Thursday, December 1, 2011

The First Half

I've been putting off this post because I was hoping the race photographers would post the pictures, but they haven't done that yet. I want to get it out before I forget everything though.

I ran a half-marathon. I am officially a 13.1 miler. I really still have trouble believing this, but I did it. And I didn't DIE!!! Ha ha ha! 

Robert and I signed up for the race in September, and we tried really hard to prepare all we could. We did a Hal Higdon training plan which was great, but we ended up being so busy this fall we didn't follow it like we should have. (Hint: Foreshadowing.) The day of the race we drove to Danville and met our friends at the start line. The course was absolutely beautiful. It was on the green way next to the river, and I couldn't have asked for better scenery. The first 6 miles went by pretty quickly, and I made sure to ham it up for the photographers and spectators just to keep in interesting. Mile 7 was where the craziness started. They had said that Miles 7-9 would be a little hilly, but I had no idea exactly how hilly. When I saw the first hill I thought "Ok. I got this. I'm gonna make this hill my... ummm... slave." (Preacher's wife euphemism for choicer words, ha ha!) And you know what? I did it. I totally beasted the hill. But then came the mother of all hills. I was in a little one-on-one battle with a girl I nicknamed the litterer (since I picked her race trash up off the trail *grrrr*), and I was ahead. I came around the corner and saw what seemed like mount Everest at that point. I may have said choice words, but I'll never admit to that. Anyway, I definitely was the slave that time. I still managed to stay ahead of litterer though, and most importantly I didn't quit! 

After mile 9 it was (literally) all down hill from there... almost. I tracked the race distance on my iPod with my Nike+, and was not even within sight of the bridge I knew I had to cross to the finish when Nike trainer announced "Congratulations, you have reached your goal of 13.1 miles." Ummm... What?!?! Somebody's lying here. My legs listened to my trainer though and literally as soon as the congrats were out of my ear buds, I did what I've only read about until now. I hit the wall. My legs stopped working, and I limped the last mile to the finish. It's hard to describe what it's like to hit the wall, but I'm not kidding when I say my brain was shouting GO! GO! GO! and my legs were going NO! NO! NO! If you've ever worked with stubborn horses, and you know what it's like trying to push them somewhere you want them to go without them willingly moving. It ain't happening. You grunt and yell and pout and you deal. That's what I did. Grunted, yelled, pouted, dealt. In that order. When the 70-something year old speed walker in the barely sweaty jogging suit passed me that last mile I quit caring about time and just decided to finish. Now, I'm sure at this point you are laughing hysterically about the senior citizen getting the best of me, but you know what? I didn't really care. I was just thinking- you go lady! Get it! I did finally make it to the end and finished in 2 hours and 48 minutes. I was hoping to finish around 2:30, but under 3 hours is a-ok with me. And the speed walker totally doesn't count. She's clearly a robot.

Anyway- here are some things I learned from my first half-mary.

1. Marathoners are insane. The guy that finished first passed me before I hit the halfway point. He finished in just over an hour. INSANE. Everybody else finished way ahead of me. I may or may not have been second to last in my age group, but at least I beat the litterer.

2. Next time I will try to over-train. The furthest distance I ran was 11 miles before the race. That was actually one mile longer than the training plan called for because picking up an extra couple of miles on race day isn't bad. However, when the elevation screws with the actual distance (gps said 13.1, my feet on the ground and nike+ claim 14.3 and Robert's nike+ agrees), the extra mileage was borderline impossible. Just borderline though. I would have crawled across the finish if necessary.

3. If you think you can do it, you can. I'm so proud of myself just for surviving. So many people tell me they are impressed, and I keep insisting to them that it's not that impressive! Ok, the 70 year old that passed me and the looked-like-he-was-110 year old that came in like 3rd place- that's impressive. But really, if I can run 13.1 (*cough* 14.3 according to Nike) miles, so can you. So while the attention has been awesome, (you know I like attention) I'm gonna turn it around on you and tell you that you can do it too. Cuz you can! :)

4. Always finish smiling. I do this because it's fun. Yes, sometimes I have to MAKE it fun, but that's ok. Also, if you're smiling and looking happy they will take your picture.

5. I want to do it again. :)