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This weekend, I ran my first half marathon: the City of Oaks. In March, one of my best friends Saket Vora, told me that his goal was to run a half marathon by the end of the year. It sounded like a good challenge, so I decided to join him in his mission. In fact, I committed to going to CA to actually run one with him at the end of November. I wanted to prove it to myself locally before I headed out to the left coast, first, so I decided to register for something a little more local. Originally, the intent was to do the Virginia Beach Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, but I broke my foot a few weeks beforehand, and I was banned by my doctor from running in it.

The morning was cold in Raleigh. The temperature was in the mid-40s. I wore my Trinity Hall rowing vest to keep warm, and stretched out at home. Then, I headed to the course. Julia and Win were running, too, so I caught up with them, checked my bags, then headed to the start line. I killed time for 15 minutes talking to one of the crowd who had only a week before finished an Ironman. Now, she was doing a half marathon for fun. Clearly these people define “fun” differently than I do.

When the gun finally sounded, I headed off. At first, my goal was to break 2 hours and 15 mins, but as we left the start line I decided that my goal was to break 2 hours. I caught up to the 2:00 pacers, kept with them for the first 1.5 miles, then committed to myself not to let them catch me for the rest of the race.

At about mile 4, Ted Gross of Bottle Revolution caught up to me. We ended up running together for the rest of the race. He was good company. We talked little, but just having someone around to motivate was great.

The race itself was torture. It was rolling hills almost the entire time, with a few major climbs. Maybe for those people who run mountains, it was nothing, but for me, it was torture.

Around mile 9, I really started to feel the burn. I stopped being out of breath, but my legs were losing all power. Just then, as if he knew, I see Win running at me from the wrong direction. He had finished his leg of the marathon relay (they got second overall!!) and ran back to pace me for the last 4 miles. It really helped! He talked me through the last 4 miles, helping me drop my split every mile, passing people, and just crushing the 2:00 pacers.

Win was kind enough to carry my gloves for the last bit, because my hands were getting hot. With about 0.2mi to go, he dropped my glove and had to stop to pick it up. Somehow, being solo for the last push helped even more. I put on everything I had, dropped my split to 6:30, and beat it across the line. They handed me a medal and a  bottle of water, and I felt like I was going to collapse. I finished the race in 1:56:48.

Julia was waiting for me at the finish line (she crushed the half in 1:39 — 10th in her age group) and congratulated me. Win and Ted caught up only seconds later, and we all celebrated that we were done. We took some pictures, got some bananas, and hung out to cool down.

Will and Hannah caught up with us at the bellower shortly after. They had brought a post race beer, but we all decided a better finish to the morning would be to go to Flying Biscuit for breakfast and hang out.

It was a great morning, a great race, and an awesome feeling to finish my first half. Now, I’d better start eating bananas if I want my muscles to stop being sore for the Big Sur Half Marathon in just two weeks!

Me and Julia - Finishers!

Me and Win -- the guy who got me into this whole running thing in the first place.

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