and being on the verge of tears!
My first half was a year ago, and after I finished I sat on a bench for a few minutes. It wasn't exhaustion or anything physical, I was just overcome by the feeling of having completed the run.
Races are great. It's almost entirely about the personal achievement and personal satisfaction. Among the very fastest it's a competition, but the thousands and thousands of other runners are doing it for themselves (and also for a banana). And I love the race atmosphere. Everyone is so supportive.
Congratulations on the great finish. For what it's worth, my current fastest time is more than seven minutes faster than my first half marathon. Your goal of eight minute miles will be a lot of work while totally doable.