The very next weekend after the 15K, Alex would be running his very first half marathon with me! I signed us both up for the Stonebridge Ranch Half Marathon using a Groupon discount for only $27 each!! Not only was that a major deal but this race is right in my back yard! Double score! I knew the course was going to be pretty hilly, but these were areas that I ran all of my training runs in, so I wasn’t too worried about it. I just wanted to enjoy the day for Alex and be there as moral support for his first half marathon. I should probably note here that Alex had not really been training, he had previous done an 8 mile run the Monday before our 15K, then ran the 15K and said he was ready to go. I was skeptical but knew he was tough and just as competitive as I was so we said let’s go for it.
Again, my only goal was just to enjoy the day and take this weekend as a “training run”. The day started off not quite as early as most of my other days since I could easily roll out of bed and go. I had my usual breakfast of toast and peanut butter and my water with PollenBurst energy mix in ( ßthese things are awesome and I will do about post about them soon!). It was not too cold that day but there were prediction of rain throughout the day. I decided I would just wear a long sleeved light top and capris and a hat and hope for the best. We got to the starting area and it was a very small race. We walked around and bit and didn’t have to mess with bathrooms or port-o-potties thanks to being so close to home. The race actually started a bit late so we all waiting under an awning of a nearby building. I had my lovely throw-away sweatshirt from Goodwill that I sported at the White Rock marathon (apparently it didn’t get thrown away there!). I saw a few people I knew, said hi to them and then it was time to line up.
We started the race on a decline, I hate when races start that way, and then immediately within .25 of a mile started to climb, and so the hills began! Within a mile of starting I dumped my sweatshirt and then the rain started. It was only ever a slight drizzle and lasted for about a mile. We started out conservatively and were keeping about an 11:50 pace. I was happy with this and felt great here. There were lots of twists and turns and running through neighborhoods early on and there were never too many people around us since this was a small race. We again stayed together and quickly struck up conversation that kept us going and before I knew it we were at mile 2 and the first water stop. Alex had asked if we could walk through the water stops so he could drink since he had had a hard time the weekend before. I had my handheld, which I absolutely love! (this was my first race to carry a handheld) At each water stop we walked for about 20-30 seconds, if that, then we would pick back up again and go.
At mile 5 we took our first GU packets, and although GU hasn’t always been my favorite form of calories I’ve gotten to where I appreciate the ease of it and I like the vanilla flavor pretty well. I ran into a another lady I knew from when I first started running at Run On, so it was really nice to see her and say hi. We ran together for about half a mile.
After taking the GU I got a second wind and we were heading to familiar areas of the course that I knew really well, it was a very hilly portion of the course but these were places I would do all my long runs on the weekends and since I’m a very mental runner I knew what to expect and I knew I was capable of running these hills. So this was a great place for me at a great time in the course. I also knew my mom would be at mile 7 waiting for us. We powered up two huge hills and with each step we both kept saying how strong and awesome we felt! We got to the top of the first one and said, well that was fun. We ran down the first decline and then got to the second hill and said, let’s go! It was so nice to have Alex there to talk through parts of the course and to work together to push each other. We were the perfect pace and gave each other the perfect motivation. We passed my mom at about mile 7.5, she took a few pictures but they turned out really blurry (so, sad!).
Right before mile 9 we turned onto a portion of the course that I absolutely hate. It sounds funny but it’s an area that I try to always avoid when doing my long runs. I’m not sure what it is about this area, it’s not hard, and it’s not particularly boring, I just hate it. So miles 9-11 were brutal for me. Not only was this portion of the course awful but this also about the time in any race that I lose some motivation and think that I can take walk breaks. However, Alex didn’t want to walk. So we slowed down just a bit and were keeping about a 11:58-59 pace at this point.
The furthest I had ever run in a half marathon without taking walk breaks was 11 miles and for Alex it was 9.3 miles, we once we hit mile 11 we were both still running and entering new territory. It was here that I wanted to stop so bad, I think mile 11 was the worst for me. I was so over the ridiculous winding sidewalks we were running on and I felt I had already done more that day that I had anticipated, but Alex would NOT let me stop, and I’m so thankful for that. Right before mile 12 there was another water stop that we walked through for our 20 seconds and I was so thankful for that but didn’t want to linger at all because it was getting harder and harder to keep it up.
Mile 12 was all about surviving and sometimes I still wonder what got me through that one. At some point, I think mile 10sih I had taken another GU packet but at 12 I pulled out a few GU chomps to eat, partly as distraction and partly for some last minute energy. We were still running right at 12:00 min pace and so I told myself I had about 15 more minutes of actual running and I could stop. At about 12.7 there was another water stop (I’m not sure if I’m remembering this right but I do remember running and not stopping at the last water stop because at this point I could see the finish line as it weaved through a parking lot and over across a pond dam) and I remember there being a small incline right after this. It pissed me off to run up that thing but we still did it. Then we got to the decline and at this point we were in a shopping center with cobblestone streets, and let me tell you just how awful those cobblestones were after running almost 13 miles, it was so awful!!!!
We had to weave through that shopping center and then go up yet one more incline and run across the top of a pond dam and to the finish line. We were working against the wind but at this point I knew I was going to cross the finish line not only with Alex who was just finishing his first ever half marathon but also having for the first time ever run an entire half marathon!
I got a bit emotional to say the least. I know I cried at the end just because I was so proud of both of us. In all the half marathons (10 prior to this one) I had run I had still never run the ENTIRE thing. We finished in 2:38 and although that isn’t a PR for me it was still an extremely proud moment.
I love the picture of us finishing, it shows exactly how we both felt about that day – Determined!
Stay tuned for part 3, because I may have run another half marathon the very next day!