Finishing My First Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Country Music Half Marathon. This was the longest race I have ever done. I finished in 2:39:27. This was 11 minutes faster than my goal of 2:50.

Crossing the Finish Line

When I first began training, I just hoped to finish. Then, as my training progressed, I got a little more ambitious. I set a goal of 2:20. However, about three weeks ago, I came down with a really bad cold that turned into bronchitis. It took me two weeks to heal up, and I was not able to run for this entire time.

This proved to be a real dilemma. If I tried to run too early, I risked a relapse. If I didn’t run, I wouldn’t finish my training and risked not being able to go the distance. I took a deep breath and choose to wait until I was well. As it turned out this was a good decision.

I did it!

I ran last Monday for the first time in two weeks. I ran five miles. I then ran four miles last Thursday. I felt great, but was still concerned about finishing. The most I ever ran during my training was eight miles.

Yesterday (Friday), I finalized my race plan. Following Jeff Galloway’s method of running and walking, I decided that I would run three miles, walk a half mile, run three miles, walk a half mile, run three miles, walk a half mile, and then run the final 2.6 miles.

I was shooting for a 12-minute pace during my running segments. This was difficult. I had a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch on. So, I kept close track of my pace and heart rate. It was hard not to run faster, especially early on. With the live music, encouragement from spectators, and sheer energy of the event, I felt like sprinting. But I knew better. Several friends had warned me about going out too fast.

The Country Music Half Marathon has a number of hills. But, honestly, they didn’t bother me. It never crossed my mind that I might not finish. I was so caught up in the event; it was unbelievable. I felt great all the way through the race. I wasn’t even winded at the finish. It’s hard to believe that I only started running five months ago!

Gail and my daughter, Mary, were waiting at the finish. (Mary snapped the pictures above.) I was so happy to see them and proud of what I had accomplished. I felt higher than a kite. But I was thirsty and famished. I had burned nearly 2,000 calories. That’s about a full day’s worth of fuel for me. I promptly drank two bottles of water. On the way home, we stopped at Backyard Burger. I scarfed down a cheeseburger, a hot dog, and some french fries. I’m still thirsty!

I think Thomas Nelson had 40–45 people running. There were more than 25,000 total runners, so I didn’t see my team members often. I did a quick search on the Race Results Web site. It looks like Mark Schoenwald, our EVP and Chief Sales Officer, had the best time at 1:41:38, but that’s not official. I didn’t check everyone. I hope to post on this later. (If you know of someone who had a faster time, please e-mail me.)

I am definitely going to do this next event year. It was a great experience. I am hooked on running.

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