Race Recap: First Light Half Marathon

Hello friends! Today was the day.

This was my 10th First Light! I honestly didn’t realize that until I just looked back at it. I think this might be the only race that I have a streak this long going. I love the atmosphere of a hometown marathon. You really can’t beat it!

A brief history –
2008: Half marathon 2:00:43 (a personal worst)
2009: Half marathon 1:41:39
2010: Half marathon 1:42:07 (the year we got engaged)
2011: Full marathon 3:24:12 (my first marathon)
2012: Relay! 2:57:17 (female champs and a course record)
2013: Full marathon 3:23:26
2014: Relay! (female champs)
2015: Relay! (female champs)
2016: Relay! 2:54:52 (female champs and a course record)
2017: Half marathon 1:24:44 AND relay 2:50:XX (co-ed champs and a course record)

The First Light Marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Mobile. Our relay team met at Starbucks at 6:30 and made the trip across the bay together. It was SO COLD. Seriously. The temperature was 27 at the start and the feels like temperature was in the upper teens. BRRR! I went back and forth about what to wear and settled on shorts (yes), compression sleeves, a long sleeve top w/ my RW singlet over it, gloves and a toboggan.

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I warmed up in pants and two jackets (in addition to all of the above-referenced clothing) and then begrudgingly shed a few layers before it was go time. I only ended up getting a one mile warm up in. After that mile, I didn’t really feel like I had warmed up much at all, but it didn’t matter because it was time to line up. My hands were throbbing. Jill totally saved the day because she gave me her hot hands (like she straight up took them out of her gloves and gave them to me … such a wonderful friend). She was running the last leg of the relay and had another pair in the car. I wouldn’t have taken them otherwise, but yeah, they were a total game changer.

The race plan was as follows:
Mile 1: 6:30 – 6:40
Miles 2 – 10: 6:24 – 6:30
Miles 11 – 13: Whatever was left

The first five miles of the half marathon make up leg 1 of the relay, which I ran for our (co-ed) team this year. Pretty much right off the bat I found myself in the lead pack of the race. For whatever reason, I was NOT expecting this. This is usually a pretty competitive half marathon. I got sucked into running with the pack (made up of me and the top three guys). Even though I had a wonderful race plan, sometimes you kind of have to roll with what the course and the competition present you with. My first five miles were 6:30, 6:23, 6:19, 6:15 and 6:20.

At mile 5 I handed the relay bracelet (like the baton in track) off to Daniel. He ran with me for a mile or so and then I went on ahead. He hasn’t been running much at all because he basically came down with the plague this last few weeks. He ran great today though! The half and the full course split around mile 8 and so after that I didn’t see my team until the end of the race.

BUT courtesy of Strava, here is how it went down:
Sam: 31:47 for 5 miles (6:21 avg.)
Daniel: 33:25 for 5 miles (6:39 avg.)
Ali: 31:22 for 5 miles (6:17 avg.)
Young Daniel: 34:32 for 5 miles (6:54 avg.)
Kenny: 38:54 for 6.2 miles (6:12 avg.)

Our total time was 2:50, which was a co-ed course record!

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Back to the half … our pack dissipated (read: two of the guys dropped me) around mile 6. I ran miles 6 through 10 pretty much by myself. I still had the leaders in sight, but they seemed to be steadily pulling further away. Miles 6 through 10 were 6:14, 6:20, 6:31, 6:30, 6:32. Pretty consistent, but the pace was definitely slowing some. My mom and dad surprised me at mile 7! Parents who will stand out in twenty degree weather to watch you run are pretty much the best.

My dad also gave me his jacket after the race, which was VERY MUCH appreciated!

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I ended up catching the second place guy at mile 10. He was flat out stopping at some of the the water stations. It wasn’t like he was walking through them … just stopping. We flip flopped back and forth a few times for about a mile and I ended up ahead of him. Unfortunately though, I got passed by another guy (Steve!) at mile 11.5. He was the only person who passed me the entire race. Ugh. But YAY for Steve! He is the smartest racer that I know. He always paces himself really well and today was no exception. He finished really strong (and in 2nd place overall).

The most random observation from the day is that it seemed as if my snot was freezing inside my nose. It was a crazy feeling! I would try to breathe “in through your nose and out through your mouth,” as I remember learning during track in high school, but the “in through your nose” part was not happening. I wasn’t getting any air doing that! It was so weird. I don’t run in 20 degree weather often enough to know if this is normal or not. If there is anyone up North that has some experience with this, please let me know!

Miles 11, 12 and 13 were 6:32, 6:41, 6:36. My last 0.1 was 0:53. Total time was 1:24:44 … just 3 seconds shy my PR! AHH! So close. At the start of this (mini) training cycle I wrote, “I want to have a goal of 1:23 – 1:25 (6:20 to 6:30 pace) for the half.” Mission accomplished!

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I had a fairly short 5 week build up to this race. The race was definitely a “goal race,” but I also have two more half marathons coming up in the next two months and I want to focus on working down to the lower end of my goal range for those!

After I finished the race I made the executive decision that somewhat ironically, it was in fact, too cold for a cool down. I will likely regret that decision later, but oh well. “No Ragrats” right? Lol.

Since we had about an hour and a half until most of the relays teams and marathoners would be finishing the race, I hopped in the car with Jessica and we drove out on the course to spectate and cheer for the RW full marathoners. We ended up at the mile 18 water station and stayed there for about 30 minutes or so. They serve chicken broth and hot chocolate at this aid station! This was definitely the place to be. We didn’t quite make it back to the finish by the time the first relay teams finished. Daniel was a tad concerned when they got to the finish line and I was nowhere to be found, but I was in good hands!

RW had a sports chiropractor at their tent after the race and I decided to get “adjusted.” I don’t usually go for post-race “massages,” but this was definitely different. My glutes and hamstrings bother me sometimes when I have to sit for extended periods of time (um hello every day of my life). I’ve tried to have this worked on several times without success. Apparently it isn’t specifically a hamstring or a glute issue, but rather my obturator (I didn’t even know this was a “thing”). Anywho … it’s nice to have an answer! Hopefully I can get that straightened out soon!

We stayed around for the awards. The medals and the awards are handmade by members of L’Arche Mobile. Their mission is to “make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships.” I love the unique, thoughtful awards. You can tell that a lot of TLC goes into each medal and canvas.

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After the awards, Daniel and the guys wanted to go to Waffle House. At first I was giving that idea a major eye-roll (in my head), but I have to admit that a waffle really just hit the spot (the chocolate chips didn’t hurt either :)). Intuitive eating for the win!

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B-T-Dubs, my half marathon playlist was on point today. In case you are interested, here it is!

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That’s it for today. It was a really fun day and it was everything I hoped it would be!

Next up: ROCK N ROLL NEW ORLEANS!

What’s next for you?

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7 thoughts on “Race Recap: First Light Half Marathon

  1. Congratulations on your race and the 3 seconds PR! A PR is a PR even if it’s seconds (especially at your level because you are so fast it’s unlikely to take minutes off). I love that you have run this race so many years and keep doing it, that must mean it’s a really good quality event.

    Like you, I pretty much always race in shorts, no matter the temp. I did wear pants for one 5K in December because of my knee (Thought the compression might help in the cold temps), but that was more of a comeback race anyway. I find that if my core and hands are warm, I’m good! I’ll even race in a singlet, shorts, and gloves and be fine. Love that your dad and everyone bundled you up in clothes at the finish though… huge clothes at that.

    I hope you have a speedy recovery and turnaround for your goal race, and that the waffle helped your recovery a bit!

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    1. Thanks girl! I was actually 3 seconds shy of my PR. I edited it to say that so that it makes more sense. Regardless, I am very happy with it! I pretty much always race in shorts as well. I can only recall one race over the last 10 years that I have worn tights. Definitely makes sense with the knee and for not an all-out race effort though. I hope you have a great week!

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  2. Great race!! For 5 weeks build up this is an awesome sign of things to come with your spring schedule. I don’t race with music but I have a lot of those songs on my long run play list. Good stuff!

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  3. Congratulations! You crushed your goal! I think having a race that you do every year is really awesome because it becomes a fun tradition, and you end up knowing the course really well. In cold weather, I have the opposite snot experience. My nose just runs and runs and I have to keep using my gloves or sleeves to wipe it!

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