Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We did it!

I couldn’t have imagined a year ago that I would be able to say that I have run a half-marathon, but here I am a few days after and feeling great.  The whole running thing started last June when my stroller strides group started a running club.  You could train for a 5 or 10k, and even though the most I had ever run was a 5k, I decided to try for the 10k.  I remember at one point Hilary (the instructor) saying, “you aren’t going to try, you are going to do it.”  I ran the race with my friend Kelly in early September and we kind of joked about doing a half-marathon the next year.  We were having dinner with some friend’s right before we moved to Portland, and the husband and I were talking about running and on a whim decided to do the half.  Jeff later told me he would be interested as well.

I signed us up in November, and we started our training in spring.  The training called for 3-4 days of running, with a long run each Sunday.  With both of training we knew this would be a bit of a problem since we have the girls to think about.  I don’t know if we ever ran four days a week, and I probably missed a quarter of the long runs.  Jeff on the other hand did something to both of his ankles and essentially had to quit running in May.  He was determined to run the race though, even if we had to immediately go to the hospital and have his legs amputated! 

On our way to the starting line.

The day of the race, we had to get up around 4 a.m. and I was anything but excited to get out of bed.  I had been very nervous the day before (hell, pretty much anytime I thought about it) but when we got up, I felt okay.  We had moved up our estimated finish time to 2:10 and I felt that it was doable, as I had been pacing myself in training to run around a 9:55-minute mile. Even though Jeff and I were starting together, we agreed not to try to run it together as we were not at the same pace at this point.  I was pretty worried about Jeff, so when we saw each other at the water station at mile two I was pretty happy knowing that he had made it that far and timing wise wasn’t that far behind me.  Although I had seen a video of what the course was, I wasn’t expecting the hill at mile four to be so long or how steep the hill at mile nine would be.  I don’t like heights, and bridges freak me out, so I had been a little worried about the end of the race where you running on a overpass but what I hadn’t thought about was my hatred of driving through tunnels and now I had to run through one.  It was over a half-mile in the tunnel I believe, and there wasn’t a lot of air and it was very hot.  I was so excited to see the end, and definitely picked up the pace to get out of there! 

I had read in my training book that mile nine should really be considered the half-way point, but that the excitement of reaching the finish line would carry your through the last few miles.  I can’t say that this happened for me.  It took everything I had at the last mile not to walk it in, but I knew that if I kept going I would meet my goal of 2:10, which is what I did.  My legs felt like jello, but I kept moving after the finish line so I wouldn’t cramp up.  My friend Kelly was already done and found me right after, and I was so proud of her for doing the race in under two hours.  We went to get our bags and wait for Jeff to cross the finish line.  We kept waiting and waiting, and finally I went to see if he was our other meet up spot in case I had missed him.  I was so happy when I saw him standing there.  He had come in 13 minutes after me, so I must have missed him while I was getting our things. 

Kelly and I after the race.

Here is what I have learned:
  • I am a lot stronger that I thought I was.
  • That it is important to stick with your training, and your plan.  I was running with a friend for a while during the race and I realized that I was running faster than I had trained for.  I had to wish her good luck and go back to my pace.
  • Recovery is a lot quicker if you listen to your body.
  • Even though there wasn’t anybody cheering me on, reading other people’s signs of encouragement would not only give me chills but kept me going.  Same thing could be said for any little girls I saw cheering on their mamas. 
  • Seeing a lot of American flags and people wearing blue shirts in remembrance of fallen soldiers will bring a tear to my eye.

Jeff and I in the beer garden after the race. 

Jeff and I are both on board to do the race again next year, and our plan is to continue to keep a good running base in the “off season” and work towards finishing faster.  We are doing an 8k in August and I have a 10k scheduled for September, so running isn’t finished for the year by any means but the level of intensity has dropped off.  I go for my first post half run tonight and I am looking forward to it. 

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