guest blogger · running

guest post: Anna’s first half marathon

It’s half marathon weekend!  By 4pm this afternoon Dave and I and my sister Kelly will be on our way to Indianapolis for the half marathon!  WOOHOO!!!

In honor of half marathon weekend, I asked Anna, a reader of the blog who also lives not-so-far away from me (we’re hoping to meet up soon), to write up a post about the half marathon she recently completed – her FIRST half marathon!  Be sure to leave Anna some encouragement in the comments – she killed it on this race!

I ran my first half marathon in Toledo on April 17. I started running with the Couch to 5k program in March 2010, and slowly worked my way up to this race. As for training…I ran…a lot! I had a month of running 40 miles per week which seriously is a lot. I know that many first time half-marathoners top out at a 10 mile long run, but I went up to 15 miles, and had 18 runs of 10+ miles leading up to the race. This helped me feel confident and strong about the distance. I ran through the brutal northern Indiana winter (30 inches of snow in 24 hours was just the beginning!) But before you start thinking I’m some sort of speedy running prodigy, let me tell you what my goals were for this race

  1. Finish!
  2. Finish in 2:15 (see, not overly speedy)
  3. Finish in 2:11 (which would be a 10:00 pace…this was my REAL goal J)

The week leading up to the race I had cut my miles in half and was feeling quite anxious and energetic. Up until the night before the race the forecast was looking perfect – low 40’s and sunny. Then, the night before as I lay in bed listening to the 25+mph winds howling outdoors, I knew it was going to be a tough race. The race was out of town, so my husband and I were staying at the home of my best friend’s parents, and she stayed over, too. It was awesome to see her! My parents were in town, too, as my dad was also running the race.

Race morning I got up at 5:15am, made my oatmeal, made a last minute decision on what to wear and we were out the door by 5:45. In the car I ate about half my oatmeal and drank about 1/4 of my iced coffee, and tried to force down some water. It was cold…the “feels like” was about 29 at that time I think, wiiiiinnnndddyy (25 mph winds with gusts up to 40) If it hadn’t been for the wind, I would have been content in shorts, short sleeve shirt and arm warmers. But I had my gloves, long sleeve layered with a short sleeve and tights.

I had about 16 oz of water in my handheld with some gel blasts in the pocket to munch on. (I highly recommend carrying your own water, saves time not having to stop for water, and gives you the freedom to drink whenever you want!) I jogged a few minutes and I lined up just behind the 10:00 pace sign as I didn’t want to commit the error of going out too fast. I stretched a bit and a few minutes before the race I threw my coat off to the side. (I had mentioned my dad running, but we were not running “together”…he was doing his own thing, I’ll let you know how he finished later.)

At the first mile marker I looked at my watch and saw…10:45…oh no! So, I succeeded in not going out too fast, that’s for sure!! Deep breaths, trying not to freak out. Seriously, who starts out THAT much too slow!?! Was my race over?? I stepped it up, and the next mile marker I was on a 10:00 pace, but didn’t make up my lost time until mile 5. Obviously I had run the last several miles faster than a 10:00 pace to make up that time, but I felt comfortable and settled in, focusing my mental energy onto running tangents as it was a winding course through some nice residential neighborhoods. Around this point I also decided it was time to start picking runners off, I started with a girl about 20 feet ahead of me in pink, and once I passed her, I picked another girl in pink and then that just became my thing – passing girls in pink.

I hit the 10k mark at 1:01:38 which put me overall at a 9:57 pace. At the 10 mile mark I was at 1:38:24 (9:51 pace) I was pleased with this time, tried to pick it up slightly, but knew I was already giving a strong effort and I was ok with that. I started doing math in my head trying to estimate my finish time, and whether to try to step it up at all, I continued trying to do this math for the next 2.5 miles and never really was able to come up with anything, ha.

I was watching for mile 12 to let everything I have hang out, but never saw it, never saw it, was looking at my watching thinking “I can’t be slowing down, but it should have been here!” Finally I said “has anyone seen mile 12?” and several people said there wasn’t one, including someone with a Garmin.

And then, BAM,  we were going pretty much straight into the wind. It was T-O-U-G-H. And there was some downhill…my quads were shot, I was fighting through the wind while trying to control myself down the hill. Painful painful! With less than a quarter mile to go I saw my dad, who had already finished (in a blazing time of 1:34:55 – 4th in his age group!). He ran over and I asked him to block the wind for me, which he tried to do, and he split off as I entered the stadium for the finish.

And then I was done! My final time was  2:07:08 for an overall pace of 9:43! I shattered my goals!  [and my last 5k was a 9:17 pace…my 5k pr is 8:55, just 22 seconds/mile difference!] (Stats: Overall 877/1709, Gender 396/978, AG 91/185)

I crossed the finished line and just wanted to keep walking. My quads were complaining, but I was happy about that because my last 5k race I wasn’t at all tired/sore, so I was glad I had given it an effort. I really feel like I gave it all I could the second half of the race, and I was quite pleased with myself. It was cold and the lines for food at the post party were too long so we left…and I was still wearing my medal.

What’s next? A couple 5k’s and a 10k this summer, and I have my eye on a half-marathon in November!

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6 thoughts on “guest post: Anna’s first half marathon

  1. Way to go Anna! Totally awesome! Your pacing was just right….using the first mile or two of a long race like that as a warmup is a great idea and, as you figured out, didn’t set you back as much as you thought! I love the picking off girls in pink, too (nothing against girls or pink)…bet they wished they had paced like you did! Again, TOTALLY AWESOME!!! Makes me want to get in shape for another half!
    Also makes me wonder how fast you could run a 5k now….I’d say you’re ready for a new PR, eh?
    (this comment is actually from Aaron, not Melissa)

  2. Ohh I ran this half marathon too! It was CRAZY windy! Great job on your first half & fabulous job pacing yourself out there!

  3. Congrats Anna!! The first half is always the best!!!

    I laughed out loud when I saw your first picture. That’s my dad on the left in the blue shirt drinking water!!!

  4. I was there for that race (supposed to run the half, got a water heater dropped on my leg 3 days before the race) and it was brutally windy! I could not believe how bad it was, AWESOME finish!

  5. Great job! I had a friend who ran that race this weekend. Small world. I am originally from Indiana myself!

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