Half Marathon? Don’t Mind If I Do!

Welp, it’s done.

I finished the Hyannis Half Marathon (aka the Johnny Kelley Half Marathon) upright and with a smile on my face. That was my goal going into it and I’m proud to say that I pulled it off. Huzzah!

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Saturday was spent resting, icing, hydrating, putting together a rockin’ playlist and running a few errands to get ready for the next day. I planned on getting up pretty early on Sunday so I made a list of everything I would need and laid it all out so that all I had to do the next day is throw it all in a backpack and then obsessively check it 37 times before  I left.

Sunday started out pretty early. I set my alarm for 5 and was ready to roll when it went off; I was nervous about sleeping through the alarm so I think I was half awake anyways. I drank some coffee and made a peanut butter and honey bagel to take with me in the car. My mom and sister were my wonderful support team for the day and they pulled up promptly at 6. The race started at 8:15 and I still had to pick up my race number, so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get to Hyannis. We loaded up the car and hit the road!

My mom and sister were remarkably chipper, given the hour, and they don’t even get mad when, 15 minutes into the trip, I broke the news that I couldn’t find my phone that contained the aforementioned rockin’ playlist. They also didn’t get mad when we turned around to go back home to get the phone, OR when we got to the house and I realized after a brief hunt that the phone was in my sneaker, which had been in the car the whole time. I know what you’re wondering and the answer is yes, I am the worst.

Celebrating the glorious reunion between me and my long-lost phone that was never actually lost.

We made it the rest of the way without incident. Luckily the race was organized and on the smaller side because the line to pick up race numbers moved very quickly. Another great aspect about this race is the location; it was in the center of Hyannis on the town green, which meant that you could park right next to the finish line and then walk across the green to the starting line. It also meant that if you were lucky enough to have lovely spectators like I did, they could bop around Main Street in Hyannis while the race was going on and be back in plenty of time to see the runners come through.

Once I had my bib, I got the rest of my gear ready and we headed over to the start line. On the way, I started to wage an intense mental battle about whether or not I should run with water. On the one hand, it would be great to have the water with me in case the water stops were spaced far apart. On the other hand, I don’t like running with anything in hand. This mental battle with myself turned into a verbal battle with myself and eventually my mom and sister stepped in and talked me down and I decided to run without it. The water stops were frequent so it all worked out in the end. Phew!

Ugh, it’s hard being so cool.

We lined up according to the pace that we would be running, so I jumped in the 10-minute mile corral. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t start out faster than I ran in training and burn out right off the bat – I did that in a race last year and it was downright unpleasant, so I wanted to avoid it at all costs.

As a side note, when we were waiting for the race to start, a woman was standing near us in the same corral and was trying to figure out what to do with her t-shirt. She mentioned that she couldn’t find her husband and she didn’t want to just throw the t-shirt away, so my mom offered to hold it for her and said that she would keep an eye out for her after the race. We all agreed that it was a long shot but oh well, why not try? My mom and sister were standing at the finish line and saw the woman coming down the chute and they started cheering for her by name. The woman looked over and said “Wow, you found my husband?!” As it turns out, my mom and sister were standing right next to her husband the whole time! I love the idea of the husband wondering who the heck these two strangers were cheering wildly for his wife.

At this point, I was feeling pretty good. My knee wasn’t bothering me as much as it had been and the energy in the crowd was fun. There were a bunch of spectators on the sidewalks cheering and I was excited to start running. I hugged my mom and sister, said goodbye and hopped in my corral just as a siren sounded and the crowd starting moving forward. I crossed the start line and wondered – in a good way – what the heck I was doing there.

The first 3 or 4 miles were really great. I felt like I had endless energy and I was having a blast rockin out to the playlist that I had put together the day before. Theme song for this portion of the run:

I dare you to not dance while listening to that song.

I wish I could say that the rest of the race went as smoothly as those first few miles, but unfortunately I can’t. The crowd support seriously dwindled after the first half mile and it was almost empty until the last half mile. I had some self-doubt around mile 5 and started wondering – in a bad way – what the heck I was doing there. It was hilly and HOT and I wasn’t even halfway done and where the heck is the next water stop?! and would it kill them to put a flippin’ tree on the course for some shade?!?

I was stopping at every water station and eating energy chews every mile or so but I could feel myself starting to fade a little. I started to want to stop and walk but I remembered my last long run when I felt the same way and had asked myself “do you need to stop or do you want to stop?” If the answer is “need” then that’s fine, go ahead and stop. If the answer is “want” then shut your silly trap and keep truckin’. Most of the time when I thought about stopping, it was because I wanted to so I tried to just keep going; more often than not the feeling would pass. After mile 9 or so, there were a few times that I felt that I needed to stop because I was feeling way too hot or dizzy, so I did. No big deal. I wasn’t out there to win the thing, I was out there to have fun, and getting carted away in an ambulance would be decidedly unfun.

Theme song for this portion of the run:

Because it was at this point that I considered flagging down a car, hauling the driver out and hightailing it to the nearest pool, ocean, or moderately full rain barrel.

I alternated between thinking that this was the most fun thing that I had ever done and that I think maybe I’ll sign up for another when I get home! (usually right after a water station or during a particularly scenic part of the course or if I saw a funny dog on the sidelines) and thinking that it was hands-down the worst thing I had ever done and that I would never, ever do it again and if anyone brings it up I will kick them in the elbow (usually towards the middle of a 2-mile long hill or during a 3-mile long stretch of uninterrupted sun on a part of the course that hadn’t been closed to traffic). Luckily, I hear that this kind of emotional flip-flop is common during a race.

After mile 10, my mood improved significantly and stayed that way until the end. My knee was yelling a little bit but I knew I could run 3 miles. I’ve done that a thousand times, on good days and on bad days. It might not be the fastest 3 miles that I’ve ever run, but I could do it. I turned a corner and saw Hyannis center and I knew I was close. I could hear the finish line announcer and the crowd cheering on the runners as they made their way up the chute.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but the theme song for this part of the race:

I know, I know. Ridiculous. I had forgotten that I put it on my playlist but when it came on with a half mile to go, I was seriously pumped and I tried to pick it up to finish strong. For Beyonce, yes, but mostly for me.

I was so happy to see my mom and my sister there, cheering wildly.

And I was happy that I was able to finish the race with a smile on my face and a fist pump.

I finished in 2:24 and some change. It was a little bit slower than I had been (optimistically) hoping for but I’m happy with it and I’m glad I did it. I think that I held back during the race for fear of burning out; I’m not saying that I regret doing that, because I had never run a half before and didn’t really know what to expect, but I might tackle it a bit differently if I were to do another one. Live and learn!

Aren’t the medals great?

My mom and sister continued to be an amazing support team by tracking down cold bottles of water and peeling oranges for me. Plus, they got me an adorable pair of earrings as congratulations for finishing the race! I asked what they would have done if I hadn’t finished and my mom said that they would have not told me about them and secretly brought them back so that I wouldn’t have them as a reminder of the race that wasn’t. I think that that was very thoughtful of them.

After the race, we hung around for a little while and listened to a band and got hydrated. We dropped our stuff off at the car and walked up and down Main Street a little bit to check out some of the shops and to grab an iced coffee. I apologized for not smelling great and my sister said “You just ran a half marathon. No one expects you to smell good.” See what I mean about a great support team?

We headed home after that, where I took a very necessary long shower and spent awhile lying on the couch with some ice packs on the ol’ knees. I felt pretty good on Sunday but woke up on Monday feeling a little sore; it is no surprise that my knee is aching a little, but my hips are stiff as well. Other than that, I’m feelin’ fine! I haven’t ruled out doing another half (or full?) in the future but I think I’ll cool it for a little bit and let my knee heal completely.

All in all, I had a great time and I’m glad I did it.

And B is loving his new bling

even though wearing it around all the time makes him pretty tired.