I did it! I finished my first Half Marathon. I honestly never thought I would do it or WANT to do it. It was so fun though!
Before recapping the race, here’s a brief training recap. I trained with the Sports Backers Half Marathon Training Team (HMTT), and I loved it! It helped so much knowing that every Saturday I was running with hundreds of my closest friends. 🙂 I was on the Zebra team, which was a smaller group of about 30 people, and my coaches were great. I got so many helpful tips and gained so much confidence each week. Honestly I was nervous every Saturday morning until I got to 10 miles. The 10 mile run was so tough, more than half of it was uphill (including the Libby Hill, which Richmonders know is brutal). After that I knew I could run the half. The following week I ran 11 so confidently and so well, at a consistent 10 minute pace. That week on my shorter runs I was hurting more and more and I came to grips that I may have an injury, which shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. I’ve dealt with hip pain since I injured my back playing soccer in middle school, but it was always manageable because I was never consistently active after high school. When I increased my mileage my knee started hurting and then got to the point I could barely run 5 miles. I ended up going to a Sports Medicine doctor and then a Physical Therapist (PT) about two weeks before the race. They did some “quick fixes” in hopes to get me through the race, and I learned how to tape my knee and bought a patella band. I was ready but so nervous because my last long run (11 miles) was 4 weeks before the race. I tapered early and cross trained a lot, but I thought if I didn’t follow the training plan exactly that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Fortunately I was wrong. 🙂
And to race day! I woke up early (as I always do) before the alarm went off and was so excited. The weather was absolutely perfect with the temperature getting to the low 40s while I’d be running. I started my oatmeal, did some of my PT stretching exercises, and taped my knee. I wore throw away sweats from Wal-Mart because it was chilly in the morning. My mom drove Craig, our friend Emily, and me down to the city close to the start. I ate my oatmeal on the way and made some last minute updates to my playlist. Craig and I parted since the full start line was a couple blocks from the half starting point.
Emily and I went to the bathroom and ran into some other friends, Cara and Matt, who I ran with for the first mile. Emily and I said our goodbyes since we were in different waves. I shed my sweats but kept my gloves on (and kept them for a couple miles) and people started running before the start line. We were off! I didn’t know until after the race that Richmond is referred to as the friendliest marathon, but I see why. There were so many people, which helped so much. I also had my HMTT shirt on, and there were coaches along the course cheering me on. After mile 1.5 my left IT band started hurting (my right knee is what had been hurting before). I started freaking out because it wasn’t what I expected and it was so early. I had no other choice than to power through. I had been to the doctor and knew what was going on, and my plan all along was to focus on getting better and stronger after the race. So I kept going. About half way through the race we entered Bryan Park, and the HMTT coaches said some people dread that part of the race, but I loved it! It broke up the race and got me out of the familiar Richmond streets. In Bryan Park I reached the 10k line and thought, “I just finished my first 10k!” My immediate next thought was, “I probably should have done a 10k before running a half marathon.” I was feeling good though at this point, still in pain with both knees (left IT band and right patella) but not nearly as bad as it had gotten before the race. We started going through the Northside and those neighborhoods are so pretty and it was a perfect fall day. At mile 9 I stopped for water and fuel, and when I started back my left knee buckled. I tried to run on it some to see if it would ease up then I walked some and had to do that a few times. I changed my stride to try not to bend my left knee much (my whole right leg was WAY sorer after!). Then I made it to the last mile and I knew I was so close! I kept going and then finished! I finished in 2:13 which I was super happy with considering the pain. Everyone told me not to have a goal for my first half but secretly my goal was 2:10 (before I got injured) so 2:13 with the injury, I’ll take it!
Now I’m focusing on PT and my strengthening exercises while getting some cardio in on the elliptical and long walks with Marlee. I had fun though and I’m eager to get back out there!