5 Firsts, a Dead Last and a PR: UC Half Marathon

Over the weekend I completed the University of Charleston Half Marathon.  I know they have done this race for years, but it was my first experience.  In the week leading up to the race, I just wasn’t feeling it. But, I paid for it and I had to walk 12 miles for training anyway, so I figured I should suck it up and get it done.  When I arrived at the location I started taking note of how this race was different than any of my other races.  By the end of the race, I realized it gave me 5 “first” experiences, one “last” experience and an unexpected PR (personal record).

FIRST: I didn’t have my cheerleader, bestie, doppelgänger and sister, Donna, with me as my support. I have to say, that made a huge difference.  Not in my result, but in my mental game.  Starting with when I got there and realized I had no one to talk to or stand with or just to be there.  It’s an unsettling feeling to be in a crowd of hundreds and realize you are alone.  I tried to find a spot out of the way and inconspicuous to wait until the start of the race.  I kept overhearing other people’s conversations and wanted to jump in and comment.  But stopped myself because I didn’t want them to think I was the crazy, pitiful, friendless girl that just wanted to fit in.  I even had to ask a stranger to take my start picture.  All before race pictures look happy.  Notice I didn’t even take an after picture.

UC Half before shot

Even though my biggest supporter wasn’t there, I do have to give a shout out to some unexpected friends that were on the course and cheered me on.  Bethany Kinder, Duncan McClung, Christine DeRienzo and even my friend from high school, Jeremy Whiteside, who happens to be the mail carrier in the area.  Thank you so much for the encouragement.  You have no idea how much that little bit of encouragement helps to keep us going.

I also want to thank all the volunteers.  Most of them were students whose professors or coaches probably made them do this.  They were out there in the rain, early, for hours making sure we were on the right track and routing us on, without ever complaining (at least I never heard them).  I’m sure they would have rather been doing something else.  Thank you!

FIRST: This was my first race where the weather wasn’t ideal.  I’ve been very lucky over the years and I knew my luck would eventually run out.  I will admit that I don’t enjoy racing or training in inclement weather.  But I knew I had to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. When I was at home getting ready, I heard the rain on my roof and I was dreading going out in it. Notable to say that the reason I heard it and didn’t’ see it is because it…was…still…DARK!  Fortunately the downpour stopped and during the race it was just a few sprinkles, some misting and dry most of the time.  The biggest obstacle was dodging the puddles.

FIRST: In every one of my previous races, whether it was full or a half, there is always at least one person that says, “You walk faster than I run.” Surprisingly, that didn’t happen this time.  I did have a woman ask me, while I was passing her, if I was walking the whole thing.  I told her most of it and she told me that was great.  But in place of that usual comment I got an even better one.  As I was crossing the pace sensor at mile 12.5 the volunteer, a man about my age, said “there’s the most distinctive walker in Charleston.  I see you all the time!” Then he started swinging his arms and imitating my stride.  I’ll take that as a compliment, whether is was meant as one or not. I laughed and told him that my sister calls my left arm my “death arm” because I swing it so much it sometimes becomes a weapon.

UC Half- action shotFIRST: The blog is called “WALK Fiercely” for a reason. I am not a runner and don’t want to be.  But I decided to play a little game today. Since the course was flat, I thought why not try jogging at least part of every mile- all 13 of them. Believe it or not, I did it! I started out making it the downhill parts.  But then I got crazy and started doing some uphill as well.  I can’t really say it was fun, per se, but it did keep me motivated and challenged. And I felt very accomplished that I did it!

FIRST: As the race started and everyone is fresh out of the gate, running at top speed, I am bringing up the rear as I walk briskly. Apparently, my walk wasn’t brisk enough. This was the first time I have done a race where the police pace car was right behind me! Why were they behind me, you ask?  Because I was DEAD LAST at the time.  Well I wasn’t having that! I felt like he was going to pull me over for a walking violation at any time. I think that was when I got the brilliant idea to jog it out. By the time we hit the half mile marker, he was no longer behind me and I was no longer last.


…And a PR I unintentionally, and without malice, lied to my readers.  In the November 1, 2015 blog about the City of Oaks race in Raleigh I had a personal record and said it would be my last PR.  Good news! It wasn’t.  The fact that this course was flat and add into that the jogging part of every mile, and you get a new PR!  Last time I beat it by 6 minutes for a finish of 2:43:20.  Today I broke that record by 5 more minutes with a time of 2:38:16! Woohoo.  As crazy as it sounds, now I want to beat that time, which means I will have to jog even more of the course next time. Ugh, I can’t think about that right now.UC Half stats

It’s also worth mentioning the very nice guy who took pity on my after the race.  Once I crossed the finish line I went over to get a bottle of water, a napkin and an orange slice.  The orange was juicy and delicious. But in my fatigued state I went to throw away the peel and the napkin and I missed the trash can.  I should also mention that I was literally standing right beside it. As I attempted to reach down and pick it up to try again, this nice young man (a student I’m sure) saw me from about 50 feet away and immediately said, “No, no, no.  You are not bending down to get that! I got it.” As he picked up the pace toward me.  I replied with, “Oh thanks.  I love you!”  And at that moment, I meant it.

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5 Responses to 5 Firsts, a Dead Last and a PR: UC Half Marathon

  1. Your sweet co-worker who misses you dearly says:

    I love you Christa Hamra and I am beyond proud of you for the amazing accomplishments that you’ve made with this journey! I can’t wait to hear more!! Keep up the great work friend!! WALK FIERCELY!!

    • Christa Hamra says:

      Thank you so much, “sweet co-worker”! But can you be a little more specific? LOL I miss all of my former sweet co-workers.

  2. Anne Marie Germain says:

    Congratulations Christa!!! You are inspirational! Loved the article. Continue to “WALK FIERCELY”!!!

    • Christa Hamra says:

      Thanks Anne Marie! I saw on FB you moved to FL. You look so happy and I am so happy for you. If you make back to Charlie West sometime, let me know. I’d love to grab a coffee.

  3. Micah says:

    Love reading about your passion! You obviously killed this one and I am thrilled about your PR and the appetite for a new PR! You have been improving tremendously to be able to PR by almost 10 minutes in the same 6 months or so! Props!!

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