Emotional, Exhausting and Exhilarating – The Half Marathon (Part II)

Race day…

After training together for months to prepare for their half marathon, Katie and Justin gave each other a long hug and some final words of support before they separated to join their respective waves before the start of the half marathon.

Large race events, such as this one, often separate the participants into groups or waves. After the initial 7 a.m. start, a new wave of runners starts the race every couple of minutes. All of the runners are tracked in real time by a sensor that is attached to the laces on one of their shoes. The runners are tracked with a digital sensor from the time that they start the race to the time that they cross the finish line. Their final ranking for the race is dependent upon how long it took them to complete the race. This prevents the runners from getting clogged up like a traffic jam during rush hour; it allows the faster runners to keep their pace and avoid having to weave through crowds. This particular half marathon groups the runners in waves based on their estimated finish time.

“The biggest goal was to run the whole time,” said Justin. “The other goal was originally to run the half marathon in two hours and thirty minutes. Then, after doing some training, I was like ‘well I can run faster than that, so let’s bump it to two hours and fifteen minutes.’”

Justin’s estimated finish time of two hours and fifteen minutes placed him in wave number 25. Katie’s goal to finish the half marathon in two hours and forty-five minutes positioned her in wave number 39.

At 7:00 a.m. the official start sounded and the first wave of runners took off down the course. In a matter of seconds the small crowd that made up the first wave disappeared as the final runner rounded the first turn of the course. With anticipation building, both Justin and Katie had to wait for their waves’ official start before they could finally face the challenge of the half marathon.

Waiting for the Start…

Justin and Katie knew that they would have to wait a bit until their waves made it to the starting line, but their wait seemed agonizingly long after the start was announced for the first wave. They did whatever they could to remain focused on the race and to keep their bodies loose and warm.

“At first the wait was fine. I was enjoying it, but as we got closer and closer I felt my heart beating a little bit faster, a little harder, and my hands started to sweat. I was getting all nervous,” said Justin. “I was calming Katie down earlier and now I was freaking out.”

Katie stretched a bit and focused on the ground as she quietly prepared to run her first half marathon. Her face told a conspicuous story of the mental game that was taking place in her head. As she waited for her wave to start patience was crucial, as was not succumbing to the lingering haze of concern that was a constant presence in the back of her mind.

And away they go…

At about 7:40, Justin’s wave took to the starting line, and 30 minutes after he rounded that first turn of the course Katie was off and running as well.

“When it was time to go, all that (nervousness) went away and I just started running,” said Justin. “Miles one through three went very good, very easy.  It was a breeze, and it felt like it went by so quickly.”

Quick was an understatement and possibly a concern. Justin may have let the excitement get the best of him. He may have started a pace that could not keep up for 13.1 miles; he averaged nine minutes per mile for the first 3.1 miles. At this pace his estimated time to finish was under two hours—a pace that Justin had not trained for.

Katie stuck with her plan to ease into the race and allow her body time to gradually increase her pace as she warmed up and gained confidence that her still achy knee could take her 13.1 miles. As she passed the 3.1 mile marker in just over 39 minutes, she was right on pace to cross the finish line at her estimated wave time.

Justin crossed the 10 mile mark in just over an hour and a half; with only three miles left he was on pace to crush his goal time…But every mile counts and at any time runners can hit the wall. It was mile 11 that had Justin questioning whether he would make it to the finish line.

“Mile 11 there was a hill, a very small hill, but after 11 miles any little hill is tough,” said Justin. “The road wasn’t smooth and my feet were hurting, my knees were hurting, my stomach starting hurting and I felt every little rock under my feet.”

With only 2.1 miles left Justin had to find some inner strength if he was going to cross the finish line. Katie had issues about a mile earlier.

“I was getting really tired towards (miles) 10 and 11,” said Katie. “My legs were getting so sore, I just wanted to stop. But I was like ‘I ran 10 miles, I can’t quit now.’ After I passed mile 11 I knew there was less than two miles and I knew I could finish.”

Crossing the finish line…

It was a huge finish and an amazing accomplishment for them both. Justin kept up his pace and obliterated his goal of finishing in two hours and fifteen minutes when he crossed the finish line with a time of two hours, one minute and two seconds. Katie conquered her goal of continuously running—never taking a break by walking—and kept true to her goal time finishing the half marathon in two hours, forty-eight minutes and twenty-four seconds.

Hugs, congratulations and ear-to-ear smiles merged with salty faces, deep breaths and a whole lot of rehydrating. Both Katie and Justin were winded from the long race, but their smiles said it all. Proud and tired, they had done it…they had crossed another finish line in their life, and accomplished something they never thought that they could do.

What’s next for Katie and Justin, and where will Real Stories be next? Follow us every Monday to find out!

Posted on July 9, 2012, in Cardio, fitness, fitness club, Fun, Health, Helpful, LA Fitness, LA Fitness - Real Stories, LA Fitness Blog - Living Healthy, la fitness reviews, LA Fitness Reviews - About, Motivational Tips, Real Stories, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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