Tuesday, May 7

My First Half Marathon

It's unbelievable! It's over! I ran a half marathon. (And I can still walk.)

After working so hard for so long for this one goal, I'm a little down now. I've been told that post-race blues are pretty normal. I have another half marathon in October, and I have several other shorter races in the months leading up to that, so hopefully the sadness won't last for long.

At the Dog Walk on Saturday before the race.
I'm proud to live in a city that puts on such a great event for runners. Even with the amped up security measures, things were fluid and felt very under control. Everything from the expo to the dog walk, the race itself and the VIP post-race fun was delightful.

I'm glad that I stayed with a friend who lived closer to the city. Not only was it more convenient, it was more fun because we were in all our pre-race prep together. She was a gracious host and made lots of food for us to eat. I also had a comfortable place to sleep and kept my dog with me so I didn't have to spend money (money I don't have) to board her somewhere. I really enjoyed it and I'm lucky to have such a good friend.

The start of the race made me pretty anxious. I'd never been part of an event this large. There were roughly 30,000 people racing! It helped that I knew the course really well and had expectations of when and where I would slow down. I still had the jitters though!

We got started and after about a mile I separated from my friend. Her pace was a little too quick for me (even though we'd trained together just fine). I was feeling a little nauseous and I couldn't figure out why! I thought that if I threw up and got it over with that maybe I would feel better and I could go on... Well, I never did throw up. The stomach feeling just waned slowly over the course of five or six miles. I just tried to distract myself from the discomfort by looking at the crowds cheering and enjoying the pretty day. (The weather was beyond perfect! 49º and sunny to start and it warmed up to 64º by the time I finished!)
Me and my hostess with the mostess at the starting line.

Unfortunately by the time my stomach pain was gone, my left achilles tendon was stirring. Now here's the part that I hate--this had only started to bother me in really recent runs. Never before had I experienced this pain. When I first had it, it was after running. Eventually it started creeping in to longer runs, making its presence known. Not enough to make me stop, but hurting enough that stairs are tough to do once I'm done.

This bridge is clearly uphill.
So I'm about half way through the race and my achilles is barking at me. Seriously? I was a little ticked, to be honest. No amount of stretching along the course would've helped, so I just trudged along. I made compromises with myself: "You have to run from 4th Street to 5th Street. If you hurt, you can walk until 6th Street, but if you feel okay then you need to run to 6th Street." That mindful element was very helpful in getting me through the Southside (where I used to work), the longest straight stretch in the race. When I made it to the Birmingham Bridge, which is one big incline, I just walked. No bridge was worth the pain. I wanted to finish the race RUNNING, not limping.

And I did. The last few miles were a little easier because I really did know that part of the course from running The Great Race 10k back in September. The incline near Duquesne University is so slight that it feels like it's parceling off chunks of your knee to be sold to the runners behind you. If you get past it, though, you've really only got a tiny incline at the finish to worry about.

Oh, Pittsburgh... You and your inclines.

My official time is 2:58:22. I originally anticipated that I'd finish closer to 2:30:00, but too much walking to baby that achilles pushed me back. Oh well. It's my first half so my time is a PR by default and it's definitely something to beat!


  1. Congratulations on your first 1/2!

  2. So happy for you!!! Definitely better to keep your body healthy than to risk injury and you still did AWESOME!! :)

  3. Thank you both so much!!! I am so excited to have met my goal!

  4. Congrats on your first half!! Get that Achilles taken care of, and I know you will blow your PR out of the water in the next half you race!

  5. Congrats on the first half! I can't believe how big PIT has gotten, I think it was only 17K or even less when I ran it in 2010. Love that event though, this makes me want to come back!

  6. Thank you all so much!

    Madison, welcome to my blog. :)

    Paulette, you should let me know if you come back. Pittsburgh would be happy to have you!

    Ayesha, I'm on the mend and I'm really hopeful about the half scheduled in October. :)

  7. Congrats Karissa!! :) i bet those inclines were TOUGH! ~KatieMoves

  8. Congrats!! I also had achilles problems during/training for my first half - I stretched it (by putting my heel on the floor, toes on the wall for a minute or so) about 4-5 times a day for a few days and it hasn't been a problem since :)


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