I finished my first half marathon last Saturday!
The past 4 months I have been training for the Wisconsin Half Marathon in Kenosha. My longest training run was 9 miles and even that was pretty painful, so I was EXTREMELY nervous leading up to the race!
My husband (Rob), his best friend (Ryan), and I drove up to Kenosha to meet one of our college friends (Alex) from Marquette on Friday night, and we all got up bright and early (5AM!) for the race on Saturday morning. It was strange to not wake up at home the day of the race, and I had to be flexible with my breakfast given the limited resources at the hotel. Early in the week, I tried to load up on carbs, then stuck with lighter meals like lean chicken breasts and salads towards the end of the week. I avoided alcohol all week and had slightly less coffee than normal, along with drinking lots of water to make sure I was well hydrated going into the race.
All week we had been checking the forecast and were anticipating a cold, possibly wet run. The morning of the run I put on running capris/tights, a Lululemon racerback tank top, and a long-sleeve light, cotton shirt. We walked outside to fairly warm temperatures (45F) with the sun breaking through the clouds and a soft breeze off of Lake Michigan.
A few hours before the start of the race, I had a small cup of coffee, 2 Clif Kids Z-bars, and a few sips of water, and then right before the race I had a GU Energy Gel (Vanilla Bean flavored). I made sure to hit the porta-potties before getting in my starting corral so there would be no “surprises” once the race started. I started the race with the guys, then they quickly took off ahead of me.
It took me a few miles to get into a comfortable rhythm…I always start a little too fast from the excitement/nervousness of a race. I listened to my iPod (strapped to my left arm) to help keep up the pace. The course took us through downtown Kenosha and along the lakefront where we saw gigantic, beautiful homes. We wound our way back north and ran along the public beaches along the lake. The temperature quickly warmed up and I had to shed my outer layer around mile 4. I had skipped the water station at mile 2 (where people were already lined up to use the porta-potty, btw!), then made sure to drink a small amount at each station after that to stay hydrated. At mile 5, I pulled out another GU Energy Gel (Vanilla Orange flavored this time)…I found another cool Nike armband (really, it was more of a wristband) that can hold 2 GU gels which was perfect for the half marathon! The course then led us to a turnaround point on the campus of Carthage College, and I had a great time people watching and waving to my husband and friends as we ran past each other.
By this point I was around mile 8 or 9, which was getting to be the farthest I had run EVER, and my legs were kind of going on autopilot. As I got closer to mile 10, my hips and feet started to feel sore, and I had another Vanilla Orange GU to fuel me through the end of the race. Mentally, I tried to think of it as just a 5k left to go which made it seem more doable, and as I ran past the public beaches I could see the Finish area down the lakefront and that motivated me even more to keep going. At the 12 mile mark, we hit another turn around point with a water station. After I finished my water I walked for about 20 seconds then psyched myself up to jog til the finish.
The last 1.1 miles was a lot of zigzagging through the streets to the finish, and there were lots of spectators cheering us on which really helped me to push through the pain/soreness to finish strong. There were 2 or 3 official photographers in the last stretch and I made sure to do some outrageous poses which will be fun to see later! I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 21 minutes 3 seconds, and am soooo happy to say I ran all but about 20 seconds of the race!
I met up with Rob and Alex and we waited for Ryan to finish the marathon. We sat at the 26 mile marker…and saw the best and worst of people at that point! Some people were really dragging and visibly in pain, while others were holding it together pretty well with the help of their supporters who jumped in to run the last leg of the marathon. Ryan ran by us and we yelled like crazy for him, then met up at the finish line to celebrate!
Overall, I felt that I did way better than I had expected, and I can definitely see another half marathon in my future, possibly the Chicago Half Marathon in September. Watching the marathon finishers was so inspiring and while it will take alot of work, I’m adding Running a Marathon to my bucket list!