I approached this day much more relaxed than my previous two half marathons. I think it’s just experience. I also think it has to do with the fact that I’m not trying to bust any records at this point. I’m still just enjoying the fact that I can compete in a 13.1 mile race and finish it in a respectable time.

I got about 5 1/2 hours sleep the night before the race. That was plenty. I woke up and downed a bagel and hydrated. In fact, I drank quite a bit of water the day before the race so I approached the beginning of the race properly hydrated.

There were about 12 adults and children from Westside Baptist that had gathered to run in one of the races that morning. From what I observed, each of them did incredibly well and had a fantastic time in their respective race.

There were 336 other half marathoners that began to gather near the Start Line at 6:50am. I began to get a little jittery. This was the moment I had been preparing for and anticipating for a few months. The race was about to begin. How would it play out? How would I do? Would I make wise choices on when to drink water and/or Gatorade at the water stops? (I didn’t want to get waterlogged but also didn’t want to get dehydrated which is easy to do on long runs.) Would I finally cross the Finish Line in less than 2 hours? All of those questions and more swirled through my mind.

There was no gun or horn (at least not that I heard) to begin the race. Yet, as all of our eyes were fixed on the runners up ahead near the Start Line, I noticed that the front of the pack began to move forward and then take off. The race had started!!! I slowly got into a jog and crossed the Start Line as I pushed the button on my watch to begin tracking my race.

The first few miles were remarkably easy. I kept my pace at a comfortable speed (I guessed around 9:45 a mile) and I was a little surprised at how effortless it was. I wasn’t wearing my heart rate monitor but based upon my breathing, my body was ready for this race. 

Kim took this picture at mile 11.5
As I climbed the hill on Highway 641 and completed mile 4, I was beginning to feel a little winded. I expected this. My pace and breathing were still under control, though, so I maintained. However, I also started to feel like I needed to drop by one of the porta-potties (hey, runners talk about everything! lol). I stopped for a quick pitstop at mile 6 and only lost fractions of a minute.

Unfortunately, as I approached the halfway point, it began to hit me that I was running out of steam. I suspect that was due to: 1) mismanaging my hydration levels probably due to the heat and 2) not having enough long runs over 6 miles in my recent training.

As I approached the 7 1/2 mile mark, I found myself almost panicking. I was looking ahead and hoping/praying that there was a water stop. My mouth and lips were really getting dry. I wasn’t feeling dizzy so I wasn’t worried about any medical emergencies. I just knew that I was blowing my chance to finish in a sub-2 hour time. I suspected that my significant drop in energy was due to the fact that I wasn’t getting enough liquid in my body to replace what I was losing in sweat.

I think I stopped to walk the first time as I was working on mile 8. My average pace had looked so good up to that point. But, I was watching my average pace slowly creep up the more I had to stop and walk. The hills on miles 8 and 9 weren’t helping either!

For the remainder of the run, I stopped to walk quite a bit. I tried to walk a few seconds to no more than 30 seconds at a time. The crowds on the side of the road were growing and their cheers were really helping. I even smiled as I periodically recognized someone from Westside Baptist Church. Seeing my family and a group of church members around mile 11.5 was so refreshing. But, the frequent walking kept happening. Wwhen you’ve run out of gas … well … you’ve run out of gas.

I couldn’t have been more pleased to see the Finish Line! I was toasted … but when it was all said and done, I was still pleased with my overall time. Maybe I’ll get a sub-2 hour finish time in my next half marathon.

Here are the numbers:

Time it took me to complete the race – 2:12.09 (2 hours, 12 minutes, 9 seconds)

My personal gps map created during the race.
Green signifies faster speeds.
Dark red shows where I walked.

Paces per mile:

Mile 1 – 9:17
Mile 2 – 9:31
Mile 3 – 9:34
Mile 4 – 9:12
Mile 5 – 9:05
Mile 6 – 9:50
Mile 7 – 9:39
Mile 8 – 10:10
Mile 9 – 10:30
Mile 10 – 10:47
Mile 11 – 11:09
Mile 12 – 10:43
Mile 13 – 11:23
Last .1 mile – 9’34”

337 = total half marathoners
162nd place = my ranking among all racers (161 runners in front of me; 175 behind me)

136 = total male runners
92th place = my ranking among male runners (91 male runners in front; 44 behind me)

20 = total male runners 40-44 years of age
13th place = my ranking among these runners (12 in front; 7 behind me)