Yesterday I completed my first half marathon. And that was goal #1: to finish. Check. My secondary goal was to finish in less than 2:30. I beat that mark by a bit more than 5 minutes, coming in at 2:24:44. So a successful experience.
Of course, I have lots of room for improvement still. I finished 872 out of 1031 overall and 116 out of 120 in the Men’s 30-39 division at the Seacoast Half Marathon in Portsmouth, NH. I suspected that would be the case since after about mile 3 the only men I saw seemed to be either those running with a female friend/spouse or a couple of older gentlemen. But, hey, it was my first half marathon, so I’m not displeased. And at least I finished before the 3 hour mark when they would have closed the course!
The final week leading up to the race was less than ideal from a preparation standpoint. We changed our clocks, then I flew out to Denver and did my usual bang-up job of adapting to time zone changes (so I got very little sleep). My training runs were all at altitude, something I haven’t really done before. Fortunately, I was smart enough to reluctantly pass up an invitation from Maggie Fox to join a small group from the Defrag conference on a 6 mile trail run on Thursday morning. Although I was tempted, the risk of injury was too high since I am not an experienced trail runner. (Side note: it was great to see Maggie in person for the first time in 4 years … real world interaction beats online every time.)
The course itself was nice for the most part. It included a run along the ocean and through historic New Castle, NH. There were mostly gentle hills, although there was a steep climb in the 13th mile — something that just seemed cruel to many of us who were talking about it before and during the race. The final 100 yards were all downhill, however, so it gave the illusion of finishing strong.
Since the start/finish line was at Portsmouth High School (where I graduated 20+ years ago) it was just a 5 minute walk from where I grew up. Since my parents still live there, my wife and kids and I joined them for dinner on Saturday night. Then my Dad, Jen, and the kids came out to the finish line to see me at the end of the race. After eating like a horse at a local pizza place, we headed home where I caught up on email and took a nap.
Today I’m still a bit achy. More sore than after a typical 10+ mile training run but not bad considering it was my first ever race at this distance. Of course, the remnants of last week’s travel, time change, and a nagging head cold have left me feeling pretty well spent today. I think after powering through race day, it is beginning to catch up with me.
After this race, I’m already looking for more to run. I have one or two 5k’s on the schedule for the rest of this year and then the next confirmed one is the National Half Marathon in March. I like the 13.1 mile distance so I may do a few others in the near future. There’s another one in NH in February (yep, that will be cold) and I also saw that there’s a Miami Half Marathon in late January. That could be fun!
I think I’m going to concentrate on improving my half marathon performance a bit before I attempt a marathon — if I end up doing that distance. We shall see.