Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My first half marathon!

My first blog post will document a huge milestone: I have officially completed my first half marathon. 

In terms of the challenge, that means there is still a lot to go.  But the good news is that I loved it!  There is something about the sheer exhaustion you feel when you cross the finish line and know you have given it your best.  I've been amazed by the personal satisfaction that I have felt in training for this challenge.  My goal, of course, was to help my mom by pushing myself to new levels.  But somewhere in there, I have gained so much personally from the challenge.  Let me tell you a little bit about my first race.

The race was in Disney World, which we all know is the happiest place on earth.  I've never been obsessed with Disney, but I've always loved the way people leave their inhibitions at the door, and you can see people of all ages looking silly and wearing Mickey ears without worrying what others will think. 

Here's some details of the trip:
I took Friday and Monday off from work, so Adam and I flew down Friday and landed around 1 PM.  Friday was basically getting there, seeing my friend Matt, getting settled, picking up our race numbers, eating a carb filled dinner (along with everyone else who was running the race, so it seemed) and getting to bed super early.

The race on Saturday started around 5:40 AM, and you had to be there by 5.  The last shuttle Disney provided from our hotel was at 4 to make sure you were there in time, so basically we woke up at 2:45 AM to make sure we didn't miss it.  What an early morning!  Luckily I was running on sheer adrenaline and was surprisingly awake even though I'm not a morning person.  You can see Adam's candid of Matt and I getting ready for the start.  It was cold!

I'll leave out a lot of the nitty gritty, but it was awesome.  The beginning is tough because there were almost 22 thousand finishers in the race, so the starting line is crazy even with seven (I think) starting corrals.  But once I got going and wasn't weaving every step of the way, I loved it!  We ran through Cinderella's castle around mile 6 and about a mile later I started to drag.  I realized that eating breakfast at 3 AM was not keeping me satisfied around 4 hours later, so that was a lesson learned for next race.  But the thrill of crossing the finish line is something I'll never forget.  My friend Matt and I started out together but got lost in the crowd in the first two miles.  He found me about a half mile before the finish as we were running through Epcot, and we were able to finish the race together.  As for Adam, he spent the race running around Disney trying to see us, and even just seeing him for a second around mile 4 and 7 gave me huge emotional lifts and helped push me to the finish.  And he got a quick picture!

Everyone always asks me about my time.  I'm reluctant to post this because I know that I will run a variety of courses, with variable weather and variable levels of exhaustion as the year goes on.  And for me, time is really not my goal - I consider the challenge to be enough of a push.  That being said, my goal was to run under 2 hours and 10 minutes (about a 10 minute mile) with my push goal to break 2 hours.  I ended up finishing at 1:51:09, which is just under an 8:30 min/mile pace.   I was so excited!  The race couldn't have been smoother though - it was a very flat course and the weather was on my side.  Though I know my competitive spirit will kick in most races, my #1 goal is always to finish and not to see my time as a definition of success.  They gave us all Donald Duck medals at the finish line, and I know it sounds dumb, but there's so much pride in that medal - it's a physical representation of the months of training that went into the race for me, and my goal to help my mom.

After the race, we went to a celebratory dinner and then spent the next few days exploring the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  It was fun to get to spend a lot of time with Matt - he lives in New York, so we don't hang out very often.  And Matt has been huge in getting this challenge off the ground.  His moral support is one of the big reasons I even took on this challenge, so it was perfect to run the first race with him and get some time to hang out in Disney. 

And also, Adam and I celebrated our two year anniversary, so overall I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.  I'm pretty lucky, right?!

My thoughts on the challenge now: It's go time!  I know I'm only one race in, but despite some injuries that have started, I'm feeling great.  I know that a lot of people think this challenge is crazy, but I believe in it so much, and with my sister helping with the fundraising, my dad's generous donation commitment (and hopefully many others!), and a ton of support from my boyfriend and friends, I know I can do it.

I have spent a lot of time thinking exactly what I want the challenge to be.  I toyed with the idea of a half marathon a month.  The problem is that races are highly concentrated in the spring and fall, so it would be very difficult for me to finish the 12 races without essentially doing one every two weeks during prime racing season or traveling to random places more often that I think is possible with my job/schedule.  I'm not convinced this would be good for me, so I've decided my best goal is to do as many half marathons as possible and the rest as 10K or longer.  I think I can reasonably accomplish running 8 half marathons and the rest as 10Ks  +.  The only reason I would not complete this goal is injuries, which obviously I can't predict.  So far, I'm registered for three more half marathons and one 14K race, so I've got a solid foundation!

No comments:

Post a Comment