The race is over, and I am officially a half-marathoner! Thank you all so much for your support during my training!
My nerves started to get the best of me on Friday. I was freaked out all morning, and procrastinated on my packing until about 7:00 a.m. Then I threw together a bag for myself and a bag for the child, who had a weekend visit with her paternal grandparents who happen to live in Door County. I had to pack running outfits for both cold and warmish weather because the weather report had been fluctuating all week and I was still not sure if it would rain for the race.
I worked a half day from home on Friday, gassed up the van, picked up the child from school, stopped by my friend's house and hustled her family into the van, and we were off at about 12:45 p.m.! I drove on the way up, and it was a smooth ride. All three children behaved, and we arrived around 5:30 p.m.
We stayed with my friend's sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law, and they could not have been more hospitable. The had a huge pasta dinner for us complete with baked mac and cheese (YUM), two types of pasta with red sauce, salad, garlic bread, and fresh fruit pie for dessert. I ate far too much, damn nerves.
I went to bed around 9:30 p.m. and drifted for awhile before falling asleep. I had the obligatory race nightmare, in which the race time kept getting pushed back because of bad weather. In my dream, the race was finally supposed to start at 9:00 p.m., but right when we were going to leave I had to go to the bathroom and thus made us very late. We did not get there until 9:30 p.m., and then I realized that I could not run the race because there would be no way I could run until almost 1:00 a.m. I was so sad and was crying, and found myself wandering the streets in a very bad neighborhood alone in the dark, a sniveling mess.
I woke up at 6:45 a.m. and had a single cup of strong coffee. Around 7:30 a.m. I had two packets of instant oatmeal. We left at 8:00 a.m. to head to the race, which had a start time of 10:00 a.m... a bit later than other races that I have run. We arrived, parked, and then visited the port-a-potties about a million times before we headed to the starting line with cases of nervous tummies. I felt like I had to go more but it just would not come out, so I wandered to the starting line with a fear that I would have to hit the loo very soon after starting.
We were about 3/4 of the way back in the pack at the starting line, and then at 10:00 a.m. the gun went off... and off we went!!! It took about three minutes for us to cross the starting line. I started out at a healthy pace, but tried not to go too fast because I knew that I was going to be facing some SERIOUS hills for which I had not trained.
I also realized that I had accidentally hit SHUFFLE on my iPod when I started my Nike+ instead of selecting the personalized half marathon playlist that I created just for the event. I futzed around with my iPod Touch trying to change it, but finally gave up and decided to let the shuffle gods decide what I would hear during the hours that were ahead of me.
Mile 1 was lakeside, the sun was shining, and there was a slight breeze. The temperature was probably in the mid 60's. Perfect weather! As always, Mile 1 was a joy.
Mile 1 - 12:17
Miles 2 and 3 were also lakeside, and they had some gorgeous panoramic views of Lake Michigan. I almost felt like I was running by the ocean at times. Slight lake breeze, thinning of the crowd (since I am a slow one), and the introduction of some hills that made me realize that I most definitely SHOULD have trained for hills.
Mile 2 - 12:13
Mile 3 - 12:38
I was feeling happy to stay in the 12 minute mile zone with all of the hills, and was hoping to keep my mile times there as long as possible. I skipped all of the water stations in those first few miles to see how long I could hold out, and to keep the bathroom breaks at bay.
Mile 4 was tougher. We headed into the woods, and the hills were more intense. I was actually pretty surprised at how fatigued I felt and thought "Wow, this feels more like six miles than four!" But right after the Mile 4 water station (which I also skipped), a hawk flew directly over my head at a very low altitude and gave me a little punch of exhilaration and a bit of a good omen for the race.
Mile 4 - 12:55
The race was pretty much uphill from Mile 4 to Mile 7, but the biggest of the hills came around Mile 4.5. We ascended 200 feet in elevation in less than a half mile. I had been thinking that I would walk that big hill, but when I got to it I hit the STUBBORN button and refused to walk it! I jogged at a slow pace with tiny steps, but I jogged the whole thing. I did think that it might possibly never end, but luckily it flattened out again... for awhile.
Mile 5 - 13:43 (which I thought was pretty darn good considering the big hill!)
Mile 6 was uneventful, except for the fact that I learned that I have more issues going downhill than I do going uphill! I must admit that I was afraid of the momentum that came with running downhill and really tensed up and dug in to keep myself from going too fast. And this was bad news for my hips and for the bottoms of my feet. Very bad news.
Mile 6 - 13:09
I stopped for water for the first time at the water station after Mile 6. I also ate some Vanilla Gu. I cannot walk and drink at the same time, so a water break for me is called a COMPLETE STOP. Other than that, Mile 6 was pretty uneventful.
Mile 7 - 13:31
I started to have some serious pain in my right hip during Mile 7. I paid attention to it to see when it hurt the most, and it seemed to really pain me when I moved from side to side on the road or when I was going downhill. The uphill portions gave me more of a cardio workout and made my thighs scream a bit, but the downhills were becoming more of an issue for me and I was now dreading them and going even slower than before.
Mile 8 - 14:36... but this is not a true time because I somehow missed the Mile 8 marker and hit Lap on my Garmin late.
Mile 9 was painful. I was really starting to worry. My right knee and right arch joined the pain club along with the right hip, and I was running with a pronounced limp. Did I mention that I was worried? I tried to make myself go a bit faster to a) prove to myself that I could and b) try to keep any hope of a sub-three hour time alive. I know that I was telling everyone that my goal was just to finish, but what I really wanted was to run it in under 3 hours, and it seemed like this goal was slipping away.
Mile 9 - 12:10 (and the last of my 12 minute miles in this race)
I stopped for water for the second time at the water station after Mile 9.
At Mile 10, I saw part of my cheering section waiting for me. My friend's husband, their two beautiful girls, and his sister where waiting and clapping and cheering for me. What a boost! His sister, Liz, was on her bicycle and had been riding from place to place on the race route trying to catch us and give us a personal cheering section, and when I hit the 10 mile point she pulled out onto the race route with her bike and told me that she was going to ride next to me for the rest of the race! THAT WAS AMAZING. I really needed it because I was starting to hit a wall, and I was in some real pain, and I had never run more than 10 miles before in my life, and and and.
And it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Mile 10 - 13:13
Liz and I talked (well, mostly she talked and I gritted my teeth and kept plowing forward), and all of a sudden we had passed the Mile 12 mark!
Mile 11 - 13:31
Mile 12 - 14:49
I got water for the last time after Mile 12, and came to a complete stop for a few seconds more than usual to regroup and refocus on running through the pain, which included a killer charlyhorse in my left calf. Luckily for me, the short stop kicked that single pain to the curb!
I had really lost my steam, and I was grunting and groaning with each hill. But about a half mile before the finish, I could hear the crowd cheering. Liz kept me going, kidding with me about going into a full out sprint at the end to beat the guy in the blue shirt who had been running in front of me for the better part of the race. I told her that I just did not have it in me, that I had left it all on the course, but I worked to keep going as best I could. And the cheering increased in volume, keeping my spirit alive!
The Finish Line came into view. I literally gave a little cry-out when I saw it! I was almost there! Liz backed away to allow me to cross by myself and have my own moment when I finished, and I gave it all I had left! They said my name and my town over the loudspeaker, and I crossed the line with a big smile and my arms in the air!
And I beat the man in blue!
Mile 13.1 - 15:03
TOTAL TIME - 2:53:52
And I ran the whole way!
My friends were there cheering me on (because they finished in just over 2 hours... I was the slowpoke), there were massive hugs all around, multiple glasses of water, a banana, some photos, and we walked away with our Finisher's Medals!
OH MY GOSH... I RAN A HALF MARATHON!!!!! IN UNDER 3 HOURS!!!!!
We stretched a bit and hobbled to the potties, then found a place to change into some warm and dry clothes. And as luck would have it, the skies clouded over and it got quite cool and windy AFTER we were finished... YIPPEE!!!!
We ate an indulgent lunch at a local restaurant (I had a veggie walnut burger and fries, and snagged some sweet potato fries from my friend, too). Then we hit a few shops and headed back via the scenic route. Dinner that night was amazing, as was the wine and the company, and I was sooooo happy. I cannot remember being that happy in a really long time. Endorphins, relief, wine, good company, all of the above, whatever it was, it was great.
We drove back this afternoon. Bets and Donna called, Jolene texted me, I had an email waiting from Kris, I got a huge number of comments and Likes on my Facebook post about the race, and I am feeling very loved and supported and very fulfilled with my first half marathon.
Despite the fact that I am walking like a freak right now, it will NOT be my last. :-)