THE FIRST HALF MARATHON IS PRICELESS, EVEN WITH THE RANTS

Plano Balloon Half Marathon Finisher Photo!
Guest contributor: April Hamon aka @AprilOnTheRun 
This is going to be my race recap for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon…it’s pretty long…
A little background:
I never had plans to do the Plano Balloon Festival Half  Marathon until I saw a Facebook post on an old high school friend, Renee’s news feed. After our 2001 graduation, we parted ways and the last time I recall seeing her was in college back in 2005. We’ve kept contact here and there through social media over the passing years.
Renee posted that she had lost a tremendous amount of weight over the last year and had begun running and training. She wanted to be able to do her first half marathon. I’m inspired by people who are trying and wanting to stay healthy and be active. After seeing her post, I sent Renee a message asking when and what half she was planning to do. She wasn’t sure at the time, so I told her to let me know and I’d register and pace her if she wanted. She had decided on the PBF Half Marathon and I committed myself to this race with her, at her pace.
One Month til Race Day
Training, training, training is what should be done months leading up to race day. My training was and had been in full gear for months prior and I was going strong. I train with various run groups around South East Texas. After a 10 mile bridge training run with WCRunners, my friend Ana who is from Beaumont had said it was her longest run to date! Sweet! The first thought straight out of my mouth was “you’re ready for a half marathon!” Our friend, Tony threw out over coffee that she wanted to do a half before her 30th (Oct. 3). I sunk my race recruiting claws in deep and told her she should do the PBF with me and my friend on the 20th, exactly 4 weeks out. Hesitant at first about not really having trained for a half (she did just run her first 10 miler) and she would only have one more 10 mike training run before Plano, but she registered just two days later.  Peer pressure at it’s finest!
Race Morning
Ana carpooled with me and we stayed at my in-laws in Athens the night before, which is about an hour and a half from Plano. We left Athens around 4 a.m. so we’d have plenty of time to get there and not feel rushed. Getting to a race super early is way better then getting there late and having to fight to find a parking space and find your way to where you’re supposed to be before the start of the race, plus we had to meet Renee at Starbucks for our packets since she picked them up for us the day before – no race day packet pick up. 
Golden Triangle Strutters Representing at #PBFRaces
We arrived at the runner’s parking by 6 a.m. meeting back up with Renee, as well as two ladies Jordyn and Lea Ann who came with her to do the race. We now I have four first time half marathoners rather than just one! Wowzers!!!! 
Pre-Race Selfie with First Timers
Ana, Renee, Jordyn, and Lea Ann
Pre-Race
As we made our way down a hill to the start, there were several people from my run group running the race. It’s always good to see familiar faces at the races. We discussed goal finish times. This was mine and Ana’s first year to run the PBF Half, so Jordyn and Ana had paired up as partners. Jordyn was aiming for a sub 2:05 and Ana a sub 2:30. They started with the 2:30 pace group while Renee, Lea Ann and I joined the 3:30 pace group. Their goal was to finish in 3:30.
The race started at 7:30 a.m. sharp and was really smooth getting out from the start. All the runners were courteous and didn’t try to trample over you like at some races.
And We’re Off…Mile 1-3
The weather was decent, not horrible but humid with NO cloud coverage! Renee, Lea Ann and I did run/walk intervals (1:1). We were able to see the hot air balloons for about the first three miles.

Up, up, and away! 
Mile 4-6
The course was a mixture of hills and neighborhoods with a few shaded parks. By now, Lea Ann had gotten well ahead of Renee and I. The hills and heat were taking a toll on Renee and she wasn’t happy. With every passing mile it was; “I’m done, I quit, or I’m finished!”  I actually expected it and not because I thought she wouldn’t finish but because I said the same things when I did my first half marathon. I just didn’t have anyone to yell at.  She needed the push and encouragement to keep going.
Mile 7-12
It’s about 2 hours into the course at mile 8 and the heat was still taking a toll on Renee. We still had 5.1 to go and we had just gotten on the Santa Fe Trail. She fueled and hydrated but started cramping and was hot. Still saying “I can’t, I’m finished” as we continued on to mile 11. I was dead set on not letting her quit! Quitting was not an option so if we had to walk the entire last half then that’s what we were going to do. The Santa Fe Trail we were on was wide open to NO shade and NO breeze. As we crossed over a small bridge on the trail, Renee once again, “I’m done, I’m tapped out!” as she leaned over the bridge rail for a little breather.
As I’ve done since 1.5 miles, I kept telling her she couldn’t just up and quit. “Look how far you’ve come! You’re going to finish!” As we started back to walking the Plano Volunteer PD guys came from behind us checking on everyone who was still on course. I’d asked for an ice pack and cold bottled water for Renee hoping it’d help.
It’s 10:52 a.m. with about a mile to go and 8 minutes til the cutoff. I text Jordyn to let her know where we were on course and to update her on Renee. “We’re at 12.25 miles and she’s quit on me ten times lol”. That was my text and she started walking towards us from the finish line.
The Finish
Turning left onto E. Spring Creek Pkwy and the finish line is in sight. It’s 400 yards to the finish line! As we got closer, I asked Renee if she was going to have a walking or running photo finish. She wanted to run it in together, crossing  together.
Proud Finisher! #PBFRaces
We finished in 3:48, just 18 minutes late of the cutoff but our times were included in the official results. Renee gave me EVERY opportunity from the start to leave her and run my own race. There was no way I was going to leave her and her not finish. I really feel that if I had left her, she would have quit and she would have missed crossing a huge milestone over that finish line.
Although we didn’t finish by the 3:30 cutoff which was our goal, she finished and she finished proud! PBF was not my race, it was Renee’s and I’m ever so grateful that I was able to be a part of it. To be a part of four friends doing their first half is priceless and if I had to do it all over again even with the rants…I would!
Finish Times
Jordyn 2:31:48
Ana 2:32:35
Lea Ann 3:21:15
Renee 3:48
Me 3:48
Conclusion
It’s not about a finish time. It’s about finishing! Congrats to Jordyn, Ana, Lea Ann and Renee on completion of your first Half Marathon! You ladies are ROCKSTARS!!!
More information about the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon being held September 23-24, 2017 is available at www.pbfraces.org #PBFRaces