My First Half Marathon in Grayson Highlands with Run Bum Tours

7:00 AM // My First Half Marathon in Grayson Highlands with Run Bum Tours

The Sign-Up 

In Fall 2017, Joe texted me during the day with a link to the Run Bum Grayson Highlands Half Marathon and said, "Do you want to do this? This sells out really quickly." I didn't have much time to think, I just knew I'd always wanted to a half marathon and Grayson Highlands was supposed to be beautiful, so we pulled the trigger. I marked my calendar on May 6, 2018, with "FIRST HALF MARATHON EVER!" There was more than enough time to get ready for the race.

The Preparation

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow, more than six months passed and we had not started following a training schedule. Our workouts were boxing, lifting, and an occasional 3-5 miler. One time, we ran six miles, and we were very very proud of that. I had run 10 miles when I was in high school - just once - did that count?!! Clearly, we were NOT PREPARED. 

Before I knew it, it was already May and I found myself two nights before the race scrambling to find a water holder, fitness beans, and reading up on as many tips I could for surviving a half marathon. Not only was this race going to be 13.1 miles long, but it was going to be at an altitude of 5000 feet, we were going to literally be climbing 2000 feet up, and there was only going to be one aid station. 

There were so many fears. A fear of being last, a fear of getting injured or sick, a fear of having to poop while on the trail (this was a very REAL fear as bathrooms were not going to be readily available on the trail), and just a fear of totally embarrassing myself. What had I gotten myself into?!

The Morning Of

We had driven 4.5 hours from Greenville to the mountains of North Carolina just for this race. Thankfully, Joe's parents were an hour out from the location of the race so we crashed there for the night and woke up bright and early at 6:30 AM to get to our race location by 8 AM. I couldn't even drink my regular cup of coffee for fear that it would bring my digestive system to digest a little more than I wanted it to that day. 

I managed to eat a banana. (If you know my appetite, you know that this is highly irregular and that I was very obviously nervous). We got to the race and my name wasn't even on the list. Oh goodness me, this was not off to a good start. Somehow, we got all of our ducks in a row, and we were all gathered, over 140 people to run this beautiful race. All around me I saw people who looked very experienced, with running gear I didn't own, compression socks, colorful headbands, etc. Oh my gosh, I was surely going to come out last. // My First Half Marathon in Grayson Highlands with Run Bum // My First Half Marathon in Grayson Highlands with Run Bum Tours

Then Run Bum came out and encouraged us to just really enjoy the race, to take in the views, to even take some pictures, and told us that if we ran the entire thing non-stop we were going to be miserable. Well, that definitely took some pressure off my shoulders! After his little speech, I started to actually get excited, this was going to be a memorable experience for certain! 

The Run

Thirty minutes before the race I downed some sport beans and we started the race and our first quarter mile was straight uphill. Oh my gosh, it was already so hard, but then we were rewarded with an amazing view at the top. Okay, I could definitely keep going. 

An hour passed and we approached some waterfalls. We were literally hiking this mountain except we were running and not taking a leisurely walk uphill. I mean it was insane, I kept thinking to myself that I should have just gone on a stair master for hours to train for this race. At that point, we downed some more sport beans. Joe carried our Camelbak and we took a water break.

We approached the single aid station that existed for this race and I learned that drinking pickle juice was supposed to give you some magical energy because of the vinegar and salt. I'm a rule follower so if this was supposed to help me I was definitely going to take it, so I downed a shot of pickle juice, shoved some chips down my throat, had a pack of gu and went on my way. //By the way, the best part of races is that they shove carbs at you, there were chips and cookies at the aid station and at the end grilled cheese, quesadillas, and more chips. I mean, that's my kind of world. //

Around mile 9-10 we saw some ponies and encountered once again a breathtaking view. The climb to get to the view was brutal, at one point, I almost started crying just because I was so tired of going uphill. I mean hiking uphill in itself is brutal but to try to run a race up a mountain was something I definitely had not put enough preparation into. The last two miles were probably the hardest for me, I had no idea how much more uphill we were going to have to battle, Joe kept encouraging me saying things like "You got this baby" "Come on, you can do this" because I literally wanted to give up. But there was absolutely no way I was going to give up, so we kept on going. // My First Half Marathon in Grayson Highlands with Run Bum Tours // My First Half Marathon in Grayson Highlands with Run Bum Tours

Somehow, we got to a point where there was only a little over a mile left and I couldn't believe that we had made it this far. And then we finished. I couldn't believe it, we had run a half marathon together, I hadn't broken any bones, and our legs were still working.

Post-Run Thoughts

Would I do it again? Absolutely, there's something really empowering about the fact that your body just ran 13 miles. And I love that Joe and I did it together, if you read our engagement story, you know that running plays a big part in it. This month, we get to celebrate our one year anniversary so to be able to accomplish this together was definitely one for the books. I'm so sore right now but I love feeling it because it reminds me that my body just ran a half marathon.

Joe's already asking me what our next big goal is going to be. It's exciting to take on a challenge as a couple and it's one of the things about marriage that I love most. 

I love what this race has done for me because of what it was - it was a risk, it was out of my comfort zone, and it made me believe in myself. I'm still in awe that my body did that and I'm still able to walk. I'll forever remember the views, the brutal uphills, and how I wanted to give up so many times but didn't. There's something about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone that is just really amazing and now I can finally go buy myself a 13.1 sticker and stick it on my car.

Have you run a half marathon before? If so, which race did you do?! If you haven't, would you? 

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