Last Sunday the NY Giants pulled off an upset victory over the New England Patriots. That was exciting and all, but I’m here to talk about something far more exciting. Last Sunday I ran my first half-marathon.
My goal was to finish in under two hours. I just barely squeaked in under goal at 1:59:06.
The Surf City USA race in Huntington Beach bills itself as a flat, scenic course with the best February weather you can find. While this may normally be true, 2008’s race was anything but sunny and mild.
It was pouring rain, a chilly 45 degrees and windy. Average wind speeds were 14 mph and the rain varied from a pleasant sprinkle to a skin stinging downpour. What great weather for a first race!
I woke up
bright dark and early Sunday morning and left the house at 5:45 AM for the drive up to Huntington Beach. I parked in one of the last remaining spots at the overflow parking lot and waited in line with a few hundred others for a bus ride to the start line.
I started toward the rear, in the 5th wave, with those expecting to finish between 2:10 and 2:20. I figured passing people regularly instead of struggling to keep up would be a good mental motivator. The gun sounded and I was off!
While conditions were miserable I wasn’t. Sean was right – the atmosphere at the race really got me excited and pumped. I was actually nervous – butterflies and all.
The course was indeed flat, with a few exceptions in the first five miles. I’d done a lot of hill work during my training so I was ready for them and pulled ahead of a bunch of people. Hey, that whole “training” thing does pay off. (Much like studying, right, Paul?)
The race ends with a long run on PCH through Bolsa Chica state park. By mile 9 I was getting a little tired of the wind and rain… and in need of a potty break. I had to take a quick pit stop around mile 10 and then pushed on toward the end.
I felt great through all 13 miles. I’d been training in earnest since the beginning of November, using a Nike Plus training guide. For the last month of training I was running a 10K (6 miles) every other day during the week and then a long run of 10-12 miles on the weekend. I had no doubt that I would finish but wasn’t sure if I’d meet my goal.
As I said, though, I’d squeaked in just under my goal of two hours, with an average pace of 9:06 per mile. Good enough for the top 25% of all finishers and the top half of my age range. Not too shabby for a first-timer! Full numerical breakdown here.
I’ve taken the week off before I set a new goal and pick a next race to train for. The half-marathon seems to be a great distance. It doesn’t require as much training time as a full marathon but is long enough to make you push yourself. There will be more in my future…