Short version:I finished my first half marathon this morning! Woohoo! I ran it in 2:26:25 and am very proud of my time. I ran the whole thing, from start to finish. I'm tired, sore and ravenous.
I achieved all the goals I set for this race. I'd adjusted them earlier this week after my test run was successful. The goals were:
Bronze: Run to the best of my ability (aka: if you have to DNF, it's not the end of the world).
Gold: Finish in under 2:30.
Woke up at 6:30 and dawdled around the apartment, applying heat to my foot and doing my back exercises. We live close to the start line, so I watched the marathoners go by from our balcony at 7 a.m.
I headed out at 8 a.m. My gear was my Adidas running skirt, Sugoi Brand Champions singlet, armwarmers, hat, and fuelbelt with G2 and GU gels pinned to it. I managed to snag a free Powerbar and I was so happy about it, as I was still hungry despite eating my usual pre-run meal of cereal+milk, plus I had a Larabar on my way to the race. It might've been nerves, too, but I ate most of it as I watched the marathon elites run down a Colonel By at about 32K in 1:4o. Wow.
The race weather was 17C, cloudy and very humid. It took about 7 minutes to cross the start line (there was supposed to be a wave start, but I guess they dropped the idea). Saw Hubby at Kent/Laurier where I handed off my warm warmers. My first K was really slow at 7:16 or something like that, but hey, I was running and I felt good.
We ran under the new arch in Chinatown, then through Little Italy along Preston Street. By about 4K, I was feeling the humidity. It was gonna be a long race. I was getting ready to shelve my time goals and just enjoy the race.
Next the route headed into a residential area. Lots of great community support along this stretch. I saw the best sign of the day here: YOU ARE NOT ALMOST THERE. That got a good laugh out of me. Around this time, it started to drizzle a bit, and it was refreshing after the humidity. Next I saw the best spectator of the day: crazy old woman near Wellington St. W loudly swearing at all the runners in French.
My parents and brother were out cheering at Wellington/Kirkwood with signs. I waved to them and continued on my way. Soon the rain started to really come down. I finished 10K in 1:10 and we ran eastward along the Parkway. I ran next to an amazing walker from the Bytown Walkers (they're seriously competitive, btw) for a time. He had a fast pace and we were near each other the entire way. The road was quite cambered through this stretch and I was starting to feel it in my calves and ankles.
We turned from the Parkway onto Booth by the National War Museum to head into Hull. Saw Hubby here, gave him the report that my foot felt tight, but good. Crossed the Chaudiere Bridge and then up the hill on Eddy. This hill was brutal, long and late in the race at 15K. Next we passed the Museum of Civilization where I saw Hubby again (he'd rented a bike to get around)... he tells me I surprised him here as he underestimated my speed. Ha!
From here we ran up the Alexandra Bridge. I was most worried about this stretch as it's two fairly steep hills in a row, with the flat bridge in between. I kept telling myself "I eat hills for breakfast", my favourite mantra, and I think it helped. I got to the top of the hill and turned on Mackenzie without feeling totally exhausted. But by this point, I could feel my legs getting tired. Foot still felt tight, but not bad. Down Colonel By we ran (downhill, yes!) I took a gel more for the mental boost (yeah sugar!) than anything else. Lots of people were walking by this point and I had to weave quite a bit in order to keep my 6:50 pace.
Crossed over onto Queen Elizabeth and only 1K to go. I was feeling pretty spent and this is where the mind games kicked in. I focused on the runners in front of me and picked them off, one by one. My legs wanted to give out, but there was no way I was walking now. Then I saw the walker man I'd met way back at 12K. Here was my target. I passed him about 100m before the finish and finished the last 200m or so at 5:55 pace, so I had enough of a kick left in me!
Clock read 2:37 or something crazy like that, but my Garmin told me 2:26. Grabbed my space blanket, picked up my medal, and posed for a photo. I grabbed some food and met up with hubby. We walked the four blocks home in what had to be the SLOWEST walk ever. Huge props to my husband, who normally melts in the rain but spent the entire morning outside biking across downtown to cheer me on. He's a keeper.
I almost cried after the finish. Running this meant so much to me after my issues with my back and foot. Two weeks ago I thought I was done for. I'm already thinking about my plans for running, but I know this week won't involve much running!
Photos to come. A huge thank you to everyone for your support and kind words through the rollercoaster of these past few weeks. I know some of you thought I was crazy for running the race despite my back. I did it and lived to tell the tale! Though I may have some choice words for walking and stairs tomorrow...