That Time I Completed a Half Marathon

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Ugh! I’ve been meaning to write this post for three weeks, but better late than never, right? So earlier this month I did what I once swore I would never do: I completed a half marathon.

Last year I decided that I needed a new running goal, and a half marathon seemed challenging, but obtainable so on a whim I went with that. After looking at a lot of different ones, I chose to complete the Surf City Half in Huntington Beach, CA.

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The one thing I didn’t think of was that running in California in February, means training in Wisconsin in December and January. There are many problems with that let’s start with

  1. I had trouble getting back to my training after being out of town for a week in November
  2. December and January are cold during normal conditions in Wisconsin
  3. A polar vortex blew through again, there is no way I’m going out in anything below zero, and there is only so much you can do on a treadmill
  4. I work retail, which makes mid-November through the beginning of January the busiest time of my whole year.

 

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So long story short I headed into this half marathon only ever having run 8 miles. I told myself I would be happy if I just finished, but was hoping to finish in 3.5hrs. I boarded the plane to Orange County and was off!

The day before my race, I woke up with a wicked sore throat. Ugh! That’s the last thing I needed. I prepared myself to be out there for 4 hours or more and reminded myself that just finishing was an accomplishment.

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The first four miles were the hardest. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and breathing was really hard with my sore throat. In hind sight, I also started off way too fast. I faded quickly, and by mile 4 I was walking and wondering why I did this and did I really have to finish? I considered walking the rest of the way. And then I saw someone in the spectators crowd holding a Platform 9 3/4 sign – which meant they were from the Hogwarts Running Club. I remembered that the Gryffindors really needed these miles if we were going to beat the Hufflepuffs this week, and I started running again.

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By mile 6 I realized that there was no way I could run this whole thing and trying to was pointless. Plus, I was in California! Completing my first half marathon! I should be enjoying this! I let myself slow down, walk more than I probably needed to, take pictures, and take in all the scenery.

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At mile 8 they were handing out Cliff energy bites which I willingly took but didn’t enjoy. Man! Those things are sweet and actually hurt my teeth. But I needed the nutrients and I kept going, still walking quite a bit.

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When I got to mile 10 I told myself that this was just a regular 5k, and started running a lot more. I was almost there! The last 4 miles or so are really beautiful. The race starts on the beach, goes into some residential areas, then goes through some of the California wetlands before coming back out on the beach. So those last four miles you run along the Pacific Ocean with lots of palm trees lining the road. It’s really spectacular.

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And then it happened: I  stepped over the finish line and became a half marathon finisher. Woohoo! I would have jumped for joy if my feet (and whole body, really) didn’t hurt so much. I got my medal; took a bunch of pictures with it; grabbed my chocolate milk, water, and fruit; found my uncle; and hightailed it to the car. (“Hightailed” is word which here means “walked very slowly and limped slightly due to a newly formed blister.” Ouch.)

When I started the race my goal was to finish in 3.5 hours or less and I finished in 3:11:31 so I was really pleased with myself. I also know I could have finished a lot faster if I had been able to pace myself better, and therefor run more of it. But that’s just something to work on next time.

So there you have it: the story of how I completed my first half marathon. In the days following said marathon I swore it was my first and last. But by a week after I was already googling “best half marathons in the US” and making a bucket list. #TheLifeOfARunner

 

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