YEA I DID IT! After finishing my first Half Marathon and first road race!!
Back on May 10th (yes I looked up the date!) I registered for my first half marathon: the Dublin National Lottery Half on September 17th. I had been running almost daily for a year and was ready to race. The timing of the race was perfect, exactly 3 weeks after arriving in Galway I’d be headed off to Dublin to run 13.1 miles. So I paid the registration fee online and laced up my tennis shoes to finally get off the treadmill and tackle running distance outside.
In my transition from Purdue, home, China, home, Bloomington (whew May was a hectic month) I didn’t start training until June when I started my internship at Cook Medical. I found some running routes in Bloomington with the help of the many coworkers who were seasoned runners (many had their bibs in their cubicles, how’s that for daily motivation), the only downside was the HILLS! I trained on a super hilly route in the intense heat and humidity of an Indiana summer but I loved it (even though I may have complained about it a bit at the time…).
So I trained by myself, not really following a strict training plan but ran at least 3 times a week, with a long run on the weekends, held off on the strength training, but went to a ton of yoga classes. Training kind of took over my life, so sorry if you thought I was no fun this summer, but I loved having a goal and loved running. I don’t have much experience running with buddies but I knew I didn’t want to enter into this adventure all alone, so luckily CW signed up to race too.
Enough of my rambling …. PICTURE TIME!
A group of international students took the bus from Galway to Dublin (only 20euro round-trip and about a 2.5hr drive) after classes on Friday. The city was gorgeous all lit up and there were tons of people out and about. We checked into Isaac’s Hostel and then headed out for some CARBS, naturally we ended up at an Italian restaurant downtown. My dinner was yummy, just what I wanted the night before a race, simple pasta with marinara sauce. However, I did miss the homemade spaghetti sauce that I was spoiled with throughout my entire childhood.
Dinner was fun, we finally chatted about topics other than senior design and finite element analysis. However, the highlight of the evening was the definitely the old man signing Italian songs (you know with the deep, raspy voice) and a Canadian women sitting super close to the speakers, drinking wine, and crying because she just loved the performance. How’s that for entertainment for the night – she even bought his CD and asked if he’d be doing a tour anytime soon!
After dinner, the rest of the crew hit the town but CW and I went back to the hostel, stretched a bit, and hit the sack – we had a big day ahead of us. Fortunately for us, the Irish don’t start their races at the crack of dawn as is accustom in the US, our race didn’t start until 10am. This gave us plenty of time to get up, eat, run to Phoenix Park (about a 3.5 mile warm up jog), pick up our registration packets, and get ready for the late start.
It was a bit gloomy, but luckily no rain. Having trained in hot, humid but usually dry weather, it takes me awhile to warm up in this 60 F weather, and I hate the rain (totally makes you appreciate the dry days, but my Irish classmates say is only gets worse throughout the winter months, oh no). Here are some pictures from Phoenix Park and our jog over.
The Wellington Monument in the middle of the park, some Duke built it and it was supposed to be a lot taller, but he ran out of funds – kind of reminded my of the Washington Monument. Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed park in any city in Europe, it was super green and relatively flat.
This is Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the Irish President. There is actually a presidential election at the end of October, and they just started campaigning – putting up cardboard signs in Galway (pictures to come!), stories in the newspapers, and public appearances. It is interesting to see such a stark difference from the presidential campaigns in the US, hopefully I can learn more about the whole process in the next few weeks.
Go ahead and make fun of my dorky pose/photo op Clare I know you want to (….haha). We found our way to the tent, checked in and got our bibs. I’ll skip the next segment of time which included not knowing where to throw our stuff (the rest of the crew was sleeping at the hostel still), waiting in huge lines for the port-a-loo (loved the name), and totally forgetting to make a plan for a post-race reunion – o well we were both super excited for our first half marathon race!
There were a ton of runners (registration was maxed out at 8500) and the starting line was a bit hectic. CW said good luck and he headed to the front of the pack. I started with the 90-120 min finish time group, only a bit behind the 2hr pacers, which were honestly guys in brightly colored spandex suits with huge balloons that said their pace time tied around their waste – is this normal?
I was extremely anxious chilling by myself in the corral, I just wanted to run. The longest run I had under my belt at that point was 11.5 miles on my regular route with the cows in Bloomington, no water, and the bright shining sun. I knew I could finish the 13.1 miles, just wasn’t sure how I would handle all the people and a new route.
I was excited to be running, tried to keep calm and under control and start slow (I swear that was the only thing I said to myself for the first 6 miles). It was mostly flat, although I was a tad bit excited for the hill at mile 5 (who am I?). The first half of the race was fun, definitely was cruising along, passing people (I may have started a bit far back) and just taking it all in. There wasn’t much to see, so I mainly jammed out to my music on my iPhone and people watched (more like runner watched, there weren’t a ton of spectators).
Mile 10 and 11 were a bit rough, we were on a narrow, muddy trail. I just wanted to know what the rest of the course looked like, and not stress out about if I could run it. I knew I could and stuck with it and finished strong (I even ran fast – can’t really say sprinted – the last 400m)!
I’d really wished I had more pictures from the race, but alas I wasn’t photographed by the fancy camera dude—probably because I ran on the opposite side of everyone else, the traffic was making me antsy. Maybe next race I’ll hire someone to take pictures of me, or just utilize my slave-labor I like to call my sister and brother
And yes I will be signing up for another race. I’m going to stick with the half marathon for now, and leave marathon training for a summer a few years down the road. My nifty running app on my iPhone (Nike+ if you care…I highly recommend it!) let me download my splits, and I have my official time from the chip on my bib [1:48:40].
My mom claims that this is the same pace I ran in 8th grade cross-country. Now I may believe her, it was a good run, long, fun, but I wasn’t dead at the end like I imagined. However, I don’t remember having much fun in middle school cross-country (I’m sure there are a lot of great reasons…I remember a lot of rain and mud!). But, I think it had to do with the competitive nature of such an individual sport. My only goal for my first half was to finish the race – but I was pumped to come in under 2 hours! – and for my next race I guess I need to have a better pacing plan to make the most of all my training.
Sorry if this post wasn’t as fun as the last few, I enjoyed thinking back about race day though! I am sad training is over, I liked working out and running with a purpose and am still looking for a half marathon for when I get back to the States. If anyone (especially someone around my speed) would like to sign up with me – let’s do it! If not, Clare and Mom (and probably Dad and John who are we kidding) I’ll be dragging you along as my cheering section!
I’ll be back with the rest of our weekend in Dublin. We walked a lot but hit a lot of the major sites – Guinness Brewhouse, St. Patrick’s, Trinity University, the Dublin Castle – can’t wait to share with you!