I'm pretty stoked today because this is my fiftieth post on Run and Drum! It's also exciting because I ran my first half marathon this past Sunday. Not only did I complete my goal to run a half marathon in 2015, I fulfilled my bonus goal of doing it in under 2 hours! My finish time was 1:59:20, BUT it's still under 2 hours so I'm good with it and it gives me a launch point to try and finish my next one even faster.
I ran in the Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh half marathon and it was a blast. I found out afterwards that there were almost 5,600 people that ran which easily made this the biggest race that I've been a part of. With the way they did the wave start, it was actually less congested than other races I've done with a fraction of the runners, so that was a huge help in getting my pace established early on. The whole environment was a lot of fun too despite my early misgivings related to being browbeaten with some of the main sponsors of the race.
My parents and my sister had planned to come out in support which was very nice because I ended up being a lot more jittery before the race than I had anticipated. One of my brothers and his wife also happened to be in the area from out of state and surprised me by showing up on the sidelines of the course around mile 2 wearing gold MC Hammer pants and toting a boombox, which was awesome and definitely helped my motivation. Everyone rushed around and would pop up periodically on the course the cheer me on and I had underestimated just how much of a difference that can make on the mental aspect of the race.
Running through several miles of the streets in Raleigh was also pretty awesome. Most of my running is usually on sideroads and somewhat wooded areas so being in a downtown area and pounding pavement through a city that I've driven around a lot was an interesting new perspective. Some of the high schools and universities that the course went by would have their marching bands and drum lines playing in addition to the bands that were set up along the course and that was all fun to see. There wasn't as much music along the way as the race organizers claimed beforehand, but it was still a fun element.
One part of the race, around mile 9 or so, was really somber though. There was an organization that set up memorials along the side of the course for military veterans that had died and one of the runners near me at the time stopped as she ran by one of them and hugged the picture. It was incredibly touching to see and then coupled with the physical stress that my body was already going through, it had an even more visceral effect on me and I had to consciously hold it together for a few minutes after that.
Before the race, I checked the elevation profile of the course, which may or may not have made it more of a mental battle when I was expecting the biggest elevation gain from around mile 8.5-11 or so. Luckily, I've always tried to work a good amount of pretty serious hills into my training runs so I never felt like I was losing gas on the inclines. There were really only one or two times that I started to feel like I was running out of steam, but at that point, stopping wasn't an option for me and I was able to keep a fairly regular pace for most of the way, only slowing to walk through water stations.
Afterwards, a couple members of my family asked if I would do another half marathon now that I know what it's like and it didn't take any hesitation for me to say I absolutely will do more halves. It really only made me hungrier to get a full marathon under my belt, if anything.
The race was a ton of fun, I exceeded my goal for it, and I got some sweet new hardware for my finisher medal collection. You know I had to bring Run And Drum with me to the race, though.