half marathons running

One Year Ago: Ran My First Half Marathon

A year ago this month, I ran my very first half marathon (Frederick Half) and kicked off Running the States — my challenge to run 13.1 miles in all 50 U.S. states.

The idea for Running the States came about in December 2013, when I met my co-worker, Kevin, who had recently completed the challenge. In January 2014, I signed up for my first couple of races and started training.

If we’re going by calendar year, which I still do most of the time, I completed four half marathons in 2014. But if we’re starting the count from when I ran my first half, then I’ve completed nine since last May.

My best time (PR) was in Frederick — the first race! I finished in 2:20. Since it was my first half marathon, I didn’t know how to pace myself yet and ran it too fast. I attempted it at my 10k pace (10k PR: 56:05/9:02 pace), so I felt kind of sick afterward. My second best time was in Alexandra (second race). It took place two weeks after Frederick, and I still hadn’t learned the art of pacing. I finished in 2:23. Fortunately, I didn’t feel as sick after that one.

I didn’t learn how to pace myself until I started marathon training last summer. I really only knew how to run fast (or walk). I found my slow stride one day during a 15-miler on the C&O Canal Towpath (one of my favorite places to run). Since then, my times have been about 5-6 minutes slower than that first race in Frederick — my average half marathon time is 2:26. Kevin insists I’m not pushing myself hard enough, and suggests gunning it like I did in Frederick. I just fear I’ll burn out too quickly and won’t be able to finish the race.

So far, my favorite races have been Rock n Roll New Orleans and the Charleston Half. For both, the weather was great and the courses were fairly flat and scenic.

My least favorite race, which ties with craziest, is the Savin Rock Half, where it was freezing cold and snowed the entire time. It’s a great story to tell and cool experience (pun intended), but one I definitely would not want to repeat.

I’m kicking off year two of Running the States with the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon in July, plus a couple more this fall, which I’ll write about later. I haven’t registered for any in the first half of 2016 yet. I know of a few I’d like to do, but I need to strategize and plan out my travel schedule for the rest of the year before making any commitments. Will share once I’ve it figured out!

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate the anniversary with an easy jog in the neighborhood and a beer. Cheers!

1. Maryland: Frederick Half Marathon – May 2014
2. Virginia: Alexandria Half Marathon – May 2014
3. North Carolina: Asheville Half Marathon – June 2014
4. Texas: The Hottest Half – August 2014
5. South Carolina: Charleston Half Marathon – January 2015
6. Louisiana: Rock n Roll New Orleans – January 2015
7. Connecticut: Savin Rock Half Marathon – March 2014
8. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Love Run – March 2014
9. Tennessee: County Music Half Marathon – April 2015


  1. Great running project – keep on going! It’s good to hear that you participate at so many Rock n Roll events, I’ll run my first of this kind in Dublin, Ireland in August and am really excited about it! I am sure it will be a fun race!

    1. Thanks, Anne! Rock n Roll races are so much fun. You’ll have a great time for sure! Looking forward to reading about Dublin on your blog later!

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