Sunday, March 13, 2011

My First Half Marathon

(photo by Bill Shires)

Hey everyone, hope you all had an amazing weekend, I certainly did!

This Saturday, March 12th, I ran my first half marathon, the Alston & Bird Corporate Cup Half Marathon in down-town Charlotte.  I was so excited all week in anticipation of the race, I just couldn't wait!  My goal was to try and hold a 6:15 pace, as that is the pace I do my aerobic threshold tempo runs at.  I knew I could handle that pace pretty comfortably for the first 6-8 miles, the last 5-7 miles would be the unkown though.

When the day of the race finally came, I was so ready.  I decided to wear my long sleeve Charlotte Running Club shirt as it a little cold at the beginning of the race.  I had also decided earlier in the week that I would wear my hair in pig-tail braids in honor of Sally Meyerhoff who had passed away last Tuesday in a tragic bike accident.  She also wore her hair like that when she raced.  So after my mom braided my hair I was ready to head to the race.

At the race I did a short warm-up run and some drills and headed to the starting line.  At the start of the race they had group prayer and I thought to myself  "Sally this one is for you".   Then the gun went off and I started on my first half marathon.  The first 3 miles went by pretty quick and were pretty easy as I settled into my pace.  At 3 miles my Dad jumped in and passed me by on his bike and would jump ahead of me a mile or so at time and wait for me to come by so he could cheer.    I felt really good during the first half of the race, as I passed 5 miles in 30:48 and still felt comfortable.  Somwhere between miles 8 and 9 we went up a big hill by Myers Park High School and once I got to the top I could start to feel it.  It was starting to get hard.  But I remembered Sally and a book I recently read ("The Running Dream" by Wenderlin Van Drannen) about a high school runner who lost her lower leg in an accident and started running again with a prostetic leg.  It reminded me how lucky I was to have the opportunity to race like this, so I put my head down and pushed on. 

(photo by Mom)

At 10 miles (61:48) I was still ahead of goal pace and really appreciating all the fan support we were getting on the course.  I was able to push the next mile or two pretty well and then we got to east Moorehead Street and the final 1.5 mile climb back up towards down-town.  My dad had told me to take that section one hill at a time (there are 3 hills with a short break between each) and that is what I did. It seemed like on each hill I saw someone I knew who was cheering for me and that definately helped.   Finally with a half mile to go the hills where done and I turned onto the final straight away.  I could see the crowds cheering the runners on and it definately helped having them there to get me to the finish line.  When I crossed the line I looked at my watch and saw 1:21:15, I was estatic!  That was a 6:12 per mile pace, 3 second per mile better than I had hoped for.  I had won the women's division of the race and beat my goal in my debut at the distance!  This was even better than I had hoped for.  Like I said, I had an amazing weekend!  :o)