My First Half Marathon
Today was my first half marathon! Spoiler alert: I am still alive!
Running a half marathon had always been something on my 'maybe someday' list, until four months ago when that 'someday' became October 29, 2016's Monster Dash. At the time, a long run for me was four or five miles; I set a goal to finish the half without walking.
Over the course of my training, I paid on ungodly amount on proper shoes, learned what foods not to eat before running (eating three apples is ill-advised, even if it is Honeycrisp season... trust me), and watched my former run distances become my new halfway points. I bruised toenails, perfected my playlist, kept Gatorade in business, and dropped a bomb on my boyfriend by revealing that girls do, indeed, have bowel movements after spending hours online searching 'How to Not Shit Myself During a Race.'
Today was the day when all of my training and Googling paid off, and oh my gosh, I was nervous, but I also knew that come hell or high water or diarrhea, I was going to finish this thing. (Another spoiler: that optimistic feeling went away around mile 9, but I won't get ahead of myself.)
This morning began in an unusual way as I woke up naturally at 5:14 a.m. and did not go back to sleep for another four to ten hours. The rest of the morning progressed normally, save for the fact that I was dressed in a T-shirt with a picture of a nose on it (because 1) it was a costume race and 2) I would be running while wearing it, making me a RUNNING NOSE. DO YOU GET IT? HA HAHAHAHA HA.) Soon my mother; boyfriend, Jake; and I headed for the race in St. Paul.
The race started at the Cathedral, but the real shrine of the morning was the row of Porta Pottys lined up near the start. I joined the crowd to pay my homage before the race began. Soon after, the gun had blasted, and I was on my way.
Here is a rundown of the 13.1 miles I ran and my mental state while doing them.
Mile 1: So. Many. People. Where is my place among the madness? Will people eventually spread out? I feel great and haven't shit myself thus far.
Mile 2: Oh HI MILE TWO! Here already? ONLY TWELVE MILES LEFT. This would be reassuring if the longest run of my training wasn't a 12-miler that ended in me losing my lunch and my dignity and probably a few vital organs, but whatever.
Mile 3: First water station. Good thing I spent an obscene amount of time yesterday watching Youtube videos about how to drink on the run because I'M NOT STOPPIN'.
I grab a water cup with my non-dominant hand, open my mouth to take a sip, and proceed to pour water into my eyes and onto my shoulder. I vow to do better next time.
Mile 4: SINGLE DIGITS LEFT! NINE NINE NINE NINE NINE. HOLY SHIT, A HILL. HILL HILL HILL.
The running website says that this course is mostly downhill, and here I meet my first hill. The decline was a ten degree angle. I assume this means the bigger declines are coming. I also successfully consume half a cup of water.
Mile 5: I forget what happens in this mile, but it probably involved me listening to my Spotify playlist which has an abundance of Black Eyed Peas, One Direction, and Jonas Brothers AND I'M NOT AFRAID TO ADMIT IT.
I see no further hills.
Mile 6: Eight miles left, I've got this. Oh, there are Jake's parents, pull yourself together. Run faster. Smile and wave. Smile and wave. They aren't seeing me! They haven't seen me! Should I yell? Oops, too late. Shit, I missed them.
I stop smiling and waving, reducing my pace by several miles an hour.
Mile 7: Over halfway.
I have no other thought process. I continue running.
Mile 8: Five miles left.
No other brain activity is noted.
Mile 9: If this race is supposed to be downhill, why the #@$!# am I running up another #@!$#! hill? I have roughly forty more minutes. I am not feeling okay. I think I need water. Oh my gosh, Jake's family is back. They see me this time! What is this? Oh my God. They are handing me a Powerade. JESUS HAS ANSWERED MY PRAYERS.
In trying to drink the Powerade, I aim for my general mouth area, but in turn, douse my entire upper body area. I am sure my face is stained blue, but this is a Halloween race and I can Smurf if I want to. I continue running and feeling generally unwell.
Mile 10: Look at all those ten-milers finishing. That guy has his medal. They aren't running anymore. That will be me in three more miles or roughly thirty minutes which seems like a long-ass time. $#@@%#%@#$%@#. $@#%@#$%$&$%^(*&)^%$#$@@. $!#%. I think I am going to puke. Literally, Gina, do not stop. DO. NOT. STOP. You're told people you are running this and you are going to RUN. Do not bring shame to your family. Think of the jacket for this race you haven't worn yet because you wanted to finish first. Think of the cute Instagram picture you will be posting in thirty minutes.
Mile 11: I continue my mantras. I am running slowly with small strides, but damn it, I am still running. A lot of people are passing me, but I remember an inspirational Pinterest quote about not comparing myself to others. There is a water stop and someone is handing out gel packs. At one point I am holding an open blue Powerade in one hand and a gel and a water cup in the other. I litter all three of them somewhere along this mile because I am a bad citizen.
Mile 12: I see my mother and Jake holding signs. Jake runs along side me for several meters. I look at his fresh legs and encouraging smile. I scowl back at him. It's not fair that he can be so happy when I am in so much pain. Pain that I used Visa to buy. But holy shit, only one mile left.
Mile 13: Oh my God. I see the finish line. I see it. I will cross it. I will do it. I DON'T KNOW WHY I AM SUDDENLY SPRINTING BUT I AM.
Mile 13.1: I am done. I did it. Oh hey, a medal! I'll take a water from you, you, and you. And a banana from you. And a CLIF Bar from you even though I think they're disgusting.
I meet up with my mother and Jake's family and we all go get pasta and live happily ever after.
So there you have it. My first half marathon. I didn't stop or have any emergency Porta Potty visits, so I'll call it a success. For those of you who measure success in a more math-y, less bathroom-y way, I finished in 2 hours and 7 minutes and you can check out more stats here.
In conclusion, training for this race was mentally and physically challenging, time consuming, and even nausea-inducing, but I would do it all over again... just give me a month and some Advil.