On Sunday, May 15th, I ran the Maryland Half Marathon with my husband. It was his first half marathon and my second. My first half marathon was 4.5 years ago so it was practically my first all over again.
We were very fortunate not to have the stress of waking up super early, driving somewhere and finding parking to get to the race because it happened to be right in our neighborhood! The race started at 8:00 so we walked out the door at 7:30 (after the grandparents got settled with Z) and walked to the starting line. Our neighbor wished us good luck on the way and we were starting to get excited for our race. Hubby informed me while waiting at the starting line that he forgot to put deodorant on. I then informed him that I may need to ditch him down the road! Luckily, he wasn’t too stinky. There were certainly stinkier runners!
Two thousand runners lined up for the race that benefited the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. We knew the course that lay ahead of us was hilly because we had driven it a few weeks ago. The race director said that the course would have its ups and downs, but so does cancer and you have to push through. He added that we needed to remember that no matter how hard we had to work and fight out there to get through the race, it wouldn’t be as hard as cancer patients have to fight for their lives.
Running a race for a cause, such as finding a cure for cancer, is probably one of the most inspirational, rewarding and fulfilling things a person can do. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with Team in Training for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and it was an amazing experience for me. I distinctly remember that while I was running that race a leukemia survivor ran past me and turned to me to say thank you. Cue the waterworks! The Maryland Half Marathon brought on similar emotions; my medal was given to me by a cancer survivor who so sincerely said thank you to me. Running 13.1 or 26.2 miles can put a person in an emotionally fragile state as it is and hearing those words and knowing you made a difference is a wonderful feeling. My parents are both cancer survivors and I am thankful I can make even the slightest difference to rid the world of this disease by raising awareness and money to find a cure.
The first half of the race was as hilly as they promised, especially around mile 5. The race director warned us about that particular hill and apologized in advance. It was tough. The second half of the race had a few more hills, but it was much easier…that is until the last 3 miles. Then we hit some more pretty big hills. We did have a few nice long downhills to recover on, but then back up we went. There was one hill about half a mile from the finish line that I always run during my usual route. It slowed everyone down, but I didn’t let it slow me down. I told myself that I’ve run up it a million times and I could beat it now. And I did! I passed a lot of people up going up that hill.
The only other half marathon I’ve run is the Baltimore Half Marathon which draws an incredible amount of spectator support. The MD Half Marathon went through mostly rural parts of the county so I didn’t think we would have many spectators. I was so glad I was wrong! People came out all throughout the course to cheer us on. They stood or sat in their driveways to clap and cheer for us; adorable kids in their PJs wanted to give us high fives. It was awesome.
We also had an unexpected race participant – a dog! He ran past the perimeter of his invisible fence when he saw 2,000 runners going past his yard near the starting line. He proceeded to run the entire race! Spectators along the way tried to catch him, but he was too quick. He must have been going for a PR. Thankfully, he was returned to his owner and is doing well. He’s even raised a lot of money for cancer research since the race – go Dozer! He ran along side us for a while, but ended up passing us. I did manage to snap a picture of him though. You can watch him crossing the finish line here!
Since the race ended back in our neighborhood, it meant we got to run past our house to see Z! He was watching the runners go by from our driveway with the grandparents and clapping – such a good little spectator! I gave him a smooch as we passed. It was so nice to see my running partner out there cheering me on :). Shortly after seeing Z, hubby started to not feel so hot. Instead of being a good wife and staying with him to make sure he was okay, I kept going while he walked (he did tell me to keep going!). I could see on my watch that I was on track for about a 2:15 finish so I pushed it during the last mile to make it happen. My official time was 2:15:38 (a PR! – my previous half marathon time was 2:20). My average pace was 10:22; my last mile – my fastest – was 9:48. Hubby came in just a few minutes later at 2:18:31. I’m really proud of him for doing so well during his first half marathon. We’ll be running another half marathon in just over 2 weeks and I’m hoping to knock a few more minutes off my time.
If you remember my post about my Picky Feet, you know I was having a hard time finding just the right running shoes. I wore my Mizuno Prophecy shoes for the race and they were fantastic. I love them and they helped me have a great race. Now I just need a second pair to add into the rotation!
The great news is that the race is most likely going to be in our neighborhood again next year (it usually moves every year) so there’s no excuse not to run it! I’m looking forward to it already!
Happy running and happy racing!