So Sunday was my first half marathon.  I signed up for it so long ago (October 2009) that it was weird to think that it was finally race day.

Saturday night it was time to get ready and lay out everything for the race…

If you notice, the massage stick has an ace bandage wrapped around one end.  That’s not just for fun…

On Saturday afternoon, my husband and I went out for an… interesting… motorcycle ride (we got lost).  We decided to leave Rocket out of his crate since we are working on transitioning him to “big boy” status.  Unfortunately, Rocket decided to be not so good…

Ahh… Rocket.  He threw it all up later that night.  Having dogs is fun.

Anyway, back to the race!

We got up at 5am and were out the door by 6am.  It was a two hour drive from our house to Middlebury.  I was really glad my husband was going with me because I am horrible at waking up and doing a long drive first thing in the morning.

Even though the weather report called for rain, it turned out to be a beautiful day!

The girl next to me at the start was wearing Vibram Five Fingers, which I am really interested in trying out…

She was really happy with them and highly recommended them.  Now I just need to find someone to buy them for me.  Anyone…?

The pre-race festivities were fairly small.  I checked in at the tent and got my race shirt and timing chip.  I turned out to be #27, which was surprising.  I didn’t realize I registered so early!  There were 400-something individual runners, and several 2-person relay teams.

The gun went off pretty much on time.  There may have been a few minutes of a delay, but overall, it was a very well organized race.  I started my watch with the gun and got going.

The start of the race runs through downtown Middlebury.  There were lots of people lining the streets and cheering.  Not an enormous crowd, but it was nice to be at a race where there were people cheering somewhere other than the start and finish.

At the first mile marker, I checked my watch and was shocked – I was running a 9:00/mile pace!  Usually when I do my long runs I do around a 10:00 mile.  I figured I’d be in the 9’s this time, but I didn’t think I’d actually run a 9:00 mile.  It felt good too!

Once we got out of downtown, we headed out on some country roads, through a covered bridge, and out into some farmland.  Mile two felt good.  At the second mile marker, I was shocked to see that I maintained that 9:00 mile.  And still felt great!

Mile 3 was when the hills started.  It was also when my  left knee started to rebel.  I ordered new shoes after my disastrous 20-miler last weekend, but they were still in the mail.  So I had to run in my old shoes.  I figured it would be okay, since I didn’t usually get any knee pain until around mile 12 or so.  And at that point I could manage to deal with it for a few miles until the end.

Unfortunately, my knee decided it didn’t want to wait until mile 12 to give me problems.  Starting in the third mile, I had the same pain in my knee (under my kneecap) as I did on my 20 miler the previous weekend.  I walked through the water station to give my knee a second to recover (and a chance to drink – I am not that coordinated).  I managed to make it to 3 miles without being in agony, but once I got to that point, it was all over.  I spent mile 4 to mile 8 doing a combination of run/hop and walking every 100 feet or so.  It was awful.

Somehow, I was able to hop/walk my way to 8 miles…

Oh my… I don’t look very happy…

At 8 miles, we were back at the starting area and my husband.  I waved him over to my side of the road and explained what was going on with my knee.  I was so upset.  I decided to try to keep going, since I had made it that far, and only had 5 miles left.  I got another 100 feet or so down the road and realized it wasn’t going to happen.

I felt like such an idiot walking off the course.  I run 15+ miles all the time.  13.1 is not a problem for me!  But I felt like there was a big “DNF” stamped on my forehead.  It was obvious that I was injured, but I still felt like a failure.  I know I did the right thing by stopping.  If I hadn’t, I could have made it worse and given myself an even more serious problem, or needed more of a recovery time afterwards.  This race was not my focus.  It was just supposed to be for fun.  And it wasn’t worth compromising my full marathon just to finish.

My full is five weeks away.  When I got home from this race, I spent a lot of time looking up runners knee (what I am 90% certain this problem is).  I iced it when I got home, tried to keep from bending it too much, took a NSAID, and used the heating pad before going to bed.  Today it is feeling much better.

My new shoes arrived today and now I’m off to the basement and the treadmill to see if that helps at all.  I also made an appointment when my orthopedist for Friday just in case the problem is still there.  I hope I don’t end up needing it.

All in all, this was a nice race.  The course was nice – very hilly, but good.  There were portions that were on dirt roads, which was different, but also more forgiving on the legs.  It was well run, and had nice support along the course (spectators and aid stations).  I definitely plan on running it again next year – and finishing it this time!