Half marathons are a pretty big deal for most people. I’m not sure why I felt like that no longer applied to me just because I had three under my belt, but I majorly slacked during training leading up to my fourth half, which was this past Saturday in Philadelphia. I wrote about my bad “long” “run” the weekend before, which was a 7.2 mile walk/run instead of a 12 mile run, and I’m sure that didn’t help much leading up to the race considering it was my last long run.
On Friday, I headed up to Philly to stay with my sister since the race started early Saturday morning. The first big mistake I made (besides the lack of training) was wearing my flip flops to the race expo.
I didn’t realize the expo was 2 miles away, aka 4 miles round trip, and by the time I got back to my sister’s house after 4 miles of walking in the flip flops, the bottom of my feet felt RAW. Not a smart move the day before a half marathon. But, I did get a good bib number for the race.
The next morning, I woke up around 6am and got geared up for the race. I had my standard pre-race breakfast – an english muffin toasted with peanut butter and half a banana.
My first time ever having Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter and omg was it good!
So we leave for the race at 6:45, and its about a 15 minute drive. We thought the race time was 7:30am, so we left with plenty of time to get to the start and get situated. My plan was to get in line for the porta potty immediately because my stomach was feeling kind of off, so once we parked we headed towards the start. It was around 7:05am, and we saw a few runners going by us pretty fast.
At first, I shook it off thinking the elite runners were just warming up and we kept walking. But then, more and more runners ran by us, and we realized something wasn’t quite right. Wendy asked some of the runners if the race had started, and they said yeah – turns it out was a 7am go time, not 7:30am like we thought! Yikes.
We were told we had one minute to get through the start line, so we sprinted across the green and were literally the last runners to go through the start. No time for the portapotty or anything really – we were running a half marathon – the fourth one for both of us.
Wendy and I decided to go our separate ways because I wanted to run fast and PR, so we wished each other luck and off I went. The first couple miles were uneventful and I was passing runners left and right since we had started so late.
- Mile 1: 9:19
- Mile 2: 9:20
- Mile 3: 9:43
- Mile 4: 9:53
After Mile 4, I took my first GU and kept on trucking. In the car on the way to the start, the temperature said 74º, so by this time it was about 8:00am and it was HOT. I started to slow down a bit because the heat was really getting to me, and the bottoms of my feet were not feeling so good either. The next 2 miles were fine, but then things started to slow down quite a bit.
- Mile 5: 9:43
- Mile 6: 9:55
- Mile 7: 10:26
- Mile 8: 10:45
After Mile 8, I took a second (and the last) GU, and then things started going downhill pretty quickly. My feet were killing me, and my stomach was in knots since I hadn’t gotten to use the bathroom. I didn’t feel like I had to “go” right then, but I just felt really uncomfortable, and I think the heat was just making the situation much worse than it would have been otherwise. I ended up run/walking the last 5 miles and would pick landmarks to run to and then walk for a bit, before starting to run again.
My pace obviously drastically reduced when I started doing this, and I readjusted my goal from PRing to just crossing that finish line, which honestly felt a bit lofty at a few points along the course.
- Mile 9: 11:31
- Mile 10: 10:41
- Mile 11: 10:52
- Mile 12: 10:54
After the 12 mile mark, the course did something just plain mean. There was an extremely uphill part from miles 12.5 – 13, and basically everyone was walking up it because it was so steep. This picture doesn’t even do it justice, though you can see the girl in front of me is obviously walking as well.
Cruel way to end the race.
- Mile 13: 11:16
I somehow managed to dig deep when I finally made it to the top of that hill and ran my heart out to the finish, pulling in front of a couple people, but mostly so excited to finally be done with this one.
Not only did I not PR, it was my second slowest half, and the only one I have walked during. The final time was 2:15:20, or a 10:19 pace.
I waited to watch my sister cross the finish line, and then we promptly collapsed in the grass.
I’m not sure why she made that face, but our second attempt looked like this.
Something must have been funny. Someone must have felt bad for us because she offered to take a picture of us both, which turned out better.
As we were sitting there in the grass, I was really beating myself up. I couldn’t believe I had finished the half “so slow” and didn’t want to put my finish time on the back of my shirt (which they are designed to do).
Luckily, my sister was there to knock some sense into me. She reminded me that first of all, we’d just completed 13.1 miles and that was nothing to sneeze at – that was something to be proud of! Second, she told me I don’t always have to be so competitive with myself. She runs for fun and for the accomplishment of it all, and feels great about herself when she finishes, regardless of the pace. I’m not saying that’s how I will or plan to approach races, but it was refreshing to hear from someone else (who is allowed to tell me to shut up because we’re related by blood) and put it all in perspective.
Though I was definitely feeling a bit disappointed, I made a conscious decision to shake it off. The heat, my less-than-stellar decision making process with the flipflops, and my stomach feeling off all contributed to my finishing slower than I wanted to. But, I still covered 13.1 miles before 10am in a very respectable amount of time, and I needed to be proud of myself for that. I decided to own it and wear the race shirt proudly for the rest of the day.
I earned it.