It’s been 7 days since I ran my first half marathon and I’ve been mulling over how to write my race recap since I crossed that finish line. I could write out each mile like I did in my Goldilocks 10k race recap, but I feel like this race was so much more than a traditional race recap.
Running a half marathon is something I never ever EVER thought I’d do. I’ve hated running my whole life, and yet I’ve oddly been attracted to it at the same time. I’d watch friends and bloggers accomplish PRs, conquer races, and smash goals. They’ve made it look so effortless and preached about it’s life changing ability. I’d read their posts on blogs and social media with envy. I knew I couldn’t do that.
I think there comes a time in our lives when ‘I Can’t‘ starts to get really damn annoying. For me that was August of this past year. I was still stuck carrying around a lot of extra weight, and I was generally unhappy with my fitness routine. I have a horrible habit of starting something and not seeing it through, and I wanted to do something to put an end to all of that. I decided to run a half marathon. At this point I was running, but I couldn’t even run a full mile without stopping.
I found a half marathon training plan, and enlisted the help of a few really awesome friends to help support me and I started doing it.
I was horribly slow, and there were so many times I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I didn’t quit.
Slowly I found myself actually looking forward to my training runs, and as the miles started to increase I was so proud to have run 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 miles at once.
In the final weeks of my 16 week training plan I got sick. First I had an infection that was followed by a horrible cold. I was knocked on my butt. I began to freak out that I was ruining all this training that I had done. I tried to push through it, but after two weeks of feeling like crap, I found out I had a sinus AND ear infection. I missed my last long training run.
The week before the race I was finally feeling better and went out on a great 5 mile run. It felt so great. I was running, I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t feeling sick. It was exactly the run I needed before the half marathon. Except the next day I woke up to some intense pain in my hip. I wanted to scream. I was so frustrated. I barely made it through my 2 mile shake out run. I was nervous. I was scared to fail.
At the race expo picking up my packet and taking advantage of a photo op!
I’m not going to lie. I had some goals in mind going into the half marathon. I’m super competitive so just running is really hard for me to do. I wanted to finish in 2:45. My second goal was to finish in 3 hours. My final goal was just to finish. After getting so sick and then dealing with some pain I decided I would try to just run this race for me. Not for the goals, but just to finish. I knew I wasn’t going to be fast. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, but I also knew I could do it.
Flat Emily ready to run! More on my gear and fuel in another post!
Race day was pretty amazing. I got to the Las Vegas strip at 1:30 and found there were shuttles to take us to the race rally. It was pretty cold for Las Vegas, and I even had to make a last minute run for some warmer gear that morning, so the idea of a warm shuttle bus was great.
We got to the race rally. I was amazed and overwhelmed to see how many people were there. 35,000 people were running the full and half marathon that day. Since it was the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll there were several couples that were going to get married during the race. What a cool concept!
I ate a banana and slowly sipped on my nuun water and made my way over to the main stage where Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis were headlining. They were really fun. I enjoyed hanging out and dancing until someone in front of me lit up a cigarette. (REALLY?) I decided to head over to the porta potty. I waited over an hour to get through the line, so I’m glad I did!
Potty Party! LOL! I say that to my kids all the time!
After that I decided to make my way over to the corrals. Except I was going the wrong direction for gear check. I’m so glad I asked when I did… Turns out they were closing gear check so I sprinted as fast I as I could about .25 miles and barely got my bag into the last truck. They didn’t make any announcements about gear check closing and A LOT of people missed it. I saw a lot of people running with their bags on the route and I said a silent thank you prayer that that wasn’t me.
I made my way to my corral (39) and the waiting game began. I think had it not been for a nice older man I would have been a mess of nerves, but he kept talking to me. He was from Vancouver and was here with his wife who was waiting for him to take his picture. He seemed a bit older than my parents maybe very late 60s or early 70s. He chatted with me about everything, and asked me which college I went to. I laughed and told him I’m a work at home mom with 2 kids, and he told me I looked way younger. He showed me this “really neat watch” he had. It was a garmin. He talked about his family and his previous races. He took my mind off the race. It was nice.
It took over an hour to get to the starting line, and by then I had to pee again. Soon we were off. Right away it became a race of duck and weave. People were walking from the get go, and not off to the side, but right in the middle. Or they’d run and then just stop. The miles were ticking off quickly and pretty soon we were in mile 3 and running down the middle of the Las Vegas strip. It was so cool to see people cheering from the bridges and the sidelines. I smiled and began to really enjoy it.
The first 6 miles were great. As I mentioned I had to go to the bathroom from the get go, but the porta potties all seemed to have huge lines as I passed. I finally decided at mile 6 to stop. Looking back, I wish I had waited longer. Once I got back to running I seemed to have lost that rhythm I had to start. My pace started to slow. By mile 8 my hip started to really hurt. It felt like it had fingernails and was shredding the muscle every step. Mile 9 I was nearly in tears and gave into the game of walking chicken and walked. My head started to tell my body I couldn’t do this. I was feeling defeated. I had my PocketFuel nut butter, drank some water, stretched, re-tied my shoes. I tried to get my head back in the game, but I was so disappointed.
I sent out two text messages to my friends who I enlisted in the beginning of my training. One of them sent back:
“Hang in there, you are doing great. Remember a 15 minute mile is just as far as a 10 minute mile.”
She was right. I took a deep breath and looked up and saw the Las Vegas Stratosphere. I knew that I was about 3 miles from the finish line. I decided to pick up the pace and start running again. I didn’t train to walk this race. I wasn’t going to break any records. I told myself to “RUN YOUR OWN RACE“. After all, I’d never get to cross another “first half marathon” finish line again, and I wasn’t going to do it walking.
I’m pretty sure those last 3 miles were the slowest I’ve ever run. People were power walking with me, but I was in a rhythm and I knew if I stopped running it would be no different than me giving up on myself and I was done with ‘I can’t’ and I was done beating myself up.
I can’t believe I was smiling crossing the finish line in this picture. I was so close to giving into crying, which I thought I did as I crossed the finish line, but it must have been right afterwards.
That night as I crossed the finish line at a 3:30:09 I cried. I was so overcome by emotion. I became a runner right there on the Las Vegas strip. Sure, I wasn’t a fast runner, but I beat the mind games and let my body do what I trained to do. I ran my own race. 16 weeks prior I couldn’t run 1 mile without stopping. So while it was slower than some marathoner’s finishing times I was dang proud of my time. I decided that night to be done with being embarrassed about my slow pace. Time will come in time, but I’m done letting it make me feel like my accomplishments are anything less than what they are!
After all, I can only do better at my next half marathon.
My husband stayed up overseas until I crossed the finish line. He sent me a congratulatory text when he got the notice that I finished. (He’s deployed overseas and works 12 hour days so he had to go to bed.) The next day he called me and I told him about the race and then said “I can’t wait to do another one”. He responded “Really? Already?” I laughed at that one. It was like the pain of those dark 1.5 miles were gone and all that was left was thirteen point freaking one!
This was the back of my “It’s Vegas Baby!” shirt. I had a lot of people tap me to tell me they liked it. Thirteen Point Freaking One! It’s not something to ever be disappointed about.
I CAN do hard things, I am a runner, and now I am a half marathoner!
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