My Big BBL Adventure: Running My First Half-Marathon

This weekend, I did two things I never thought I would do:

  1. Run a Half-Marathon
  2. Cross an international border on foot

Ok, one of those definitely sounds cooler than it actually is. Crossing the border between Detroit and Canada was actually part of the half-marathon, and my passport was checked before the race started (But still, it does sound cool). The half-marathon, however, is a whole other story.

A year ago, I started running one day. I could run maybe 3 blocks or so at first and built up to a 5k in a month. I ran my first race in November, a Cross-country 5k in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Little did I know that “Cross-country” actually means “hill after hill after hill.” I remember finishing that race, feeling miserable, and declaring, “I’m never running again!”

But I kept on running and entered more races (making sure to steer clear of anything called Cross-Country) and ran 4 more races: a 4 mile, a 10k, a 3.5 miles, and another 5k. And still, I thought I would never run anything farther than a 10k. It seemed like a good distance, 6.2 miles, and I could do it without crying at the end.

Then came a very unique opportunity. A friend was planning on running the Detroit Marathon and said that the race took you over the bridge into Canada and back through the tunnel into the US. It sounded so cool! I signed up for the half-marathon on a whim and started training using a training schedule I found online.

Training was going well until the last few weeks. I worked up to doing 2 5 mile runs a week and alternating between one 3 mi run or yoga, along with a long run on Sundays. Not too bad overall! But then I started getting pain in my Achilles, and instead of going away, it kept getting worse. I took 5 days off before the race in the hope that it would heal enough to let me run.

Race day in Detroit was cold and rainy. We were up at 5am to get ready and get to the starting line. About 20,000 people run on Marathon day, doing either the full marathon, half-marathon, relay or 5k. The course takes you through downtown Detroit, over the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, and then back through the tunnel to Detroit, where you run though various neighborhoods.

I started out great, and excited to run my first Half. My ankle started hurting near the bridge, but going over the bridge and seeing the sun rise over the river definitely helped motivate me. In Canada, we breezed through customs and tons of people came out to cheer for us. At some point around mile 5.5, my Nike+ app told me I had “cheers” because my brother had liked my Facebook status (social media=win), which made me pick up my pace.

Then came the tunnel. It was dry, at least, but it was cramped and hot. The Detroit marathon claims to have the world’s only underwater mile, which was awesome, but it was a tough mile. I got out of there as soon as possible and was just happy to be outside again, even if it was freezing. I hit mile 10 and felt great—it hit me that in training, I had only even run 10 miles, so every step I took from there on, was the longest I had ever run before. Kind of terrifying, but cool. I grabbed some water around mile 10.5 and slowed down my pace. I was getting so tired by the point, and it was in a dead zone for cheering. There weren’t a lot of people around and it seemed like everyone was hitting a wall. The next two miles I chugged along, but picked up my pace when I got to mile 12. Only 1.1 more to go! I crossed the finish line 2:26:53 after I had started, with a pace of about 11:13/mile. From start to finish, It was definitely a big BBL adventure!

Next up? I’ve started to love long runs, so I’m planning on running another half soon. And then, a marathon! Seeing the marathon finishers come in after running 26.2 miles was so inspiring and the support they received was so heartwarming, that it’s definitely something I want to do.

But for now, lots of rest!

Have you run a half-marathon or full marathon? Share your experiences in the comments below. What are your running goals?


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