I’ve got a treat for y’all today! My little sister agreed to write a guest post, recapping her first half marathon – the Hokie Half Marathon. I really enjoyed reading it, and I hope you do as well! With that, I’ll turn the reins over to her….
Hello Turkey Runner’s blog readers! This is Rachael, Meagan’s little siser. I am in my early 20’s and starting to realize that I am going to have to take on more adult responsibilities soon (so scary!). Although I used to run for travel soccer when I was younger, I’ve never run like I have in the past four months. I never really have enjoyed getting all sweaty so I chose to focus on competitive swimming for the majority of my younger years. This past spring, I decided it was time to start working out again. I began with the Couch to 5K program on my treadmill, using walk-run intervals. By week 9, I could consistently run for 30 minutes, roughly the equivalent of a 5K. I told Meagan I was interested in training for my first half marathon, the Hokie Half. Up to this point, I had been running in my everyday tennis shoes and decided it was time to invest in some serious running shoes. So I went to my local running store and after trying on about 20 shoes, I decided on a pair of Saucony’s.
Part One: Training
So began the 10-week training schedule Meagan created for me. Training went well, running in the neighborhood for the majority of my weekday runs and then driving out to local trails for my long weekend runs. Oh yea, and then there’s that week and a half I got to do training runs with Meagan at the beach!
As I added more mileage, my SI joints in my hips began to act up. Multiple physical therapy and doctor’s appointments later, I was told that my SI joints were sitting uneven which was worsening my scoliosis. I decided to push through the pain and still run my first race.
Finally, the final week of training arrived and the race was right around the corner. My dad, my boyfriend, and I piled into the car the Friday before the race, after I did my final 2-3 mile training run, and made the 4 hour trek to Meagan’s. We arrived and had a couple days to spend quality time.
Saturday we went to the race expo to collect our packets, bibs, etc. (My first race expo as a participant!) The Hokie Bird was there so Meagan and I got in line to get our picture taken with him.
Saturday evening consisted of nerves, excitement, football, and more nerves. We had a delicious carbo-load dinner consisting of pasta, meatballs, and garlic knots. I headed to bed around 9 PM and even though my alarm was set for 4 AM I still woke up, wide awake, at 3:30 AM in anticipation. I lay in bed, with 250 lbs. of dog, until I heard Meagan’s alarm start going off at 4 AM. I joined her out in the kitchen for breakfast and coffee. Before I knew it, it was 5:30 AM and we were headed out the door.
Part Two: The Race
Now the nerves and excitement really set in. We got to Blacksburg with plenty of time to find awesome parking, settle in, use the porta potties, and stretch.
At 7:30 AM we lined up at the starting line. The first wave took off and we moved up. My heart was racing. The second wave got set and then the gun went off. We ran across the start line and almost immediately saw my boyfriend and my dad seeing us off and taking pictures.
The first three miles were on the main road and I started to realize what I had gotten myself into. I felt a bit stiff, but started to loosen up just after mile 3. We were entertained by what I thought was the best band as we made our way past the mall. Just past mile 4 I took my first fuel/brisk walk break. I was feeling pretty good but still just had that constant pain from my SI joint issue. I started to settle back in and just focused on not stopping.
The hills through the next 4-5 miles were challenging but met their match (at least the uphill parts; the downhills are what kicked my butt). Meagan suggested I try running backwards down the hills but I had never tried that before and didn’t want to fall. I started to get grumpy at the pain increased but was still enjoying myself.
We were almost to mile 9 when we saw my boyfriend and my dad again; cheering us on and taking pictures as we ran by. My dad asked how I felt and I barely got out, “I Hurt,” before we were on the other side of the road and heading into the neighborhoods.
Miles 9-11 were the toughest, truly testing my will to keep going. Meagan had tried all different techniques to keep motivating me throughout the race and I really did enjoy that (I feel bad because I never told her how much I appreciated that. Guess she knows now 🙂 ). But then she decided to tell certain course officials that it was my first half marathon, to which they replied by screaming/cheering even louder for me and told me how great I was doing. It definitely brought a smile to my face. We finally made it through the neighborhoods and headed back towards the final mile and a half. At this point, Barry had come back to collect us. This was very entertaining for me, because he had his finisher t-shirt on. Other “smart” individuals kept yelling at him with remarks regarding why he already had a finisher’s shirt on or why he was still running, etc. He stayed with us all the way through to the last 0.2, when we headed towards the finish and he headed back to the food tent 🙂
I dug deep and pushed through the finish line where Meagan and I were greeted immediately with water, a finisher’s t-shirt, and a finisher medal. My boyfriend was right behind the finish line and captured this picture of us crossing.
I was so happy that I finished my first half marathon and in under 3 hours! Meagan and I posed for more pictures and then headed over to the food tent. I was not very hungry at this point and all I wanted to do was sit down and get my hips back into place. I grabbed a banana and headed for the nearest grassy spot in the shade.
We relaxed for a little while and then it was time for one of the best things to do when in Blacksburg… Carol Lee Donuts! I had made two requests the night before the race that needed to be fulfilled before my dad, my boyfriend, and I hit the road; Carol Lee Donuts and a shower! 🙂
Needless to say, both requests were fulfilled and we got on the road for the four hour drive home. I was definitely stiff after that car ride home. But feeling the satisfaction of finishing my first half marathon, and being able to do it with my sister, made up for all.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading my first, but hopefully not last, guest blog! This is Meagan’s little sister signing off. Over and out!
What was your first race like?
Why did you start running?