13.1 Miles Later…

I am proud to report that I survived my first half-marathon yesterday AND I did not finish dead last! Although my main goal was to just finish, period, I had another goal of finishing within 3 hours. My official time was just under the wire–2:59:08, to be exact. Not bad for my first one, I’d say!

I am by no means a fast runner and have never run very long distances, so I alternated between running and walking throughout the race. I was a little worried that I’d be the only one not running the entire course, but there were plenty of others walking ahead of and behind me. I really tried to not get fixated on my time but instead to just enjoy this new experience.

Here are a few of my favorite things from the race:

• The signs–There were quite a few bystanders throughout the race who were holding up signs with funny and encouraging messages. A few favorites that I remember: “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear”; “Kick some asphalt”; “If a half-marathon were easy it would be called your mother” (a bit crude but I couldn’t help but laugh!). My absolute favorite, though, was one of several signs that someone had erected in their yard cheering on people they knew. They had signs that said “Run Jonathan run”, “Run Jill run”, etc. AND they had one that said “Run Lisa run”!! Even though it was intended for me, I still took it as encouragement to keep me going.

• The drum line–As we ran through Alabama State University’s campus, they had their drum line outside performing for us. It was awesome and gave a little boost to my step. If they could have just followed me the entire race I probably would have finished a lot sooner!

• The prayers–Earlier in the week I’d asked some of my Facebook friends to commit to each praying for a specific mile of the half. I wrote down each of their names and miles on the back of my racing bib so I could “carry” them with me as I ran. They were a huge source of encouragement and I could sense their prayers working throughout the race.

• Making a new friend–Midway through the race a fellow racer caught up with me and we started chatting. We ended up racing together the rest of the way and crossed the finish line together. This was her third half-marathon and she shared some tips and advice which I greatly appreciated. It was also great to have someone to talk to and distract me from how tired my legs and feet were! We pretty much had the same timing on knowing when to walk and when to run, and were able to encourage each other throughout.

Although I was very tired and a bit stiff yesterday, I’d say it was completely worth it. My friend Elisabeth, who ran the entire half, is already contemplating doing another half in March. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to another one just yet…but I’m not saying no right now either. I have a feeling that this first half won’t be my last one.

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