Because I had SO MUCH to say about my first half marathon experience, I had to break it up into two posts. Mainly because it wouldn’t be fair to push that much excitement on you at once.
You’re welcome, eyeballs.
So here are the top 5 things I learned at the race.
- Runners also like to re-fuel. A lot.
I came totally unprepared for the race as far a fuel goes. I’m not much of breakfast girl, and was relying on the advice Mer, Vic, and Cam as far as what was best. Because Cam is the sweetest, she gave me some of her stock; a packet of Gu and CLIF Shot Bloks packet to try out. On race day, I forgot to pack my Honey Stinger and Cam forgot all of her fuel, so I gave her back her Gu and stuck with the Bloks, which, for the record, tasted pretty yummy! By the time we reached the turn in the course, Mer had eaten her Gu and I was busting open the Bloks. At mile 9, we were looking for a station with some fuel because, as we all know, rungry is a very real thing, and it can make for grun-py runners. Perhaps we missed them, but one thing we didn’t see any Gu or fuel at the water/Gatorade stations. The lesson I learned here was to always remember to pack extra fuel. Because we really like, and need, our Gu and Bloks and stuff.
- A big, shiny medal is muy importante.
Since this was the very first pretty shiny medal I’ve ever earned, I was pretty stoked to get it no matter what. The fact that it was MASSIVE and BEJEWLED was even better! Everyone was oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over it because it was totally fabulous. Meri said she thought it was the best medal of the race series, and since she is a legacy runner for this race, I took her word for it. Back at her house, she pulled out her past AC medals and sure enough, this year’s was special. They kept it classy and simple and BIG. Thank you AC Race Series!
- It’s all about the intervals.
As I mentioned, I really had no clue what I was doing. The furthest distance I had run at once was 10k. Yes, I was worried about this, but once again I knew I could rely on my girls to suggest the best plan of attack. Also? Sometimes ignorance is bliss. The initial plan was that Meri, Cam, and I would start together doing intervals of two minutes running and one minute walking. After a few miles, Meri planned to pull away to pursue the PR she wanted. We started off, and before long, I realized that this was going to be unlike any run I had been on yet. I was feeling so fantastic! I stuck with Meri and we stayed with the 2:1 run/walk interval until about mile 10, when we switched to walking for two and running for one. We played cat and mouse with some lovely people who were pursuing their 50 in 50 goal. We teased, and taunted, and toasted with them after the finish. Bonds on the course are quick to form!
Toward the end, we started bargaining with ourselves to run to different landmarks along the Boardwalk like “those apartments” or “that restaurant”. I wanted to run to a particularly tasty looking Gyro shop around mile 11 but we kept on, and averaged a pace of 13:14. I’ll take it for my first half!
- A great race partner makes ALLLLLLL the difference
We had our plan and all was set, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way we plan. We got separated from Cam, and I felt badly because I had promised her we’d stick together. Meridith reassured me many times that Cam would want us to run our own races, because she’s awesome like that and friends support each other’s goals. She found a new friend to finish the race with and we went out to escort them to the finish. And this is what I love about running; the love and support of one another is something rare and precious in today’s world, and it’s my favorite aspect of the running community.
It’s been said on Scootadoot many times that Meridith is the best cheerleader and race coach. Seriously, folks, if you have an opportunity to run with this girl, do it. She knew exactly what to do when to do it, what to say and when to say it. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said we might have been having the most fun of anyone out there. I NEVER thought running could be fun, but with the right partners it always is.
- You can do anything with the right attitude.
My only goal for this race was to finish. The clock didn’t matter, I just wanted my first medal. Much more importantly, I wanted to have a great time with friends I don’t get to see nearly enough. The race was really just an activity we would be doing together. Together is what’s important. And fun. Fun is important, too.
That being said, I was curious to find out how I would do at the race. I promised myself, and all of you, that I wouldn’t half ass this race. Even though I didn’t train like I meant to, I was determined to push myself as much as was safe and, of course, fun. I don’t ever get to run with friends so that alone made the race infinitely more fun, and Meri and I laughed and danced and got many compliments on our costumes, which always helps. Before I knew it, the race was ending. Our time of 2:55:15 felt like an hour. I grabbed Meri’s hand to cross the finish together, and it was honestly one of the best feelings of my life.
Once reunited, we collected our costume contest prizes, said goodbye to to friends (Bye, Bonnie!) , and left to stuff our faces at the Melting Pot in full costume. Because runger, omg.
This was the best race ever. At least, until the next one I get to run with this wonderful friends in this fantastic community we call running.
Speedy, happy miles of smiles to all! <3