I woke up bright and early at 5am. Lucky me to be running where I live. I wanted to make sure I had my breakfast early enough to have no problem during the run. I wasn’t exactly hungry, but I still ate.
A cup of green tea, half a toasted bagel with almond butter and half a banana.
Then I started getting ready and putting on my outfit, got my water bottle ready. The temperature was cool, in the low 50’s so I put on a long sleeve shirt to keep until warm up time.
I woke up my husband aka. my support team at 5:45am and we headed out to the race by 6:30am. Luckily his brother lives right down town and lets us use a prime parking space from which we just had a quick walk to the race start.
I was surprised that it didn’t seem that busy at that point, I guess most people were warming up and running around downtown.
At 6:45 I left my husband to go warmup. I ran just under 10mns. Enough to be hot and ditch the long sleeves. I was glad I had used the bathroom at home several times because the line at the port-potty was not inviting.
I did meet a few people from my Wednesday running group and hanged out with them first as we started lining up, until I saw some people from work. We never did a group picture, which I figured would happen, we were not organized.
I blew a kiss to my husband and then focused on the start. The gun went and… nothing happened. It took several minutes before people started moving forward. Walking on top of each other at first, light jogging passed the start line and then at last running once around the corner.
I loved that feeling, the silence of the morning only broken by the pounding of the shoes on the ground. The pounding of 1200 pairs of shoes at the same time is something powerful and that I love to be a part of.
We went down Patton Ave and I could see a sea or runners ahead of me.
We went down, then up on the first uphill. The mile markers threw me off at first as the 5K and HM started in the same place. I saw the 1 Mile followed quickly by 2Mile as my watch read 10mns. There is no way I’m running a 5 minute mile I told myself, this has go to be wrong. Indeed, as we got to the next hard hill I saw an other 2 Mile sign, this time I was at 15mns which seemed far more accurate.
As expected I passed people on the hills, running on the trails in Bent Creek has definitely given me the stamina I needed for that.
Miles went by, several hills went by, some easier than other. We went by two Golf courses: the Grove Park Inn, and then the Asheville Country Club in North Asheville. At MM 7 we hit my favorite section, a little bit of trail along Beaverdam Lake. The dust was flying from all the runners.
I tried eating some of my Gu gel, but either the taste wasn’t working that day or I simply didn’t need it because I didn’t have more than a squirt or it.
At mile 8 a guy said behind me: “Ok, I’ve got to ask, is this a running skirt?” ” Well of course it is.” What did he think? That I was running a Half-Marthon with a regular mini-skirt?
Around Mile 9 and went by another girl with a skirt, I couldn’t help but say “go skirts” with a smile. She looked at me and smiled. Asked where I got mine and we chatted a bit on the downhill. She later said hi again at the finish line.
I didn’t see the mile markers until MM10. At that point we were going on the long but steady uphill of Lookout Road.
As we neared UNC-A we saw more and more signs. My absolute favorite, the one that I will take back with me from this race said “You should know that you are an inspiration”. It felt so good to read that and I gave the thumb-ups to its holder. Bet sign ever! Right after that I also saw a colleague from work cheering us. It’s so nice to see people you know.
Going by UNC-A I knew we had some downhill and then a bit of a straight line before getting back downtown to the tough finish. I started looking around me, passing and being passed by the same people. I felt like I was slowing down and I had to motivate myself to keep up the pace. There was only a little over a mile to go.
We went under I-240, we were now downtown. I knew there was one last hill to beat: Walnut St. A brutal uphill a few 10th of a mile before the finish. I powered run that one. I knew the end was near and I put all of my energy into it. I frankly thought I was going to throw up before I reached the top. But at last, it was Haywood Rd again, I only had to make it around the corner to be on the finish line. My husband was right there, he said he called me. I was too focused on the finish at that point to hear anything.
At that point I decided to aim for the girl you see all the way to the right with pink writing on a black shirt. My sister-in-law taught me to set yourself on someone at the end and aim to pass them. So that’s what I did. I sprinted. I sprinted to the end and met with her at the finish line, we actually crossed at the exact same time, but it was enough to get me moving a little faster.
As I crossed the line, I realized thrilled, that the clock said 1h52… I was way, way under two hours. I cooled off a little, walking and jogging than gulped down two glasses of Gatorade. I hadn’t even used all my water during the course. My husband joined me and we went by the finish line to greet fellow runners. Runner’s high much? Oh yeah, it was my people and I go to cheer them as they arrived and after that race. What a good moment.
I cracked up when I saw my pictures later. I don’t really look like I just ran a Half Marathon. I just look happy. What a difference it made to have temperatures in the 50’s. I had no muscle pain, no cramps, I just felt good. The only thing later that day would be a bit of knee soreness going up the stairs. Can’t complain.
While I ran the race with my work’s shirt as they paid for half the entry fee, I got one of those fake tatoo at the expo and told my Wednesday running group leader I would wear it for the race, and I did. I really wanted to honor the fact that I’ve training with them every Wednesday since the spring. That and the free gear I got thanks to the program too.
My husband had thankfully brought with him my long sleeves and fleece. It had rained a little at the end, just enough to cool me down very quickly once the race ended. I went to get some snacks on Runner’s Alley and quickly found myself shivering and my plate shaking. It was time to go get a shower and warm clean clothes at my brother-in-laws place. Meanwhile a colleague of mine had put our names down at a local restaurant. Timing was perfect, as I walked in warmed up from my shower into the restaurant, our table was opening up, what a perfect way to celebrate the race.
Well and now how about my time. Well… I finished in 1:52:09!!! Beating my goal of finishing under 2h by almost 8 minutes. I was thrilled. What a great way to finish my first Half Marathon. And what a good time considering all the hills too. I wonder what I would do on a flat course…