My First Half Marathon: Berkeley 2015

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I ran my first half marathon! It didn’t go exactly as I planned, but I was overall happy (and exhausted) at the end. But mostly, I was just glad I finished within my goal window uninjured.

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I was a lot less nervous this time around, so glad I ran that 10k ten days earlier! Though I wouldn’t say I was entirely confident. My training schedule was thrown off from my injury so I never ran more than 12 miles (though I did get 4 double digit runs in pre-race: 10, 12, 12, 10), so while I knew in theory I could run the distance I had never experienced that last 1.1 miles, which is simultaneously nothing, and everything.

The day started out as perfectly as I could hope for, low 50’s, no wind, partly cloudy. No soreness or random pain. The race was well organized, and the warm-up waiting period was easy to navigate. And then, we were off. Everyone says the adrenaline makes them go out too fast, I haven’t had this experience yet, but that’s probably because I’m a pretty cautious and fear messing with my pre-determined splits. It’s a very pretty course, or the beginning is, winding through the streets of Berkeley and campus, though I can’t say I particularly noticed. The last third is a decently brutal (psychologically) out and back that felt like it went on forever. And it was never too crowded, no weaving this time! Running the tangents was pretty easy. And despite the hills, which I did not train for, thinking I was running a flat Dublin course until it was too late, I hit my splits perfectly (which I adjusted for elevation change) all the way up to mile 9.

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I wouldn’t say the wheels fell off then, but it did start getting a lot harder. Up until then I felt pretty great, a bit tired after 7 miles, but not bad. I imagine it was a mix of physical and psychological. But miles 9/10 I just felt like I couldn’t hit my paces, though I was only off by 15 seconds or so. And then…the last 2.1 miles, uphill to the finish were just the worst, I faded pretty hard. I was dehydrated, despite consuming water at every stop in addition to my 12oz tailwind filled bottle, but it was nearing 70 so I probably needed more. And my legs just felt so heavy, I had to will them to continue. With .7 miles left I questioned everything, including why I had done this, why I signed up for a spring marathon, and why I didn’t train harder. Of course, all these negative thoughts disappeared once I saw the finish line and “sprinted” to the end. “Sprinted” because it was more of a pained slightly faster drag, a full minute slower than my goal pace. But! I finished in 02:04:05, which was my B goal (sub 2:05) despite all the struggling. I would have loved a sub-2 for my first half, but I’m still thrilled with this time, especially given fairly haphazard training and still being very green. And the hills. Stupid hills. This race also celebrated my 6-month runniversary, and I’ve come a long, long way since that first brutal 2-mile run.

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Of course, a few days after the race I forget all the pain and am once again excited for my spring marathon. I’m still really, really nervous. I have no idea how my body will adapt to training or distance, but I’m just putting my faith in the process!

And speaking of the process of marathon training, in one week I’ll be headed out to Sri Lanka and India where I’ll spend my days eating and exploring and mornings running. Here’s to that adventure!

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