races. All of which makes me happy as a newbie.
Are you going to do this again? Actually, yes. Going in, I was hedging my bets that I’d like this distance as a walker. But I honestly think I could have done another couple of miles, which makes me think I can break three hours…
In fact… the next half-marathon on my calendar is in October, at Niagara Falls (starts in the US, finishes in Canada).