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My First Half Marathon

  1. My race gels fell out of my pocket before leaving the house
  2. I never added my race playlist to my iPod
  3. I forgot my pace bracelet
  4. I went out way to fast
  5. My knee started hurting at mile 7
  6. Hills kicked my ass

Well, it’s over, and I finished!  Things didn’t go exactly as planned, and I didn’t hit my goal time, but I can officially say I am a half marathoner, and have the sore legs and chafe burns today to prove it.  First let’s back up to Saturday and the expo.  I met Chrissey and Steph in the city at 10 am on Saturday and we hit the expo right when it opened.  We grab our bibs and t-shirts and wandered up and down the aisles grabbing all the free stuff we could.

I got my picture with running legend Bart Yasso, who I actually think I said “I love you” to.  I hope he was flattered.

After the expo, the three of us headed of to lululemon where I picked up a short sleeve special edition race weekend shirt, and then to Marathon for lunch.  I’m glad I had friends to check out the expo with and hang with to help calm my nerves before race day.  Alex arrived around 3:30 on Saturday afternoon to be part of my cheering crowd, and we sat around relaxing before heading out to Olive Garden to meet up with my bff Jill and some of her friends who were also running.  I think Olive Garden may have to be my go to pre-race restaurant from now on.  Endless salad and breadsticks, giant bowls of pasta?  It was delicious and a perfect way to carb load.  It was also a fantastic way to keep my nerves at bay and think about something else besides the race.  I tried to get to bed early, but ended up tossing and turning until 12:30 before I was able to fall asleep.  My 4:30 am wake-up call came way too soon.

My alarm went off, I bounded out of bed, and immediately started dressing in my race outfit.  I had pinned my bib on the night before, so I was dressed and ready to go in about 5 minutes flat.  The rest of my family, was a different story.  My sister had gone out celebrating her 22nd birthday the night before, and I’m pretty sure she was still drunk, Alex can’t function without coffee and was moving slow, and who knows what my mom was doing.

We finally got out the door at 5:15, 15 minutes behind my desired departure time , and began our drive from suburbia into the city.  The drive was uneventful, and luckily we made it to the city and parked the car without any issues.  It was only when I got out of the car in the parking lot, when I reached into my pocket to grab my gels and realized they were missing.  (We later found them on the floor of my bathroom at home, a lot of good they did there).  The four of us walked to the start line and I visited the port-o-potties twice before jumping into my coral to start stretching.

Before I knew it, the sun was coming up and shining down on the Art Museum and the elite runners were getting ready to take off.

I discarded my throw away layer set my iPod and Garmin up, and that was when I realized my fun half marathon playlist was not actually on my iPod.  Another minor thing going wrong, but whatever I rolled with it and just set the whole thing to shuffle.

realizing my playlist isn't there

I was surprised at how calm I was when lined up in my coral.  I was excited to start, but no butterflies in my stomach, it was a great feeling and besides some numb toes I felt good.  One by one, the corals in front of me were sent off, and before I knew it mine was moving forward to the start.

When the actual start line was in sight, a lot of people started to jog before they reached it.  Amateurs.  The last thing I was going to do was add extra distance to my race.  I let these people jog by me and calmly walked all the way to the starting line, only starting to run once I stepped over that line.  I was off, I was officially running my very first half marathon!  The first few miles flew by, and were pretty uneventful.  Miles 1-3 were spent trying to get around slower runners without doing too much weaving.  People definitely lied about their projected finish time, it was really annoying.  Once we hit Columbus Blvd however, the street widened and everyone had more room.  I was feeling great, and a few glances down at my Garmin reflected that feeling.  I was easily running an 8:30 pace and feeling like it was a 10 minute pace.  Despite how good I was feeling, I knew it was early, and made a conscious effort to slow it down.

Miles 4-5 were my favorite of the race, we ran down South Street which was crowded with people and all decorated for Christmas.  I was still feeling good here, and took some time to eat my Power Bar Energy Blast chews.  Despite the effort to slow down, I was still through the 10k in 56:44 or a 9:07 pace, on target for my goal to break 2 hours.

Miles 5-7 were pretty uneventful, still kind of cruising along and feeling good, shocked at how quickly the first half of the race went by.  I saw Sabrina with her bright pink sign at mile 7, waved and smiled at her and was happy to see someone I knew along the course.  Right after I saw Sabrina, my knee started to really tighten up and send some twinges of pain up my leg.  I inwardly cursed my IT band, and hoped the pain would just go away.

Waving to Sabrina!

Mile 8 brought the first real hill of the course, and I was NOT ready for it.  Hills always cause a lot more problems for my IT band issue, but I tried to get through this one.  I made it up the hill and cruised on the downhill portion only to encounter another hill right away!  This second hill I alternated walking/running up and actually pulled off to the side for a minute to stretch out my leg.  It was really starting to bother me at this point, and I knew with 5 miles to go, stretching was necessary.

Mile 9 had a large downhill portion to it, and I cruised down it and almost missed seeing my cheering section for the first time.  I was already passed them by the time I saw them, but I managed to get off a wave and a smile before continuing on my way.  Check out the sign they had up for me:

Mile 10 was when I really died, there was a third hill, and this one was just endless.  I think it was Leslie who referred to it as “a raging bitch”, and that it was.  It really intimidated me, and with my quads and knee screaming from the previous two, I walked up the whole thing.  This decision is still kind of killing me now because I probably could have at least shuffled up it, but too late to change it now.  I grabbed a free GU from a volunteer right around then, and sucked it down while heading into the last few miles.

Miles 11-12 I tried to regain some of the momentum I’d lost during the hill section of the race, and was just hoping to hold on until the finish.  I saw my family again around mile 11.5 and my sister got this attractive photo of me.

No idea what I’m doing, although I am very sweaty.  Hot.  I came around a corner after the mile 12 marker and the Art Museum was in sight.  I was almost finished, I was going to finish my half marathon!  Then my iPod playlist ended, and I had to mess with it for a minute to get some music going again.  There was one more small uphill at mile 13 coming around the back of the Art Museum for the finish, and I think I almost cried.  I tried to suck it up, and once I hit the top I hauled ass to the finish.  I stopped my Garmin when it hit 13.1, about .1 miles from the actual finish line.  I wanted both the official half time on my watch, and then the race time from the clock.

Watch time: 2:05:27 13.1 miles, 9:34 pace
Clock time: 2:06:39 13.1 miles (really closer to 13.3), 9:39 pace

I’m definitely happy with this time for my first half marathon, but I know I can do better and go faster, so I’m already thinking about my next race.  Maybe the National Half in DC in March.


support team

drunk/hungover sister

After I changed into a dry shirt and grabbed my sweatshirt, we headed back to the finish line to wait for my friend Chris to finish his very first marathon.  He came in right around 3:57 looking great and not tired at all.


marathoner and half marathoner

Then, it was finally time to celebrate.  We left the city and headed over to Chickie and Petes from some beers and delicious food.  An ice cold Bud Light has never tasted so good to me.


chafe burn from my sports bra

I really enjoyed my first half marathon experience, and I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to Philadelphia before I move to Virginia, then running through some of its most famous neighborhoods.  Next time I will break two hours though, I know I can do it!  I’m off to hobble around the house and scrounge up some food.  Congrats to everyone who ran, Steph, Chrissey, Jilly, Katie, and anyone I’m forgetting!

31 Responses

  1. Nice race report! Sounds like you kept your cool and rolled with the punches – missing gels and playlists be damned! 🙂

    Congrats on a great race!

  2. Marathon watching is definitely a physical challenge in itself. next time I would:

    Wear more athletic clothes and running shoes
    bring toe warmers
    preset coffee for the night before
    not forget gloves

    • I would add bloody mary to that list.

      • Colleen and I actually brought:

        1) 2 bottles of J Roget’s finest sparkling champagne
        2) 1 pint Smirnoff Vodka
        3) half gallon of OJ

        But being rookies we didn’t discover until our arrival that it was 5 AM, too freezing cold to take your hands out of your pockets and we would end up walking 6 miles that day with Kelly’s mom, soooo…..we just saved it for post-race

      • ha! good point.

  3. I HATE how races are always long. Every mile marker was at least .2 or .3 behind my Garmin. And man, even .1 really counts.

    CONGRATS!! I haven’t gotten my sticker yet but you just reminded me I really need to do that.

  4. CONGRATS again, Kelbel! Can’t wait to tackle another half-marathon with you again soon.

    And to Marie’s point, my Garmin said the miles were longer, too. I would hit each mile on my Garmin about 100 to 150 yards before the mile marker. VERY frustrating.

  5. Congrats on the race!!!! 🙂

  6. Awesome job Kelly!! Congrats! 🙂

  7. Way to go! That is a terrific time. I always think the first time at a distance is sooo hard. You have no idea how much effort you need to mete out for it. I think it also helps that you look pretty darn good for running 13 miles. Your sparkly nail polish matches the shirt!

  8. Oh yes- first thing’s first- gotta put that bumper sticka’ on the car!

    I’m glad you had a good time with the whole experience! And rest up those legs… you’ve been training for months and deserve the break!

  9. That is still a great time! And it’s awesome that you’re ready to do another one. The main thing is that you enjoyed it enough to keep it up 🙂

    I had two free beer tickets on my bib but my stomach was too queasy to cash them in. I regret it now.

    Also, I didn’t take any gus or any nutrition. Thought I could get by on gatorade. Stupid of me. Glad you had some backups you could take!

  10. congratulationsssss! way to go!

  11. Congrats!!!! Great job!!

  12. Congrats on your half!!! Lovin’ the sign your cheering section made!

  13. Yay Kelly!!!!! That’s incredible, I’m so happy for you. Also very inspired…. I will run that race next year (if not do a half before that!) Maybe you’ll come back up and run it too????? Awesome job girl, enjoy your week off….plus you can pig out guilt free!

  14. YAY!! Congrats to you!! I am so happy for you!

  15. Congrats on your first half marathon! You kicked butt!!

  16. You did great! I’ve forgotten to put a race playlist on my ipod before too.

  17. Great job girl!! We finished really close.. I wonder if we ran by each other!! How are your legs today?? CONGRATS!!!!! You did fabulous!!

  18. You did Amazing. I am very impressed I ran my first half Marathon last month and my husband ran his first Marathon two weeks ago. You should read his race recap it is really funny, and will give you some inspiration for your first full Marathon. (http://ashandlewplus2.com/2010/11/13/i-finished-chickamauga-battlefield-marathon-2010/) Have a great Night and once again congrats on a great race. You did amazing.

  19. Congratulations! Last year I would never have called myself a runner. Now I have done 3 half-marathons in a year because of recklessness/planning/supportiveness. My pace isn’t as awesome as yours, but it is so great to get that medal! I love your blog. Keep it up!

  20. Great job on your first half! Way to roll with all the problems and keep on trucking!

  21. So proud of you! Ugh, used to get those terrible burns from my sports bra at field training. I feel your pain! Love you girlie! 🙂

  22. Congratulations!! Great job!! Very inspirational, my first 5k is on Thanksgiving, I’m getting so excited!! Someday I’ll be able to do a half..maybe!! 🙂

  23. Congrats on your race girl!! AWESOME!

  24. Awww Loved your sign! I need it for my half this weekend! Congrats on the race! 🙂

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