My First Half Marathon!! Part 3: The Race Itself

I’ve got a lot to say about my first half marathon.  Here are the 2 previous pieces of the story.
Part 1: Night Before Preparation
Part 2: Pre-Race Excitement

Part 3: The Race Itself I have broken it up into 2 pieces since it’s a long story.  I know, what started as 2 posts, then became 3, now has 4.

It was a perfect day for a race, cool, sunny with some cloud cover so the sun wasn’t too harsh, and best of all, perfectly clear.  So clear that during much of the race, we had a perfect panorama of San Francisco and its Southern peninsula. The start of the race was a little hectic as people tried to space out and set their pace.  I began nice and easy, not wanting to exert too much energy since I wanted to push myself.  I had only gone on a 9-mile jog/walk before, so I was very scared that I wouldn’t be able to finish.  On my ipod I started with a “This American Life” podcast called, “The Psychopath Test.”  It made me laugh and gasp in shock, exactly what I needed to distract my mind from running.  The first (and last) leg of the race scooted along the San Francisco Bay, and on this clear day the view inspired confidence.

At mile 4, Kris made his first spectator appearance; we’d planned 4.  Pace was constant, hydration excellent; I felt good.  Here are a couple of photos.  I’m in the teal tank top.

Being silly helps pass the time

Shortly after these photos, at mile 5, we got some of the gu long distance runners use.  It’s an electrolyte enhanced energy gel-“food.”  The race information packet had said we’d get gu at mile 7, so I felt exhilarated, wrongfully thinking I was already half done and maybe the mile markers were off.  A volunteer dangled the packet in the air, and I snatched it, ripping the top, curious what this gu stuff really was.  It was blackberry flavor, but tasted and felt like sugary glue, coating my teeth, gums, inner cheeks, and tongue in its viscousness.  I only had half because I thought it would make me vomit from its sugary taste and stick-to-everything texture.  Gulping down water helped wash out its stickiness.  I vowed to not eat anymore gu, even though my husband had said, “You’ll get really hungry, and the gu will help.”  So far, my stomach was fine I thought, and I don’t want that nasty gel-food.

My body was starting to rebel, but I was able to just keep telling myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  When we passed mile 6, I realized the mile markers weren’t off, the passing out of the gu was.  My stomach started to contract on itself.  My nerves prevented me from eating much breakfast, all I had was a piece of toast with almond butter.  Kris’ warning about hunger began to materialize.

We snaked our way through a commercial area.  Then, a little after mile 7, the ocean view snuck up on us again, giving a boost of salt fresh air.

San Francisco around mile 7

Kris took these fabulous photos, I was a little busy.

SF peninsula view

Kris made his second support appearance; he’d found a friend who was cheering his wife on.  Coincidently, Kris saw this man 3 times throughout the race.  I challenged myself to keep running past my husband, which was another way I played mind games with myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Awww...my husband makes me smile even after running 7 miles

My stomach felt like a Ferris wheel, and just after mile 8, we received another gu packet, I randomly grabbed a vanilla.  Maybe it was my hunger, maybe the different flavor, but vanilla wasn’t quite as vomit-inducing as blackberry, still sweet but not as much, and it did somewhat (I use this word generously) taste like vanilla.  The glue-like texture however felt counter-intuitive: I wanted the gu to go down into my stomach, not cling to every surface area of my teeth and cheeks.   Swishing water moved it down into my stomach to help tame the hungry beast.  At this point, I walked for 1 mile, “savoring” the calories from the gu packet.  To be continued…

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