Woohoo, I survived my first half marathon yesterday, the Urban Cow, and I can still walk today … kind of. I finished in 2 hours & 24 minutes averaging 11-minute miles. Not overly amazing, but great to me considering I didn’t get as much time to train with an ankle injury in August. The distance and time are both PRs and have given me drive to improve my next half marathon in about 6 months.
We left the house at 6 AM to make it to the race with time to get ready and wait in the insanely long potty lines. Getting up that early on a Sunday was brutal, but worth it because over 6,000 people were in this race and parking was crazy. The race start time was 7:45 AM and the park was considerably crowded at 7 AM already. We used the spare time to secure a start position, make multiple outhouse trips and meet up with the rest of the group to swap GU pack flavors, talk through our nerves and compare gear. One of my sisters running with us was especially nervous because, even though she’s run an entire marathon before, has been out of training for a long time and cursing us for talking her into the race even though she did great and was really happy she did.
Because the race was so packed, the start was crowded and chaotic and it took me two minutes to get past this start line after the start by the time the crowds got moving. And, even though I planned to run the first hour at steady intervals not pushing myself, I found the first few miles frustrating trying to navigate around slower runners, many of them were in groups chatting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but next time I guess it’d be okay to start farther up as long as I’m courteous to faster runners.
I spent a bit of time researching race manners since I’ve never run a race this long confirming I needed to migrate to the right for intervals, never slow down in the center. But sometimes that wasn’t good enough, there were a few speeders trying to burn passed slower people on the far right getting frustrated when walkers got in their way. And I had a few near misses when runners in front of me slowed down to a walk without warning. Nothing big, but little annoyances here and there.
The half marathon route was a bit crazy snaking all around Land Park, the river and surrounding neighborhoods. It was great, not boring at all with many scenery changes. Some parts were a bit hairy with narrow bike trail paths, uneven pavement, potholes, train tracks and other fun challenges. At one point we were running on a narrow paved bike trail that ran along a river levy, it wouldn’t have been hard to take a good wipe out, slide down and take an unintentional swim. There have been times after my longer training runs where I felt so tired towards the end I was barely functional and this wouldn’t be a good route to feel that way on! Since I’ve added intervals to my training, I haven’t felt like and intervals were huge in helping me maintain pace through all 13.1 miles. I skipped the last interval and ran the last couple of miles because I didn’t want to be seen walking so close to the finish line. :-P
I noticed a few little pains here and there at various grades, my left hip hurt coming downhill a couple of times probably because I was pounding too much and need to work on smoothing my stride more going downhill. I had some minor ankle pains that were brief throughout the run, probably from the angles I landed on uneven pavement and/or turned corners. Nothing lasting or swollen, but I need to work on strengthening ankle muscles more.
There were water stations every 2 miles, but I carried my Nathan Quickdraw Elite Handheld bottle as backup anyway.
Good thing, even though I grabbed water at each station, I still drained the bottle and it was handy for washing down gel packs. I noticed a lot of other runners had similar bottles. A lot of runners had waist pack water bottles too, but I haven’t found one I like yet that doesn’t bounce around and annoy me.
For gel pack and iPhone storage, I did have this waist pack that worked well.
It was the perfect size for holding the iPhone, 6 gel packs (I didn’t need them all, just being prepared :-P ), ID and emergency cash without being too bulky. And the stretchy, elastic straps made it easy to tighten on my lower hips and keep from bouncing.
I ran RunKeeper on my iPhone throughout the race and found that 2 1/2 hours drains the battery from 100% to about 17%! Luckily there was just enough to make it home, but good to know it won’t make it through a full marathon unless the runner is hella fast.
Being that I’m sore today and everything I’ve read recommends resting at least a day after a half marathon, I still feel a little uneasy about being lazy even just for one day. Stupid when logically I know I should rest for muscle health and if I tried to workout, it would suck. I skipped my morning workout this morning, the extra hour of sleep was needed, and will try getting back to it tomorrow. We’ll see.
Overall this was an awesome experience that has recharged my drive to run and it really recharged my sister who’s arranging a relay with me in the California International Marathon, guess I can’t slack on running now!