We headed up to Mandeville on Saturday to pick up our packet at Varsity Sports
After we picked up our stuff, we made our way over to meet Matt’s parents at Fontainebleau State Park. Since the half was going to start and end in the park, we asked Matt’s parents to go camping there that weekend so that we didn’t have to spend money on a hotel. When we were settled in the campground, Matt and I decided to walk to the race start to make sure we didn’t get lost in the morning. We also wanted to see how long it would take us to get there to decide whether or not we would walk to the start before the race. It didn’t take long at all to find where they were setting up for the race, which was along the beach. Since we were there we decided to do a little exploring.
After exploring the area we headed back to the campground. Seeing how beautiful it was along the route, I was even more excited to run the next morning. I didn’t think that was possible. We ate a small supper then everyone sat down to watch some football. We wanted to watch the LSU game, but it wasn’t on a channel that we could catch. It turns out that it wasn’t a bad thing that we didn’t watch it because they lost anyway. ;)
Around 8 pm I think everyone was falling asleep, so we decided to get to bed. When we went to set up the sofa bed in the camper, we discovered that the air mattress was missing. That wasn’t good. Matt and I stacked some blankets on the floor as a makeshift bed. That made me nervous. I didn’t want to be sore for my very first half marathon because we had to sleep on the floor. Oh well…
When the morning rolled around, sleeping on the floor definitely made it easier to get up. Surprisingly I didn’t have a bad night. Sure, I rolled over a few times to get more comfortable, but I think since I was exhausted it helped me sleep through the night.
Matt and I got dressed. It was a pretty chilly morning, which made me sad that I forgot to grab an old jacket to wear before the race. When it was time to head out, I fixed us each a bottle of Generation UCan. I know that you aren’t supposed to try anything new on race day, but I heard so many good things about this stuff that I was anxious to try it out. The only bad thing that I heard was that the texture wasn’t the best, so people had a hard time drinking it. I put the GenUCan back into the empty water bottles so that we could drink it on the way to the race, then throw the bottle away when we were done. I was surprised with how easy it was to drink and with how good it tasted. So far we were off to a good start with the GenUCan, but that wouldn’t matter if I didn’t have a good race. I also brought a Gu and a Honey Stinger waffle for just in case I needed it while running.
We made it to the start line about half an hour before the race. I headed to the line for the port a potties, and while there I saw some other girls wearing Sparkle Skirts. After that we went huddle with everyone else to try and warm up before heading to the corral. Before we knew it, it was time to start!
In the beginning of the first mile we stuck with the group instead of running our intervals, but as soon as the crowd spread out, we started to run/walk/run like we trained. Soon we began to hear people cheering, and we wondered what was going on up ahead. It didn’t seem like it took long to get to the first mile marker, and when we turned a bend in the road, we saw that the commotion was a group of volunteers at the first water station. They were so excited, and it was great to see that much energy from the crowd so early in the morning. After that we left the park and headed out onto the street through Mandeville. Because it was cold when we started, it took my body a little while to defrost. I think that happened about three miles into the race, and after that I was comfortable for the rest of the time.
I think this race had around 750 runners. At times it felt like we were all alone, but there was always another group of runners in sight. I enjoyed running along the lake because it was so pretty. I think it was in this area that a lady asked me about my skirt. They added a 10 mile option to the race, and the turn off for the 10 miler was in the area along the lake. Matt and I didn’t take that turn. ;)
Before we knew it, we were halfway through the race, and still feeling great! In training we would be about to take our second gel, but because of the GenUCan we didn’t need to take any fuel while on the course. I think it was around that time that I became a believer in this new pre race product. While we were on the course Matt and I were only taking water at every other station. We decided to drink the Gatorade at mile 11 to restore some electrolytes.
Towards the end of the race we were running on the bike trail. It was a nice area to run through, and we were surrounded by trees. It was on this stretch of the course that we were proven how great intervals are during races. This was where we started passing up the people that left us behind earlier in the race. I’ve never really cared about my time or how many people were ahead of me, but I must admit that I did a little dance in my head when we caught up to, then passed people that were a good bit ahead of us in the beginning.
We knew that we were getting close to the end when we could hear the crazy cheering again. It was even more fun to run through that water station the second time! Matt and I were the only two people passing through, so everyone had enough time to read the names on our bibs. I never realized how much energy you can get from someone cheering you on by name. Now I can understand why some runners decide to put their names on their shirts.
The last mile was fun, and whenever we made it to the finish line, Matt and I clasped hands and sprinted through like usual.
We did it! We survived our first half marathon!!!
We collected our medals and bottles of water, then headed over to get some food. Since the only thing we had that day was GenUCan and water, we were pretty hungry, but it wasn’t an unbearable hunger like that weekend that we were supposed to run 15 miles. I also didn’t feel the least bit sick or dizzy like the weekend that we ran 13 miles. I will definitely be using GenUCan for my future races and long runs!
Matt’s parents came meet us at the post race party, and we stayed there for a little while longer. I managed to pluck up the courage to say hi and introduce myself to Mindy, who had also ran the half. This was her 17th half marathon!
All in all the weather was perfect, and I couldn’t have asked for a better race to have been my first half marathon! Hopefully there will be many more races in my future, but for now my focus will shift to the Space Coast Half in December!
I can’t wait!!!