Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest post from Rachel, my awesome friend and fellow Dukie/DC resident who puts up with me day in and day out. She kicked ass at her first half marathon last weekend. Despite all influences to the contrary, I think she’s destined to be a runner…
Hi, I’m Rachel—formerly (and hopefully again in the near future) of Ladies Who Brunch, but now just a non-blogging friend of Emily’s.
Running a half marathon had been on my to-do list for a while, but I always had an excuse not to: my knees hurt, my shin splints were flaring up, the weather was too cold…
But when you have two crazy Ironman friends and a handful of other insane marathoner friends like I do, it’s pretty much inevitable that one day you’re going to start to turn into a runner.
I guess last weekend was my day.
I’m proud to say that I ran the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon in 2:11:30. It wasn’t fast, and it wasn’t pretty, but I did it! 16 weeks and 100s of miles later, I crossed the finish line and threw my tired feet into an ice bath.
Though we lucked out with weather since the mid-90s from earlier in the week had gone down to a more manageable 70-80, the morning kicked off ominously when my bus from the hotel to the starting line got turned around—meaning we got to the race with 10 minutes to check bags, pee and get to the start. Not an ideal situation.
Luckily, there was another bus that was running even later than ours, and the race wound up getting pushed back—first 15 minutes, then 30. Good for my exploding bladder, not good for the heat. Also not very helpful for the Sports Beans I took at 6:30 in anticipation of a 7:00 race. But oh well.
The course started with a gradual downhill for the first two miles, and I made sure to start easy and hold back some. My body usually takes 2-3 miles to really warm-up and start feeling loose, so I took advantage of the slight decline to wake up my legs, bob my head to my music, and take in the beautiful scenery of the Virginia wine country.
There was a nice hill at mile 5ish, but I was impressed with the way I powered up it—and passed a lot of folks who were slowing down or walking up it as I went. One runner said that this was the end of hills for the course, but someone else chimed in that there was another doozy towards the end. He was right.
Miles 1 through 9 went really well—especially mile 6-7 that was on a shaded packed gravel trail.
Miles 9 through 13 were where I wanted to die.
I had gone up to 12ish miles for training, but that didn’t seem to help. By that point, I had a nasty blister on my left instep (not sure why, since I was wearing the same shoes and socks I’d been training in for months), tight calves, and was dealing with a quickly warming morning. I kept telling myself that once I got to mile 10, it would be an easy 3 miles to the finish line—but that easy part
never kicked in.
As I struggled to the end, there were a few points where I wanted to stop and walk—but I didn’t let myself. I wanted to run this thing to the end, even if my walk would have been faster.
The devils who mapped out the course decided it would make sense to put a hill a few tenths into mile 12, and there were lots of folks struggling up it—myself included. At the top of the incline, a coach pointed to a silo in the distance and said “That’s the finish line.” I’m pretty sure it was meant as motivation, but that silo seemed way too far away.
I made the final turn onto the home stretch, and tried to pick up my pace a little.
After all, I didn’t want to look like death in front of all of the spectators. I passed Dan (my awesome boyfriend), gave him a high five, and somehow convinced my legs that they could go just a little faster for the final stretch. At 15 yards to go, I managed a breathy “Excuse me” to three women who were running three across, pushed past, and sprinted across the finish line—a smile on my face.
The jury is still out on my feelings towards the half marathon distance. I had done two 10 mile races during my training, and really enjoyed both of those. Ten miles are manageable, but those last few miles suck. HARD.
I’m registered for the Philly half in November [Ed. note: WITH ME!], so I’ll give it at least another chance—but I’m definitely looking forward to the Army Ten in October even more.
A good friend warned me when I started training that I was going to become a runner (in his eyes, a bad thing, despite his marathoner and IM status). I still wouldn’t call myself a runner, but I won’t object quite so vocally if someone else does.