The runners came out by the hundreds on Saturday, October 17th to participate in the third annual Tyler Half and 5k, benefiting the University of Texas at Tyler Cross Country team. The temperature that morning was a chilly 48 degrees, and the skies were clear, which in my opinion is the perfect running weather. We arrived at the race about 7:30 race day morning to join the other anxious racers ready to set a new PR or just have some fun. For me it was to be definite PR as this was to be my very first half marathon. I was nervous but prepared, or so I thought.
We lined up at the starting line, and after waiting for the race officials to lay out the starting mat (why they waited until 8 am on race day to do this I do not know), runners were yelled at to make sure their chipped foot came in contact with the mat, and at 10 minutes after 8 we were off. The first 3 miles of the course wound through campus, and due to some road construction, things were a little confusing. However, once we got off campus and on to the main roads, I found the course to be well marked and even beautiful in certain areas. We ran south on Old Omen, and at mile 6 came upon the dreaded hill I had heard tales of. I’ll admit, I honestly believed people were exaggerating the hilliness of this course, but as I ran straight up hill from mile 6 to mile 7 and my pace fell from 9:15 to 11:06 I realized the tales were all true. We made it past the hill though, and I picked up my pace and it was smooth sailing.
I had made it through the first 9 miles without stopping for water, and I was starting to feel tired so I decided I would stop at the next aid station for some water. The entire course was well stocked, and all of the aid stations were well equipped with plenty of water, Powerade, and friendly volunteers. I was really impressed with the support on the course even though there weren’t many spectators. I stopped and walked the water station at mile 9, and would end up stopping at almost every aid station from this point on. It was becoming clear that my lack of long run training (specifically, neglecting to do any training runs longer than 9 miles) was beginning to take its toll.
Miles 10 through 13 were a blur of pain, cursing, desperation, and occasionally a little pride. I was, after all, on the verge of completing my first half marathon, and though I was really feeling the pain at this point, I knew I would finish, and I was coming in close to my goal time of 2 hours, 10 minutes. I had passed the mile 13 marker, and I was back on campus. I knew I was almost done, but I couldn’t see the finish line. Finally, as I rounded the final turn I saw the Mellew Production finish line arch, and I knew it was almost over. I crossed the finish line at 2:13:56, and was greeted with a finishers medal and many smiling faces and congratulations.
Not long after I finished did the awards ceremony begin. The issuing of awards was handled quickly and efficiently. I want to offer a huge congrats to all of my fellow East Texas Striders who participated in the race on Saturday. Members who competed include Adam Booth, Beth Filla, Brent Smiley, Clay Emge, Jimmy Williams, John Camp, Karla North, Katie Haugland, Larry Dillon, Laura Roquemore, Matthew Madison, Rick Uribe, and Royce Read. My first half marathon was an experience I will surely remember forever, and I am happy I chose the Tyler Half to be my first. I am already looking forward to the White Rock half marathon in December!
The University of Texas at Tyler
3900 University Blvd
Tyler, TX 75701-6622