So this weekend, I finished my first half marathon! It was the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon, and it was so much fun! Part of me still cant believe i did it! I was nowhere near as well trained as I wanted to be, but I signed up for it back in May or June, and there was no way I wasn't going to do it!
Throughout much of the summer, my training was right on track and i was increasing my mileage according to my training plan. Then fall came, and I had two months of busy surgery rotations, and my training was completely derailed. I tried to keep doing some long runs and increasing my distance, but there were times where I would go 2+ weeks without running, and then even when I did it was jus to do a long run. I eventually worked my way up to 10 miles, which I ran about a week and a half before the race. That run was done using 2:1 walk:run intervals, which was was what I planned to stick to during the race too.
On Friday night, we drove in from Buffalo, and went straight to the expo so I could pick up my race packet. I got there about a half hour before it closed and was surprised to see that it was still packed with people! Of course the packet pick-up area was in the very back, and you had to wind your way through all the vendors to get there. I went straight back without stopping to pick up my stuff. This went smoothly but unfortunately I realized when i got home later that I was given a marathon shirt instead of the half! They are still working to get them exchanged for us do hopefully it will all get worked out!
On my way back to the front of the expo I found the runRisney booth and of course had to stop and take a look at the medals! They were so much bigger and more substantial that I thought initially, which made me even more excited for the PHM in February!
I also did a little shopping along my way to the front. I of course had to get a few 13.1 stickers for my car (because it totally makes sense to have more than one sticker for one car...). There was also a section for overpriced official merchandise, but I rationalized that this was my first half, and got myself a nice pink running jacket!
That night I went home laid out my gear and tried to get some sleep, which wasn't easy!
I woke up bright and early at 5:00AM on race day. Some roads were closing at 6, so we wanted to get into our parking spot and make our way to the start early enough. We parked and walked over, made a quick pitstop at the bathroom (cant run with a full bladder!) and made my way to my corral. I was in J and it was a long way back.
The first group went of around 7, and it was a wave start so each additional group went every 2 mins or so. Each group was sent off with a countdown and a buzzer.
Finally it was our turn, they counted down, the buzzer went off, and we were off! My thoughts as I crossed the start line, "Wow, I'm really doing this... What did I sign myself up for??"
The first couple miles felt awesome. I really had to fight myself to not keep running and to stick to my 2:1 intervals like I trained for. The adrenaline took over, and I was feeling great. First thing we did was run to the ambassador bridge. There was a huge wind up to get to the bridge. I felt a little like I was running in circles.
Running on the bridge was one of my favorite parts of the race. The sun was just coming up, and there was a mist over Windsor. It was absolutely beautiful to see! The hill of the bridge was not bad at all. It was gradual enough, and My legs were fresh enough that I didn't really notice too much. There was one lane of traffic going on the bridge while we were running, and all the trucks were honking and cheering us on which was great!
When we got into Canada, I shed my outer sweater (they collect, launder and donate everything along the course). We looped around from the bridge to run along the river. Another amazing view, this time of Detroit.
There were so many people along the streets in Canada cheering us all on it was great. There were even a group that had some cut up oranges outside of their house for the runners! Even though I didn't stop, it was great to see, and so nice of these people to do for us! As I crossed mile 6 in Canada, I was feeling great. I actually couldn't believe how good I was feeling.
Just as mild 7 ended, we entered the tunnel to head back to the US. This was the part I was most anxious about before the race. The thought of running under water for a mile was just a little unsettling. So I originally had this plan to run the whole tunnel, so I could get myself out of there. That was a mistake. I set off at a much faster pace than I was used to running (although I have no idea what my pace was since gps service was cut off in the tunnel obviously). It seemed like the tunnel went on forever. I also learned what happens when you try to take pictures while running:
Eventually I gave in around the halfway mark and had to walk and get back into my intervals (which I really should have stuck to from the beginning). Finally I reached the end of the tunnel, and after I got back to the main street just after finishing mile 8, I saw my mom and the BF who had come to watch, cheering me on! I was feeling pretty crappy at that point after my self-sabotage in the tunnel, but I kept going!
The next few miles were a little tough. We ran back towards the bridge and through Corktown before heading back to the finish. The cheering people really kept me going through those last few miles.
Finally I rounded the corner and there it was! The finish line! I kept up my intervals for one more round before breaking into my final run to the finish! I threw my hands in the air as I finished. I did it! My mom happened to catch this great shot of me coming across the finish.
After I finished I got my finishers medal and kept walking. There was a huge area I still had to get to until I could meet up with my family. They had free massages (wish I would have done this!) and we're giving out chocolate milk (absolutely delicious), bananas, apples, pretzels and hummus.
Overall, I had such a great time, and felt awesome about this race. I am so happy with how I did, and so proud to finish under my goal of 2:45, at 2:42:25! And I know I could probably have even been a little faster if I had stuck to my intervals. Lesson learned, stick with your training!
It was such a great experience and I really hope to be able to do it again next year with better. Training and go for that PR!