My First Half-Marathon is in the Books!


I was going a little nuts the last few days. I ate waaaaay too much. On the plus side, it wasn’t junk food, but it was still too much. I need to learn how to survive tapers.

I have my set race-day breakfast: a bagel with cream cheese and two hard-boiled eggs, two hours before the start. It’s perfect for me – no fiber, simple carbs, protein, and fat. It’s never upset my stomach or caused me any other distress. However, that breakfast is based on us staying in a hotel the night before a race. It occurred to me that I am at home, where I have homemade English muffins and eggs; I don’t need to buy a bagel. My egg sandwich worked just fine as pre-race fuel, even though I ate it about 95 minutes before start time.

I ran in my Wonder Woman outfit. Wonder Woman Costume (This picture is from the Multnomah Falls trail run, not the half-marathon. We don’t have trees like this in the Tri-Cities.) I’ve grown to love seeing other people smile when they see me. I’ll never be the fastest, so I might as well make my mark by being silly. I left the Lariat of Truth at home. I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision or an oversight. This wasn’t a costume run, so I wasn’t looking to win a prize for the outfit. Having that thing hanging from my waist for 13.1 miles would have been annoying. But someone did ask where my Lariat of Truth was.

I also left my invisible jet at home.

I walked the first 11 minutes. It’s the way I start almost every run. Once I start running, it’s a very slow jog. Everyone passed me at first. I was surprised, because I really expected a few walkers to be out there. (Truth be told, a walker passed me.)

I stuck to my 4 minute run/1:30 walk throughout the race. The course is an out & back. On the way out, I knew I could go faster, but I stuck the slower pace. I was running into the wind, and I knew I’d be better served by saving my energy for the return trip when the wind would be at my back.

I planned to eat a Clif Kidz bar every three miles. It helped, but I felt a little more weary than I expected to at around mile nine. I’d picked up a PowerBar energy gel with caffeine at the aid station at mile 8. I was willing to try something different just to see if the electrolytes (lacking in my Clif Kidz bars) and the caffeine would make a difference.

I don’t know if it helped my legs, but it gave me an immediate reminder of why I don’t use PowerBar’s gels. OMG they’re nasty. I was getting really annoyed at seeing the discarded gel packets along the race course — if you can carry it full, you can carry the empty pack to the next garbage can — but I immediately understood why I was seeing opened but not empty packs. I was stuck with this syrupy packet I didn’t want to ingest, but I had no way to carry it without getting whatever I put it in completely gross. (Even empty, it made the pocket in my race belt sticky. Let’s hope it’s washable.) Lesson learned. I’d considered carrying some of my Hammer Endurolytes capsules with me, but I didn’t because it wasn’t an issue on my 11-mile run. Better safe than sorry — I’ll carry them next time.

Even before the turn-around at mile seven I knew I’d be faster on the return. I’d passed several people in the first four miles. I only passed one more runner after that point, and the circumstances were pretty amusing: she was ahead of me a short distance – maybe 50 feet – as we approached the aid station near mile twelve. One of the volunteers said, “We have donuts!” and the other runner turned around to get a donut. Good thing I’m not a donut fan. I got far enough ahead of her that she didn’t pass me when I stopped to re-tie my shoes less than a mile later.

I had to tighten my shoelaces. I could feel a few of my toes rubbing on my shoes, and it was hurting every time I ran. I didn’t want to stop, but I sure as hell didn’t want to lose a toenail, either. (I neglected to trim my toenails Wednesday or Thursday. I remembered it on Friday, but I also didn’t want to do it the night before, either. Next time, I’ll put a reminder on my calendar three days ahead of the race. Seriously.)

I found that walking hurt, running didn’t. (This has occurred at Bloomsday as well.) I’d hoped to be have enough in reserve to run the last two miles, but I didn’t. At mile thirteen, two marathon runners passed me – I really expected to get lapped by a marathoner much earlier than that – and the donut eater passed me about 50′ from the finish. I didn’t mind, and I didn’t try to speed up to catch her or ruin her moment.

My official time was 2:59:55.1. I’m really pleased to have completed the run in less than three hours. That’s a 13:42/mile pace. I did an 11-mile run two weeks before this race at a 14:27/mile pace.

Here are my splits by mile: 14:33, 13:33, 13:04, 13:56, 13:33, 13:59, 13:48 (this section has the only incline that can credibly be called a hill), 13:07 (back down said hill), 13:06, 13:11, 13:19, 13:08, 14:18 (I was pretty tired!), and 13:18 for the final burst across the finish line.

I ended up being 7th out of the eight women in my age group who finished (15 signed up). I wasn’t dead last. The most important thing, though, is that I finished and I felt good.


The Tri-Cities half-marathon is October 30th. I’m tempted to sign up right now, but I’m going to wait a few days and see how I feel about running another one this year. (I’m supposed to be riding my bike a lot this summer.) My thighs are tired, but not really sore. The soles of my feet are a little tender, and those aforementioned toes are sore & tender. (I don’t think I’m going to lose any toenails, but I’m keeping a close watch never the less.) If I do run it, I’m going to make my last long workout a 14- or 15-mile run. I believe I do better training to the full event at a minimum. If I’ve already done more than the even distance, the event itself is pretty easy.

Although I plan to ride my bike home from work tomorrow, I’m going to take a few days off workout-wise. I’ll then draw up a workout schedule to get me through to Race the River sprint tri in July. I’m running the St. Patrick’s 10K next month, a 5K in April, and then Bloomsday (12K) in May. I’d like to drop twenty minutes off last year’s time for Bloomsday. I don’t have a specific goal for the 10K. I plan to run the 5K at an all-out pace just to see what I can do.

All that lies in the future, but I’m hoping this is going to be an awesome summer.



4 thoughts on “My First Half-Marathon is in the Books!

  1. It never made sense to me that the longest long run during training would be shorter than the race (well, it made sense but didn’t seem like it would work), so I’m interested to hear how the extra mileage works out for you. Regardless, you’re awesome! I love your attitude!


    1. I believe that standard practice is based on the assumption that come race day, your adrenaline will be sufficient to carry you through the run. It’s probably true for most people. I know athletes who never run more than 15-17 miles in training for a 140.3, when you’re running the marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112. I can’t imagine doing that.

      I’m a firm proponent of the idea that each of us is the best judge of what is right for our own bodies. It’s not about following every trend or wacky diet advice. (Sorry, folks, but I will never put coconut oil in my coffee. Never.) It’s about tuning in to what makes you feel and perform better. It took me a bad race result – nausea during the swim leg of a triathlon! – to figure out what my ideal pre-race breakfast is.

      I’ve found that I’m almost always faster in a race. That probably doesn’t leave me with the adrenaline reserve to carry me the untrained-for miles. I also like the mental advantage of being able to remind myself, “Hey, you’ve done this before — you know you can do it again.” But that’s me, and it may not work for others.


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