This was my very first Half Marathon! Being that crazy runner, I spontaneously decided to sign up just the day before the race. Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing a lot of running on my own. I was doing a good 135 miles a month. A fellow coworker kept telling me about all of these races he was doing and sponsored me for the Fall Classic Half Marathon in Charlottesville in October. I did not want to wait that long to do my first half marathon. I figured with all the running I had been doing, why not just go ahead and do a half? My coworker was originally going to do the Run for the Dream Half marathon, but he needed to take it easy and ended up doing the 8k instead. The week before the race I told myself I may just sign up and see how I do and that is exactly what I did. The day before the race I drove down to Williamsburg and signed up for the race. I received a free ticket to Busch gardens which was pretty nice. I ended up spending that Saturday at Busch gardens and catching up with an old friend. I got to try out the new Tempesto ride which was pretty cool. It made me feel like a kid again!! I was worried I was not going to do very well in my race because I spent the entire day walking around Busch Gardens in the scorching heat. I did not even get much sleep that night either. According to my fitbit I slept 5 hours and 46 minutes, but I feel like it was much less than that. I woke up at 5am that morning and had half a bagel with peanut butter. It was about an hour drive to Williamsburg. Thankfully I had no traffic that early in the morning. I jammed out on my way over trying to get myself pumped up for the race. At the starting line there were tons of runners everywhere. I was there pretty early so I had a MILLION thoughts racing through my mind. Just seeing how intense some of these runners looked intimidated me. We started right on time. They did the national anthem and then we were off.
I can be seen running by at 0:40-42 seconds.
It was a pretty nice course. I liked being able to run through Colonial Williamsburg and on one road of the course I could see the roller coasters from Busch Gardens in the distance. I really liked how part of the course was in the woods. It was soooo much cooler and shadier which I definitely needed. The humidity that morning was killer.
I really started to struggle around mile 12. The sun was out and it was REALLY hot! I started to get hot and cold chills at the very same time and I couldn’t tell if my body was shutting down. I kept trying to tell myself that I was almost done. The last stretch felt like the longest mile ever! I started to slow down a lot, but I kept trying to tell myself “You can do this Ashley”, “Just keep going, you’re almost done”. Thinking positive is definitely important. Fellow runners understand how big of a mental game it is when it comes to running. Hearing the crowd cheer for you definitely helps keep you going. The very last part of the race was on a track. I kind of groaned a little bit because I hate running on a track, but I could see the finish line in the distance and that is all that mattered.
When I crossed the finish line I couldn’t believe I did it!! I had completed my very first half marathon. Me? of all people? Did I really just do that? I was so sweaty and tired when I finished. I couldn’t even open my own Gatorade and had to ask for help. I walked around a bit trying to cool down and lower my heart rate. I had a banana then waited in line for a massage and stretch which felt pretty amazing. They were giving out barbecue sandwiches and I grabbed one and sat down and ate. I am usually not hungry after running, but I knew my body needed the energy. After the top runners were announced I walked over to the shuttles buses to get a ride back to where I parked. I was a bit disappointed that I had to circle the place a couple times just to find my car. I had to go inside somewhere and ask for help. Hopefully it will be more organized next year. My plan for the day was to tour Colonial Williamsburg since they gave me a free pass for running the race. I got to go on a few tours and learned some interesting history. Sometime in the afternoon I received an email for my results and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was in shock! My goal for the race was to just finish it and I couldn’t believe that I had come in 2nd place in my age group out of 46 others!! I was so surprised and proud of myself. I was filled with such happiness and accomplishment. All that hard work and running had finally payed off! It was a feeling I had never felt before, and it felt quite amazing.
I was so excited I couldn’t wait to sign up for another race. I had finally found something that I was good at. If I can do it, anyone else can too (cliché I know, but it’s true! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your dreams. I was told by my doctors back in high school that I couldn’t run. I wish they could see me now!