I did it! I am now officially a half-marathoner! I completed the OUC Half-Marathon in downtown Orlando on Dec. 3.
As you may remember, it was my first half-marathon and I had no time goal. I would have been happy to stumble across the finish line in any shape, but I totally surpassed my own expectations and finished–feeling strong and smiling!–at a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 56 seconds. That’s a 10 minute and 13 second mile, or just a little slower than my old 5K pace! Below are my impressions of the race itself, as well as my personal half-marathon experience.
The course began and ended at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, and it circled around the city through many familiar neighborhoods. What the course lacked in novelty and excitement, it made up for in familiarity, which made it a reassuring choice for my first half. Also, it gave me some real perspective to see just how far I was running. I drive these areas all the time, and I never would have imagined traveling that far on foot.
The course was very conducive to a good time. It was mostly flat, never too crowded, and the morning offered up perfect weather in the high 50s and low 60s.
The spectators didn’t show up in droves, but I loved seeing small groups and individuals all through the course. Some of the highlights included:
- A guy in a lawn chair loudly singing “Eye of the Tiger” to the passing runners
- A pair of ladies who set up a tiny cafe table and chairs in the median of the road and drank mimosas (They had the right idea about how to spend a Saturday morning!)
- Some funny signs: One said “Bike rental ahead,” another said “Hurry up! They’re almost out of beer!” Ha!
- More cute dogs and cute kids than I could count, including a little boy pushing a tiny baby doll-sized jogging stroller. So cute!
- Best of all, my mom, who came out to cheer me on around mile four, and my husband and son, who met me after I crossed the finish line! I’ve never been so happy to see their smiling faces!
To get ready for the race, I primarily followed this plan. I chose it over the Hal Higdon plan, mostly because it peaked a little earlier in the program, and I knew I’d be on vacation the week before the race, so I didn’t want to schedule my heaviest mileage that week. I wasn’t able to hit every single mile, but there were only five workouts I missed completely (over 12 weeks) and those were all early in the training cycle. Overall, I got plenty of training in, and I felt very well-prepared for the race. I also think running a 15K in September was great practice racing at a longer distance, and I learned a lot from that experience that helped me be more successful in the half.
I rested for a couple days before the race, so on race day, I felt so ready to get out there and move. At the start of the race, I had some pain in my back under my left shoulder. I was hoping it would go away once I got fully warmed up and, thankfully, it did after the second mile. I felt golden for the next six miles or so, until around mile eight I started to have an icky heartburn feeling. I’ve never had that happen on a run before! I hadn’t planned to drink much on the course, but I did pick up some water at the next stop. It helped a little, but I felt heartburn-y the rest of the day on and off.
In the last couple miles, my left ankle began to hurt a bit, and overall my body was starting to feel the wear and tear. However, I never once felt like stopping, and aside from the water stop, I really didn’t walk or stop at all on this course. I just had so much energy, and I was feeling so happy that I just wanted to keep going and going. Don’t you wish every run could feel like that? By the time I crossed the finish line, I was relieved but still feeling strong. My only disappointment is that I finished so much quicker than expected that my hubby missed seeing me cross the finish line! Oh well! At least he was there to celebrate with me after.
Running the OUC Half-Marathon was a great experience. It’s an affordable, convenient race with a fast course, and I’m so glad I picked it for my first half-marathon.