Join me as I travel around the country to fulfill my goal of running a marathon or half marathon in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Race #1: Publix Gasparilla Half Marathon – Tampa, Florida – February 28, 2009 – Finish Time: 2:23:46

My first half marathon was quite an experience. I had no idea what time I was going to get, nor did I care. My goal was to not walk – and frankly, I amazed myself when I actually met my goal. Erin and I signed up for the race with our friends Zach and Eileen, so it was nice to have a group to walk to the start line with (no need to worry about hotels or taxis as we lived pretty close to the start line). I was nervous on race day because at this point I really didn’t consider myself a runner and I was actually worried that I might be the last person to cross the finish line. It was enlightening to get to the race and realize that runners come in every age, size, and shape and that not every person is decked out in the latest Nike running gear. The course was our familiar stomping grounds and the weather was decent (February in Florida = perfect running temps, although it did start drizzling for a bit). Trying to think back now I believe that my longest training run was 10 or 11 miles, so I was nervous about the last two. It’s always scary to realize that you are about to run further than you’ve ever run in your entire life. The course double backed at one point so that you were passing by runners who were about a mile ahead of you. I remember seeing Erin and Zach at one point and just being so stinkin’ happy that we were all doing this together. I couldn’t stop smiling (and fist pupping for those key race photo spots)…then mile 11 came. I hit a wall and slowed my pace to a speed I like to call “trotting.” I'm pretty sure I was passed by several grandmas, but I preferred to think I was hallucinating. I was doing everything I could to not walk the last quarter mile when a woman who was running at about the same pace as myself, yet not struggling nearly as much as I was, started encouraging me. She had clearly noticed the firetruck red color and the grimacing expression on my face and decided it was her personal duty to get me across that finish line. She was saying simple things like “you can do this” and “finish it out for all the women out there” and “we’re strong.” I’m not sure if she was running on behalf of a women’s advancement group or what, but it sure as heck worked and if she ever reads this blog: thank you! (I really hope she interpreted my head nodding as an appreciation, because there was no possible way I could muster enough oxygen to respond to her encouragement with any actual words). I made it across the finish line and promptly discovered the bliss of post-race free food. Bagel, orange, banana, granola bar, and yogurt all in my belly right this second? Yes, please. I just ran a half marathon (wow! Those words feel weird, yet ridiculously empowering coming out of my mouth).
Eileen, me, and Erin before the Gasparilla Half Marathon

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