Here we go! This is my first real post so bare with me. Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon with a couple of friends (Jess and Brigid). It was the Snow Joke Half Marathon around Seeley Lake, Montana. I heard about it from Jess a few weeks ago and made my mind right then that I would do it. To be honest, one of the main reasons I wanted to do it was because it was free for Carroll students but that was not the only reason! I thought of this as a great opportunity to attempt my first half without being worried about wasting money if it went badly. This was also a chance for me to get back into the routine of racing and setting goals for myself. I ended my collegiate running career just about a year ago so this was the perfect time to start up again. I had my time off running and now is my chance to get back into it before it is too late.
So with having not run very much (or at all) prior to hearing about the race, I started running every day. Starting too much too soon I realized I could not just jump straight into 30 miles a week so I took some days off to give my body some rest. I tried my hardest to train as much as I could in a short time period. The Monday before the race Jess and I ran 8 miles to get a longer run in before the race. After finishing those 8 miles I did not know how I was ever going to be able to run 5+ more after that! Thinking positively I changed my mindset and told myself that I could do it.
The Friday before the race Brigid and I went to her cabin near Ovando, Montana. Sitting back into the hillside her cabin was the perfect getaway to relax before the race. We spent the night before watching movies and trying our hardest not to think about running 13+ miles the next day. When the alarms went off at 8am Saturday morning it still had not set in that we were running. We made breakfast, got our gear ready to go and then headed for Seeley Lake. Getting there just before the start we ran to get our bibs and go potty. Luckily we found Jess at the starting line because with at least 500 runners we thought for sure we would never find her.
The gun went off and so were we! We made sure we started our watches when we crossed the start line so we had a more exact time. The first 6 miles were on the highway with the snow coming straight into our faces. It was so cold and I learned my lesson fast that I was not wearing enough clothing. With a high of 26 for the day, it was definitely not that *warm* when we were running! There was an aid station at about mile 4.5 where Brigid and Jess attempted a potty break but with only one porta potty it was taking too long so they decided to try the next aid station. At mile 6 we turned left on a dirt road that was covered in ice and snow. While using yak tracks would have helped we were fine without them. At this point, it was not as cold because the trees stopped the wind. Still going steady averaging about 8:45 pace we hit the second aid station at mile 7.5 where a potty break was a must for Brigid and Jess. After a little wait, we were back on the road! Around mile 10 was when it started getting tough for me. Mentally I was doing great but my hips and hamstrings were starting to hurt. With the encouragement of Brigid, I just kept chugging along. Brigid was good about thinking of it as just starting over! At this point, Jess decided to slow down a bit but she was still right behind us. Mile 11 came and now we just had a short 2 miles to go. It was “just a warm up,” said Brigid. The last mile was never ending. It was one long straight line that you could see and it seemed to not be getting any shorter. We made the turn back on the highway and nope not over yet! Still, a half mile to go on another long never ending road. This part was mentally tough. We just wanted it to be over! Luckily the final right turn was the finish line and we came in (on our watches) at 1 hour and 56 minutes. Making our goal of under 2 hours!
We did not wait long to take pictures and then rush to the car to get warm. Once we were bundled up in warm clothes we made our way to our free beer at the Filling Station…we had been waiting for this moment since the race started! Thinking the beer would be a great celebration we soon realized it was a great way to help us fall asleep after an exhausting 2 hours of running. I safely drove Brigid and I back to her cabin and then we immediately took naps.
Overall, it was a great experience and while it was not easy, I would definitely say there will be more half marathons, marathons, and ultra marathons in my future.
Thanks for reading this long drawn out story of my first half marathon and my first blog post!