My First Half Marathon.

I did it!

I wish I could tell you how great the spectators were, how much fun I had, how wonderful it felt to finish my first half marathon. But, Ive gotta be honest:  it wasn’t as euphoric or as easy as I’d expected it to be. All of my long runs during training were surprisingly easy, so I had hoped my race would be relatively easy and enjoyable, as well.

It so was not.

I worked hard to train and created a routine for long runs – peanut butter GU, water, and Joy the Baker podcasts. I thought I knew what to expect. I thought I could handle it.

It was much, much different than my training runs. I didn’t account for was how crowded the race would be – 31 THOUSAND people were racing, which meant I also expended a lot of energy running around walkers – a lot of people walked, which is great, but usually walkers are behind runners. I’m not sure if people were in a different corral than they should have been, or just decided to walk since it was so hot, but that was tiring – weaving in and out of throngs of walkers for most of the race.

And it was about 30 degrees warmer than my training runs, with direct sunlight for most of the course. There were also more inclines than I had planned for.  Running uphill with the sun beating down on me was awful, to be honest. The combination of humidity, heat, and sun meant I was incredibly nauseous and couldn’t eat my energy gel, which meant I felt worse and incredibly sluggish.

I gritted my teeth and kept running up the hills, around the walkers, sweat pouring down my face. I was determined not to walk. While most of the other runners stopped to walk at the water stations, I ran through the middle, drinking from the water bottle in my hand. I never walked on training runs, so I knew I could complete the race without walking. I knew when I walked once, I would lose momentum. I think you can see where this is going – I walked a few times. I could make excuses (heat! nausea! going to die or vomit!), but ultimately, I’m just bummed that I didn’t run without stopping.

Instead of crossing the finish line feeling a rush of triumph and elation, I felt a bit guilty and a smidgen disappointed. My pace was full minute slower than any of my long runs. I feel like I should just be happy I finished, but instead I’m disappointed with myself for not being able to do what I know I’m capable of doing. I’m frustrated that it was so hot and bummed that I didn’t love the race as much as I expected to.

This is real talk. I wish I could be more positive or feel-good about my experience, but I’m still feeling pretty surprised by how hard it was.

I’m still hoping do it again. I might do it in a smaller race, in a flatter course, in a cooler climate. I need to prove to myself that I can do it. That I can do it well. That I can rock the socks off a 13.1 mile run.

. . . . . . . .

Just a heads up, it’ll be a little quiet around here for a while.

I am taking a social media break for the month of May. I’m deactivating my Facebook and Twitter accounts and not blogging.

Why? Space is good. Quiet is good. Being present is good.

Plus, I have a ton of deadlines in May and I’m in over my head in a lot of ways, work-wise. I’m hoping to spend this month catching up on work.

And hanging out with this sweet face:

As always, feel free to email. See you in June!

About Ashley

Ashley is a web designer, mother, and social media addict. She blogs about her attempts to live more simply and pursuing happiness while juggling a job she loves and life with two adorable sons and an academic husband.


  1. I’m proud of you just for finishing–that’s a huge accomplishment in of itself! “See” you in June :)
    Angela Noelle’s most recent post :: Where Babies Come From, Part 1My Profile

  2. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS for finishing the race. You might not be feeling it, but you did it. It’s a great accomplishment and hopefully you’ll come around to feeling better about your race. When you’re ready, I hope you’ll take the following observations to heart – they are things I learned while training for and running marathons and half marathons:
    1) Lots of people start in corrals that are faster than their realistic running pace. Lots of people also stop to walk in the middle of the course, instead of pulling to the far left or right sides. You will always have walkers in front of you – running around them is part of racing. A coach once suggested saying (loudly) EXCUSE ME as you’re coming up behind a row of walkers. In all likelihood, they’ll turn to look at who is coming and provide a little tunnel for you to run through.
    2) Having a bad training run is actually really good. It teaches you how to mentally and physically run through the tough parts of a run, whether it be the weather, your body, etc. Unfortunately, you got the bad run on race day. The good news is you paid attention to your body and did what you had to do to get to the finish line.
    3) Walking while running long distances is actually a good thing. I had a coach who qualified for the Boston marathon by walking one minute every mile. Prior to hearing that, I was the same as you: walking will ruin my momentum. The reality is walking gives your body a moment to catch up and can actually make you stronger/faster towards the end of the race. It’s a mental hurdle to get over, but it’s definitely something for you to consider for future races.
    4) Finishing time is only a part of the race. There are a lot of ways for you to feel successful, whether it’s staying injury free during training, racing through challenging conditions without falling apart or just finishing the race. You’ve accomplished so much – it’s a shame you’re not able to fully embrace all you’ve done!
    5) Keep at it! It’s a huge commitment to train for races, but if you enjoyed training for one and have more goals to accomplish, then pick back up and do it again. You’ve learned a ton about yourself that will only help you get better next time.
    Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks’s most recent post :: MarchMy Profile

  3. First off, YOU JUST FINISHED 13.1 MILES! Walking/running/whatever it was, that’s a freaking awesome thing, so pat yourself on the back!

    My first and only half was 30 miles southeast of Nashville on a flat course and I about died, so I understand the hills issue! I felt bad about walking some then, too, but it had no shade so full on sun and it was miserable.

    Don’t be down on yourself though, because you finished and that’s all that matters in the end.

  4. Congrats on doing that race though..finishing and working hard to complete the journey! Also, I bought that yogurt maker you blogged about because I never knew there was such a thing…very excited about some “real” yogurt. Have a great social media break!
    Brianna’s most recent post :: On a Boat in the WillametteMy Profile

  5. I’m so proud of you – don’t be too hard on yourself, because remember – you RAN a half marathon – that’s an amazing accomplishment!

    I’m excited for your social media break for your family and your deadlines but I’ll miss you on blogging and twitter!
    Becky’s most recent post :: Checking inMy Profile

  6. Congratulations on finishing, even if it turned out to be different than what you expected. Completing a half-marathon is not a small feat, and you did it. Also, want to say thank you for your honesty. Reality can be disappointing sometimes, but it’s always better than glossing over the truth. That way victory is even sweeter when we achieve it. Enjoy your social media break.

  7. aw congrats on finishing, even if it wasn’t easy, you did it! woo!

    also, enjoy your may with that sweet little guy, seriously just the cutest.
    katelin’s most recent post :: Cultured things like a play, margaritas &Titanic.My Profile

  8. Even though the race left you feeling bummed and disappointed, you should still know that you accomplished something that a lot of people can’t do, or at least think they can’t do, which is pretty awesome! We’re all capable of crazy, wonderful things, but not necessarily every single day. Congrats on finishing your first race!
    lauryn’s most recent post :: A birthday wish list.My Profile

  9. So impressed! Heat does NOT help, but you did it. You are a rockstar. :)

  10. But… but… but… the mere fact that you are disappointed with the reality of the race shows HOW FREAKING FAR YOU’VE COME. If I did exactly what you, I would be thrilled I got to the finish line. But you have set your standards higher than your performance BECAUSE YOU HAVE REACHED THE PLACE WHERE YOUR STANDARD IS ACHIEVABLE. That is flippin’ amazing. Great job on coming so far with running, that you can be disappointed and want to continue working towards your standards because of it. *igh five*

    And may the space you find in May bring good things your way. We’ll miss you.
    Ti’s most recent post :: Visitor ShenanigansMy Profile

  11. YOU DID IT! I’m so proud of you!

    P.S. You can still text, right? RIGHT? I might be sad if not.

  12. WAY TO GO!!!!! Let’s run Akron 13.1 together!!!! It could be amazing :)

  13. thatShortChick says:

    amazing, ashley!! enjoy your social media sabbatical!
    thatShortChick’s most recent post :: on being in a funkMy Profile

  14. Hey! Congratulations on completing your first half marathon! I think that is awesome, even though you had to walk a bit! Maybe it is good that you are not satisfied, it indicates that you know you have room for improvement (but I hope you aren’t being too hard on yourself)! 30 degrees is a huge difference, don’t pros spend time getting acclimatized and all that? Plus dodging walkers is a pain, it takes away precious energy! I haven’t read the other comments, I imagine they say about the same thing. I just wanted to add my congrats, and wish you a happy media-free May. I’ll miss your blog! I’m still not on facebook, motivated by your original idea to give it up for Lent. It is a nice feeling. Thanks for the idea =)

  15. Aileen says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! Running a half marathon is brilliant but I kind of understand how you feel. In 2010 I did the moonwalk which is walking 26.2 miles in your bra at midnight round the streets of Edinburgh. ( Believe me when I say Edinburgh is VERY HILLY! Anyway all my training walks had went really well but on the night I cried in pain from mile 13 to mile 26.2. It was the most horrible horrible experience of my life and I vowed never to do it again. However where was I in 2011? Yes at the start of that challenge again just to prove I could and would enjoy it and I did, so much so that I had signed up for it again this year but as I will be 36 weeks pregnant by then I dont think I could waddle that distance! Anyway this is a long way of saying be extremely proud of what you have done, you completed the distance and unfortunately you had the bad run on the day rather than in training. Sign up for it again next year and I can nearly guarantee that your personal experience will be better. All your readers are very proud of you and I bet your gorgeous wee man is proud of his mum as well! Enjoy your blog break and I look forward to reading you when you come back! x

  16. Congratulations!! Honestly, regardless of you walking a few times, you STILL finished your race and you learned what the real deal is like, too. Every race you do from here on out you’ll learn something new to take with you or the next race. Don’t beat yourself up too much, I mean you had all the odds against you with the weather and the people, etc, and you still did almost the whole thing. That is SO awesome! As someone who can hardly run around the block without gasping for air, I’m impressed.

    Good for you for the social break, though! I wish I had the willpower to do that, but I think I’d go crazy for a whole month. We’ll miss you on Twitter! Luckily I get to hear from you by e-mail, probably. Ha :)
    Melissa’s most recent post :: Meet the Sponsors! {April}My Profile

  17. Congratulations!! I know that you weren’t super happy about your time but you still ran 13.1 miles! Now that you have a base time you can try for a nice PR at your next half. :-)
    nonsequiturchica’s most recent post :: Friday bulletsMy Profile

  18. I really appreciate the honesty of this post. I mean, I know deep down, you’re proud of yourself for finishing and completing the half-marathon but it’s also totally normal to feel this disappointment! You had a ton of great training runs but it’s hard to prepare for heat, weaving through runners, etc. You did a GREAT job and I’m proud of you! And now you know maaaaaybe half-marathons in April in Nashville aren’t your cup of tea. :)

    I’ve been pondering a long social media break like this and I think I may do it sometime in the next few months. I think it would be weird, at first, but ultimately so good for me to step completely away and refocus myself. You’ll have to let us know how it went in June!
    Stephany’s most recent post :: 8 Weeks, No Sugar Challenge – Week 6My Profile

  19. Weather is such an important part of any run. If it was THIRTY degrees hotter than any of your training runs you should definitely expect your pace to be slower! You finished and that’s all that matters, be proud of yourself!! :)

    Have a great social media break, hope you get lots of work done!
    Amber’s most recent post :: Training Must HavesMy Profile

  20. Huge major massive props for finishing. Seriously, it’s AWESOME. Even though it was tough, I hope you can look at it and be proud that you did it, you toughed it out, and you finished. That’s AWESOME.
    Ginger’s most recent post :: Some Random ThoughtsMy Profile

  21. Running is what made you a real winner! Congrats. We will miss you while you’re away!
    erin’s most recent post :: Billy Collins- Are you Kidding Me?My Profile

  22. Congratulations on finishing your first half marathon, Ashley! That’s awesome! YOU DID IT! My first half was a lot different than I thought it was going to be, too, and all I can say is keep at it. Now you know what it’s going to be like running with so many other people, and you have a better idea of what you are capable of now that you’ve done it once.

    SO proud of you, and enjoy your social media break, lady!
    Erin @ The Speckled Palate’s most recent post :: What We Ate: New OrleansMy Profile

  23. CONGRATULATIONS, Ashley! What an accomplishment!
    Be good to yourself in May. You’ll be missed.
    San’s most recent post :: PHOTO A DAY: AprilMy Profile

  24. Exercise in the heat is a completely different animal than exercise in cooler weather. If you were only 1 minute slower than your training pace, that’s actually kind of a crazy awesome accomplishment. This is a chart from Jeff Galloway that shows his estimate in how much your performance decreases when the temperature goes up. It made me feel much better after a “disappointing” finish in a triathlon that was in 95 degree heat:

    55-60 degrees: 1% – 8:05
    60-65 degrees: 3% – 8:15
    65-70 degrees: 5% – 8:25
    70-75 degrees: 7% – 8:35
    75-80 degrees: 12% – 8:58
    80-85 degrees: 20% – 9:35
    Above 85 degrees: Forget it… run for fun

    Anyway, you found the time to train for a half marathon while growing a business and raising an adorable boy and working and being a wife. You’re a freaking superwoman.
    Jane’s most recent post :: Thoughts on lemonsMy Profile

  25. Ashley,

    Congratulations on finishing your first Marathon! I know you are bummed with all of the things you didn’t expect,
    but I swear you are being way to hard on yourself than you need to be. For now, just be proud of yourself that you finished, and you got out there and did it! That is so much more than many can say. I do think that is crazy that the runners were jumbled with the walkers. Maybe many of them couldn’t handle the heat and the hills and/or pooped out? That would be annoying for sure! I would strongly suggest you do the Akron Marathon. It is at the end of the summer, but I don’t recall it being insanely hot. You might have a better experience there.

    I wondered where you went on facebook! But sometimes taking a break from social networking do spend more time with important things that need to get done (family, work etc.) that is good too!

    It sounds to me like you are a woman with great dedication and self control. Be proud of yourself lady! You are amazing and a true inspiration! Good luck catching up on all of your work!
    Ashlie’s most recent post :: An Awesome Birthday Weekend!My Profile

  26. I mean to say to* spend time…not do lol
    Ashlie’s most recent post :: An Awesome Birthday Weekend!My Profile

  27. Sabrina says:

    “.. but that was tiring – weaving in and out of throngs of walkers for most of the race.”

    I can relate to what you mean. I once ran a half-marathon and we have to run the course twice to finish. I practically acted like Roadrunner as I run by those 5K walkers, er-participants.
    Sabrina’s most recent post :: BluCigs Acquired by Lorillard Tobacco CompanyMy Profile

  28. Chris @ RunningFarce says:

    Great work! Aside from the extra work that stems from the things you mentioned in the post, pure adrenaline that is not present in your training runs can sometimes eat you up early on and leave you struggling the rest of the race. I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times and I felt the same disappointment you are feeling.
    Chris @ RunningFarce’s most recent post :: Maryland MarathonerMy Profile

  29. THANK YOU!!! for writing this. I finished my first 1/2 4-15-12 and felt exactly the same way. EXACTLY. I am disappointed to this day. I was told I would feel like I was barely running during the last was more like I was running on knives…just pure physical torture. I would say my race just went downhill after mile 8. It was warm (like you I started training in winter and since my race was mid-April..I definitely did not feel prepared for anything above 60 degrees) and a lot more hilly than I thought. I felt so disappointed in myself when I walked for a few seconds between miles 12 and 13. I mean I was almost there, but I just needed to walk. I remember crossing the finish line and not even feeling excited. I was just so glad I did not have to run any further. I felt I had done so well in training runs, but nothing could have prepared me for that experience. Again like you I learned, I prefer running in cooler weather, I prefer a smaller race population, and I prefer a flat course. I am hoping in the future I can find a race which possesses those characteristics and maybe one day I will feel a bit more excited about my 1/2. However, I do agree with the other comments, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up. We did the best we could do on that day, under those conditions. We worked hard and we crossed the finsh line…all while a lot of other people were still in bed or on the couch. AWESOME JOB GIRL!

  30. First, congrats! Second, your experience sounds oddly familiar. I just ran my first half April 1, and it was way harder than I thought it would be for the same reasons you described here. It sounds like you did a great job, though, given all the surprises. Keep it up and take care of yourself!
    domestic kate’s most recent post :: 8 Tips for De-cluttering Your HomeMy Profile


  32. First of all, congratulations for your feat! It is evident that your training has paid for.

    On another note, it seems that you have a better first half-marathon experience than me. I ended up with cramps and had to give up with less than five kilometers to go.
    James’s most recent post :: where to take oil painting lessonsMy Profile

  33. Brandon Frye says:

    I agree that your first race can be much more difficult than you expect. I trained… and trained. Come race day, I was pushing to get to the finish. I’ve made a list of dos and don’ts that may assist others in finding their way to the Start line. I wish I would of had it when I first started. Thanks for sharing your story!
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  34. I found this post as I googled about being disappointed with my race results. I’ve run two half marathons now, the first was an insane obstacle trail run so I didn’t care my time “sucked”, I scaled mountains! And I finished 10 in my age group and got a trophy!! So who cares I was averaging 12:08/mile. But I just had my first road 1/2 and I’d been doing so well in my training runs, averaging well under 10/mile. I really wanted to finish in under 2:10. But then I got runners trots, had to make a break for an outhouse that miraculously appeared just before mile 6. So that threw me a bit, but I had been running so goofily because of my stomach issues I think it just screwed me. And though I had NEVER walked on a training run, not even when I hit physical walls and it super sucked, never, I walked. Like 2x and now I am just utterly disappointed in myself. If I just hadn’t walked I could’ve accepted the same finish better I think. Thanks for posting. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I wish I could blame the weather, but it was perfect conditions, my stomach just revolted on me. !! So frustrated. I want a redo! Thanks for this blog. :).

  35. Thank you so much for posting this. I just completed my first half marathon this past Sunday and to say I am disappointed in my performance would be a vast understatement. I began training 3 months after I had my son and couldn’t run a half mile without stopping. As the weeks moved on, running actually became fun and I felt pretty good. I dreaded the long runs, but was able to run 10 miles, only stopping once for a short time. I was incredibly anxious the week leading up to the race and that anxiety, coupled with humid conditions, resulted in a rather miserable experience for me. I realize that I had come a long way and am more than capable of performing better than I did, but I was so upset that I couldn’t make it happen “when it counted.” My husband assures me that what is most impressive is the training schedule and getting the long runs in “when no one was watching.” I fluctuate between disappointment and pride that, one way or another, I achieved my goal. I really wish my first half was a more positive experience, but I plan to do another and smash it! Thank you again for your honesty- just what I needed to read.


  1. […] but I can’t help but feel pretty letdown with my performance (it feels a lot like my half marathon experience, […]

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