We did it! As of 9:45 on Saturday morning, Matt and I became half-marathoners! The accomplishment felt amazing and I'm so proud of us. There were so many moments during the run that I felt like giving up but I didn't :)
We woke up at 4AM on Saturday. The temperature was around 50 degrees with a humidity of 90%, making it extremely chilly. I stuffed my face with an almond butter smeared English muffin and sipped on my coffee. I was nervous and excited. I had my clothes laid out the night before, all the way down to my socks, head band and I pinned my bib onto my shirt. I was ready to go, and yet ready for it all to be over. Matt and I arrived to where the race was at around 6 AM. This Florida girl was freezing and I was in shorts. Matt and I did our dynamic stretches and around 6:45 we ate our Stinger waffle as we got in line with the pacers. I stuck with the 2:20 group because I didn't want to be overwhelmed with people passing me with my first half-marathon. The open ceremony ended and we were off! My adrenaline was pumping but I tried to keep a steady pace. We ended up comfortably passing the 2:20 group and kept the 2:10 group in our sites. The first 4 miles were easy, and the weather felt amazing. There were hilarious signs, and signs that made me feel so thankful and encouraged. One girl held a sign that said "Run like a girl!" and another saying "Run for those who can't" while another was the face of Ryan Gosling in glasses and said "Hey girl" which added a little pep to my run ;) Tons of people from the community came out with their lawn chairs and cheered us on throughout the course and I realized why so many people love to run these races! The community and encouragement was so awesome and really helped me enjoy the run. By mile 4.50 I saw a porto potty and I knew I needed to go! We stopped and waited in line which hurt our time, but I tried to keep my mind off that and enjoy myself. I was not going to run another 9 miles or so having to pee lol.
Around mile 5 I ate a pack of Stinger gummies and filled up our water bottle (buying a water bottle made for running was one of the best decisions we made). The water stations were spread out for this race, and trying to drink a cup of water in a hurry usually results in you splashing water all over your face and shirt instead of drinking it. I think out of nervousness I drank too much water early on and it resulted in a tummy cramp (I know rookie mistake). At about mile 8 I was beginning to feel the aches in my knees and my calves, but I refused to walk. I kept going along, and by mile 10 I was lagging and I was thanking God that I packed a second pack of gummies since the race only provided one GU station. The last 4 miles felt like forever and they were by far the hardest....my legs hurt and by that time I was beating myself up for going "slow." Half-marathons hurt and by that point I was asking myself "why the heck did you sign up for this?" and at mile 11 I heard all the cheers and read the encouraging signs again and I began to talk to myself and pray. I began to tell myself "just two more miles" and "you're strong, you can make." I probably looked like a crazy person muttering to myself, but by that point I was tired, in pain and ready for it to be over. Mile 12 which was up a hill that I had practiced during my training and just so happened to be through the college campus I work! Having the hill be at the end of the race killed me! I swear I felt like a turtle running through peanut butter, but I never stopped! I pushed with everything in me up that hill and while I was
crawling running up the hill I saw a man in a wheel chair with a sign cheering us on, and I was just so humbled by it that I gave it my all to finish the hill. I ran another 1/2 mile and then the steepest of all the hills came up near the finish line and with all the energy I had left- I ran up the hill when I heard the most beautiful sound-the sound of cheers from the finish line. I grabbed Matt's hand (he was so nice to stay with me the whole time) and we crossed the finish line together! It was the most amazing feeling! I was greeted with a medal and Gatorade. I swear I've never wanted a Gatorade more in my life! I could feel the salt on my skin and I needed electrolytes immediately. We walked to the Runner's village and while Matt downed a chocolate milk with a muffin, I felt woozy and slowly ate a banana. We snapped pictures, and slowly wobbled walked back to our car with the biggest smiles :)
We indulged in pizza and beer for lunch as our victory meal and I spent the rest of the day stretching, foam rolling, and putting my feet up while I watched Netflix. That half-marathon was by far one of the hardest things I have every done, and I felt so proud and accomplished to be have completed it. There were times I really wanted to give up, but I just kept talking to myself and staying positive. Running challenges your mind more than your body, and I feel so proud that I could push through the pain and finish despite a cold, and despite the challenging course. We finished the half at 2:20 and although that sounds slow to some, I feel so proud and accomplished. I really worked hard for this. Now its time to begin training for the Disney Princess half! This time I'm going to begin working on speed. It is truly amazing what you can accomplish when you work hard :)