Thursday, September 24, 2009

Half Marathon: 2:18:55

Smilin' big at 10k mark.

Finally. After five months of planning, two months of training, and about two hours and eighteen minutes and fifty-five seconds, I ran a half-marathon.

Rewind five years: my junior year of college, four girls in my house were training for a half or full marathon. Another roommate and I said, "let's do that!!" So, we trained. We trained for two whole weeks. We ran: possibly two miles. We quit.

Fast forward a couple years: read this post. Yes, I ran a 5k (3.1 miles). And then a 10k (6.2 miles). And then, I said, LUC. LET'S RUN A HALF MARATHON (13.1 miles).

To the present: Luc, Meg, and I set about training for the Philadelphia Distance Run half marathon on September 20, 2009. Luc and I started with our marathon training schedule and worked with the coach to accommodate the half, so we ran four days a week: an easy jog on Monday, a long (6-7 miles) run on Wednesday, a speed workout on Thursday, and a long run on Saturday. The longest long run we did was 14.4 miles!!! So really, we ran over half a marathon before the race. That built massive confidence. MEG, it should be noted, started around the same time we did--from 0 miles. That's ZERO. The longest she did was nine miles before the race--so she was a bit nervous.

Saturday, September 19th, Meg, Luc, and I drove to the convention center in downtown Philly to pick up our registration packets, walk around the health and fitness expo, see Audrey briefly, and meet up with Dave. We enjoyed a booth of running shirts with clever sayings, such as "My sport is your sport's punishment", "In my dreams I am Kenyan", or one that hits home:
Toenails are for sissies!
Marathon training has cost me four toenails so far. ;)

We spent the night at Dave and Heather's amazing new apartment. Their building looks like a hotel. They have a pool and a hot tub. We spent much of the evening in the hot tub.

The morning dawned bright and clear. We parked a good mile or two from the start of the race at the art museum (the Rocky steps one) and had a beautiful energetic walk there:
Start by the Art Museum!

The air was filled with excitement (cliche, but it was) as 12,341 runners and many more spectators and volunteers milled about in anticipation. We reveled in the glorious Philly skyline:
Training buddies and the shiny Philly skyline.

The race began at 7:30am with a wave start--the fastest people (based on estimated finish time) started first, the next group a minute behind them, and so on. We all wore chips on our shoes that timed us specifically between the start, 5k, 10k, 10 mile, and finish lines. Good thing. Our chip time was about half an hour behind clock time!

Finally, around 8am, we were off!! The course was fun--it started at the art museum, ran downtown by the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, back by the art museum, and off along the Schuylkill river, across a bridge, and back down the other side up to the art museum to finish. Bands played every few miles (except on the really boring, long river-side stretch in the middle), and thousands of people lined the streets (except on the really boring, long river-side stretch in the middle) to cheer us on!

Our personal cheerleader, Heather, took pictures! Here's one showing the start on the left and runners passing back by on the right:
There were 12,200 participants

Sadly, the ones of us were mostly blocked by other runners. But the official race photographers got some good ones!

Here we are still smiling at the 10k mark:
We made it to the 10k! Woo!

Our training long runs were at paces between 10:20-10:30 min/mile. Luc set our pace for the first seven miles or so at just a bit over 10:00 min/mile!! Finally, Meg and I forced him to slow down, because we wouldn't make it the whole way otherwise.

At a few points, my knees and hips would take turns twinging in pain or stiffening up. Thankfully, after a mile or so, they'd decide to loosen up. Whew.

Our race fuels of choice were fruit snacks (Batman or High School Musical 3) and one pack of Gu from the Gu fueling station. Gu is super sweet gel that helps you FINISH STRONG...or something. I had strawberry banana. It was okay. Maybe it helped.

On the last two miles, however, Meg and I tanked. It got really, really hard. Luc was an ever-bouncy cheerleader/drill sergeant and tried to keep our spirits up even when I snapped at him. It hurt, man. My knees, my hips, my feet. On the last mile, I even started wheezing--or almost crying, or hyperventilating?--and totally scared Meg. But thankfully, that stopped after a couple of minutes. We felt so badly like walking, but our ONLY goal was to NOT WALK. RUN IT. JUST KEEP RUNNING. Alllllmoooost theeeere.

I loved the enthusiasm of the supporters. They had signs, they had pom poms, they had encouragement for all. Finally, people were screaming "ONLY A QUARTER OF A MILE LEFT!!" We picked up the pace! We were on the homestretch! JUST KEEP RUNNING.

Then, we rounded a corner, and saw the finish line straight ahead! Meg SPRINTED off at lightening speed, with Luc caught off guard but quickly on her heels. They crossed at 2:18:43. JUST KEEP RUNNING. I pushed a bit harder. I crossed at 2:18:55. YEEEEHHHHAAAAWWW!!!!

About to die at mile 13.1.
(Remember, chip time is about 30 minutes different than clock time.)


SUCH RELIEF AND TRIUMPH!!! We got our medals, water, chocolate milk (good recovery drink), and a banana (excellent recovery food), found Dave (he finished way before we did) and Heather, and SAT DOWN. We couldn't believe it! We DID IT!

Dave, Meg, Luc, and Jess

The walk back felt good for stretching joints, but every little stair hurt.
Was it not a beautiful day??
Philly is a pretty city.

We relaxed in the pool and hot tub for a good 45 minutes. Aaaaahhhh. (Okay, an ice bath would be better for recovery, but they didn't have one.) Then we had a buffalo chicken cheesesteak. Then that NIGHT we had wine and cheese. It was oooone perfect Sunday! :D


Here's all of our awesome loot:
First Half Marathon!!!

My Official Results:
Distance HALF MAR
Clock Time 2:48:21
Chip Time 2:18:55
Overall Place 9524 / 12341
Gender Place 4399 / 6430
Division Place 514 / 675
Age Grade 47.4%
Pace 10:36
Ttlrace 12341
Ttldiv 675
Ttlsex 6430
5 Km 31:46
10 Km 1:04:02
10 Mi 1:45:38

Next up: Disney World Marathon. Please Donate: we are raising $11,000 to benefit childhood cancer research, and could use your HELP! :D Thank you!

All half-marathon pictures are here.

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