Marine Corps Half Marathon

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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)


Post-Race Festivities


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!



  • amy. October 4, 2008, 9:34 am

    CONGRATS! You did amazing, I am so happy for you 🙂 You are really an inspiration to me. Once again, congrats YAY! You’re time was amazing and you really worked hard to get there

  • littleengine October 4, 2008, 9:38 am

    holy crap caitlin, that’s AMAZINGGGG!!!! congrats!! it sounds like you ran an INCREDIBLE race!!

  • Jen (Running with Food) October 4, 2008, 9:46 am

    Congratulations girl! You did AMAZING!! You must be on top of the world! Enjoy this special day …

  • lexi October 4, 2008, 9:49 am

    OMG! congratulations! you are a really amazing runner! i really do hope you feel better. i am new to your blog and wanted to tell you its AMAZING! really impressive, your pictures are really great to look at too! keep up the great work!

  • Janet October 4, 2008, 9:52 am

    Congrats! That is an amazing time and great accomplishment! I have my second half tomorrow – finished the first one in 2:09 but this course is flatter so I am hoping for a slightly faster time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Janessa October 4, 2008, 9:54 am

    Oh man, congratulations! I’m so happy for you–what a feeling of euphoria you must have right now!

    I’ve just decided to run my first 1/2 marathon–in May–and am going to start training for that.

    Wish me luck!

  • whatiateyesterday October 4, 2008, 9:55 am

    Congratulations!! Even though I do not “know” you, I am so proud, you rocked it, girl!

  • nicole October 4, 2008, 10:06 am

    First off, Congratulations! That is really impressive. I was also inspired by your comment on how far you come and how a year ago it was tough just running a 1/4 mile without tiring. So, I was wondering if you could share a little about how you got to this point and what you did to build up to where you are today. I have never enjoyed running for the simple fact that I can never go long distances without tiring so soon. I’m by no means overweight or out of shape, but I just don’t really know where to begin. It would be an absolute dream to one day run a race like your. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • VeggieGirl October 4, 2008, 10:13 am

    Challenges, schmallenges – you ROCKED that race, Caitlin!!! You are beyond inspiring and amazing, and you should be super proud :0) You’ll be MORE than ready for that race in February!!

  • Simple and Divine October 4, 2008, 10:28 am

    This is SO embarrassing, but I completely got teary-eyed when you mentioned that one day you won’t be able to run anymore. What a thought. That is SO true. It makes me think of life in SUCH a different way, too. One day, I won’t have another chance. It’s SO moving! (Read: That TOTM… hehe)

    Anyways, I’m just so impressed with how you’ve kept SUCH poise and SUCH trust in yourself throughout all of this. I wish my feet were healthy! Ugh, I cannot imagine how that feels… Maybe one day I’ll get to feel that. I’m really so proud of you Cait. You’re a marvel and a rolemodel to us all. We’re so lucky to have *met* you. 🙂

  • Meg October 4, 2008, 10:28 am

    That is so awesome! Sounds like you did great mentally and physically. I always love to hear about the post race events!

  • D10 October 4, 2008, 10:32 am

    Well done. You did a great job. Congratulations on beating your time too. You will definitely be able to run a sub 2 half.

    Glad you were able to keep everything down!

  • Gina October 4, 2008, 10:54 am

    congrats!! you should be so PROUD of yourself!
    ehhh i guess i’ll get off this chair (i’ve been doing hw all day!) and go for a run 😀
    congrats again on an AMAZING accomplishment!

  • GroundedFitness October 4, 2008, 11:02 am

    great job! i almost threw up after running this morning, too, but it was because i was a little hung over.

    where did you live in PA? I used to live in Oil City near Johnstown (teenie tiny town).

    Kelly Turner

  • hk October 4, 2008, 11:03 am

    you did it, girl!! SO AWESOME, congrats on an amazing run 🙂

  • Caitlin (see bride run) October 4, 2008, 11:34 am

    AWWW thanks guys!!!

    lexi – welcome to the blog! thanks for reading!

    janet – good luck! you can do it!

    nicole – hi! i think the key to improving your running is to take a good, hard look at your lifestyle. my dad and i were talking today about how the improvements in my diet, including pre and post workout snacks, plus pretty much giving up alcohol, has really improved my level of fitness.

    also, i think a lot of it has to do with picking a training plan and sticking to it. my motto has always been “fake it until you make it”! just get out there and RUN, and one day you’ll realize you’re faster than you ever dreamed.

    it helps to sign up for a race so you have something to train for. on my “tips” page (which also may be helpful), there’s a link to training plans. GOOD LUCK!

    simple and divine – you are too sweet. it’s true, huh? we’re got to appreciate what we have, when we have it!

    kelly – hahah i’ve yakked while running hungover. it is not cool. but way to go for still getting out there!!

  • eatingbender October 4, 2008, 11:45 am

    Wow, congratulations Caitlin!! I am super impressed and inspired by you! What a great race – you seriously do make me want to run, which is really saying something!

  • teacherwoman October 4, 2008, 11:57 am

    Great job on the Marine Corps Half Marathon! You totally rocked that race! WAHOO!!!

  • Amanda October 4, 2008, 12:06 pm

    congrats on such a great time!! it sounds like your race day was perfect – enjoy your time with your family!!!

  • Heather October 4, 2008, 12:31 pm

    Congratulations Caitlin! This post was very motivating, too.

    Interesting to hear that you didn’t want to eat after. I imagine that would the case after such physical exertion, but I never knew for sure. I can’t believe you burned so many calories!

  • sportsnutritionliving October 4, 2008, 12:31 pm

    congrats… such a great thing and a great feeling.. so nice your parents were there to support you and I am sure you will be able to brek your time.. I suggest doing some track workouts to increase your speed and help your pace

  • HangryPants October 4, 2008, 12:32 pm

    P.S. That Heather was me!

  • *Andrea* October 4, 2008, 12:36 pm

    WOWWWWWWWWW congrats!!! you did sooo great!!! buttermilk pancakes = well deserved~!

  • Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) October 4, 2008, 12:42 pm

    Congratulations Caitlin! You are awesome!

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina October 4, 2008, 1:05 pm

    congrats!!!!!!!!! so amazing and inspiring!!

  • Krista October 4, 2008, 1:55 pm

    I may not know you personally, but I am SO proud of you! You are such an inspiration. Great, great job, Caitlin!!!

  • aron October 4, 2008, 2:19 pm

    congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you did an amazing job 🙂 and great report too! so excited for you 🙂

  • Meghann October 4, 2008, 2:20 pm

    I have to tell you when you texted me your finish time I called my parents and told them how proud i was of you. I was gushing on how cool it was and everything. Unfortuatnely my parents were a little confused on why I was going on and on, but they wanted me to say Congrats!! That is amazing adn I honestly can’t wait until my half! I also can’t wait until Gaspirilla, I now have this urge to run what ever race we can. When you get back Sunday let me know so we can do a little celebrating!!!!

  • Leah October 4, 2008, 2:42 pm

    Congrats Caitlin!! You did a wicked job! I have to say that pic of you on the ground really shows how physical running is and how exhausting it can be! You did so amazing though and you are very inspiring! I hope to join a race someday like that.

  • lauren October 4, 2008, 2:49 pm

    congrats on your great time!!! You could do a sub 2 hour – no problem!

  • Erin of Care to Eat October 4, 2008, 2:59 pm

    You are so inspiring! That’s excellent Caitlin. I’m so happy for you!

  • just me October 4, 2008, 3:12 pm

    congrats caitlin!!! what an awesome job!!!!

  • emily October 4, 2008, 3:41 pm

    Congrats! All of you marathoners are so inspiring.

  • BeachRunner October 4, 2008, 3:50 pm

    Congrats on a great race and a great race report. Enjoy this well deserved PR. Well done.

  • talieworld October 4, 2008, 4:16 pm

    Congrats Caitlin!! I’m really proud of you!! 🙂

  • Justine October 4, 2008, 4:20 pm

    Congrats, Caitlin! I love reading your posts about running…they’re so inspiring and your posts are one of the reasons I’ve been getting into running more recently. I totally agree with the tangible improvements with running. I remember when running 2 or 3 miles was so hard and now the shortest run I do is 3 miles. I’m planning on working my way up to a half marathon sometime next year and this post just gets me so excited! Congrats again…you did awesome!

  • chandra October 4, 2008, 5:24 pm

    CONGRATS!!! I’m so so so happy for you, I was actually almost in tears reading this! 🙂 You sound so much like me – just over a year ago I could barely run 1/4 of a mile, and I’ve just recently started realizing I can run around 9:30 minute miles instead of 10:00… and my half marathon is 2 weeks from Sunday! Ahh… I’m so happy for you and you’ve made me even more excited for my race!! GREAT JOB GIRL!!

  • ms October 4, 2008, 5:57 pm

    wow, that is an awesome run!! you are very inspiring, caitlin. you were cruising through that half. what a great day for you.

  • Jen October 4, 2008, 6:33 pm

    WOW! You should be so proud! I hope to follow in your footsteps. At this point I am wondering when four mile runs don’t feel like a half marathon! 🙂
    You did great! Awesome!

  • Caitlin (see bride run) October 4, 2008, 6:53 pm

    sportsnutritionliving – yes!! i need to get into “speed work.” i definitely want to become faster!

    meghann – YYAYYYYY!!!! Wanna do U Can Finish 5.0 miler on the 19th??? 🙂 Call you tomorrow, my celly is dead, dead, dead.

    leah – seriously… i was pretty tired but excited. i DID notice that after last year’s 15K, i felt significantly more tired than I did have this half. which is good!

    justine – yayyy! way to go!! keep it up!

    chandra – you are too sweet. i KNOW you’ll rock that half marathon, b/c you did so well on your 10 miler!! GOOD LUCK!

    jen – keep at it and one day a 4 miler will feel like a stroll in the park — i promise!

  • Megan October 4, 2008, 7:55 pm

    Congrats on the Marathon!! Your such an inspiration! It really makes me want to start running 🙂

  • Kath October 5, 2008, 5:09 am

    CONGRATS on your PR!!!!

  • Tia October 5, 2008, 7:09 am

    All kinds of congratulations Caitlin, you are such and inspiration!! I just hope I can power through my first half with as much determination and dedication. Glad you didn’t get sick afterward and way to rock that time. Enjoy spending time with your family and refueling. Have a great rest of the weekend.

  • Bridget October 5, 2008, 9:57 am

    Congratulations Caitlin!! What an inspirational post.

  • Katie October 5, 2008, 3:59 pm

    way to go caitlin! two half-marathons in only a couple weeks AND you beat your time!

    LOVE the pic of you with the marines…

  • greendogwine October 5, 2008, 5:31 pm

    Awww Caitlin! I LOVED READING about your race! That is freaking awesome – you should be so proud of yourself – and walking around wiht your head held high! That time rocks! I have no doubt if under 2 hours is your goal for February that you’ll be able to get it done! CONGRATS! 🙂

  • Lauren @ Team Giles October 6, 2008, 11:29 am

    Congratulations!! this is amazing, ugh I teared up reading the part about you passing the finish line, thats so awesome! I barely know you, but I’m proud of you! that’s such an awesome accomplishment and you encourage and inspire me all the time!

  • KyleH May 27, 2009, 11:45 am

    What a great post.

  • Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama March 14, 2010, 4:12 am

    I loved reading this post – and yes, I know it is from a few years ago. I am running my first half marathon in 5 weeks and I wanted to read about your first half experience. You are such a STRONG runner and I can only hope to keep a 9:30 – 9:40 pace for my first half.
    PS – I kinda got freaked out when I saw the turkey sandwich AND sausage! But then I realized this was before you went vegetarian! =)

  • Heather May 13, 2010, 10:20 am

    the thing about your reading your post history a month at a time, is its a lot like waiting to watch a season of TV until the DVD comes out. When I read your training runs, and pre-race meals, I know that in just a few seconds I can read about your race, your celebraing, and what you were thinking about the week following your race.

    its kind of awesome.

    something tells me that when i finish with your blog history i will be moving on to some other bloggers i admire. this is just so much fun.

    (especially now that I can read other peoples comments as well. you know how i feel about that 🙂 )

    • Caitlin May 13, 2010, 1:13 pm

      hehe you are so cute. you are already in october!

  • Jen June 25, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Reading this pretty much brought tears to my eyes! I have my first half marathon coming up in October. I just started running one year ago, and I still struggle to run one mile without walking. Reading this was such great inspiration. You remind me every day that I can do anything I want, I just need to get out there and DO IT!

  • Ciera @ Rose and Thistle October 5, 2011, 4:58 pm

    Not sure if you’re aware but I’ve just been reading your half marathon recaps and the pics on this one and your Gasparilla post came up as (!) in the boxes? Just thought I’d give you a heads up…

    • Caitlin October 5, 2011, 6:01 pm

      Thanks! Trying to resolve!

  • Amanda Bowen February 6, 2013, 8:47 pm

    It’s so interesting that in this post you said that one day you might not be able to run because you might be, among other things, pregnant. And that is exactly what happened!! Bet you are glad to be back!

    Just browsing through some old favorite race recaps for motivation!

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