OoooooRAH! The Jacksonville Marine Corps 1/2 Marathon was a success–I beat my goal time by at least 4.5 minutes!
The course was amazing–we traveled over three bridges, traversed through beautiful residential neighborhoods, ran through the downtown district, and sprinted along a beautiful river waterfront. My unofficial clock time was 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 30 seconds. I haven’t received my official chip time yet, but I think it’s closer to 2 hours, 5 minutes.
The race definitely presented many physical AND mental challenges. Yet it was overall a wonderful race and I can’t wait to do it again NEXT YEAR!
My alarm clock went off at 4:45 AM (groan) and I sat down to a filling breakfast. I had a PB sandwich, a banana, and a cup of coffee.
My mom and I drove to the starting line and I picked up my packet and chip. There were about 1,500 runners (some were doing a 5K) and loads of Marines from all over the state. I saw a bunch doing 100 push ups! OooRAH! (Yes, I’ve been saying, "OooRah" all day).
I safety pinned my mid-race snack to my pants before the race… Jelly Bellys!
The Half Marathon
After the gun went off (yes, a literal gun), we began the race. My race plan was to pace sub-10:00 miles because my overall goal was 2 hours, 10 minutes or better. This pretty much translates into NO WALKING (except through water stations).
The first major challenge I encountered was crossing the first bridge…. which basically meant "a really large hill." I haven’t run hills since I moved out of Pennsylvania a year and a half ago, so I was a little nervous. Many people around me slowed to a walk immediately. I decided it would be better to just power through the climb, as too much walking tends to make my legs feel like lead.
I paced mile 2.0 at 19:30 (clock time) and was very pleased. I figured I was about 1 minute behind the clock, so I knew I was right on schedule. After the 2.0 mile mark came the second large bridge, and again–I just tackled the incline instead of walking.
Miles 3.0 to 6.0 were uneventful. I just focused on breathing and placing my foot properly. My bum leg did not bother me at ALL! Whatever injury I suffered through for the last two weeks seems to be gone (cross your fingers!).
At each water station was a different form of musical entertainment! There were bag pipers, a DJ, a rock band, a country band, and a guy playing an electric guitar. It kept things interesting.
After mile 5.0, the route started to loop back on itself, so the leaders were passing us. The first man was on mile 9.0 when I was on mile 5.5!!! I cheered for each of the first 6 or so runners (all men) as they passed me. Then, the first girl whizzed back and I went nuts, screaming "YOU GO GIRL!!" She was flyyyyying!
At mile 6.0, I broke into my mid-race snack and ate about 1/2 of my Jelly Bellys. I felt the sugar rush about 5 minutes later!
I paced mile 7.0 at 1 hour, 8 minutes. I was THRILLED! It was the fastest I had ever run 7.0 miles! I think I’ve reached a point in training where I am actually getting faster, as I’ve been a 10-minute miler for so long… suddenly I’m closer to 9:00 or 9:30.
Around mile 9.0, my mind started to wander a little bit. I began to think about all the reasons I love to run. The one thought that just kept coming back to me was that one day I won’t be able to do this–I may be too old or pregnant or injured or sick. Every day that I can run, I am just so thankful for.
At mile 10.0, the volunteers were handing out packets of Goo. I grabbed a citrus flavored one, and I only ate about half. I paced mile 10.0 at 1 hour, 38 minutes. It was such a relief to see that I was still on schedule.
Between miles 11.0 to 12.0, I tried to keep my tempo even. People around me were starting to falter like crazy. I didn’t want to use of all my juice 1.0 mile from the finish line, so I tried to keep a steady, but strong pace.
Once I saw the mile 12.0 marker, I laid it all out on the road. I paced the last 1.1 mile in 9:30 minutes, and I was so happy when I crossed the finish line and saw my clock time–2 hours, 6 minutes, and 30 seconds. OoooRAH!
My parents were waiting at the finish line for me! They were kind of surprised to see me because I told them not to expect me until 9:10 or 9:15, and I showed up around 9:06!
Here are my statistics:
- Duration: 2 hours, 6 minutes, 30 seconds (unofficial clock time)
- Average Heart Rate: 175 bpm
- Maximum Heart Rate: 200 bpm
- Calories Burned: 1,230 (whoa)
Even though I had eaten two mid-race snacks, I crossed the finished line FAMISHED. I immediately grabbed a Powerade and drank about 1/2.
Then, I grabbed a 6-inch turkey sub and ate about 1/2. I couldn’t decide WHAT I wanted to eat, and although I was hungry, my stomach felt a little off.
Next, I tried a banana. I ate 1/2 of it as well and then tossed it.
And…. then I felt like I was going to hurl, so I sat down in the grass and closed my eyes. I managed to keep everything down.
After we left the race, my parents and I went to Cracker Barrel. I stared at the menu for about 10 minutes trying to figure out what to order. I wanted EVERYTHING!!!!
In the end, I had two turkey sausages and an order of Egg Beaters.
I also ordered three Pecan Buttermilk Pancakes and real maple syrup. The pancakes were AMAZING, but I could only eat 2.
I feel adequately re-fueled now.
All in all, it was amazing race. I nearly cried at the finish line because I was just so happy. It floors me sometimes to think that 2.5 years ago, I couldn’t even run 1/4 a mile without stopping, and today I ran 13.1 miles without walking ONCE! Running is such a fun hobby because you can really see your improvements over time, and it’s just such a reward.
My next Half Marathon is in February. I’m already counting down the days!! My new goal is to run a sub-2 hour Half Marathon.
I’m going to jump in the hotel hot tub for a few minutes, and then it’s NAP TIME! Have a wonderful day!