The Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, Or Why I Didn’t Stop Smiling for 13.1 Miles

It’s hard to believe, but yesterday I ran my 7th half marathon. Less than 10 months ago, I ran my first. Every 13.1 has a special place in my heart, but yesterday’s is now at the top of my “favorite half marathon” list, which is funny because I didn’t set a new PR, the course wasn’t the prettiest I’ve run, and I could have done without the high humidity.

So, what made the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon so amazing?


My uncle and I crossing the finish line.

These few things:

  1. I got to run my uncle’s first half marathon with him. Early this year, right after my first half marathon, I challenged my uncle to run this race with me. At that time, he didn’t run. The months went by and I kept asking him if he’d signed up yet, and he told me he would soon… was he going to leave me hanging?! Luckily, when I visited my family in early August, he told me not only had he signed up, but he had started training that month. I was so excited! As he kept me updated on his training, I became more and more impressed. He was dedicated and getting quite speedy. Though I was nervous about running with him after suffering an injury a few weeks ago, we decided to still run together and we did just that. He was on my heels the whole race, and I’ve never been happier running 13.1 miles. As we finished, we could hear our whole family cheer, making it even better than it already was.
  2. The Running Circle of Life – I introduced my uncle to the person who got me into running back in high school. One of my closest friends’ older brother was a talented high school cross country runner who embodied everything great about the sport, and his passion for running influenced my friend and me so much that we decided to join the team our freshman year. Even though I wasn’t very good, he inspired me to stick with it all four years, and has been incredibly helpful as I’ve gotten back into it recently. (Also, he dominated the race, running a 1:13:37 and coming in 6th overall in a talented field – unbelievable!).
  3. It’s my hometown race, one that I volunteered at four consecutive years with my high school cross country team. One year, we handed out water to runners as they approached the 24-mile mark and I remember thinking, “Wow. I’ll never be able to do that.” Now, I’m in the middle of training for my first marathon.
  4. I got to see so many familiar faces cheering along the course route, from former teammates to close friends to my family.  Spectators really do make such a difference.
  5. This is a flat, fast course with few turns, a lot of shade, and a track finish. The First Place Sports team executed a well-organized race, as always. Basically, this race is everything the Runner’s World article said it would be (including the extremely humid temperatures at the start, but it wasn’t as bad as last week.)

This picture that my aunt captured really shows how happy I was this whole race:




Final Chip time: 1:51:20

Age Group: 17th Place

Overall: 99th Place (My uncle and I were in the “Top 100” – yeah!)


5 thoughts on “The Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, Or Why I Didn’t Stop Smiling for 13.1 Miles

    • Thank you! Yes, it was really fun to finish on a track. Even better: it was the track of what was my rival high school, where I ran in countless meets and attended a number of football games when I was younger.

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