It all started 4 months ago, in this post HERE, when I made the snap decision to sign-up for my first ever half marathon – the Gulf Coast Half Marathon on the Louisiana Northshore.
I started my Sunday morning with a 5:30 wake-up call. Ugh. Woke up, took a quick shower, lathered myself with Body Glide, and laced up! At 6:05 I headed down to Fontainebleau State Park, where the race was to Start and Finish. Although the park is only 3 miles from my house, it took a good 25 minutes with all the traffic! At 6:35, I arrived at the starting area and did my walk/stretch routine. At 6:50, we were corralled into our respective pace sections near the start line. Standing in this massive crowd of people at the starting line, I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. Yes, I had spent the last four months or so training, but part of me still didn’t feel ready for what I was about to tackle. There were a few announcements, then the National Anthem, then at 7:04, I crossed the start line!
My plan for the entire race was to run ~ 10 min/mile pace. That is what I trained at. I knew I would take the first mile a lil’ fast (doesn’t everyone?!)…but thought I would ease back into my pace. As it turns out…I ran just a bit faster than that!
Honestly – the miles flew by! Miles 1 & 2 took us through the Park and out onto the highway. A lil’ before Mile 3, we entered the residential zone and I was instantly spurred into high gear. Residents stood in their driveways or on their porches with cups of steaming coffee cheering as the runners went by. The hubby was anxiously waiting for me by the Mile 3 water stop – and I grinned like a school girl for my first photo-op. I kept running.
Miles 3-6 were down in Old Mandeville – part residential, part commercial – all under mammoth moss-covered oaks. I was quite surprised (and very grateful) to see my hubby and one of my friends cheering me on at Mile 5! At the 6.5 mile mark, we crossed a chip reader. I took the liberty of checking out my pace – and was ecstatic to see a 9:22 min/mile average pace! I kept running.
Mile 7 led us past large, historic homes to the beautiful Lakefront. Miles 8-10 were along Lakeshore Drive, with a fantastic view of the sun sparkling across the water! I was greeted again by the hubby, and another 3 friends at Mile 8! I waved like a maniac to let them know just how much it meant to see them there. I kept running.
At Mile 10, when I felt my body start to fully embrace a slower pace, I again saw my hubby. I could have cried with delight! I flashed all 10 fingers at him to show him I made it to Mile 10! Even though I felt I was strong mentally, it was still amazing to get that lil’ extra boost of confidence: “You’re at Mile 10 – You’re Almost There – You’re Looking Great!” I kept running.
Miles 11-13 led us back through the woods and into the park! I had just enough left in me for a “sprint” across the finish line. To be honest, I don’t even remember stopping my watch – or looking up at the camera for that infamous crossing-the-finish-line photo – I just remember grinning like my life depended on it. I grabbed my finishers medal in one hand and a bottle of water in the other hand, and sort of zombied around to find my hubby.
Overall – I took me 2 hours, 7 minutes, 29 seconds to run my first 13.1 miles. #473 out of 1,149 finishers. #171 of 652 females. #37 of 110 Females Aged 25-29. Not too shabby!
Afterwards, my mom asked me if I would do it again. At that point, my legs still feeling weary, I said I wasn’t sure. But now, 48 hours later, I can say yes, I’ll definitely do another half marathon. Because as much as I complained about the training and the long runs, the feeling I got when I crossed the finish line was so worth all the sweat and miles!