From the Archives: First Half Marathon

The next race I wanted to look back at was my very first half marathon.  To give you a little background before this half, I had been running off and on for about 7 months.  Three months were college cross country (around 40 miles weekly) and three months were during hard college swimming season (10-20 miles weekly…if that) and then another month of around 40 miles.  Prior to this race I had done two long run of around 10 miles (one on Christmas with dad and one the week before) and that was my longest ever.   Hard to believe I normally run 10-12 now daily.

There was a somewhat local half marathon to my college, the Plattsburgh Half so a few of my friends and I decided to train for it and do it.  I was using this race as a long run as well to prepare for the next weekend of the Flower City Half Marathon in Rochester.  Though your first half marathon, you are destined to be nervous.  I was.

Look at me pre race
Look at me pre race

I remember being afraid that I would get hypothermia because it was pretty chilly and slightly rainy so I ended up racing in a hat, leggings and a long sleeve.  (I’m pretty sure it was roughly 40 degrees so that was entirely too much).

When the race started I immediately found my groove.  I just kind of ran.  I remember not knowing what to expect…if I would get tired.  Or if I would immediately die after mile 10 because that was my longest run.  I kept plugging away.

Since this was before my GPS watch, I don’t have data to provide splits or anything (not that it matters) but I do remember getting progressively faster and starting to pass people.  Around mile 4 I delayed my famous Burton hat (I love that thing…super warm) and was nervous and sad someone would take it (but we ended up finding it post race).

so ready
so ready

Mile 10, I took a gel because “that’s what you were supposed to do…” and I finished strong.  I remember nearly crying through the finish line.  Me?  Complete a half marathon?  A year prior I wasn’t running, had no interest in running let alone half marathons.  I had just completed 13.1 miles in the ice and rain.   I finished my first half marathon in 1:41.  It was a huge accomplishment for as I came in 99th place out of 1000.

Every half marathon I’ve done has a special spot in my heart and running moments.  They have all taught me something about racing.  This one is obviously special because it was my first half marathon proving to me I could train and accomplish anything I put my mind too.

Questions for you:

What race has a special part of your running journey?

What have you recently accomplished that you never thought possible? 

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  1. I love how you’re going back and talking about your first runs. It really puts things into perspective thinking about how you run now vs. how you ran then. It’s a good idea for a blog post and I don’t see many people doing these (now I want to do one… so if you start a trend, sorry). Congrats on coming in 99th in your first half marathon too… and that time is pretty stellar.

    I remember your orange Newtons from pictures way back when too. Your blog was the first time I’d ever heard of Newton shoes! And your Burton hat looks super warm too, but with the weather up there, you surely needed it!

    1. The model of Newtons I run in only releases one color per year and 2011 was orange actually…2012 was blue and 2013 is pink.

      Everything with blogging trends.

  2. That is a killer time, especially considering it was your first. Also, I thought your hat said “burrito.” Clearly I’m thinking about food right now, lol.

  3. That’s a great first half marathon time! I can’t believe that was the weekend before Flower City. Flower City was SO HOT this year!

    I think that it’s safe to say that until recently (becoming a triathlete) I never thought I would want to do or even finish a 70.3 mile triathlon. We can do a lot if we put our minds and hearts to it.

    1. I raced the Nike women’s half this year at the same time so I can understand the heat wave! It was awful. That year was chilly for FC (2011) if I remember correctly but 2012 was pretty hot too. Years seem to be merging together these days LOL

  4. My first marathon as a bandit definitely has a special place in my heart. The time was ridiculously slow for me but I didn’t plan on running it web I woke up. Plus I was in the middle of my high school XC season-had to save my legs for that! 😉

  5. It’s pretty cool to see how much you have improved, 1:4x to 1:2x is huge. I would say that my first race was the most special. It was a 10 miler, I had been running 3 – 5 miles 2 or 3 times a week and ran 6 miles once before. I ran with a friend for the first 8 at a 9 min pace and then took off for the last two at about 8:00. I was amazed at what my body was capable of and so was my seasoned running mate!

  6. I don’t think anything can top a person’s first marathon – going into mine undertrained added an element of serious doubt about finishing, which made the experience all the more amazing…because I expected the worst I suppose. Everything after mile 18/19 was a totally amazing experience – I was practically delirious because I was doing something I never thought possible, and not only not dying at that point in the race but feeling totally empowered and almost invincible. Sadly I haven’t had a mile 18/19 like that since 😛 You’ll have that to look forward to (the good later miles) I’m sure, particularly as you’ll be finishing at least 35 minutes faster than I did.

    Recently…well, I swore I’d never do an Ultra, so completing a 35 mile event was definitely a surprise for me, albeit a very pleasant one.


  7. I remember that half! It was definitely cold that day. I never knew that we did our 1st half together. You were like a super runner to me and I thought it was probably like your bagillionth one (i realize that isn’t a real number). i’m proud/happy for you hollikins!

  8. The race which has a special moment in my heart was definitely my first (and sadly, only) half marathon. I remember when I was running back from the turnaround point and everyone was cheering everyone else on… It was something I never experienced before because I usually ran by myself or on a treadmill. It was just this feeling of being united with an entire group of people and I just smiled the entire time. Today, I ran a half a mile. Although it’s probably due to being on steroids, I never thought I’d be able to run and be alive afterward.

  9. Your first half marathon story is amazing, your are definitely a talented runner. I trained for about four months for my first half and finished in my goal of under two hours, even though I had just injured myself a few weeks prior to the race. So that race means a lot to me, although I hope to break my record later this year!

  10. I remember my first half- thinking holy cow can I really do this? I thought the same thing with my first full.

    I think the most defining races for me that I hold in special place in my heart
    1. First Half-Marathon
    2. First time I broke 20 minutes in 5k
    3. Marathon #4 [BQ]
    4. 70.3 [holy shit I did it]

    Now you make me wanna do a post about these things.

  11. I have a little something in the works right now and if it all plays out accordingly to plan. I will be FLOORED BY SHOCK! LOL! 😉 It has nothing to do with running though. There is something about running that I just don’t seem to get along with. However, ELLIPTICALLING… Now that’s something I can do for HOURS!

  12. Has to be the Lake Effect Half Marathon this year. Have an “unofficial rival” and he was on my tail the whole race, no more than 5 seconds behind at each turnaround, until I pulled away the last 3 miles to win by about a minute. Major confidence boost, and I’ve taken 4 out of 5 races against him since then. Great training motivation too, lol.

    Recently accomplished my first sub-20k 5k, but I’m hoping next year it’ll be the Lake Placid Ironman!

    1. I can’t believe Lake Effect was your first half marathon. I really think with how much/how far you have come along you will be at Placid next year! 🙂

      1. I just need to work on that swimming! I signed up for a “speedpass” volunteer spot this year at Placid so I should be all set to signup. It’s just the whole “doing the actual race” part that remains :-p

  13. I am loving these look backs. I still haven’t run a race, but I am starting to want to one day. I have a feeling I will finish like you, completely amazed I did it because that is how I feel every day I run honestly. I honestly can’t imagine you not running now, but we all have to start somewhere. You make a good point about learning from every race and holding it in a special place in your heart. I think that is how every piece of life should be. Good or bad we learn and grow.

  14. That was a fun post! That’s awesome! Look how far you have come!

    The Shamrock marathon will always have a special place in my heart, every time I’ve ran it, I’ve had huge PR’s, and I got my first BQ there.

    I still can’t believe that I actually ran Boston. After qualifying, I assumed I wouldn’t actually get in, or I’d get hit by a car, or would lose the use of my legs or something. Such an amazing experience.

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