So, as many of you have already read, I flew up to Nashville this past weekend to run in my very first half marathon. It was amazing!! I never thought in a million years that this sprinter would become a legit, long-distance runner, but yes, it has happened. To say that I'm proud of myself is an understatement. Throughout my life, I've set many goals. Some I've achieved; others have fallen through because of a lack of commitment (a tough confession, I assure you). To set my heart and mind on training for a half marathon and to then cross that finish line was unlike anything I have ever felt. I was actually a little emotional! I'm still on my runner's high just a bit, which means I'm insane enough to be researching my next half. I may need to go to RA (Runners Anonymous).
Last Thursday, I left work a little early to drive to San Antonio and catch a flight to Nash. I didn't get in until around 10:30pm, so my adventure really didn't begin until Friday morning. I was staying with my friend Sarah, so on Friday morning I dropped her off at work and she let me take her car into Franklin, a suburb of Nashville. I did a little shopping and met up with some friends at a cute little restaurant called Merridees.
After hanging out in Franklin, I picked Sarah back up from work and we went to go pick up my race packet at the convention center. I'm so glad we went mid-afternoon because by the time we were leaving, the line was wrapped around the building!
After picking up my race packet, Sarah and I stopped by my friend Helena's office. Helena and I both lived and interned in New York at the same time and were both a part of the Baylor in New York program. I hadn't seen her in so long and it was really fun to get to see where she works!
That evening, Sarah and I grabbed dinner at World Market and called it an early night. I was so tired from the work week and traveling that my body was begging for a good night's rest before the half marathon. No joke--we went to bed at 9pm. It was fabulous!
I woke up on race day feeling great. Sarah ran in the mini-marathon, which began at 6:45am (mine didn't start until about 7:20am), so we left her house around 5:20am to find good parking. We arrived in plenty of time, so we checked her bag and found her place at the starting line. After I left Sarah at the beginning of her race, I did the most logical next step: found the port-a-potties. Yikes! The lines were outrageous and of course with 27,000+ anxious/nervous runners, you can imagine the unpleasant experience! But hey--it's part of it. I made my way to corral 14, which was where I chilled until the race began. This half did a staggered start, which means they started us in groups based on how fast we would run the race. I was in the 2.5 hour group.
Wow, I had gotten myself into something else! This race was no joke. Almost immediately after starting the race, I got a shin splint in my left leg. I thought I was going to die! I just kept praying that it would work itself out because if it didn't, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the 13.1 miles. But by mile marker 2, I was good. At mile marker 5, I felt my body hit that wall where you go from making an effort to autopilot. I set into my rhythm and jammed out to my music. I got a sip of Gatorade at every other mile and this seemed to help with hunger/lack of calories. At the 10 mile marker, this is where the race became a mental challenge. While training, I had only ever run up to 10 miles. At this point, I was fighting against my body. I was NOT going to walk! After mile 11, I was still moving. Mile 12 was a little slower, but I could feel the finish line. But as I made the last turn at mile marker 12 to begin my 13th mile, I saw my worst enemy: a steep, inclining hill. I was so mad! My left big toe had a huge blister that I could feel throbbing, my right hip felt like it was going to pop out of socket, and my feet felt like they were barefoot and slapping cement with every step. I felt my body begin to give out and at that point, I had to walk. So I walked as quickly as I could uphill for about half a mile, and then ran in the last .6 of the race. I thought I would feel like crap if I walked, but to be honest with you, it hardly made a difference! Plus, I RAN 12 STRAIGHT MILES! Something I have never done before! I finished the race with a time of 2:37:45 and I'm super proud of this.
The first thing we did after leaving the race was go to lunch. 13.1 miles not only wears you out, but also makes you EXTREMELY hungry! We ate tacos, chips, and queso (my fav!) at San Antonio Taco Company a.k.a. "Sat-Co." This food hit the spot for sure. I mean, come on, I'm a South Texas girl. Of course I would want Mexican food after my first half!
After lunch, we went back to Sarah's house, showered, and then napped for 2 hours. This was probably the best nap of my life! Once I finally woke up, my body hurt so bad. I seriously thought I wasn't going to be able to walk. Slowly but surely, I climbed out of bed and dressed up a little for a night out in Nashville. Sarah and I grabbed some coffee and just caught up on life. Then, we picked up one of Sarah's co-workers, who went to dinner with us at Whiskey Kitchen (such a fun place!). After dinner we met up with more of Sarah's friends for drinks and just had a great time hanging out.
I flew back to Texas on Sunday morning, but not before grabbing coffee and breakfast at my favorite coffee shop in Nashville, Fido! Luke and I made a quick stop here during a layover in Nashville on our honeymoon. I had fun reminiscing! I was back in Texas by 1:30pm and home by 3:30pm. It was a quick, but amazingly fun weekend!
I still can't believe that just 5 days ago I completed my first half marathon. It seems so surreal now. I have had so many people congratulate me and I really appreciate that! This was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to sign up for my naxt half (crazy, I know!). If you have any questions about the Rock-N-Roll Marathon series, running in Nashville, or running a half marathon in general, let me know! I'd love to share more about my experience with you. :)