My First Half Marathon

The race was awesome!  I loved every minute of it, and I can’t wait to run another.  A lot of training went into this run, and it feels good to say that I am officially a half marathoner.  I’ve been smiling all day!

I was up at 4:45 AM and was moving a little slowly.  I made us each a peanut butter and banana sandwich and rushed out the door.  If it wasn’t bad enough that I was late to pick up Maggie, it wasn’t until I got in my car that I was running on empty.  So we made a quick stop for gas before heading to Sugar Land.  We still made it to the race about 20 minutes before start.  We each took a pre-race Gu in the car and put on our D-tags.  I had pre-race jitters and was so excited to get started.  We got a few comments and cheers on our tanks as we were lining up to start 🙂

Before I knew it, the national anthem was being played, and we were off!  The first two miles went very quickly.  The humidity was about 95% (!) when we started, and I was nervous about that.  I could tell it was harder to breathe, but we took it slowly in the beginning and I think that paid off.  It was a little strange to be running while it was still dark outside, but it peaceful at the same time.

The race course included a 4 mile loop.  We entered this loop during the third mile, and knew we would have to complete the loop twice before heading back to the finish line.  The sun was coming up as we ran through here, and I was surprised to see how beautiful the neighborhood was.  The houses were so big, they rivaled River Oaks (one of the wealthiest zip codes in the US, located near downtown Houston).

The loop wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  There were plenty of spectators cheering along the way and two or three water stations.  Wearing shirts with our names on them was such a good idea.  It was really nice to have people cheering us by name and congratulating us on our first half marathon.  When one woman with young children yelled to us, “Go Jessica!  Go Maggie!” her kid turned to her and said, “How do you know their names?”

When we hit the 5th mile, we took our first Gu.  I didn’t need it yet, but I knew I would.  We began the second loop at little after finishing the 6th mile.  The way the loops were set up, it was hard to tell who was on their first loop and who was on their second.  It was around the 7 mile marker that we realized that the race distance was off.  When we passed what the said was the 7th mile marker, we were actually closer to 6.5 miles according to our Garmin.  As we went by, the volunteer read off, “9:42 pace”… ha!  When we passed the 8th mile marker, though, the volunteers knew they were off and said, “You’re at about 7.5 miles.”  We began to wonder if the race was going to be short, but hoped that these markers were just off.

When we hit 8 miles for real, I was feeling pretty good.  During most of our long runs I hit a wall around 7 miles, so I was impressed that we were still going strong.  At 8.5 miles there was a woman handing out orange slices.  I debated taking one (just think of the germs…) but my craving for the orange juice outweighed any germaphobia, and I ate one.

We walked through all the water stations just long enough to drink our water, but it wasn’t until we finished 9 miles that we took our first non-water or Gu walk break.  Even with the walking, we still finished that mile in 10:20.

We decided to take our last Gu at the next water station we saw, which ended up being just a little past the 10th mile marker.  The crowd had thinned out a lot by this point, and there were not many people close behind or ahead of us.

I really hit my wall around 11 or 11.5 miles.  After mile 9, we started walking once or so per mile, but we tried to make up for it by running under 10-minute miles while we were running.  Around the 12th mile marker there was a guy playing a bagpipe!  But no more water.  We didn’t see another water stop after the 10th mile marker, and that was disappointing.  With the heat and humidity, I really could have used it.

The last mile was kind of confusing.  I wasn’t sure if the race would end early, but I really wanted to finish strong through the last little bit with all the spectators.  So I suggested we take one last walk break around 12.5 miles, to allow us to sprint to the finish, thinking we still had 0.60 miles to go.  Around this time, we passed the guy who came in first place.  He was standing on a corner cheering for everyone else, and I thought that was really cool.  I should have known how close we were to the end! 

When we picked up our pace, we came around a corner… and there was the finish line!  We sprinted to the end at under an 8-minute pace, but it was over quickly.  I thought we’d have a little bit longer to end with a faster pace, but I’m pretty sure the course was short.  My Garmin said 12.74 miles when we crossed the finish line.  We finished in 2:11:12!

The last stretch was so fun.  I heard one lady call out, “You’re not virgins anymore!”  I was so excited to see my husband standing at the finish line with the camera.  It felt so awesome to finish, and I was so happy with our time.  Even if the course was short, we were still on pace to have finished in my original goal of 2:15.  But I think my 1/2 marathon official time still counts – it’s always possible my Garmin was a little off too?  Either way, I love the smiles on our faces as we crossed the finish line 😀

Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:14
  • Mile 2:  10:27
  • Mile 3:  10:25
  • Mile 4:  10:17
  • Mile 5:  10:10
  • Mile 6:  10:32
  • Mile 7:  10:15
  • Mile 8:  10:03
  • Mile 9:  10:13
  • Mile 10:  10:20
  • Mile 11:  10:04
  • Mile 12:  10:21
  • Mile 12.74 / 13.1:  7:51
  • Total:  12.74 in 2:11:12  (10:18 average pace)

I’m really proud that even with our walk breaks, all of our miles were under 11 minutes.  It was our first time running this distance, and I think we paced ourselves very well.  Strong arms!

After the race we picked up a banana and some other snacks, and went to find our finisher’s t-shirts.  I love the red tech-tees they gave us and can’t wait to wear it on my next run 🙂  We didn’t stick around long after that because there didn’t seem to be too much else going on.

The race was so much fun.  I really can’t wait to run my next half.  It might have to wait until the Fall because of the Houston weather, but I definitely plan to do this again.  Thanks to everyone who has followed along with my training.  Your encouragement really does keep me motivated!

I’ve been eating everything in sight and took a short nap this afternoon.  Any tips for recovery after a half marathon?


20 responses to “My First Half Marathon

  1. Woo-hoo!!!! Way to go Jessica!! 🙂 That is an AMAZING time!!! I absolutely LOVE the picture of you crossing the finish line…so awesome!!! 🙂

  2. AWESOME JOB! Is it creepy that I was really looking forward to reading this? Haha! I knew you would beat your goal! Congratulations!!

    The only things I do after a race are lay on the couch and eat, but I would recommend icing your legs- it will really help with soreness tomorrow! Take it easy- you deserve it 🙂

    • Not creepy at all 🙂 I appreciate the support! I have done an excellent job of sitting on the couch and eating today lol… I should force myself to ice!

  3. Congrats, you guys did awesome!

  4. Congrats!!! Amazing job & fabulous time! For recovery, I LOVE my recovery socks! Some ice and resting…oh, and get yourself a BIG Shamrock Shake 🙂 In answer to your comment, YES they are still available, but probably not for long!!

    • Thanks! I don’t have recovery socks… I will have to look into getting some. I really want a Sharmock Shake now 🙂 For tonight I settled with a Wendy’s frosty, but I have a feeling I’ll be looking for a shake tomorrow…

  5. whhoo hoo! You go girl! Congratulations!

  6. Congrats on a great run!

  7. loved the shirts! enjoy the accomplishment of finishing your very first 13.1! cheers to many more 🙂

  8. Congrats on the half marathon!!! That’s so amazing! I’m hoping to do my first one later this year, but it’s hard work training, so I’m not sure if I’ll complete it or not!

  9. Woohoo Jessica you did it! And what a fantastic time! I’m so freaking proud of you and Maggie. All your hard work has paid off!

    I have no tips for recovery since I haven’t finished my first half yet. But I used an ice pack last Saturday after running 11 miles and it helps.

    Great job girl! It has been a pleasure to follow your training and look forward to following your next training.

  10. WAY TO GO JESSICA!! I’m so freaking impressed and you have just given me even more motivation for my half in 2 weeks!! Maybe one day we can meet up and actually run together!!

  11. Great job!!! I was so excited to read your race report. That’s such a good time for your first half!!!

  12. You’ll have to tell me if you run RnRSA this year – I didn’t love it last year, but there are races I love that others don’t, so don’t let my opinion sway you!
    Congrats on a great race – you did awesome!

  13. In response to your comment about GOTR–Next year you should definitely look into volunteering as a coach at a local site. I am loving my first coaching experience, and it is SUPER easy!

  14. congrats on your first half! LOVE the tshirts!! one lil tip of advice… don’t be stupid like me… on a first half high last november, i ran a second half the very next weekend then had knee troubles for 2 months!!! lol, but seriously, racing is the best!

    • Thanks for the advice 🙂 Although I’m not planning on running another half marathon next weekend, I have been considering a 4 mile race. I’m still not sure that’s a good idea though… I am worried about giving myself enough time to recover from last weekend.

  15. Congrats! Such a great time!

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