Half-Marathon Recap

October 10, 2011 at 10:41 am 14 comments

I love road races. The energy that emanates from the thousands of runners gathered with both collective and individual goals is incredible. People of all shapes, sizes, levels of fitness and experience come together with the single purpose of running the best race they can. It leaves me smiling and bouncing out of my seat with excitement, like a kid on Christmas morning.


We boarded the shuttle buses at 7am to head over to Boston’s Franklin Park, full from a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a lot of water. The weather yesterday was unseasonable – 7am and it was already 65 degrees outside. The high for the day was 81, so we continued to guzzle down water in light of the heat advisory and fear of dehydration. We arrived, got our bibs pinned on straight, stretched and warmed up a bit, and swapped last-minute tips with our friends. After a final run to the bathroom and bag check station, we were corralled inside the gates with the thousands of people registered to run that day.

before race 1

before race 2

Matching was not planned...

They attempt to split you up by projected mile pace (6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 minute mile starts) but chaos and disorganization is inevitable with so many runners. After the Star Spangled Banner, the start gun went off and we began the slow trot to the start line. After crossing the line that would trip our timers, we took off. My roommate and I were planning on running the same pace, so we stuck together for the first few miles, weaving through the crowd and enjoying the beautiful early morning sunshine. We hit the first mile marker, and were shocked to find that we ran our first mile an 8 minutes. We blamed it on adrenaline, and tried to slow down a bit. Our second mile was just as fast though! I started to feel the heat a bit by mile 5, since the day was warming up quickly and there was only intermittent shade. I was sipping water at every stop, but still was starting to feel dehydrated. I was feeling chilled, and realized I wasn’t sweating enough! I slowed down through the next water stop, walking through to ensure I had plenty of time to drink. My official split time at 5 miles was 42:10, much faster than I anticipated!

At mile 8, they handed out goo, the sugary energy boost popular for long distance competitive events. I had a goo pack during the bike portion of my triathlon, and it was a huge life saver during that race, replenishing my energy levels and helping me get through the rest of the ride. I took the goo and a cup of water, but was immediately nauseous after one small sip. I tried to force one more sip down and then wash it down with water, but gave up after that. I realized that goo is pure sugar, which my body hadn’t seen in 3 weeks. No wonder it revolted! I dealt with nausea over the next mile or so, eventually falling behind my roommate as I walked through the next water station to rehydrate. I kept a good pace, clocking in my 10 miles at 1:28, 2 minutes under my planned 90 minutes.

Eventually, I saw my roommate’s blue tank top in the distance, but this time she was walking with another familiar blue shirt. I jogged up to them, only to find that our friend was in trouble. He was dealing with heat stroke and dehydration, staggering and delirious. Another runner had stopped to help him, noticing that he was weaving and about to faint. We walked with him for several minutes, but he told us that he already had help and the medics were on the way. He didn’t want to ruin our race, so he begged that we kept going. Torn, we left him with the Good Samaritan runner. At this point, my head was no longer in the game. I was worried about my friend, and also conscious of the fact that the conditions were potentially dangerous. I drank 2 full cups of water at the next stop to avoid dehydration, and allowed myself to walk off a cramp at one point. My roommate and I stuck together from this point forward, in case either of us ran into similar heat trouble. When we reached mile 12, we checked our watches and realized that our goal of completing the race in under 2 hours was still in reach. We picked up our pace, passing runners again as we ran through the final curves of the course. When we reached the final 400m, we looked at each other and decided to sprint. We crossed the finish line at 1:59, just making our goal!  WE DID IT! Exhausted, thirsty, and in pain, we staggered for water and Gatorade. I realized how much my hip was hurting, and was crippled by a cramp in my foot that traveled up my leg. I sucked down some water and got a bite of bagel and banana, while collecting more food for later.

Before we could celebrate our own achievement, we had to head to the medic tent to check on our friend. Unfortunately, we didn’t know his number and they could not tell us anything about his condition without it. Still worried, we met our other friends at our planned spot and waited. Our fastest friends, who completed the race around 1:45, were there waiting for us. Our slower friends then trickled in. Finally, our heat-exhausted friend came to the meeting spot, medal and all. He fainted after we left him, but was revived with plenty of water and a few minutes to rest. He doesn’t remember much, but walked the last 3 miles of the race. He was one of two of our friends who ended up with heat stroke in the medic tent, and luckily both ended up being okay. When we were all together again, we celebrated our individual and collective accomplishments! We all finished the race, many of us achieving PR’s despite the heat. Most importantly, we were all safe and together again.


Victory is ours!

The celebrating continued at our friend’s house with a cookout. We shared the triumphs and tribulations of our personal struggles throughout the race, and laughed about and celebrated the day. It felt more like a summertime afternoon than an early fall day, especially with the grill roaring and the abundant BBQ food. I still had little appetite, likely still recovering from the adrenaline, dehydration and volume of water I imbibed, so I grazed slowly. I started with some pita chips and tatziki. I grazed on grapes. A few hours later, my stomach rumbled, so I got a veggie burger off the grill and topped it with some guacamole. Full from that and a veggie skewer, I continued to rehydrate. Quickly, I was hungry again! I enjoyed some juicy watermelon for dessert, and enjoyed my first baked good in several weeks!


Our lovely hosts


Proud of our accomplishments, and enjoying the post-race food and watermelon!

That reminds me: an update on the sugar fast! Our three weeks are up, and so I can once again enjoy sugar! I must admit: I did cheat a few times. I took my “get out of jail free pass” to attend a friend’s dessert party, and occasionally snuck a granola bar or handful of yogurt-covered raisins while studying at the library. Was the experiment worth it? Yes and no! I think it was an interesting idea, and really made me aware of how much added sugar I consume, even with a relatively healthy diet. I don’t regularly consume baked goods or obvious sugar-laden treats, but do love jams, granola, and other sweetened treats. The only problem with giving up sugar before the race was that it made my body unable to tolerate the energy boosts classically given in a race. I doubt that the sugar fast helped my speed, but it was a fun experiment to make me more mindful of what I consumed on a daily basis.

My race day celebration ended with a group movie night to watch “Chariots of Fire.” I had never seen the classic, and enjoyed watching a movie that celebrated running and the inner drive of true athletes. Between that and the leftover race excitement, I know that I am still hooked on running and am looking forward to more races in the future!

Question: Do you have Columbus Day off? Did you do anything exciting with your long weekend?

Entry filed under: Running. Tags: , , , , , .

Carbo-loading Recovery Milkshake

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide  |  October 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

    That’s awesome! Under two hours is really good.

  • 3. Amanda (Adele) D  |  October 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    My first half-marathon is coming up and I’m getting nervous! I can’t wait to cross the finish line! :) I know I won’t be nearly as fast as you were! Great job :)

    • 4. homemadeadventure  |  October 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      That’s so exciting! Good luck and enjoy the race! Can’t wait to hear about it :)

  • 5. goingsteadyblog  |  October 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Congrats on your successful race! I’m glad your friends are okay.

  • 7. EmandM  |  October 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Ah!! Congrats Jen!! =) So glad you made your goal time!

  • 9. Adventure Racing  |  October 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Awesome race, Congratulations for a great job well done. Looking forward always.

  • 10. Don Grant  |  October 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Dear Jen
    Congratulations on another great accomplishment. We look forward to talking with you soon
    Grandma & Pop

  • 12. WIAW While Recovering « homemadeadventure  |  October 12, 2011 at 7:05 am

    […] for another WIAW! Thank goodness this is a short week! I really needed Monday to recover from my half-marathon and other related festivities! I spent the day doing laundry, prepping snacks for the week, and […]

  • 13. realfunfood  |  October 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Great recap! I’m very interested in running a half marathon soon so hopefully I’ll be writing a recap of my own in a few months :)

    • 14. homemadeadventure  |  October 12, 2011 at 7:34 am

      That’s so exciting! I love this race distance – have fun training!


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