Some of Susan's beautiful signs on display after the race.
Some of Susan’s beautiful signs on display after the race.

Well that wasn’t so hard…

The first half marathon is in the books. I set a new personal record for me (as it was my first half marathon), finishing in 2:14:49, which works out to about 10:16 minutes per mile on average over this course. The race was nothing less than amazing.

As I finished up with my trainer on Thursday he gave me some things to think about for the run. Mainly pacing considerations and thoughts on how I wanted to run the race. Just the idea of planning and executing for a race is a little novel for me. He was right on with his pace suggestion.

I tried to hydrate the day before and eat some good stuff. My race bag was packed by 4:00PM with all of the stuff I tote to events: sunglasses, bib, headphones, armband, goPro and harness, extra battery, etc. I also enjoyed a good night of sleep, which can be rare for me before a race. The alarm actually woke me up at 5AM and race day began.

While walking our dogs before heading Downtown, the temperature and the wind caused me to rethink my attire for the morning. Consulting the iPhone weather app and its prognostication for the temperature at 9AM confirmed my decision to move to a long sleeve compression shirt. We loaded up and headed out, stopping at the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way (because Chick-fil-A was closed). Two sausage mcmuffins might not be considered optimal pre-race fueling for most people but apparently my stomach is pretty solid as I had no problems with that or my traditional pre-race energy drink.

It wasn’t any warmer at the Landing when we got there and I very nearly decided to leave my pullover on for the race, I was glad I didn’t. It was a little strange to queue up for the start before the sun rose. Much less crowded at the start line than a couple weeks ago at the River Run too. I suppose that is the difference between 400 participants and upwards of 24,000… Sadly my goPro time lapse is blurry for the beginning of the race, since the sun wasn’t really up there wasn’t enough light to allow fast enough shutter speed for all of my bouncing around.

Before I knew it we were off, across the line and on our way. A lot like the first Tough Mudder I participated in, my mind stayed pretty much focused on what I was doing at that moment and only rarely strayed to the many miles yet to be covered. The start of the race was, like all of them for me, really exciting, you can see my heart rate spike in the opening minutes before settling back down to the level it would stay at for most of the rest of run. We got away pretty quickly and maintained a pace on my watch between 10:00 and 10:30/mile. Keeping an eye on the splits at each mile mark showed us to be right around where I wanted to be. I had to check up a little bit a couple times when it felt like we started to push a little too much. Past that the miles seemed to click by with little fanfare. I was able to talk to Julie pretty much the whole way around without huffing and puffing.

The atmosphere on the course was really positive, which is always nice to see. Racers were clapping and cheering for each other, which makes the whole experience more fun. One block in Springfield turned out with noisemakers and oranges and signs and a lot of cheering, which was cool too. Stuff like that is part of what makes participating in these events so much fun.

The turn more or less back to the finish line was around 5.5 miles. We wound our way back by the cemetery and back down Liberty Street and back towards the Landing. I got to experience my first energy gel or gu…and gu is right, they are a sticky mess and really hideously not tasty. It also ended up making my camera housing sticky along with my hands and shirt, perhaps I am not coordinated enough to fuel and run at the same time. It was like trying to unwrap a granola bar on the bike all over again.

Julie and Brian after 10+ miles of fun!
Julie and Brian after 10+ miles of fun!

Just past 10 miles we saw Susan outside the Hyatt with signs, she was cheering and seemed to be having a good time, we slowed for a picture and were off again down Water Street before turning on the overpass to Riverside Avenue. The little climb there was not the most fun part of the day but over soon enough and at the top was our 11th mile marker. I began to be concerned about our pace and finishing around 2:15 at this point. Julie’s go to song came on though and we kicked our pace up a little bit. I had DJ Kool periodically instructing me to, “FREEEEEZE,” which does not help your pace. Ignoring DJ Kool, I continued on down Riverside. As we came up on the turn to the Riverwalk Julie told me it was 1.5 miles back to the finish line. She quickened her pace, pulling away for the first time. I lumbered along behind her. The Riverwalk included one more climb, up to the footbridge over a section of the river, that was also not fun but running in a big circle down the other side was sort of interesting. As I caught site of the finish line I began to run harder to catch up with Julie, she checked up about 75 yards from the finish and we were able to cross the line together. It was an awesome race! I’m sure she could have run it faster but appreciated the company on the way around. I was happy to learn it was a PR for her as well.

Brian and Julie crossing the finish line with jazz hands.

It feels like such a great accomplishment to get around the course as quickly as we did and I had the runner’s high going pretty much for the rest of the day. It was great to be able to go out and run an event and realize the value of the time you spend training!

This is apparently what a runner's high looks like...
This is apparently what a runner’s high looks like…
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