Monday, April 2, 2012
I'm not sure if I was smiling because I did it or if I was smiling because it was DONE. Running a half-marathon was equal parts what I expected and equal parts harder than I thought. I'd run 12 miles before, so I thought I would have this in the bag. But running 12 miles by myself is different from running 13 miles in a large group of people. I told myself to start out slow, and I swear to you, I did start out slow. People were passing me more often than not and I was telling myself to keep it slow. I started out with the 10:40 pacer, yet she was so far ahead of me by the end of mile one that I couldn't see her. I thought this meant that I was taking it slow, but I somehow ran that first mile in 9:07. Oops!
From miles 2-8, I settled into a fairly consistent pace with almost a negative split for each mile (mile splits: 11:09;10:48; 10:36;10:37;10:36;11:11;10:12). Mile seven included a water stop, where I walked to take a few shot bloks, so I lost some time there.
My average pace was 10:30, which felt good with a little push. Then I got caught up at a water stop at mile 9 where they had only Gatorade filled and I had to wait for water, because I didn't want to chance blue Gatorade upsetting my stomach. To compensate for the time I was stopped, I pushed it to a 9:57 minute mile and pushed myself right into a giant wall at mile 10. Mile 10 was HARD for a few reasons. First, because the race was mostly an out and back loop, I ran right past where my car was parked at mile 10.
I had my key in my SpiBelt and just kept thinking, I should just go get in my car. That sounds nice. I could just sit in my car and not finish and yeah, that sounds much better than running three miles. Three miles is going to take forever. I should've just signed up for a ten mile race, then I'd be done right now. Why am I still running? OH MY GOD, I CAN'T DO THIS.
I am not exaggerating. This was my actual train of thought. Right around this time, my ankle started to hurt. My ankle never hurts when I run, but my achilles started to feel very irritated (and still does), so I'm not sure what I did to make it angry. Then I forgot how to lift my feet up and down. No, seriously, I felt like I forgot how to properly make a running motion with my feet. It was rough. I stopped at the water stop around mile 11 and took three more shot bloks (thanks to a tip from Barb!), but I was dragging. I did intervals to the best of my ability to get through miles 10 (11:06) and 11 (10:57). I was disappointed in myself, because I really, really wanted to run the whole entire thing, but I couldn't do it at this point. The sign for mile 12 said, "Almost done!" and I wanted to punch the sign in the face, because one mile seemed like an impossible task. Usually my last mile is my fastest, but in this case, it was definitely my slowest (12:14). However, I ran the entire last mile, so after the suck that was miles 10 and 11, I felt good about this. What helped was that I noticed myself running next to an older man and I thought, if he can finish this running, so can I. We smiled at each other and pushed each other through that last mile. After a mostly flat course, there were suddenly three uphills at the very end. Most people were walking them, but this guy was running them and if he was, so was I. When we came around the corner to the mile 13 sign, I said, "I can't do a tenth of a mile!" and he laughed. I saw the finish line and took off. Well, it felt like taking off, but it was probably more of a fast hobble at this point.
When I got across the finish, I stopped and turned back to the guy who was my mile 12 partner. We both laughed, smiled, thanked each other and hugged. This was probably the coolest part of my race. I'm always amazed at how runners support each other and through most of the race, I was wishing that I had someone to run with, so it was awesome to find someone to run with when I MOST needed it.
Also awesome was the support from everyone online. Although I didn't have anyone on the course cheering me on or waving signs, I had constant tweets and text messages through the whole race. The best part was all the messages that poured in as I finished. You guys are awesome. The best came from Donya, who was watching my babies. Her tweets at mile 10 had me crying and pushing forward.
After the race, I hobbled to my car and managed to contort myself in such a way that I changed in my car in the parking garage. This was not easy to do with sore muscles, but I wanted to be as sweat-free as possible to go meet Julie and Martina for lunch! Even though Martina has been a blog reader for some time, this was the first time we met. I was so excited to finally meet her.
This was my reward to myself for finishing:
Oh, and a root beer float for dessert. YUM. I would like another root beer float right now.
And then I apologized to Martina for pressing my sweaty head against her face. Just keeping it classy.
The drive home was long. I just wanted to be home and showered and not wearing pants that it seemed to take forever. I brought home amazing cupcakes from Julie and beautiful flowers from Martina and I came home to a sign that Donya helped my boys make. This really made me smile!
Overall, I had a great time. The course was beautiful. I wish it'd been less of an out and back, but that's okay. The volunteers were great and really supportive. My favorite volunteer was around mile 8 with a box of Kleenex--I always have a runny nose when I run! Today I feel pretty sore, but proud of myself because I set out with a goal (cross the finish line) and I did just that. I think I would absolutely love to run a half with someone by my side, for those long miles toward the end where it seems so daunting. Yesterday, I kept thinking, "I will never run this far again, unless I'm getting chased by zombies," but something tells me I will. Hopefully minus the zombies.