what it’s like to run a half marathon




guess what?!  two and a half weeks ago… i ran a half marathon.  ME.  very uncoordinated and ridiculously unathletic ME.  so we should probably talk about it.  right?  right.



in case you missed the posts were i talk about my training here they are: month 1, month 2, & month 3!

i planned on walking over to central park for the race early in the morning, but by the time i got up/dressed/ready to leave i figured it would be safer to cop in a cab… so that's what i did.  It was cold and i was SO nervous.  (oh and i clearly didn't think it through but i wore a shirt from the half marathon i walked in DC two years ago.  so now ALL my pictures are like “we run dc” aka “hi i'm running the nyc half today!”)

my cab driver dropped me off outside of the park and i had to walk in myself.

at this point frankie and my mom were up making signs and spiking hot chocolate and looking for our friends.


i almost cried like 93845792834 times walking in.  i was so excited/nervous/overwhelmed.  i couldn't handle it.

i also almost cried when i got in the corral.  luckily i was texting frankie's cousin Jess who was also running and trying to stay distracted.

before i knew it we were packed like sardines and i was getting emotional support from two nice ladies next to me after blurting out “IM SO NERVOUS.”  – thanks ladies! and then we were starting.  STARTING!


they say you should hold yourself back the first mile or so during a race, the adrenaline starts flowing and you'll burn out quick if you start out too fast.  this wasn't a problem for me because we were so crowded for pretty much the ENTIRE race.  i was weaving & dodging the whole time.

i knew that frankie & my mom were going to be up at the 91st street exit so i cruised along trying to get myself out of the never ending pack.  when i got close to the bottom of the reservoir i pulled out my phone and texted frankie asking which side i should be on and that i was getting close to them.  (props to me for texting and running right?)


that first moment of seeing my people was just so wonderful.  my mom, frankie, and our friends will & kyle came out to support me, which on this day included standing around for two hours to see me run by them three times (probably seeing me for sixty seconds tops).  they're amazing people.

but that first time i saw them was so fantastic.  i almost cried right there.  and frankie and kyle started running along side of me for a few yards and it was just what i needed.

the next few (three/four or so) miles would be pretty much constant hills so it was nice to have that support going into it.


i made it over harlem hill and then i knew it was just a few more miles till i'd see them again.  they were relatively smooth, but i HATED running so close to people the entire time.

I caught up to my people (mom, frankie, will, & kyle) again around the seven mile mark.  i felt bad because i couldn't stop and hug them and i really was just running past them, but i knew if i stopped i wouldn't keep going and i had another six miles to go.

it didn't really start getting hard until the second time over harlem hill.  after that i stopped and walked with water from two water stations.  i was really upset that i had to stop, but i pulled it together and got back on track for the last three miles or so.


at the twelve mile mark when i didn't think i really had it in me, i got a facebook notification on my apple watch letting me know i had a message from my dad.  the gist of it was that he was proud of me and sorry he couldn't be there but knew i could do anything i put my mind to.

talk about perfect timing.

i saddled up, took a deep breath, and prepared for the last stretch.  unfortunately it was about three quarters of a mile longer than i anticipated according to my apple watch (i think thats because of all the weaving i was doing).  so i had to push on for a while longer.


seeing the finisher's lane was a huge kick in the butt.  i ran as hard as my legs would take me.  i saw frankie, kyle, and will when i was getting close to the finish line and i think i swerved to high five them one last time.

THEN it was time.  crossing that finish line left me exhausted, physically and emotionally.  i kept walking, because i knew i had to, and searched aimlessly for my mom on the side lines as they handed me a metal.  the rest of it felt like the motions.  i got a foil blanket and finally saw my mom.


weirdly enough, i didn't cry at the end.  i really thought i was going to be a blubbering mess, but i wasn't.

before i knew it i was surrounded by everyone and hugging people.  My co-workers courtney and becca & becca's cousin found me (i knew they were coming but didn't see them during the race).  the sign becca made, made me giggle.


my mom took about a billion and a half pictures and frankie's cousin Jess made her way over to us and she and i went out in search of our goodie bags.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT TO SUPPORT ME, I LOVE YOU ALL. (mom, frankie, will, kyle, taylor, courtney, becca, & collette)



After a bit of standing around we walked TWO more miles back to the apartment because we're crazy.  I got to foam roll and shower and get comfortable again.

My mom made us a few drinks and then we headed out to bottomless mimosa brunch.  YUP.

it was a pretty amazing day after that , we just hung out and relaxed and i wouldn't have wanted it any other way.


so.  in terms of time:  i finished the race in 2 hours & 18 minutes for an average pace of 10:36 min/mile.  honestly i was pretty disappointed about that… my training runs had been significantly better up to that point.  i tried to not get too worked up over it and be negative, which is why i waited so long to actually write this point.  i needed some perspective and when i look back on it or think about it the experience in itself was so positive.  and it's just a number i can improve…. plus its incredibly better than where i started six months ago (not able to run a full mile all the way through – and averaging over 13 minutes 30 seconds).

also… a week later i ran four miles in central park at an official 9:12 min/mile pace… so i got over it.


i learned so much about myself through this.  it shattered any doubt in my mind about the strength of my body.

i'd also like to take a minute to acknowledge that i was running 3-4 times a week for twelve weeks and didn't drop a pound.  not even one.  and i'm okay with that.  my legs are super toned (comparatively speaking to where they were six months ago) and i wasn't in this for a body transformation.  i was in it because i told myself i couldn't do it and needed to prove myself wrong.


lessons i learned that i want to remember next time i race:

  • i should have cross trained.  that's what i'm focusing on now.  i've cut my running days WAY back and i'm doing a whole bunch of strength/toning workouts now.  i'm hoping i won't lose the endurance & i'll gain more core strength to help me run faster EASIER.
  • When i do my next one i NEED to focus on fueling my body properly.  there were so many days when a subpar run probably could have been better if i had been eating clean and steering clear of alcohol.
  • running IS fun and i enjoy it.  but it's also time consuming and required me to turn down social activities on a regular basis because “i have to run tonight.”  – this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just prioritization.
  • trust. the. process.  just because it doesn't feel like you're improving doesn't mean you aren't.
  • and finally.  trust yourself… but only to an extent.  when your brain is screaming STOP RIGHT HERE, IT'S TOO MUCH, YOU'RE GOING TO COLLAPSE IF YOU TAKE ANOTHER STEP… it's probably not true.  running is 99% mental.  just remember “this too shall pass.”


so what's next?  well right now i'm tackling the tone it up bikini series… and also racking up races to hopefully…. qualify for the new york city marathon in 2017.  did i just say that out loud?

oy vey.  i guess that's it until next time….

xoxo @ashtonesup