Beginners and Beyond


Reston HM RR - My First Half (Read 97 times)

    Short Version


    136/328 OA

    4/9 AG


    Long Version

    I started running last July. After my first 5k in November, I decided to sign up for my first half marathon. I thought it would be a great way to stay motivated over the winter and it would be the inaugural half/full marathon for a local club. My goal was originally to finish comfortably without walking.


    Then, as I mentioned in my 10 miler RR, I pulled my groin in December and took about a month off. Even though I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped, my 10-mile race went really well – 9.6 miles in 1:30:16. After that, I figured a more realistic goal would be around 2:10. Then, the weekend before the half, I got a bit trail happy and tweaked my knees. So, I took the week before the race off to let them rest up. Not knowing how my knees would be feeling on race day, I decided my goal would be just to finish with or without walking.


    Miles 1-4: 10:11, 10:16, 10:01, 9:51

    I didn’t want to start out too quickly, so I lined up near the back. We started on a two-lane street in front of the high school and we were tightly packed. Fortunately, we started spreading out as soon as we got onto the main road. Almost immediately, the muscles around my right shin started to cramp. There wasn’t much I could do about it except continue to go slow and be happy that my knees were holding up well. Around mile 3, my shin loosened up, but my left knee began to ache.


    I found another picture of me. This is just a few minutes into the race:



    Miles 5-6: 9:48, 9:55

    Around this point, the course turned into a wooded area. Many of the residents had set up chairs along the course to cheer the runners on. There were also encouraging words and pictures drawn in chalk along the path.  I started to get into a rhythm and slowly but steadily passed at least a dozen people.


    Miles 7-9: 9:40, 9:14, 8:47

    A timer had been set up around the 10k mark. My immediate reaction was, “I have another hour and a half to go!?” I quickly realized that the timer had been started for the marathoners who had begun a half hour before us. Some mental math told me that I was on pace for my 2:10 goal – maybe even faster if I kept up my current pace. Even though I had picked up my pace, it was feeling very easy.


    Miles 10-11: 9:29, 9:52

    This was the first time in the race that my breathing became a bit heavy and my legs started to feel tired. I was a bit surprised at the sudden change, but figured it was my lack of endurance catching up with me. I decided that maybe half’s were just not my thing. Later, I learned that I had been going up the “big hill.” It wasn’t terribly steep, just long.  Just before the 12-mile marker, I felt pain in my right hip/groin area. It was a sudden pain, but not too bad.


    Miles 12-13.17: 8:57, 9:06, 1:13

    After the big hill came the big downhill. At this point, pain was rotating around the right side of my body – big toe, knee, hip, side stitch. The course ended on the high school track. As soon as I started to see the crowds, my pain suddenly disappeared. I could hear one of my club members (who had recently finished) cheer me on. It was a great feeling. As soon as my feet hit the track, I picked up the pace as much as my tired legs would let me, passing one final runner. About 200 meters from the finish, I told myself to just get it done and sprinted to the end. I could hear a little kid on the sidelines go crazy as I ran past him. As soon as I finished, a girl handed me my medal and a woman handed me a water bottle. I was so proud. And thirsty. And suddenly my knees were incredibly sore.


    Here's me crossing the finish line:


    Crossing the finish line



    Post Race

    A sign told me that there was food “this way.” This way was up two painful flights of stairs. Once I caught of a whiff of the food, I started to feel nauseous. I decided to head home and shower before trying to eat (I ended up getting Subway). Throughout the rest of the day, my knees got stiffer and stiffer. I had some errands to run – er, hobble – which I think helped some. I also started to feel some slight pain in my groin. I decided to take the rest of the week off just to be safe.


    Overall, I had a great experience and I contribute a lot of that to the crowd support. I surprised myself by being able to run the entire race fairly comfortably without a proper base/training. I see plenty more half’s in my future. In fact, I just registered for another one in October. However, I don’t think I will make a half a goal race anytime soon. I enjoyed my 5k’s a lot more and think I could be competitive at a shorter distance. I also don’t have/want to make the time to properly train for a half.


    From here, my game plan is to, first, make sure I haven’t hurt anything. Then, focus on building mileage and my long run. I have two races coming up next month (5k and 8k) and I may sign up for a few more over the summer.

    5k - 25:15 (11/18/12)

    10k - 1:01:51 (2/14/15)

    10mi - 1:33:18 (3/2/14)

    HM - 2:06:12 (3/24/13)


    Upcoming Races:

    Benched until further notice. :/


    Everything you need is already inside. [[Bill Bowerman]]



      Nice RR! Great showing on your premier HM. Keep up the good work!

      - Andrew

      Bad Ass

        Congratulations!  Great job and I love your finish line picture.



        "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

        It's always fucking hot in Miami!

        Hip Redux

          This line made me chuckle because I literally went through the same thought process after my first HM.  Yay!  ->  Water. Now.  ->  Ugh, I hurt.  lol


          Great job!!


          I was so proud. And thirsty. And suddenly my knees were incredibly sore.




          Better I Leave

            Nicely done. I like your RR...very descriptive. Smile


            Go figure

              Congratulations on your first half!  It seems like you've had the same running journey that a lot of us had starting out, with tons of stops and starts along the way due to pains and injuries.  Hopefully as you continue to run your body will adapt more and some of that stuff will just sort itself out.


              As for the race, how scary to feel like you were in pain right from the start.  You seemed to handle it really well by just moving forward though.  I have a friend that runs longer races who always chants RFM when things get tough:  Repetitive Forward Motion.  Silly as it is, sometimes that's just what it takes.


              And then the rest of the race - wow, you really found some speed!  Your strategy of starting conservatively was so smart, and I can see you really benefited from that.  You obviously have a good bit of speed, so if you ever chose to focus on the half or longer, you could run them much faster with some more endurance.  Even still, your debut time was great.  Enjoy the running and training for your other races.

              Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn


                Congrats on your first half! Smile


                My running blog

                Goals | sub-18 5k | sub-3 marathon


                  GReat report, Sarah and fantastic race.   I swear you're a natural.   You really paced yourself well, but it's not surprising that your body would start whining a little bit towards the latter miles as this was your first half.  You, however, just hung right in there.  That's a time to be super excited about!   Great finishing photo, too;  you look so focused.


                  "We do not become the people who this world needs simply by turning our backs on anyone we don’t like, trust, or deem healthy enough to be in our presence. "  ---- Shasta Nelson


                  Barking Mad To Run

                    Congrats on your half, way to go!  You looked pretty strong in your finish photo.


                    Was this in Reston VA?  I grew up in Fairfax County..graduated from Marshall High School.

                    "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt

                      Thanks for the support everyone! Big grin


                      scottydawg - Yes - Reston, VA. The race started and ended at South Lakes HS. Small world, huh?

                      5k - 25:15 (11/18/12)

                      10k - 1:01:51 (2/14/15)

                      10mi - 1:33:18 (3/2/14)

                      HM - 2:06:12 (3/24/13)


                      Upcoming Races:

                      Benched until further notice. :/


                      Everything you need is already inside. [[Bill Bowerman]]



                        Awesome RR and great finish time and picture!

                        *Do It For Yourself, Do It Because They Said It Was Impossible, Do It Because They Said You Were Incapable*


                        5k - 24:15 (7:49 min/mile pace) 

                        10k - 51:47 (8:16 min/mile pace)

                        15k -1:18:09 (8:24 min/mile pace)

                        13.1 - 1:53:12 (8:39 min/mile pace)

                        26.2 - (Debut) - 4:48:10 


                        Jack K.

                        uʍop ǝpᴉsdn sǝʇᴉɹʍ ʇI

                          Well done, nova!  By the look of your finish line picture, you would never know you were that tired. You looked strong!!


                            Good job, good time.  It looks like you had that 10 mile feeling that happens to a lot of people.  Shit starts to hurt right about then lol.


                            Great photos as well, thanks for sharing.







                            Little Blue

                              Congratulations on your first!  Nice time, and I know exactly what you mean at mile 10-11.  I think every HM I've done, miles 10-11 is where I start dragging, and thinking 'will this race never end?'


                              I can't see your pictures. Sad

                                Just out of curiosity, how many miles per week have you been running?

                                Short term goal: 17:59 5K

                                Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

                                Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).