My First Half Marathon – Recap

Back in April, I started running again. There was a group at work going at lunch so I joined up with them. One of them mentioned something about training for a half, which I scoffed at. Back in April, I couldn’t run a mile without taking a walk break. It was BAD. My friends at work encouraged me to sign up for the Greenline Half. The course looked pretty flat (at the time) and it seemed like enough time to train. So I signed up. I say “at the time” because about a month ago they changed the course to add more hills. Um, thanks!

Drawing on past experience as a cross country runner in high school, I knew it was going to take a lot of training miles to get my legs ready, my lungs ready, and avoid injury. I also tried a lot of combinations of sports beans, chomps, fluids, GUs, and Clif bars and found what works for me. I also went to Fleet Feet and got shoes that would last me through the half training and race.

I ran a 5K race in May (no walking) and felt pretty good after so that was a huge motivator for me. My time was 31:11, exactly a 10 minute mile. I trained for about three or four weeks before I ran that.

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My first 5K in 2014, back in May.

I printed off Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training program and kept a copy at home and at work. I followed that as closely as my time would allow. Brian’s cousin joined me in training with me for the half. We tried to do our long runs together when we could on the Wolf River Greenway. I love the Greenway and try to be on it every chance I get. 🙂 It is the perfect place for short, medium and long runs and is basically in a tree canopy, unlike the Greenline, so training through summer’s crazy temps was bearable. I did train a lot at Shelby Farms, and some on the Greenline.

I tried my hardest to do my short, mid week runs on my lunch break, but when the weather got too hot I had to find other options. I would run before anyone got up (okay, that happened two times – I am NOT a morning person) or I would run after they went to sleep and before the sunset. I tried so hard not to inconvenience Brian or take time away from the kids. That was more of a goal than finishing the half! Yes, there were times when he was with the kids, but some alone time with Daddy is NEVER a bad thing! Little ones need that too. I am very thankful for Brian’s support through this. 🙂 He would comment on how great I was looking and how great it will feel when I finish, and that was huge.

About a month ago, I signed up to run a 10K which I wrote about. A 10K is 6.2 miles and I ran that in 58:20, a 9:24 pace per mile. I was so glad I did this race and learned so much. It really helped prep me. I recommend a 10K to anyone training for a half! Here are my training stats from MapMyRun, a site that I used all the time during training. I started tracking my miles and runs at the very beginning. My screen name on there is CamiFields if you want to friend me!

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Saturday before the race, I was already a bit jittery in anticipation of it and had a hard time sleeping that night. Sunday came and Marley met me at my house at 7, since I live right by Shelby Farms. We fueled up with some sports beans and off we went! We lined up at the start and it was very foggy. It was supposed to thunderstorm, but the rain held off – thank goodness! The temperature was in the low 60s. Could not have had more perfect running weather! No sunshine at all.

We started the race at a pretty decent pace. It was a little bottle-necked in the beginning but opened up before hitting the Greenway at mile 3. Here’s the course – green arrow is the start, the numbers mark the miles, and the red is the end.


I started my watch when I crossed the start line. The race was chip timed, but I like knowing my exact time while I’m running. At mile 1 I was at 9:15 and feeling pretty good. At the 5K point, I was at 27:00 even. I was dreading the Shady Grove portion (miles 5-7) since that is all uphill, but we got through it okay. At the 10K marker, my watch said 55:10 (8:45 minutes per mile pace average), beating my previous 10K race  by 3 minutes . I was a bit concerned that maybe I had come out too fast, but was still feeling okay so I continued. Shortly after that, we came to the corner near my house and our families were there waiting to cheer us on. Kids, parents, all with signs and high fives. We made a super quick stop to say hi and kept going! It was great to have them all there cheering for us! Brian snapped a couple pics, but almost missed us because we were running a bit faster than what we told them.


I saw Preston cheering and it made me laugh. He was cute!



Margo with her sign! My mother in law watched the kids the night before because we attended a wedding. She made this with them – it was SO sweet!


Marley and I getting back to the race!

This race does not have many people cheering along it AT ALL and is on some wooded, but paved trails that make spectating hard. We also passed a fair amount of roadkill, causing me to hold my breath a few times. Ha! For me, the most difficult portion of the race ended up being the entire way from the corner of Yates and Shady Grove to the Greenline, miles 7-9.5. I thought we would I popped some sports beans at this point and it greatly helped! It was a pretty humid race, and of all my long runs, this was the most I had to hydrate and refuel with supplements. I was pouring sweat thanks to the humidity.

As I approached the Greenline, I got a bit of a second wind and continued pushing through.  I reached the 15K mark at an hour and 29 minutes in (9:35 minutes per mile pace). On the Greenline, there was one spectator holding a sign that said “There is nothing like your first half marathon.” I gave her a thumbs up and thanked her for that! It was a great help to push me through. When I saw the end of the Greenline, I was pumped because that meant we were back in Shelby Farms and the end was near. We headed onto Chickasaw Trail and I saw mile marker 12. Shortly after, there was a guy dressed in a hot dog costume holding a sign that said “Turbo Boost” with a giant bullseye everyone was hitting. Cute!

Just past mile maker 12, I saw the 20K sign. Then I saw mile marker 13, made a turn in the trail, and there was the finish right in front of me ! Yay! I saw that I could make it in under 2:10 and booked it. In my mind I wanted to finish under 2 and a half hours and would have been thrilled to finish at 2:15. So to finish with the time I did was great. 🙂 My final time was 2:09:35. Here are my stats:

At the finish, it was great to have so much family support there. Brian, Preston, Margo, my dad, my mother-in-law, Brian’s aunt and Marley’s mom Becky, Marley’s husband Matt, and their kids Eva and Henry (Preston’s best friends).

Anyway, I did not take any walk breaks except through water stations and my brief stop to say hi to my family. That is what I most proud of in many ways. If I was hurting or getting tired, I just slowed my pace. It feels amazing to be able to run 2 hours without stopping. When I finished, I wasn’t breathing hard or feeling bad. I was a little achy, but overall in much better shape than I imagined I would be. I was happy that my self-training worked!


Marley coming in at the finish! She finished about a minute ahead of me.


Waving hi to the camera at the finish! Don’t worry. I didn’t let that guy pass me – haha!


Training partners picture!

My right foot was a bit blistered, which is odd because I’ve never gotten a blister before in all of my training. Other than that, I am feeling okay! I feel like I could definitely do it again and probably will before the end of the year. There are a few left to go in Memphis.

I got my buffalo medal (for my non-Memphis friends, buffaloes live in Shelby Farms)! Marley and I ate some bananas and drank some water to recover. The kids were having a blast dancing to the band and running around in the open green space.


Becky and Matt walking with the kids over to the food tent.


Dancing to the band!



They were cracking each other up!

In April, I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping to walk. Six months later, I ran 13.1 without walking and just a week after Margo turned 1. This time last year, I had a 2 year old and newborn, and running a half marathon wasn’t even on my radar! My favorite thing about running is the phrase “your mind gives out long before your legs do.” It’s so true. Running takes mental discipline, self-motivation, and lots and lots of training. I’m almost ten pounds lighter than I was in April, have lost most of the cellulite in my legs for muscle mass, my heart and lungs FEEL stronger thanks to all the cardio, my energy is up, my negativity is down, and my stress level is down. When you take care of your body, the only one God gave you, it is pretty awesome to reap the rewards.

Thanks again to my family and friends for all the support!


One thought on “My First Half Marathon – Recap

  1. Pingback: The Best Half Marathons Near Memphis – Natalie Tate

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