On October 26th, 2018, I signed up. I ran my first Half Marathon on June 22nd, 2019, The Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon. I cannot believe that it has already been five weeks post-race. I set out for 9 months to train for this race. Looking back over these past 9 months, it has been a whirlwind. While at times training was tough, overall it wasn’t bad at all. I truly believe everyone has the capability to do this.
I am about to share my experience, before, during and after the race and what I took away from it. This is going to be a very long post, so kudos to anyone who gets through to the end! Here we go.
Before The Race
Days before the race I was totally scared, nervous and excited all at the same time! Honestly, I had every right to be. I hadn’t been the best with my training a month prior leading up to the race. I was in two weddings, we adopted a kitten and I was working two jobs while trying to finish up on projects around the house. I was literally trying to balance it all. My diet wasn’t perfect, but I did eat very clean most days and I was in the best shape I had ever been in.
My goal leading up to the race was simply this: Do what you can do no matter what, just keep going.
Weeks before the race I had a major reality set in and I had thoughts if I should even do the race. The longest I had run was 10 miles, there was no way I could run 3.1 more! Was I really ready? Although I was excited for this huge mile marker I was about to partake in, I totally got into my own head. I never thought I would be a runner girl. I absolutely used to hate running, but now it is like an addiction on how far I can take this journey. I also never thought I would be where I am today in fitness. I mean I am no Autumn Calabrese, but I am in a much better place then I was two years ago and even just 9 months ago. At this point, my thoughts were that I have gone insane to just wake up one day and say, “I am going to run 13.1 miles”. Who seriously does that? As the saying goes, “I am only half crazy”.
My nerves finally calmed down the night before the race. I was waiting in line to pick up my bib number and got a chance to talk to some of the other runners. There were runners there that this was their 100th Half Marathon, while there were other runners who had ran Marathons and lastly there were runners just like me who were running this for the first time as well. After I had spoke to some experienced runners about my training, they assured me that I would be just fine and that I was more then prepared.
4 AM came fast, the alarm went off and I proceeded to get ready. I chugged my pre-workout and I was headed out the door with my husband Evan and our dog Natalie. I forced half a bagel down, while my stomach felt like it was going to flip over. The weather was perfect, and by perfect, I mean I couldn’t have asked for anything better on a summer day in June in Maine. It was partly sunny and 60 degrees, and it stayed that way up until I finished the race.
When we got there, we met up with one of my old childhood friends’ who would also be competing in her first Half Marathon along with me. The nerves, the excitement and the adrenaline were all kicking in. The gun fired off at 7:04 AM as I crossed the start line and we all started shuffling. “I can’t believe we are about to run 13.1 miles. This is insane. Well, no going back now,” Were some of my last words before I put my headphones in, turned up my music and started running.
The first mile was tough. I honestly thought I was not going to make it through to the end, but I kept on running. I felt really good after I reached Mile 2. Everyone had told me that the worst part of the race was the 5K at the end, so I tried to see it like I already ran the 5K and had 10 more miles left to go. That mindset worked out well for me. I saw Evan and Natalie at a couple of points throughout the race. This kept me going and had me looking forward to the next time I would get to see them. I am very fortunate for the RaceJoy app as it would read me encouraging messages from my family throughout the race which was super helpful as well. From the Start Line to Mile 3, I ran through mostly neighborhoods filled with trees and 19th-century mansions while gradually climbing 120-feet to the courses highest point. From there, I was treated with scenic views of the Fore River before downhill that brought me to sea level. At that point, it was an 8-mile journey along Portland’s waterfront.
It was at Mile 9, I finally started to realize that this was no 10K and I still had a long way to go. I started to get tired, but I kept telling myself that I was more then half way done. I made some running buddies along the way who kept the same pace as I did, and all their smiling faces kept me going strong. I had someone tell me prior to the race there we had a 100-foot climb that overlooked Casco Bay. I was hoping that they were kidding, and sure enough, they were not. I ended up walking up this hill to then be greeted at the top again by Evan and Natalie; this is when I needed them the most. They had stopped at a few other spots along the way and it was always something to look forward to that kept me going. At Mile 11 is when I started to struggle. I finally got through Mile 11 and reached Mile 12. My legs started to tingle but I gave this last mile my last-ditch effort and put all the energy I had left into running it strong. Crossing that finish line was nothing like I have ever felt before. Months of training had finally paid off as I grabbed my medal and met back up with Evan and Natalie to celebrate.
I was absolutely starving since I didn’t have much of a breakfast and I barely could feel my legs. We quickly headed back to the truck and did not stay for any of the post-race festivities. We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way to get something as quick as possible and made a trip to Home Depot to pick up some things for the house. That McFlurry definitely hit the spot. My official time ended up being 2:45:36, average pace was 12 minutes and 38 seconds and I crossed the finish line at 9:50 AM. If I were to do it differently, I would have trained a lot more intensely then I did. I was hoping to at least have a PR of 2:30 but overall, I am still extremely proud of myself to have finished the race. It was quite the accomplishment for me and is only just the beginning. I cannot wait to take this running to the next level and beat my PR next time around. And who knows…maybe even train for a Full Marathon?! Only time will tell where this journey will take me.
Mile – Time
1 – 10:43
2 – 10:53
3 – 11:48
4 – 11:31
5 – 11:42
6 – 11:45
7 – 11:56
8 – 11:57
9 – 12:01
10 – 12:09
11 – 12:13
12 – 12:25
13 – 12:31