Marc Parent, author of the Newbie Chronicles in the Runner’s World magazine, wrote an article for the February 2013 issue documenting his first half marathon running experience. For years Parent has been writing about his experiences in becoming a runner and growing to love it. I love his article as I could relate to many of his stories. When I first began running I never dreamed that I would run in any race let alone a half marathon. It wasn’t that I was unfit, but when it came to prolonged cardio activities I definitely had a lot of room for improvement. (I’ll post about my first running experience in a near future post.)
My first half marathon wasn’t anything like Parent’s experience. I ran in the Delaware Half Marathon, my first, in 2009. A combination of my naivety and the circumstances of the day made for a rough run. Since I was coming in from out of town, a friend who was running in the same race offered to pick up my race packet the day before and give it to me before the race. Except for some reason she took out the bib number and subsequently forgot it at her apartment. Which meant I had to run around the morning of to try and obtain a new number, something that baffled the race volunteers – guess that doesn’t happen very often. By the time I finally got a new bib number a light drizzle had begun to fall. No problem I thought. I’d run in the rain before and wasn’t worried about it affected my ability to run or finish the race.
By the time I lined up at the start, the rain had begun to come down with more intensity. At the official’s signal I took off – way too fast. I pounded out the first few miles, waving happily to my girlfriend who later said she couldn’t believe how quickly I ran past her at the three-mile mark. By that time it was pouring and I was soaked through and through. The course wasn’t particularly difficult, but I soon realized how ill-prepared I was for this half-marathon. Around mile 6 I got a cramp in my side so painful that I was forced to walk for the next half mile. Eventually I was able to run once more, but at a much slower pace. My intention had always been to just finish the race as it was my first half marathon, so I didn’t worry about my pace focusing instead on the finish line.
Around mile 11 I hit the dreaded wall. My legs were had tightened and I had hit the bottom of my reserves. I ran/walked the last couple of miles and managed to move past the pain to cross the finish line. I don’t even remember my time. I just remember the feeling of euphoria and relief at crossing through the finishing gate. Despite the less than stellar run, I felt like I could conquer the world. And I knew I wanted to run another half marathon, only next time I’d be more prepared.
(Note: I ran in the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2011 and loved every minute of it. I had trained well and finished with a time of 2:06. My goal for the half marathon, yet to be determined, this year is to break 2 hours.)