Saturday, March 22, 2014

The First Half Marathon: Island To Island Ocean City, MD 2012

Registration information for this race can be found here
Let the record show that even though I thought I would be ready for my first half marathon, I wasn't. I trained, I cross trained, I changed my diet, I lost weight, I ultimately became healthier on the quest to my first half marathon. As the date approached I found myself getting excited and anxious all at the same time. All the research that I did said the same thing: If given the opportunity, pre-run the course. 

My first half marathon was in Ocean City, Maryland. Just under two hours away from home, and conveniently, one of my favorite places to go. So the notion of pre-running the course was most definitely an option. On a Wednesday, the girl that I ran OC with and I packed up and headed south for the day. Up until this point the furthest I had tried was ten miles. And I will still a walk/runner (honestly, I'm still a run/walker, I just run more than walk now). The course was pretty flat, expect for one tiny exception that I'll touch on later. With water bottles in hand, and RunKeeper going, we started on the endeavor. Through the back roads that I know so well, and on the main highways.

I did well for my first time out, and my first time running a new area that wasn't Delaware. But, when the rains came in around mile 11.5, I was ready to call it quits. So we called our ride, and headed to lunch. Then about two weeks later, game time happened.

My first tech shirt from a race, bib, and my Nike Lunarglides (that I ended up not even running in)

 After doing some brief research, I decided to go with the hotel in the area that was providing race transportation to the start. We stayed at the Francis Scott Key, which is reasonably priced, and conveniently located to everything else you may want to do in OC. And the night before, my parents came and surprised us by staying at the same hotel as us and then taking us out to dinner. Those are the best kind of parents, right? The ones who will come home early from their Florida vacation to see their daughter run a race that she wasn't fully prepared for.

The next day I can't remember the exact time we had to be at the corral, or anything of the sort, but, it was pretty early for me. And it was kind of cold, a beach run in April can still be slightly chilly. But, I was amped and running on adrenaline.  While waiting, we had a dance party with our fellow runners, and then I got lectured by a seasoned runner on my lack of prerace stretching. Seriously, even if you don't think you need to: stretch before your run. Your body will thank you afterwards. And then, post National Anthem and race day pep talk, we were off.

Me, around mile marker 7, floating in mid air. Defying Gravity
 My parents were great photographers for the parts of the course they saw. And the spectators on the sidelines were pretty great as well. During the first part of the race, we ran through a neighborhood, where there was (I kid you not) a girl outside with her puppy offering every runner the chance to pet her puppy so they would be excited again. As you can see, I ended up wearing a pair of old beat up ADIDAS that weren't even special enough to have their own "name". It turns out that even though a lot of people LOVE running in Nike Lunarglides, I am not one of them. I noticed before on short runs with them that I had a lot of pressure and pain in my arch and shins after I finished running. I decided that instead of pushing myself in a pair of uncomfortable running shoes, I would go with a pair of tried and true. To this day I maintain that was the smartest decision I made that whole race.

Yes, that is me on that giant freaking BRIDGE.
Remember how I said the course was mostly flat? This was that one, tiny, exception. The course ended in Assateague Island, this is the bridge that you typically drive over to get there, however, this day I was taking it on my foot. I'm not sure if you can see it, but there is a red flag between the two trees. that red flag is the mile marker for Mile 12. Meaning this was the end of my journey. This was how I was ending the a 13.1 mile trek. With a giant bridge. Okay, okay, the bridge isn't that long, but it is kind of ridiculously steep. Especially when you take into consideration that I trained in what I have decided is probably the flattest state on the eastern shore. Shortly after the crest of the bridge, my ever so graceful self rolled my ankle. 

Me celebrating conquering the bridge. 
 With determination and pain, I decided I wanted to cross the finish line come hell or high water. So, for the last half mile, I limped and gimped my way to the end. When the picture above was snapped, there were definitely tears in my eyes and I was thankful for sunglasses. Finally, as we made our way around the bend I saw the finishers line. Somehow, I managed to push myself to run across.

Me with my bling
 That was it. I got my medal and cheesed for the camera. We piled into a vehicle and headed back to the hotel where we showered before heading for some food. As quickly as the race approached, it ended. And the doubts that I had in myself were a thing of the past.

I keep saying that I want to do OC again, but I'm also on a quest to all 50. However, it will always have a place in my heart. I feel like your first race always holds a place in your heart. No matter how many miles you run.