Half marathon race report

On Saturday I race my first half marathon (Charlotte Thunder Road/Amica Half Marathon). I set this goal in January and worked hard all year to get in shape for it.  It was an excellent day and one I am very proud of.

After thoroughly enjoying my week of taper the big day was upon me. Friday was spent with my daughter and parents going to the race expo, shopping, eating and resting.  The race expo was very nice – and the packet pick-up was easy and we got a very nice technical tee. This one I could actually see myself wearing on my training runs.

I made sure to get a lot of sleep all week because pre-race jitters usually keep me up. I was prepared, my race geared was all laid out and there was nothing else to do but sleep, get up and run. I actually slept really well Friday night and woke up refreshed and excited. The taper is awesome – my legs felt good and strong and ready to run.  The temperature outside was COLD – it was 23 degrees when I woke up at 5:00 and not going to get much warmer. The good thing is that up until Thursday the weather forecast was a rainy, wintery mix for race day. Cold and dry and I handle. I was going to wear my shorts, but I decided not to. I brought my new running pants and wore my compression shorts underneath. For my top I decided on my tank top and a long sleeve wicking tee over the top. I debated about a light jacket, but I knew when I got going I would get hot.

The race start time was 7:50. I decided on a 5:00 wake-up to drink a cup of coffee, have an English muffin with almond butter and honey and water. After I ate I got dressed and took Mollie outside for a walk and my warm-up. I did some walking, a few short sprints and some stretches. It was the final test to make sure my outfit was going to be comfortable. It was.

We planned on getting there about 6:50. Everything went as planned. The race start was really nice. The Charlotte Convention Center was open and all the bathrooms were normal indoor bathrooms – NO PORTA-POTTIES!!!. There were plenty of bathrooms so no big lines. The starting line was right outside the doors we we could stay inside until the last minute. We walked around and I stretched until it was time to toe the line (well, I was pretty far back so my toes were not actually on the starting line!! )

I found a good position right behind a 10 minute, half marathon pace team. I didn’t know there were pace teams for the half so that was pretty exciting. The start was pretty fun – they had a couple of Nascars out and revved the engines before the gun went off. We were off!  My plan was to stick with the pace guy, but no sooner did we cross the starting line and I lost track of him. The marathon pacers were wearing bright orange shirts with their pace times on the back – apparently the half marathon pacers were unofficial so there were no distinguishing features. I lost him and never saw him again!

The first three miles were downhill and I was able to run a 9:30 pace. I felt so good. I had some worries about going out too fast, but it was a slight downhill and I felt great so I just went with it. I could always slow down when I had to.

Miles 4-6 leveled out and had small rolling hills through beautiful neighborhoods. I decided not to use my iPod since I will not be able to use it for the marathon. Plus I really just wanted to be part of the race and not zone out. I am so happy I did it this way. There were some really great crowds on the course and music at various places. People were constantly cheering. my bib came with my name on it so people would actually shot out my name – “way to go Laura”, “looking good Laura”… it was pretty neat.

I decided to take my first Gu at mile 4. The water station came and I got a cup of Power Ade (yuck, by the way). Then I took my Gu. Big mistake – I had nothing to wash it down with so I had a pastey mouth for the next mile or so. Luckily there were water stations every 2 miles and mile 6 came fast. This time I stuck with water.

At mile 6.2 there was an official check point and I clocked in at 1:04. From here to the end were pretty much all uphill. There were a couple of short downhills that I tried to run faster to make up for lost time, but it didn’t help much. My pace slowed considerable and I think around mile 8 I was at my slowest of a 10:18 pace. Mile 8 is also where I planned my next Gu. The plan was to take it before the water station, then grab a water to wash it down. I pulled it out and started to open it and dropped it. Now this was a big decision – keep running or stop and bend down (the hardest part) and pick it up. I bent down and picked it up – that was HARD. Luckily nobody was on my heels so I had room. I got it, opened it and took the first gulp. For some reason it was all I could do to swallow it. I thought I was going to gag but I didn’t. I have been doing so well with the Gu – I so wish I had brought some chews. I couldn’t finish the pack and just dropped it. I did get some Power Ade this station – it was gross, but I could feel my face crusting up with the salt I was losing. I really needed the electrolytes. and sodium.

I spent the next couple of miles thinking that I was just doing a training run. I was just doing mile repeats I told myself… I did them just the other day and survived so I could survive this.

Mile 10. Even though it was still mostly uphill I felt renewed – like I came out of long tunnel. Only 3.1 miles left to go – that is a 5K. I can run that in 30 minutes…. I passed the 10 mile clock and checked my Garmin – I had been running 1 hour and 44 minutes. I knew could pick the pace back up and be done in 30 minutes. I could – if the darn road would flatten out!!!  HILLS, HILLS, HILLS!

Mile 11, mile 12… the turn-off for the half. If I continued straight I would go the full marathon route – something I did not want to do! Turn right and I am 1.1 miles away from stopping! YIPPEE!  There was one big hill ahead. There was a water station that I passed by – I would like to think I flew by it, but I didn’t. Up at the top of the hill there were a bunch of teenagers playing loud rap music – it gave me the boost I need. I rounded the corner and saw the finish line and heard more music and crowds cheering. Then a detour!! WHAT!? I guess in order to get that final .1 mile they had to loop us UP and a small parking lot and done. It was the stupidest little hill you could ever imagine but it just about did me in. Finally back to the main road the finish was in sight.

I knew I had to do a couple of things. 1) Look for Katheryn and my parents and 2) smile. There are cameras all around at the finish line and I did not want to look like I was dying. I wasn’t – I felt great, but my face did not always portray that feeling. I spotted my family cheering and waving wildly. They had cow bells and pom poms – it was great. I tried to kick it in over the finish – I felt like Jackie-Joyner Kersey, but looking at the footage my dad took it looked like I was barely running!!! So funny!

I crossed the line and I was so happy to see that we got medals!!! I also got wrapped in one of those silver space blanket things that you see marathoners getting wrapped in.

I ended up finishing in 2:16:08. My goal was to finish before 2:20, more specifically 2:18. I did a bit better. My final average pace was 10:15.

I walked off to the side of the road with my water and waited for my family to catch up. It was so great having them there! It made it such a special race.



  1. weightosuccess

    You’re smashing all your goals and i’m so happy for you!!!

  2. Great report. I posted some photos on picasa for you to include here. It sure was another fun weekend with you, Katheryn and Mollie.

  3. lauraph2009

    thank you for the pictures!!!

  4. Ashley

    Good for you Laura! Reading your story…I felt like I was there!

  5. lauraph2009

    Thanks Ashley!

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