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What it feels like to run a half marathon…

on October 2, 2015

My half marathon was Labor Day weekend in northern New York. I’d tried to run as much as I could all through the Summer no matter how hot and humid it was. I was hopeful that the Genesee Valley would be kind to me and have some decent weather. I was wrong. I woke up at 5am, showered off, grabbed my bag and my sneakers, shoved a bagel in my mouth while trying to chug water, and hopped in the car. We trekked an hour and a half past the things I’d just driven by the day before and kept getting detoured to make it to the starting area with less than 30 minutes to spare. We checked in and dropped our stuff at the car and ran to the bathrooms while the announcer was calling half marathoners to the start line. It was sunny, warm, and humid, but didn’t seem awful–I’d run in this crap all summer!

Then the race started. We had chosen a spot near the middle and I quickly saw this race was not a bunch of noobs. Mile 1 was an out and back up Main Street. As my brother and I headed towards town the leaders of the pack were coming back in. “6:11, 6:15” the guy at the mile marker called to the leaders. I felt good though! I’ll never run that pace in my life! Meanwhile my brother by my side, who has been a lifelong distance runner, could have run that fast. When we finished mile 1 the guy called out “10:30”. Whoa whoa whoa that’s wayyyy too fast. I could maybe do a 5k at this pace, but no way keep that up for another 12 miles.

So I started to slow down…as the sweat started to pour off me and the sun kept getting hotter I just kept slowing…and slowing…and slowing…. Around mile 5 the leaders were on their way back…already 9 or 10 miles under their belts. They were sprinting! I later found out that the winner had set the course record the year before…a startling 1:08. I still was feeling pretty good. It was hot, but the views were beautiful. Not to mention we’d been going downhill for 2 miles straight. During mile 5 my brother said “peace out” and went ahead at a pace more comfortable for him. I found myself nearly alone on the dirt road nearly at the back of all the racers.

Mile 7 I started getting really hungry. That bagel definitely was not enough. I had planned to bring some snacks (like skittles!) to pop in my mouth while running, but I’d forgotten to purchase them. I deeply regretted it. I was even wishing that I had some nasty Gu on me to choke down. Twice a guy in a Gator came by and handed me a water bottle. I was so grateful to chug half of it and pour the rest on my head. The temperature was getting brutal. At one point I passed a house with beautiful gardens. There was a sprinkler watering them and if it the owner hadn’t been outside I probably would have run right up her driveway to use it. How could I still have 6 miles left?

The next couple miles I tried to keep pace with a man three times my age. Slow and steady. Right behind him. Totally creeping. We finally made it to where I’d see the leaders coming back…OMG ONLY A 5K LEFT!!! I thought YESSSSS!! But it was a steady uphill for that mile 11 and 12. And it was rough. I had to walk. I don’t know how I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I couldn’t tell if I was wet from sweat or the water I’d been dumping on myself at every water station. I finally made it up the hills and was back on the main road. Only a mile and a half left. I could do it!

When I finally was getting close to the finish line I was so excited. I passed people long finished and got a few high fives. The last 0.1 mile was around a high school track. As I came into the stadium I heard the announcer “Kaitlyn is here from Philly! This is her first half marathon. She sure picked a tough one.” Apparently my brother was nearby giving her some info…

I quickly stopped my run…jog…shuffle… once I crossed the finish line. All I wanted to do was sit down. Go to sleep. Be hydrated. I could tell I was super dehydrated from how tight my face felt. I had stopped feeling hungry, but I knew it was so important for me to drink some water and eat food. I forced down some oranges and half a bagel. All I wanted was to shower. We didn’t stick around and just drove back home. The shower felt amazing and so did bed when I took a short nap after.

To celebrate I ate ice cream twice along with trying wings from the place the invented them. We walked (ok ok I waddled) around Buffalo checking out the sites. It was a long day, but now I can say I completed a half marathon. I can’t really say I desire running for hours on end again any time soon, but you never know 🙂

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