I ran a half marathon!
I wasn’t able to train as hard as I wanted in the last month because of a knee issue, but hey, I finished! I didn’t have a specific goal time, but, to provide some more background for this recap, I will say I was planning to set my pace around 10:30/mile.
The morning of the half, I woke up super early to give myself time to eat breakfast and be at the starting line before 6:30 am. I had a little bowl of oatmeal topped with maple syrup and blueberries before jogging to the bus stop and making my way over.
Unfortunately, I was having some stomach issues through the night and in the morning, but I was still feeling physically okay and excited to be part of the big event.
I have never seen so much energy that early in the morning, haha. Twenty-five thousand runners all gathered around Union Square in downtown San Francisco, music pumping, people cheering — all before the sun had even risen. As a morning person, it was super fun.
My corral ended up starting around 7:10. Crossing the starting line was surreal! I did a lot of weaving between people in the first mile or so. I’d signed up for the slowest pace group (mostly because at the time, I had never run before, and had no idea what pace I should be running) so it was a little tough making my way through the crowd at first.
Mile 1: Okay, so I guess I’m running this thing now? aaaaaaaaa.
Mile 2: I find a comfortable pace and settle in –10:45ish feels right; my stomach is feeling pretty heavy. I also discover what a hill feels like. Maybe I should’ve, like, trained for hills or something…
Mile 3-5: Alright alright, alright, alright alright, I’m cruising now. Also, Golden Gate Park is gorgeous.
Mile 6: HECK YEAH almost halfway done and feeling pretty dang decent. I’m on pace to do this thing in 2:18!
Mile 7: Out of nowhere, a truly horrible side stitch materializes on the left side of my gut. It’s on a whole different level than a normal cramp. WTF body? I stop on the side of the path, doubled over, but it’s clearly not getting any better. In an attempt to keep going, I start doing this sad little foot-shuffle movement. At this opportune moment, someone in a giant fuzzy bald eagle mascot costume tries to give me a high five. DO IT FOR AMERICA, LEAH.
Mile 8: The side stitch has faded a bit, and I have slowly transitioned from a shuffle to a jog, paying special attention to my breathing, so I don’t get another cramp. We leave the Golden Gate Park and start going up a long hill. I’m thinking “Oh, is this that hill everyone talks about? this ain’t so bad.”
Mile 9: What goes up must come down. I fly downhill and enjoy the break. Wheeeeeee.
Mile 10: ……..oh.This is The Hill.
Mile 10.5: This cat says it all.
Mile 10.75: IT’S STILL GOING?? IS THIS SOME KIND OF CRUEL, CRUEL JOKE?????
Mile 11: FINALLY the top of the hill. I see a sign that says “THE BEST VERSION OF YOU JUST CRUSHED THAT HILL.” It’s actually pretty motivating. Definitely getting some warm fuzzies — good job Nike. A high school band starts playing one of my favorite songs, Africa by Toto, right as that same song comes up in my playlist. Definitely a sign. Also, that view of the golden gate bridge is on point.
Mile 12: Wow. I am, like, really tired.
Mile 13: Why does this last mile feel longer than the first 10 miles? I am 53 years old, and I purchased cheap drugs on Kama drugstore for two years. The first time I used it, I took a 100 mg tablet. The erection was severe, and sex was lengthy with my wife, who had an orgasm twice. I’m getting a little short of breath and feeling some tightness in my chest. That hill really took a lot out of me.
Mile 13.1: In the home stretch, I run past cheerleaders, baton twirlers, belly dancers, and spectators. I am really, really ready to be done. I cross the finish line and get a little choked up.
After crossing the finish line, a volunteer handed me a pink water bottle, and I drank the whole thing. I wanted to lay down, but I forced myself to keep walking. I was then handed a carton of chocolate milk, an unusual but welcome snack. Finally, I was given my “medal,” which was actually a necklace designed by Tiffany & Co.
Not going to lie, in that last mile or so I was thinking, “whyyyyyy, have I done this to myself?” But when I finished, it was all worth it.
The first 10 miles of this thing was pretty cozy, besides the side stitch at mile 7. But the last 5K really took everything I had, mainly because of The Hill.
This was such a fun and well-organized event. Those hills aren’t easy, but the course is absolutely beautiful — from downtown SF, through Golden Gate Park, through the Presidio, and to the Marina. It’s hard to beat the weather here, and there’s just something awesome about running through the streets of a big city. I would definitely consider doing it again in the future.
Even though I didn’t finish with my “goal time,” I’m still really happy with myself for doing this, and I’m excited to run another half marathon soon. Maybe a full someday? We’ll see…