Good Saturday afternoon! I hope you are having a fantastic day. Well I did it. I have completed another milestone in my running adventure: completed my first half marathon! Allow me to share my experiences with you!
I participated in the first annual Chick-Fil-A Half Marathon which was held in Athens Georgia, home of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs! Proceeds from the race will benefit a family with a brand new home (Habitat for Humanity).
I arrived early evening last night at the Classic Center to pick up my registration packet and check out the Health and Fitness Expo that was sponsored by New Balance. I walked around, checked out the vendors and ended up buying a t-shirt and car magnet. Before I left, I checked out the 1 Mile Run and 1 Mile Family Fun Run that was in progress. The fasted runner had a time of 4:55! Wow – I wished I could do that..lol. It was fun to see young boys and girls cross the finish line and I had fun cheering them on with a cow bell!
I left the expo and headed to my hotel which was about four miles away. When I got there, I had a problem: I couldn’t get my seat belt to unfasten! It was stuck. After fighting with it for several minutes, I had to “creatively” exit the vehicle. I checked in, got a bite to eat, and headed to Walmart to get a couple of things. I bought some lubricating oil, hoping that would make my seatbelt unfasten. It worked!!
When I got back to the hotel, I was checking out the stuff in my race packet and getting my gear together for a picture. I pulled out my bib and noticed that the number was 505, which happens to be my birthday! As I was I was getting everything out of the bag, I notice something was missing. Actually, four things were missing. I HAD NO SAFETY PINS!! You gotta be kidding me! Well I didn’t have any in my gym bag, so I had to get back out again. I didn’t have to go far; there was a Target across the street. I thought it would be easy to find. Yeah right. I looked all over the store for 10 minutes and couldn’t find them. I had to swallow my pride and ask a sales associate. In the sewing section? Duh!! Well now I have spare safety pins in my gym bag just in case if this should happen again. But then again, I have about 100 at home from previous races!
I got back to the hotel and pinned my bib to my shirt. After I took a shower, I crashed at about 11 pm. Don’t get me wrong, I was so excited – I didn’t sleep much! The race started at 7:35 am. Even though I was 4 miles away, it looked like parking was at a premium and I didn’t want to chance not finding a parking spot and being late. So I got up at 5:30, put on my cow costume, and left for the race at 5:50. As I was getting into my car, I took off my cow hat and I noticed something dropped in my passenger seat. I looked and the right eye of my cow fell off!! NOOOOOOOO!!! All of these technical difficulties!! I didn’t want to run with one eye (the cow, not me!). Well the Target across the street was closed so my other option was Walmart to get some super glue. While I was driving, I decided to swing in a gas station to see if they carried super glue, Elmer’s Glue, or just plain glue. Heck, I’ll settle for some tape!! I was in luck; they had super glue! Yay! I bought some and headed to Classic Center. I got there at 6:15; I think other runners were having the same idea was me – getting there early. I found a parking spot, paid for my parking, and then fixed my cow hat. Not taking any chances, I glued the left eye! Now, it was the waiting game. I walked around the Classic Center, used the bathroom twice, and sat around. To my surprise, I didn’t see many people in costume! 7 am rolled around so I checked in with the sprit tent. They recorded my name and took my picture. Whoever has the best cow costume, gets one free Chick-Fil-A meal for a year! I didn’t care if I won a prize or not. I did it to have fun! Or maybe it was the fact last year, I posted on Facebook that if I get 13 likes I run around Athens in a cow costume. I think I got 40 likes in 45 minutes! Not doing that again! I would have done it not matter what!
The race was about to start, so they asked all the runners to go to a “cow pen” with what pace/completion time they were comfortable with. This is the first race I have attended where they have pacers. When I was going in to this, my goal was to just finish; time and pace didn’t matter. I decided to go with the 2:10 or 9:55 pace. After prayer and the National Anthem (the way EVERY RACE should start), the gun went off. Off I went! In my cow outfit. No turning back now.
Out of all the races I have participated in, this one was the most challenging. I am not taking about the distance. I am talking about HILLS. Athens was built on hills, hills, and more hills. According to my app, there was about a total of 1095 feet of hill climbs. I started at a comfortable pace, a little far back from the 2:10 pacer. It was beautiful going through historic downtown, University of Georgia campus, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Along the way, I tried to thank all of the volunteers and police officers that were directing traffic, pointing us in the right direction, handing out water, and cheering us on. The entire route was filled with college students and families that were lining the streets to cheer us on. It was kind of funny, because I seen some of the same people 2 to 3 times because they were traveling by car to strategic points around the course. Almost 30 people complimented me on my cow costume.
I was getting hot and tired but that didn’t stop me. I was determined. I ended up passing the 2:10 pacer at Mile 6 and kept going. Mile 8. Mile 9. Mile 10. I was getting tired but feeling good. I didn’t know what my pace was and I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish. Mile 12. Now it was crunch time. I looked at my pace and I was like what??? I kept going. I’ll be honest, the last mile seem to take forever. Turn this way. Turn that way. Where is the finish line??? While I was running, I had the weirdest thing happen to me. This guy on roller blades with a camera mounted on a pole was cruising down the street filming me! I wasn’t sure if he was part of the Chick-Fil-A crew or if he was just doing it for the heck of it but he stayed with me for about 15 seconds. Why did he pick me? Was it because of my cow costume? There what seem to be like more zig zagging. Then finally, I noticed where we were at: The Classic Center. Right turn going downhill. This is where the crowd was – near the finish line. Well something got into me, because this cow went flying. For my photo finish, I crossed the finish line with my arms raised. I picked up my medal, water, and a chicken biscuit. I was tired. I was hurting a little. But I did it – completed my first half marathon without stopping or walking! I had to sit down. I took off my cow hat I and I was dripping with sweat. But it was worth it!
Okay, now we come to the part you were waiting for: my time/pace. I do not know my official time was (I had to leave to check out of my hotel by 1130 – and that was extended checkout!), but according to my app, my time was 2 hours and 9 minutes with an average pace of 9:42!!!! WOOOOOO!!!! Or should I say MOOOOOOOOOO!! Now being able to maintain a pace like that on this hilly difficult course for my first half was an added bonus!!! Oh here is an added bonus: my first 5K race pace in 2012 was 10:42 so I am shocked on how far I have come along.
My hard work paid off for my first half. 59 training days. Over 320 running miles. Was it easy? Of course not. I have had some discouraging days but I pressed on. My friends have been there to encourage and motivate me. But as I said before (and I’ll say it again), I couldn’t have done this without God by my side.
I am still ecstatic about what I accomplished today. Because of what I was going through the past couple of weeks, I was that close to not doing this today. I am so glad that I did!
I have my second half marathon one week from today: Run at the Mill in Dalton GA. This race also serves as a “graduation race” for the Run for God 10K/Half Marathon Challenge class that I am a part of. After I signed up for the Chick-Fil-A last year, this class was announced. Since the races were a week apart, I was entertaining the following options:
Skip Chick-Fil-A and do the Run the at the Mill Half
Do Chick-Fil-A Half and do the Run at the Mill 10K
Well that was a stupid question I asked because I am ready for my next one. Now I have a new half marathon PR to set!
This is the longest post entry I have written to date, but I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for allowing me to share my first half marathon experience with you and until next time, Happy Running!!