Saturday, June 8, 2013

My First Half Marathon

Why running is harder than cycling:

Nothing against cyclists (my dad is an amazing and avid cyclist! And I love cycling at the gym) But I just wanted so badly to be able to coast while maintaining speed for a little bit to give my legs some recovery time, but knew it would drastically slow my time and I would be passed by several people.  The idea of all those people passing me was worse than my burning and tingling legs.  There is just no rest in running.

So here is my story of running a half marathon - a bunch of women from my church signed up to run a 13.1 mile race on June 8 - See Jane Run.  I wasn't sure if I would be in town that day or what my plans would be so I didn't sign up, plus I hate signing up for races way in advance in case I injure myself or something.  I didn't really train for it, just stayed in shape lifting and teaching my exercise class twice a week, with an occasional cycling class about every other week.  I did run 6 miles with a friend back in the middle of April and felt pretty good about that.  

Then last week I did a 5 mile charity fun run (not timed) and kept about an 8.5 minute/mile pace.  This gave me confidence and I was thinking about just signing up and running the half marathon, but wanted to get in a longer run that Saturday.  However, I totally got sick after - dehydration and the like - all weekend.  So I didn't get in that extra long run to prepare me :/  But then on Tuesday...I got the text.  A girl who had signed up hurt her knee and wouldn't be able to run it.  She asked me if I would take her place, so I said yes...ah!!  The anxiety settled in and all week I was pretty nervous, as I always get before a race of some sort.  But at least I would have the opportunity to just get a half marathon out of the way!  It had kind of been on my bucket list of things to do.  

Anyways...about the actual race - I just wanted to write this down for my own record and thought "what better place than my blog?"  I started out really fast...well, really fast for me in long distance.  I set a goal the night before to finish in 2 hours and felt that would push me and be fairly realistic.  I started the race next to the 1:45 pacer and then passed her around mile 2.  I was feeling pretty good and going pretty fast.  I was passing people right and left.  I knew I wasn't at my "aerobic" pace and knew I was using quite a bit of my glycogen stores, but my pride was getting the best of me and I didn't want to slow down.  Plus I had carb loaded pretty heavily the night before and this morning and knew my glycogen should last a good amount of time.  I think I stayed at this pace til around mile 3.  Then exhaustion started kicking in.  People started passing me.  I fell back a little bit.  Then at mile 4, I had to use the john.  I grabbed a goo packet and some water and walked for a few paces, then started again.  This time at my aerobic pace.  But my muscles were starting to become exhausted.  More and more people were passing me.  But I knew I still had over half of the race left and kept telling myself to just stay at pace.  It was definitely a mental battle.  Not ever having run more than 6 miles before, I didn't even know what to expect, or what lied ahead.

Mile 5 (I think) was one of  the hardest.  It was so hot, and we had to run up this one street, and turn around to come back down that same street, which was divided by cones.  Oh how I so badly wanted to just cross the cones and skip that street!!  "Til I Collapse" came on my ipod, by Eminem.  That has always been a super motivational song to me while running.  I had to put it on repeat and listened to it a couple times to keep going. 

Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that s*** out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

What better lyrics to run to!?!  I always somehow find that inner strength when that song comes on and I just pull it outta me.  Mile 6...awesome!  It meant I was almost half way...mile 7...more awesome!! I was over half way.  I was keeping my pace and feeling pretty good.  I knew I was ahead of my 2 hour goal because that pacer hadn't passed me yet.

Then mile 9 was approaching.  I couldn't move my legs anymore.  They hurt.  So bad.  Then the idea hit me that I still had 4 miles left.  I couldn't even imagine myself running 4 more miles!  I didn't think my legs would make it.  I had to walk.  I wanted to cry!  I thought once you found a good pace, you could just keep going since you had unlimited fat least that's what I'd just been studying in the Personal Training manual and what I'd learned during my undergrad in Exercise Science.  But that's theoretical.  That doesn't take into account how your joints hurt - your hips, your knees, your ankles.  It doesn't take into account the mental anxiety and stress involved in depleting your body of energy and performing the same task over and over for multiple hours.  However, in my moment of despair, I saw a saint - somebody handing out whole bottles of water!  I didn't know what that water would ultimately do for me, but I was grateful for it when I got it.  I started drinking some, then splashed some over my left shoulder.  It felt AMAZING!  Then over my right shoulder.  Then down my chest.  Over my head.  The cold water seemed to refresh my muscles and re-energize them.  It was like I was at the start of the race again (or maybe just mile 2). 

Just then, the 2-hour pacer jogged up next to me.  I knew I had to stay with her.  I had to reach this goal.  I started my pace again.  I kept with her for the next two and a half miles.  I even got ahead at some points and was feeling really good.  Then with about a mile and a half left, my legs cramped so badly I couldn't keep running.  I started walking (if what I was doing could even be considered walking) and watched my goal run away from me.  It was depressing in some ways, especially because I kept thinking if I kept up with here, I would be done with this race that much sooner.  But I just couldn't go.  I walked a bit further, then saw a pole up ahead.  "Just run to the next pole" I told myself.  I did.  Then I told myself to just keep jogging to the next pole.  Once I got there, I had to walk again.  People kept passing me.  Ugh!  Then a girl passed me and the back of her shirt read "You are stronger than you think you are".  Because my mind kept saying I couldn't do this, I knew I could.  The whole next song that came on, I just kept repeating those lyrics to the beat.  I jogged that whole next song!  Then I had to walk.  Then I came on the 13 mile marker!!!!!!   I seriously couldn't believe it.  I just wanted to cry.  I couldn't believe I had made it.  I saw the finish line.  And I sprinted for it.  I passed probably around 10 people.  I had my glycogen stores back for that last bout :)  And I finished strong.  

Then I collapsed. 

Here are my results: (Danielle Curtis is who's place I took in the race)

Total Time: 2:03:25 
Avg Pace: 9:26 min/mile

After affects: five hours later, I still wanted to cry thinking about how hard that was and because my body hurt so bad.  My left knees KILLS!!!!!  I seriously can't walk normally, and stairs are excruciatingly painful.  Both my hamstrings feel strained.  However, I do feel accomplished - almost like I can do anything in the world.  I have a new-found determination to accomplish other goals I have in my life.   I also feel skinnier :) (which is always a plus for women!) and every time I stepped on the scale after the race, I weighed less and less.  (I don't normally weigh myself multiple times a day, but I was just curious how my body would react after running a half).  From the time I weighed myself in the morning to the last time I weighed myself after the race, I lost about 2.4 pounds, which is amazing because normally you weigh less in the morning and more as the day goes on.  

Well that is my story of running my first (and possibly my only) half marathon.  In sum, it had a lot of goods and bads, positives and negatives.  If I could go back, I would definitely do it again.  It was a journey I will always remember.  


What is something you have done out of your comfort zone?  What did you learn from it?  

What is a goal you have in your life?  What steps can you take today to accomplish that goal?  Just take one step and you will be that much closer. 

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