Rocking the Half

Finally, after 9 months of planning, 4 months of training and 182 miles of running, the day of my first Half-Marathon arrived! This has truly been a summer of athletic change for me. I’ve bought everything from new shoes to a SPI belt to a whole running wardrobe. I’ve changed my cross-training, scheduled sports massages, and sought consult from doctors (when I had that hamstring strain in July). I’ve gotten up before 5am just to get in my long runs before the summer heat got unbearable. I have produced more sweat in the last 4 months than I have in the last 4 years, and though I have no way of proving that, it seems like a reasonable claim.

All this lead up to the weekend of a lifetime!  Warning: long entry ahead.

Thursday I ran what turned out to be my last training run of 3.1 miles.  The weather was sticky, but tolerable (similar to race conditions, ultimately).  Then I got some schoolwork and housework done in the afternoon before heading to my sports massage to get a final pre-race reset.  After that, I was reunited with the lovely Amanda Chan for an outdoor dinner, during which we witnessed an inexplicable confluence of fire and emergency vehicles.  None of them were rushing, but many dressed in full gear and wielded weapons (ax, crow-bar, etc).  I joked that perhaps this was ground zero of the zombie apocalypse, to which she responded, “That would be just my luck!”  Hahaha!  Zombie-free, I returned her to campus and headed home to get some more studying done.

Friday I helped James relocate from his current residence where he has been renting to the house he just bought. The timing of his move resulted in my being less-able to help because I didn’t want to overtire my body too much right before the race.  So I mostly packed, opened doors, and lifted light boxes while he and Zach did the heavy lifting.  I left them after the truck was packed to get more studying done and met them for dinner after they had unloaded and returned.

Saturday I got a bright and early start, did my last-minute packing, and ate a mini-pizza on the principle that my big meal the day before the race should be lunch.  Then Regan met me here and we hopped in my car to head town to the race city. We opted for a hotel stay because the 7am start would have necessitated an unreasonably early departure otherwise.  We got down there in time to attend the expo, and we got lots of swag, in addition to what we bought (like my hot pink pullover and official 13.1 car magnet). It was a fun couple of hours! Then we checked into the hotel before heading out again to find dinner.  After a bit of a walk, we ended up at this British-style pub with great food and reasonable prices. The cherry on top of a great pre-race day was finding the Sex & the City move on TV…during which we both fell asleep.

And now, I’m going to transition into a more detailed chronology of Sunday.

5:30am – wake, dress, find ice, eat
6:15am – pack car, walk to race village
6:40am – gear check, get in line for restroom, take adorable photos, get stared at while doing my yoga parking lot sequence
7:00am – race start, still in line, watching as corrals 1-8 are released in quick succession
7:15am – make it to corral 13, take more photos, get pumped!
7:20am – our corral released!
Mile 1 – fastest mile, despite the rough start I had in adjusting my overly fully SPI belt
Mile 2 – settled into a steady pace, still running downtown
Mile 3 – bypassed first water stop, headed up first hill
Mile 4 – parted ways with Regan… She had specified pre-race that she had not done enough training and wanted me to leave her if she fell behind. She also told me that she was primarily there to support me (this was her third half), and the best way she could do that was to help me do my best.
Mile 5-6 – pretty and shaded, met up with some gals from across the state and chatted with them until I lost them at the next water stop
Mile 7-8 – pretty and wooded, started seeing people off to the side stretching
Mile 9-11 – getting hotter and lost the shade, these were some of the toughest miles for me, but there were also more spectators to cheer us on
Mile 12 – cold sponges, running through sprinklers, heading up final hill, getting pumped when an MJ song was broadcast (thinking of you, Jess)
Mile 13 – rounding the corner to the boardwalk, where it was yet hotter, sunnier, and surprisingly not breezy.  This was ultimately the toughest stretch for me because I could see the finish line, but it felt unfairly far away.  But I pushed through it because I knew I was within minutes of achieving my goal time of 2hr45min.

After the race, I just love all the stuff they give you…obviously a medal, but also water, gatorade, food, cold washcloths, and so much cheering. I waited around for Regan to finish, and was feeling great. I think the reason I didn’t need much of a recovery was due to all my training and the fact that I kept within a reasonable pace of 12:30/mile.  That’s how I had trained and what my body was used to, more or less. My 11-mile long run was 13:09/mile, but that was also the first long run after my injury, and my 12-mile run was 12:20/mile, but that was on a treadmill.  This course was flat, except for the two hills (really just a bridge crossing) I mentioned, plus I had the race-day adrenaline helping me keep going even when I felt like slowing down.

Upon reuniting with Regan, we got our gear and our free beers. After trying it, I gave mine to hers because even after the race, I did not find the beer to be delicious enough to drink. Then we headed back to the car and headed out.  We had fun walking around the mall on the way back in our race bibs and finisher medals while we grabbed lunch and ran an errand for me.

For the rest of the day, I was fielding incoming calls, texts, and messages, as well as all the facebook love about my race updates. I took a brief trip to the dog park, but had to leave early because of the rain. Then I ran into my neighbor at the grocery store and after a quick chat, I ended up planning to help her decorate a cake for her mom’s birthday.  So, I spent the evening over there hanging out and carrying on with them; we always have so much fun together.

So, during the day, I got up at 5:30, raced for 2 hours and 45 minutes, drove for about 2 hours, ate two morning meals, Chinese for lunch, two small dinners, and a piece of birthday cake (but I burned a whole day’s worth of calories on the run, so that’s okay). I also talked with or touched base with nearly all of my friends and family, which left me feeling so loved and supported I could hardly stand it.  Ultimately, this was one of the best days ever!

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who stuck with me through this training and helped me celebrate my success! Your support has meant more to me than I can say, and I could not have gotten through this without you.  My official race time was 02:45:10, so I think that counts as meeting my goal of 2hr45.  Now I’m ready to run another half – probably in the spring.  Who’s with me?

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