Mermaid Series Half Marathon: Journey to Become a "Mermaid Athlete"

Posted on February 29 2016

I wish I could say I chose Mermaid Half Marathon as my first half marathon because I liked the course, or because the cause resonated with me or some other logical reason. But honestly… I like mermaids. I saw the name and I was sold immediately. I didn’t even bother to see where it was or what kind of course it was. 

Thankfully, although my decision wasn’t that well-informed, it turned out to be the most perfect first half marathon I could have imagined.

The weather gods were smiling down upon us mermaids because despite the random February heat wave we had been having in San Diego, it was uncharacteristically foggy when we all arrived to the race. It was absolutely ideal- slight breeze, overcast, temperature in the 60s. It was a runner’s dream!

All the mermaids, decked out with their fin tights and seashell bra shirts, lined themselves up at the corrals at 7:15. Since the race was self-seeded, I put myself towards the very back so the faster runners could dart out.  Although I had been training, I didn’t expect much from myself. I wasn’t even quite sure if I could finish it, as I had never run more than 11 miles in my life.

Right before the whistle sounded to start the race, the moderators had us all chant “We are STRONG. We are BEAUTIFUL. We are FEARLESS. We are MERMAIDS!” It was such a fun and inspiring moment. I felt so united with the women surrounding me.

That empowering, friendly attitude carried over during the duration of the race. It was a very supportive atmosphere where all the women were encouraging one another. I stopped to tie my shoe and a runner behind me called out to me “You got this mermaid! Keep it up!”

In my mind, when I had pictured my first half marathon, I thought the competition of the runners around me was going to be my motivator. Yet the only runner I felt competitive with was myself. Everyone was just out there to get the best time they could personally get and do the best they could do. We all were supporting one another, encouraging one another, no longer strangers, bonded by commonality of all being crazy enough to willingly run 13.1 miles. The atmosphere was supportive, not competitive.

It was my first half marathon, so I spent the first chunk of the race telling myself to take it easy. I tried to remind myself that the first mile is a liar, don’t trust it!  It was exciting, when the whistle spouted off and my fellow mermaids darted around me, but I still hung back, trying to save my energy. I was aiming to finish the race at a 10 minute per hour pace.

Around mile 7, I realized how strong and capable I felt to finish the race. My breathing wasn’t heavy, I was taking long, controlled strides, I felt focused and inspired. Once I checked in with my body and realized I could push myself, I stopped holding myself back and I flew the rest of the way. I must have passed 50 runners, not because I was trying to beat them. But because I wanted to see what I was capable of. It was a thrilling moment, letting myself run free for the duration!

I ended up surpassing my goal pace of 10 min/hr to end with an average of 8 mins/30 seconds per mile and a time of 1:51. Next half marathon I run I want to push myself to get an even faster pace. Since I was going so slow in the beginning, now that I know what I’m capable of, I’m sure I can get there!

What I didn’t expect, however, was how sore my legs were! My boyfriend and I had planned to hike the next day for Valentine’s Day, but my legs felt absolutely broken! I’m not sure if it was a shoes issue or just because I had never ran that far (or long) before but it’s definitely something I’m going to look into the next time I run 13.1!

I loved how strong and capable I felt during the race and I’m proud of my time. But my favorite part was how all these women were seeking to empower one another! The positivity has still stayed with me. I met so many cool mermaids and will always look at my pretty “RACE BLING” with a smile.

  Haley Grosenheider | Social Media + Marketing for Miles and Pace