I started training for the half at the end of July. I was a fairly new runner so I wanted to give myself plenty of time in case I had setbacks. I didn't enjoy training in the heat but I was pretty consistent with getting my training in either on the road or in the gym. I was the girl who brought her workout clothes with her on vacation this summer. There were so many things I needed to figure out like hydration and fueling that there were times I became overwhelmed. A little over a month before the race I got in an accident taking the kids to school so had some setbacks in my last few weeks of training.
Finally, I made it to race weekend. The half marathon was about three hours from our home so we made a weekend out of it. My parents were going to join us however my dad ended up having an unexpected surgery a few days before the race so they had to cheer me on from back home. We hit up the race expo on Saturday and then took time to explore the state capital. As the day wore on, I was becoming more and more nervous. Those feelings of self doubt were creeping in. My husband and kids were reassuring and helped me get through the pre race nerves.
On race day I woke up about an hour before my alarm went off. This was ok because I had a really great night of sleep. This is surprising because I am normally not a good sleeper and I was not in my own bed. I had my pre race Luna bar because I knew I needed something but didn't want too much in my stomach. I had some water but didn't want to drink too much as I didn't want to spend all my time in the lines for the bathroom either. As we got closer to the time I has to line up I became more and more nervous. Finally it was time to get in line and I gave kisses to my family.
I went in with three goals for the race. My first was to finish, my next was to finish in under 3 hours and lastly finish in 2:30. I knew the last goal would probably require some sort of miracle but you have to have that goal that's slightly out of reach to strive for. I lined up with the 2:30 pace group because I have a tendency to go out to fast in the beginning of runs and slow down considerably in the last half of my run. I did my best to keep up with them but settled into a more comfortable pace about a mile in.
I started to get a bit tired at about mile 5. It had been about three hours since I had eaten so I decided it was time to have one of my gels. I had a variety in my fuel belt but decided to go with Island Boost. It is much easier to get down than Gu and is more gentle in my system. This went to work pretty quickly and I started to feel a bit refreshed. I started talking with a woman shortly after this who was struggling a bit. We chatted a bit and we went on at our own pace.
Between miles 5 and 8 there were very few spectators so it was a bit lonely and I was started to listen to those voices of doubt. Then a man asked me if I was going to finish. This comment made me so angry and helped to push me forward. At about mile 9.5 I was getting tired again so I took another gel. Shortly after that I heard people yelling my name from the pedestrian bridge over the road. I started waving and then I spotted my oldest daughter. I was so excited to see my family there. It turns out my hubby saw me coming and told the people around them to start yelling to me. Because Madison is a bit difficult to get around I figured I would only see my family at the start and finish. This was the pick me up I needed.
As I got shortly past the mile 10 marker I started hearing music. I was thinking the end was getting close. The race course was set up with and out and back on John Nolan Drive so the end wasn't nearly as close as I had hoped. After I made the turn to run the final 2.1, there was Santa handing out water. I was never so excited to see the jolly old guy! Finally I hit mile 12 and I started to hear the music again. The DJ gave me a high five and at that point I told myself the distance left was the distance from my house to the gas station and back. I could do this! The finish line was less than 15 minutes away!
Not too far from the finish, we hit a hill. Ugh, I hate hills. I was exhausted at this point so I walked the hill. I wanted to run over the finish line so I decided this was the best compromise. The music was getting louder and the crowd was getting bigger. I could feel the energy even though I couldn't yet see the finish line. I rounded the final corner and spotted my family. I was so close now, I couldn't believe it. Then, I heard an announcer calling my name. I was flooded with emotions at that very moment. I shot my arms up in the air and crossed that finish line with pride.
A volunteer placed that medal around my neck and another gave me a thermal wrap to keep me warm. I found my family shortly after that and grabbed my husband and started to cry. I couldn't believe I had done it. Six months earlier I couldn't run a block and I had now run a half marathon! The best thing I met two of my three goals. I finished in under 3 hours!
Running this half marathon wasn't just for me, it was for my kids too! I wanted to get healthier so I could be here to enjoy life with my kids. I wanted to show my kids that anything can happen with hard work and dedication. Running this not only helped me physically but helped me see a different outlook on life. This experience was amazing and this won't be my last half marathon!