I did it! 13.1 miles, in 2:09:43! Here's how it happened.
My adventure began on Friday, when Nathan and I left work early and drove the two hours to Tyler. We stopped at Academy to pick up our race packets before moving on to Tyler State Park. At the park, we quickly set up came, made a cozy fire, and cooked up dinner - pre-race pasta with Newman's Own sauce and crumbles. It was filling and delicious!
The next morning we woke up at 6:00am and climbed out of our hammocks. We brushed our teeth, packed up the car, and were heading to the race by 6:45am. Once we got to the university where the race would start, we checked in, got our official timing chips, and ran a few laps to and from the car, both to get our blood pumping and to keep warm. It was cold!
The race was supposed to start at 8:00am, but it seemed to be late. I'm not sure - I was nervously standing in line next to Nathan, trying to quiet the butterflies in my stomach. Finally, the gun went off and as I crossed the start line I made sure to step extra hard with the foot my timing chip was attached to, in order to activate it. Nathan planned to run much faster than me, so I didn't see him again until the end of the race. For the next two hours, I was on my own.
The first three miles were pretty tough. I kept thinking, I have to do this ten more times? Oh, god. But by mile four, I got into my groove and felt pretty good, like I could run all day. That feeling lasted until mile six, which was literally one long, steep hill. I passed a number of people who were walking up the hill, and I was glad that I done so many hill sprints these last few weeks. While I slowed down considerably, I never had to walk. I was proud of that!
The hills did not end at mile six. Oh, no. Mile ten was just as bad and I found myself looking for the mile markers like a woman in the desert, searching desperately for water. (Actually, I was also looking for water. I'd carried Gatorade with me, by after the first seven miles it got warm and warm Gatorade? Gross.) There were two photographers at mile twelve, and as they took my picture they said, "You're almost there!" I took that to heart, and since I was still feeling strong, I decided to pick up the pace. I managed to pass about five people during that last mile, two of which were women that I'd been trailing during the whole race. It felt so good to finally put them behind me! I tried not to be too competitive during the race - I kept telling myself, this is YOUR race. You are doing this for YOU. - but come on. Passing people feels good!
That last mile was the longest one I've ever run. When I finally saw the finish line, I ran towards it, hoping my legs would not fall off at the last minute. My legs held out, and Nathan tried to take my photo as I crossed the finish line. He did a pretty good job.
That's me on the right, in the black pants and gray shirt. I like how neither of my feet are touching the ground. So awesome.
After the race, we got in our car, drove two hours home, showered, ate, dressed, and then drove two more hours to a wedding, where we drank too much wine and attempted to dance despite our tired and sore legs. But that's a story for another time. What's important here is that I RAN A HALF MARATHON, something I never in a million years thought I would do. Next week, I begin training for my full marathon, and I'm looking forward to it. The half marathon has given me so much confidence in my ability to do anything and everything. To Austin, I say bring it on! Give me your steepest hills! And have my medal waiting for me at the finish line!
PS - Nathan finished in an hour and forty minutes, and came in 35th out of 295 runners. Isn't he awesome?