I completed my first half marathon, in Orange County, CA, on May 2nd. I didn’t get as much time to train as I would have liked, partially due to a sore left foot injury. My goal was to run as much of the first half that I could and then keep up a fast walk to ensure I could finish the 13.1 mile distance before the 3 hour and 30 minute course cut off. I would then have to wait for my husband to finish since he was running the full marathon course.
The race started at 6:30am so we had to be there early. It is a point to point course so we parked at the finish line and were then bused back to the starting point. It was still dark a little after 5:30am when we were dropped off near the starting line. There was time to walk around, use the porta potty bathrooms and generally be nervous before the start. I kept adjusting my shoes to make sure they were exactly right. Then it was time to find the correct place in the corral to start, given your expected finish time. With thousands of people competing, I had a little trouble squeezing into a good place and then I waited for the actual start to take place.
It was about 10 minutes from when the elite group of runners began until we toward the back actually crossed the official starting line. Once on the course, running the first few miles was easy. There was a great rush from moving down the closed streets for the racers, hearing the cheering people on the sidewalks and seeing the ocean along the coast in the early morning. The course continued along nice neighborhoods near the ocean and then turned to go through Newport Back Bay at about the six mile mark.
Here I was starting to get tired so I began to walk more. The bay was beautiful but had a steady slight uphill, which I could now feel halfway through the race. Near mile nine there was an actual steep hill which was not welcome and I was huffing up it as I continued to move as quickly as possible. A race photographer was shooting pictures at the top and I am sure I looked pathetic at that point. My foot also started hurting about a mile later which limited any chance of running the rest of the race.
I had started quickly, covering the first five miles in 1 hour 2 minutes and the first seven miles in 1 hour 27 minutes, so I was on a great pace to even break three hours. But the last six miles were much slower and never seemed to be endless slight incline, so I was very tired by the time I entered the Orange County fairgrounds and the finish area. I really wanted to break three hours but it looked hopeless. Somehow, I got running again and was able to go all the way to the finish line, my time being 3:00.35. So I did hit the exact three hour point, which was a great feeling!
My husband finished his marathon exactly an hour and a half later and his 4:30 time was a personal best. I will have to train even harder now because I had already signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October, which will be another great challenge. My husband and 19 year old daughter will be running too, so it will be a great family affair. My half marathon experience was a great one and hopefully will serve me well as I undertake this next step.