Earlier this year (January 5, 2013 to be exact) I participated in my first half marathon. The name of the event was the 1st New Year’s Race in Los Angeles. I have participated in 5K races before and regularly run between 7-8 miles every Saturday yet I was concerned about the distance. Would I be able to run for 13.5 miles non-stop? I sometimes do run as far as 12 miles some weekends but these runs usually involve short interruptions as I wait for a green light. And this run was scheduled for the evening so I wondered how my body would do in the coolness of the night. Nevertheless I decided to jump in with both feet and take advantage of this wonderful experience.
Thankfully my mom lives in Los Angeles so I was able to get to the city early and take advantage of her hospitality! I shared a wonderful meal with her, making sure that I filled myself up with enough energy to get through this race. I rested up for a few hours and then got myself ready.
Traffic was extremely congested as we got closer to downtown and I was fearful that I might not make it in time. Thankfully I did but then as I was checking I was told that I was not showing up on their system! Fortunately I brought my confirmation email with me so I was able to resolve this issue. As I was pinning my race number I wondered what else could go wrong. The surrounding festivities quickly dissipated any misgiving I might have been feeling as it was literally a party in the streets of downtown Los Angeles! It was a wonderful feeling as I felt I was part of something big.
As our corral was led to the starting line I made sure that my watch and FitBit One were ready. In a previous 5K my time was grossly misreported but thanks to my watch and FitBit I was able to rectify the time. I wanted to be certain that I had some back-up timing devices just in case. As the race started I was filled with adrenaline and had to calm myself down so as not to burn out in the first few 100 yards! I got myself at a steady pace, shooting for 10 minute miles.
The first part of the race involved some hills as we moved towards Chavez Ravine, the home of my favorite baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. As we entered the parking lot we encountered a rather steep hill that I completed with ease. As we continued up the hilly roads I could see the lights of Dodger Stadium. Little did I know that within a few minutes I would be fulfilling a dream of mine. That opportunity presented itself as we stepped foot into the actual playing field itself! I was filled with excitement as my mind raced through memories of attending my first game with my father back in July 1969. As we ran around the dirt portion of the stadium I was literally overwhelmed with fond Dodger memories. This truly was the highlight of my run!
Exiting the stadium my mind returned to reality and I decided to lock my sights on a couple of the faster-moving runners. That strategy paid off handsomely as I continued to move ahead of runners. After picking up my last cup of water at the 12 mile station I decided to push myself to see if I could complete the race in less than two hours.
As I made the last turn down the final straightaway I increased my speed, pushing myself to cross the finish line. As I crossed the finish line I looked up at the clock at saw that my time was 2:01:44!
A feeling of exhilaration enveloped my body as I was met by volunteers offering me a medal for finishing the race, an aluminum wrap to keep me warm, and, best of all, a long row of food to replenish my body. I drank a couple of bottles of water, gulped some coconut water, peeled a banana, ate a protein bar, and had a bag of blue corn chips. Boy, was I famished and tired! This picture keenly displays my relief at finishing this grueling race and, believe it or not, the joy I was feeling!
I checked my watch and my FitBit. My watch clocked me at 1:54:14 while my FitBit clocked me at 1:59:00. According to the FitBit site I burned a total of 1,632 calories, climbed a total of 80 floors, and took 19,330 steps. The FitBit calculated the distance to be 13.63 miles. The actual distance of a half marathon is 13.1094. This represents a difference of 4%. Not bad considering that my steps were far from uniform. Later I checked online for the posted race results and my official bib time was 1:53:44!
A nice aside to this story was my local paper picking up my name in the race’s Media Alert. I spoke with the paper’s reporter and shared my story. Here is the link for that story if you are interested in reading it:
So ends my very first half marathon. Would I run in another one? Yes, in fact, I have already registered for the 2014 New Year’s Race!