Sunday, October 27, 2013

UCP Half Marathon Recap

The great thing about running a race distance for the first time?  No matter how bad, or good, you do--it's a personal best!

I headed to Florence Friday afternoon with several girls from church to carb-load and stay at the hotel where the race starts.  We dined at Ricatoni's--I stuffed myself with their starter bread and the fettucini alfredo.  Like, literally, stuffed myself.  I think I had two whole loaves of bread, all by myself.

After eating, we did a quick run to Target for warmer race gear.  High's for Saturday morning were supposed to be in the low 30's--much lower than what I had planned for and trained in.  I came very close to purchasing this hat:

Anna talked me out of it though.  Said she had one, and it slipped off while running.  Do you have one?  I love it, so if it doesn't slip, I need to know!

We were back in the room and asleep by around 10:00 Friday night.  All set and ready for an 8 am race time Saturday morning.

(FYI I really wish I hadn't run in that long sleeve pull-over.. I am super hot-natured and I shed it before the first mile marker, even though it was a cool 34 degrees.  I attempted tying it around my waist but that didn't work either, so I tossed it around mile 2.  Luckily, it was an after Thanksgiving sale find, so it was less than a $5 loss.  Note to self:  Just run in short sleeves, regardless of the temps!)

Being my first half marathon, I had no idea what to expect.  And honestly, I was so focused on the run that I can't give much of a recap.  They had clocks set up at 5k and 10k distances, and by that (& my Garmin) I knew I was going faster than I should be.  I hit the 5k marker in 24:15 (a PR, if I was running just a 5k!) and the 10k marker in 50:05 (also a PR!).

At the first few aid stations, I missed gatorade and was only able to grab water.  Somewhere around mile 7, I got my first gatorade and it was way overdue.  My pace slowed a little, but I still kept it around an 8:30 per mile pace.  Somewhere around mile 12, I hit the wall.  And BIG time.  I had started out much quicker than I had trained and I felt like I could not take another step, much less run another step.

Earlier in the race I had struck up a conversation with another female runner named Lisa who seemed to be an expert.  While running, she told me she had run her 30th full marathon the weekend before.  She gave me a few pointers and told me that training with an "older woman" is best, because they are much more experienced! (Just so you know, I think I snort-laughed when she said this!) Well, it just so happened that right at mile 12, as I was hitting that wall, she came up beside me and I literally could not have finished this half without her.  Thank you, Lisa, wherever you are!

As far as the course goes, all I can really tell you is that we started out going across one bridge and ended the race coming back across another.  The run was absolutely beautiful, and one I would definitely like to do again.  It was very flat, with what seemed like more downhills than uphills, but I'm not sure that's possible.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:55:16, averaging an 8:48 pace and landing a 3rd place finish in my age group.  That's also a PR! (Haha!  You know, because it was my first?!?!)

The race is sponsored by the United Cerebral Palsy foundation, and this year, they honored a 4-year old little boy who was diagnosed with the disease.  When he was born, the doctors told his parents that he would never be able to function as a normal human being--never eat on his own, never talk, most certainly never walk.  His mother pushed him in a stroller for the ENTIRE half marathon.  As she neared the end of the race, she took this precious little boy from his stroller and he, who doctors said would never walk, WALKED across the finish line of the UCP half marathon.  Miracles happen everyday.

I am so thankful that I was able to be part of the wonderful event.  I'm not completely sold on the whole half-marathon distance.  Training was great, but I really think I'm a short-distance racer.  5k's and 10k's are just perfect for me.  Who knows, though... I'm sure I'll have another half in my future.  I'll have to set a new PR sometime :)

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