I've run the annual Saddleback Memorial day 5k many times now and always wondered - what would it be like to run their 1/2 marathon?  Today I did it (in just over 2 hours).  If you are not a runner, that's probably all you need to know, however, if you are an aspiring distance runner, read below for the mile-by-mile report on this race.

SoCalDevGal runs her first 1/2 marathon

The course is pleasant, local to me and the weather cooperated - cool and overcast.  I did nothing special to prepare (more about that later).  I normally run 5-7 miles daily.

I learned the hard way on the first 5k that I ran about 4 years ago, that pacing is critical to enjoying running.  During that race, I started at the front, ran (sprinted for me!) the first mile in a little over 6 minutes and literally almost keeled over for the rest of the race. 

For this race, I aimed 'low' (10 min. miles - knowing that I am capable of 8-9 min. miles over distance) and lined up accordingly.  It is quite amazing to see 6,000 fit people, even in Southern California.  The top runners have incredible bodies.  They look like they were born to run.  Also interesting is the large number of people older than me who are running.  Granted this race route borders on one of the largest retirement communities in SoCal, however, it is a bit unnerving to be frequently passed by incredibly fit seniors.  Well, it's also inspiring.

Music is absolutely critical to running for me and I pick carefully.  For the first 3-4 easy miles, I went with an old standby - Nomad.  Then for miles 5-7 onto to Moby.  Trance music suits me just fine - it's the zen of running, think about nothing but your breath.  Miles 8 and 9 were nearly all uphill - time for something more lively, Nickelback. Mile 10 came.  Then 'the wall' - I'd heard about it, but it certainly is real.  Mile 11 was really, really tough - listening to Maroon5 now.  Real pain in new and unique places.  I do believe this was probably due to inadequate training and a bit of extra weight.  Worked through it though and finished strong.

I ate breakfast before I started and then a protein bar immediately before starting, I drank water or gateraid every other mile and wasn't hungry or thursty during the race.  Afterward running, I immediately ate another snack.

Would I do it again?  Maybe.  The big thing I learned was that I need to train harder to be able to enjoy the experience.  Also, I have a new respect for those that complete full marathons (26.2 miles).  I'm not ready for that yet.

Are you a runner?  If you read this far, I am betting you are least interested in running.  Tell me more, why do you like it? How do you stay motivated?