Back in April, my son Christian and I completed our first official race, the 2011 Cooper River Bridge Run. I wrote about it here. That race was the culmination of a year long training cycle for us. It was also the starting point for a new challenge: Finish a half marathon. A few weeks ago, we loaded up in the car to drive the 2 1/2 hours from Summerville to Myrtle Beach to achieve that goal.
Actually, with the addition of my two daughters, Michaela and Johahna, we ended up making an entire weekend adventure out of the event. It was a GREAT weekend. I introduced my kids to one of my favorite pizza joints: The Mellow Mushroom (they are now fans as well). Michaela and Johahna completed their first 5K fun run, 34:17 and 34:20 respectively (great job girls!). We had the 1st annual Palmer Putt-Putt Invitational (I dominated), followed by a cut-throat game of high stakes Uno. Then, of course, there was the 1/2 Marathon for Christian and I on Sunday.
Neither of us slept well Saturday night, due to the excitement. Nonetheless, we were up and out of the hotel by 5:45 to catch the shuttle to the start. the shuttle was running a little behind, and we didn’t get on the bus until about 6:15, which had many of the runners getting pretty anxious since the race started at 7:00. We arrived at the start about 6:30, and saw the last 10 minutes of the Medieval Times exhibition, which was pretty cool), then made our way to the corral, grabbed some water, popped a GU and got ready to run!
Our goal was to finish in 2:11 or better, which translates to a 10 minute/mile pace. We have been training, using Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method and we set out using a 4:45 run-walk ratio (4 minute run/45 second walk). The weather was perfect at the start of the race: 50 degrees and sunny. Christian and I started out feeling strong and were running about a 10:15 mile pace when we reached mile two, so we picked up the pace a little to try and get on track for our goal.
We reached mile 6 at about 58 minutes, putting us right where we wanted to be, but Christian had started having some GI issues. He had a stomach bug earlier in the week, but thought he was over it. However, we were forced to stop at the port-a-potties at the 1/2 way point. We lost about 3-4 minutes there, and when Christian came out, he said he would have to stop again, but we could go on for now. We were able to get back on a good pace, and hold it for the next few miles, but at mile 9 1/2, Christian was in trouble again. After another visit to the port-a-potties, we were off again. He said he felt better, but I could tell he was struggling a bit with stomach cramps.
At mile 11, we passed our hotel, where the girls were waiting. True to form, Christian put a smile on his face, bowed out his chest and put on the “gun show” for his sisters with the camera. At that point I knew he was going to finish strong. We ran together to the 12 mile marker and then, Christian told me to go ahead and see what I had left.
At that point, I was not sure where I was at with regards to time, but I decided to give it all I had to finish strong. I turned off my GymBoss, and “dumped the tank” for the last mile. The only negative thing I had to say concerning the race was about the final stretch leading into the finish line. It was on the boardwalk, and the path for the last 600-800 meters was too narrow and curvy to sprint. I was having to weave in and out of other runners, and it really broke my stride near the end. I probably lost 30-40 seconds due to that. Nonetheless, I finished in 2:15:03. Considering the fact that we lost about 8 1/2 minutes at the port-a-potties, I was very pleased with this time. As soon as I got my medal, I turned to see how Christian was going to finish. To my surprise, I found that he was less than a minute behind me, finishing in 2:15:47. Apparently, he couldn’t stand to see his old man leaving him behind!
So, as always, I have to stop and think about what I have learned from this experience. There are many, but here are a few:
- 13.1 miles is not impossible as I once thought it was.
- I love spending time with my kids.
- Jeff Galloway is a genius (Run-Walk-Run works people!).
- I still don’t drink enough water.
- Changing from “heel strike” to “mid-foot strike” was the best running decision I have ever made.
- My son has more tenacity than I sometimes give him credit for.
- Marathon runners may not be as crazy as I once thought they were (or I am getting more crazy the longer I run!).
- I still can do more than I think I can do.
All in all, I don’t think I could have asked for a much better experience on my first long distance race. We had some challenges, but both finished strong with smiles on our faces and hunger to do another race soon. The entire weekend was a blast! Speaking of that, we are still training for our next race: The Charleston Marathon in January. Come run with us!
If you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be?), you can see more pictures from our weekend here.