Here's my post-race review of my first half marathon, the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon, which I ran on June 5, 2011. It's taken me a while to finally create a post summarizing the race. I'm alternating between getting life back to normal and plotting/planning my next race. Yes I finished the race running, on my feet and under my own power, and not in last place (in the race or my age group). Anyway, this is what a new half marathoner looks like. I don't think I look like I just ran 13.1 miles! :)
First, I absolutely had a blast. Thanks to my amazing LLS TNT teammates, coaches, and mentors, and the incredible spectators, I remained upbeat throughout the entire race...even when my calves locked up at mile 11.5. I wasn't nervous, didn't start out to0 fast, was able to stay on my goal pace, didn't get frustrated as I waited in line for the port-o-potties while the clock kept ticking, and learned that my torso sweats more than the rest of my body thanks to my hydration belt.
Race day was overcast and about 70 degrees all morning; it even drizzled a few times. Did I mention there were hills on this course...lots of hills. And two bridges (one small and one big). The big one is the Naval Academy Bridge and we got to cross it TWICE. Have you ever seen this bridge? If not, here's an aerial picture.
Imagine running over this bridge after running up a HUGE hill after mile 9. If that's not enough, there's another smallish hill after you cross this bridge on the return trip. AND if that's not enough there's a last hill just before the finish line. If you need to train hills for a race or endurance, head to Annapolis!
Because the weather was mild, I really didn't get very hot and didn't hydrate enough. Usually my face heats up and that's my signal to drink more. As a result, I didn't realize that I was losing so much fluid and I think this is why my calves cramped starting around Mile 10 while the rest of my legs felt fine. The cramps released as I drank Gatorade and Muscle Milk post-race. Normally I'm very vigilant about drinking during the walking intervals, but I think I got so caught up in the excitement of running that I wasn't drinking frequently enough. Since I had never run the entire 13 miles before the race, I didn't realize that my Sports Beans wouldn't be enough nutrition to replace the amount of calories I burn. I've used them on 10 mile runs with no problems, but 13.1 miles is a long distance from 10 miles (OK, it's 3.1 miles longer, but you know what I mean). It's all good...I've gotten advice from my more experienced runner friends, and I have a better nutrition and fueling plan going forward for both training and racing.
So what's next? I'm spending the summer working on my speed and endurance. I'm going to cross-train more and try to incorporate other sports such as swimming and maybe tennis. Also, I stopped wearing heels around February/March because I was afraid that I would sprain my ankle. No more - the heels are back!
Up next is Alex's Run (a charity 5K) on June 26, then maybe a 5K or 10K on July 4. I'm deciding whether or not to run in the Parks Half Marathon in September. I'm leaning towards yes, but we'll see. My sights are set on a full marathon next year/spring. I think I'm going to break with the tradition of doing a longer race every year around my birthday. These June races are hot!