Yep, that’s right. I ran my first half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles for those of you who are not familiar with long distance running. Now I am just about as shocked as all of you that I actually completed this race, yet alone signed up to do it in the first place.
It all began last New Year’s when I made a New Year’s resolution to run a 5K, a 10K, and a Half Marathon in 2013. As a math person, I thought it was kind of neat how the distance doubled each time going from 3.1 miles, to 6.2 miles, to 13.1 miles. (Well the last one is a bit more than double, but you get the point.) Well, the 5K and 10K were pretty simple since I had done them before, but the half, that was going to be the challenge.
I began my training in June to give me plenty of time to get use to the distance before my race on Thanksgiving. The training went really well. I started out slow doing 2 to 3 miles during the week and 4 to 6 mile long runs on the weekends. I slowing began increasing the mileage and the next thing I knew I was running 8 to 10 miles on a normal Saturday morning. It is true what they say; running is addicting. The more you run, the more you want to do it.
Finally, race day had come. Thanksgiving Day. Yes while most of America was busy thinking about the enormous amounts of food they were going to eat that day, I was running a Half Marathon on what was probably the coldest Thanksgiving that Atlanta has seen in 100 years. It was 23 degrees at the start of the race.
Now I have run plenty of races in my day, but none as hard as this one was. The start of the race was fine. I was running at a good pace and didn’t really start to get tired until about mile 5 or 6. Then things started to get rough. Around mile 8 my legs started to get sore and continued to get worse the rest of the race. Well if you do the math, I still had 5 more miles to go. Truthfully, at this point it became a mental game. I just had to tell myself that it was just a little bit further and that I could make it.
Thankfully, there were plenty of things during the race to keep me going. Signs saying things like “You are running better than Congress” or ” Go ahead and eat that second piece of pumpkin pie, you deserve it.” And the policemen that line the race to block traffic but to also cheer you on. And conversations with fellow runners about how to avoid panty lines when wearing tight running pants. (The verdict was just to not care if you had them and wear whatever is comfortable.) And even a guy handing out tissues to those with runny noses.
Yes races are special and especially ones like this where the distance is so great. I am glad to report that I did finish and I finished under my goal of 2 and half hours. I ran from Turner Field to Atlantic Station across town to Piedmont Park down to Oakland Cemetery and finally back to Turner Field. It is the furthest I have ever run and definitely the hardest race that I have ever done, but I did it.