Saturday, November 12, 2011

Overdue Half Marathon Recap

So, I have been dragging my feet about writing this recap.  I have started and re-started this post but just haven't been able to get out what I wanted to.  This morning I was reminded by a friend that I need to write this recap for myself, because there will be a day when I will want to re-read it.  And she is right - I was worried about how I was going to accurately explain how I was feeling on the day of the half marathon - I have to not worry about that and just get it down. 

I participated in the Monster Dash Half Marathon on October 29th - two weeks ago.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning, it was definitely chilly but I have plenty of experience running in this weather so I was prepared.  I had ordered a cute Superwoman t-shirt from a store on Amazon but they failed to process my order and ship it to me in time so I did not have my shirt for the Halloween themed race.  But, it was not that big of deal - I was really just concerned with having a good race not so much about a costume.  So, I decided to wear my pink Prior Fat Girl t-shirt.  Ironically, it ended up kind of like being a costume - the front of the shirt says "I am a Prior Fat Girl, what are you?" - see?  Kind of a costume - I was a PFG!  I love that t-shirt, it reminds of where I have been and what I have accomplished - actually pretty appropriate for a day like that.

I found my girlfriends that were also running and we headed to the start area.  There were a lot of people - all huddled together trying to use our body heat to keep us warm before the race started.  My friend Tracy and I made our way to the start - they had it all marked off based on your mile pace.  We decided to hang with the 9:30 mile group.  I was hoping to maintain that pace since I had just been able to do it at the TC 10 mile.  But, I also knew that I had yet to run a full 13 miles so I wasn't sure if I would be able to maintain that pace the entire time!  We decided to aim high!

Pre-race, Erin, Erin's Cousin, Me and Tracy
Tracy and I stuck together until about mile 4 - she stopped to go to the bathroom and I kept going.  I knew that my aunt was going to be at the mile 7 mark so I just kept thinking about being able to see a familiar face and how that would energize me.  About mile 6 my leg started to bother me - which was a relief, I had hoped to get at least that far before I was in too much pain.  I saw my aunt on the side at mile 7 and she came on to the course and ran with me for a few minutes - made sure I was doing okay and encouraging me - she has been such a great support through my running this year - I am so thankful for her!  Then I realized she was on her bike - so I was able to see her a few more times along the course - that was great! 
I don't use an iPod when I am running outside and particularly not when I am racing.  I started running without music because I was always running with people so I have not depended on music when I am running.  I know I am in the minority when it comes to that but I just really enjoy being able to hear what is going on around me and just getting lost in my surroundings.  So, during this race I had a lot of time to get lost in my surroundings.  At mile 6 I really had to start distracting myself because my leg was hurting and my feet were getting sore.  I had already fixated on the pace group at about mile 5 - I was hanging with the 9:25 group and I just made a point of making sure I could always see the sign he was carrying.  I would talk to myself about anything and everything that was not related to my leg or my feet.  I would focus on anything and everything that meant I was still moving forward. 

At mile 9 I was exhausted - my legs felt like they weighed about 50 pounds each.  The great thing about this race was that they had music about every mile and it was fun to be able to start to hear the music as you approached - it was a mini adrenaline rush each time I went by one of them.  At mile 10 there was great energy as the 10 mile racers were finishing their race - you could hear people cheering and the water stop that was there for the half marathoners was staffed by a great, very supportive group!  Mile 11 was the most brutal mile of the entire race - two weeks out from the race and I can still vividly recall how tired my legs were - and I distinctly recall the incline of mile 11!  Overall this race was not all that hilly - but mile 11 - HILLY!  The last two miles of this race were the most difficult miles of any race I have ever run.  There was a great sign at mile 12 - this woman was holding a sign that said "Kick Some Asphalt" - it got me to chuckle a little bit, despite being so exhausted! 

Seeing the 13 mile sign was one of the greatest moments.  Typically at this point in a race I would attempt to dig deep and push it to the finish line.  I tried - I really tried to accelerate to the finish - but I just had to keep moving - I had given all I had to this race and I just needed to get to the finish line!  There were so many people along the finish chute, it was inspiring and so emotional.  Right before the finish I saw my aunt on the right side cheering for me - it was so great to see a familiar face!!!  I crossed over the finish line and was handed my finisher's medal - it was all I could do to keep my composure and not burst in to tears.  There were so many emotions and thoughts going through my head - I was so overwhelmed at that very moment.  I had just run a half marathon, 13.1 miles - I had just done that.  I could hardly believe it - 10 months after I started running I had run a half marathon.  I had not imagined that this was where I would be less than a year in to running.  I was so happy, proud and excited! 
Post Race Pic taken by my Aunt
I headed over and had my official finisher picture taken - I have never done that at a race before - but I will now every time they offer that.  It was fun to have a "posed" picture from the race.  My official race time was 2:06, 9:35 mile pace.  I had beaten my goal by about 4 minutes.  Amazing. 

My husband, kids and Melissa attempted to be at the race finish but were directed to the wrong location and ended up not being able to get there.  At first I was devastated because I wanted them to see me finish so badly but I got over it - remembering there will be plenty of opportunity for them to see me finish another half marathon!  I have already decided I will be doing the Monster Dash Half again next year.  It was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again!

I want to say a special thank you to my aunt Jeanne who has been so supportive of me and was there along the way during the race and was able to snap some pictures after the race of me and me with my friend Tracy.  Thank you so much for supporting me and believing in me!  I can't wait to run some more races WITH you next year! 

Me and my auntie!

Me and Tracy post race! Half Marathon finishers!
Bottom line - this race was one of the hardest things I have ever done - I pushed myself and my body to limits I have never experienced before. Yes, I have given birth to two beautiful children - honestly, this was harder.  My body was "made" to have children, I am still not convinced that my body was "made" to run 13.1 miles.  But, I did it, I ran 13.1 miles. 

Next up: Marathon Training - oh yes, I have officially gone crazy!  More on this later!

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