My First Half Marathon: Hershey Half (2012)


It really bothers me that I didn’t start my blog until a few months AFTER running my first half marathon at Hershey Park in October of 2012.

Hershey Park Half medal

I miss having the recap to reflect on and remember fondly. The Hershey half marathon was a seriously magical race partly because it was my first half marathon and partly because it was at Hershey Park.

Running and chocolate? My two favorite things.

Since we are going to Hershey Park today (!!!), I decided that I needed to finally recap my first half marathon, even though it’s almost four years later.

I remember the details fairly well so this should be easy 🙂

Hershey Park Half

My first ever half marathon took place on Sunday, October 21, 2012.

I registered for the Hershey half marathon in June 2012. I had yet to run 13 miles but knew that I could do it by October.

I purposely chose the Hershey half as my first half marathon because I wanted to run a race somewhere cool. At the time, I really had no interest in running local half marathons. If I was going to pay to run a half, it was going to be somewhere we could go that would involve some extra fun (and chocolate!).

I did not follow a training plan.

My running ability and desire for endurance had picked up as of January 2012 when I randomly changed to a meatless diet (click here to read more about My Meatless Diet).

Over the months, I gradually increased my mileage and kept plugging away throughout the summer to prepare for the half marathon.

My weekday runs were 3 or 4 miles in length and my long runs on Saturday slowly moved up from 5 miles to 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 etc. I recall reaching the 8 mile long run and then holding at 8 for a few weeks before increasing again.

I only ran one 13 mile long run prior to this race. I remember it being really slow too.

Pure Barre was not in the picture yet. I think I did free weights in the gym sometimes, chose the elliptical at least once a week and took at least one, sometimes two rest days each week.

Race Logistics:

The Hershey half marathon was a destination race! My parents tagged along for the one night stay in Hershey, PA so that I would have someone to watch my son while I ran the race.

We arrived early Saturday morning, picked up my packet, spent some time at the race expo and then headed over to Hershey’s theme park for the day. Included in the race registration were two free passes to Hershey Park.

I remember having a chocolate-covered banana while walking around the park and then we had dinner at the Hersheypark Place restaurant inside the park. I had a personal pizza for dinner and chocolate fondue for dessert. It’s a great restaurant if you are ever in Hershey!

benji and me

Getting him to hold still for this picture and to make a pleasant smiling face was not easy from what I remember.

I did not sleep very well but was up early and ready to begin my usual pre-race routine. I brought oatmeal from home, warmed it in the hotel breakfast area and had several cups of coffee. I remember being so excited yet nervous but so happy!

hershey half marathon

My dad drove me to the start line early in the morning where I waited with other runners and the Hershey’s characters. This photo, which I use all over the place still for my blog, was taking prior to the race start.

hershey half marathon

I had bought a new lululemon outfit for my first half marathon. My first pair of Run Inspire Crops (still wear them every few days), tank top with built-in bra (they don’t make these tops anymore) and my sneakers were Asics.

The Race:

I remember the first few miles feeling difficult. There were a few hills that I didn’t know about and my breathing felt weird.

I left on the black gloves that I wore prior to the start figuring if I got hot I would throw them to the side but never did. I think I ran with one glove on and held the other glove!

I must have been cold because I see in the pictures I had my headband pulled down to cover my ears.

We ran through Hershey Park and the beautiful grounds within Hershey. In my head I can recall the scenery but I cannot recall what I was thinking about or what my pace was per mile.

Did I stop for water? Probably but I don’t remember!

Midrun fuel: Jelly Beans.

Mile 12 was the chocolate aid station! The volunteers threw mini candy bars to us runners. I recall catching a candy bar and then seeing my parents and my son at which point I threw him the candy bar and he caught it.

Finish Time: 1:53:37.

first hershey half marathon

I know that I slowed significantly in the last few miles which shocked me when I saw my splits because I truly didn’t feel as though I slowed as much as I did. Overall I was super happy and crazy proud of myself with my first half marathon.

I did not have a finish time goal. Maybe I wanted to finish under 2 hours but I honestly don’t think I gave it much thought back then. I just wanted to finish!

Post Race:

The goodie bag they gave at the finish line is still my favorite. A Hershey Park cooler bag (which I still use all of the time) filled with snacks and giant fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

I remember being STARVING after the race. I ate an apple as we walked over to Chocolate World where I had baked oatmeal topped with yogurt, fruit and chocolate chips along with cinnamon bun coffee with whipped cream.

I wish I had pictures of this meal, I wasn’t a blogger then but I LOVED IT, still think about it and hope to get it this week when we are at Hershey.

After eating, my mom and I had gone back to the hotel so I could shower and then my son and I made our own Hershey Bars in Chocolate World, had another meal (a salad) before hitting to road to come home.

I know I had an apple with peanut butter on the drive home and then stopped at Red Mango for a big parfait as my dinner.

I also remember my lungs hurting a bit a few hours later which definitely had to do with the higher altitude of the race.

Overall Thoughts:

I did not want to take my medal off for days. Looking back, I can’t get over how proud I was for completing a half marathon but as you probably know, that first half marathon is pretty special.

I really want to run this half marathon again. This year the Hershey half marathon is the weekend of my son’s Bar Mitzvah so maybe we can make it for next year!

It’s amazing to me that I have run 8 half marathons and a handful of other race distances since my first half back in 2012. I do have recaps for all of these races here on the blog so if you are interested, click here for my race recap page.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter this week to stay up to date on our Hershey Park fun! I can’t wait for the chocolate. 🙂

Recapping my first ever half marathon in Hershey Park! #hersheypark #hersheyparkhalf #running #halfmarathon #flashback #fitfluential Click To Tweet

When/where was your first race?

What’s your pre-race fuel these days?

Favorite type of Hershey’s chocolate?

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  1. says

    So glad you decided to share this story! You have a great memory of the race even though it was several years ago. I also think you trained really well considering you weren’t following a plan! As I have told you, I also didnt follow a plan for my first half in 2007. I think my longest run was 10 miles. I was living near lots of and lots of hills so I think that helped to prepare me for the hilly Baltimore half-marathon course! I also ran a 1:53 as my first half-marathon time!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…A Foot Update and 2 Weeks of WorkoutsMy Profile

  2. says

    I love this race! It was one of my best friend’s first half as well and it was so fun doing it with her. I love how you get to run through the park, and I surprisingly loved how they mark every 1/10 mile. We didn’t get those nice goodie bags after the race though, unless I missed it! Have fun at the park 🙂
    Gretchen recently posted…Seawheeze Half Marathon Training Week 3My Profile

  3. says

    Oh I loved reading this! My first half marathon was in November 2015 – I think I was prouder crossing that finish line then I was crossing the finish line of my first marathon in May 2016. A friend of mine paced me for the whole thing – my only goal was sub 2 hours – and those last 3 miles were killer, as she pushed me to succeed and run a time of 1:58.
    Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales recently posted…What I ate during the Whole30 challenge: 30 days of meal ideasMy Profile

  4. says

    Wow, you have an amazing memory about all the many details. And that time for your first marathon? Wow, you must just be a really naturally fast runner. It’s cool that you got to go make your own chocolate bars afterwards too. I’ve never followed an official training plan for a half marathon, so I could kind of resonate with you following a rough outline. 🙂
    Emily recently posted…WIAW: Let’s be Honest Today…My Profile