(Cue Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”)
Yes, I finished the half marathon! It was HARD. I am still sore two days later. But it was so worth it.
So here’s how it went down:
Saturday, 6:30 am wakeup call. I have everything laid out from the night before, but it still takes me longer than I thought to get ready.
7:15 am. Race starts at either 7:30 or 7:45 (I got conflicting information from the race website). We hit traffic just before getting to the race location. Traffic? In Mabelton? Huh? Mark and I ditch the car at the strip mall and walk. I get my number and confirm that the start is 7:45 am. Oh yeah, its DARK and it’s about 45 degrees.
7:30 am Stand in line for the Port-o-let. Very nervous stomach. I took Imodium on Friday afternoon and again when I woke up. This is NOT a good start to the day.
7:45 am Line up at the back of the pack. They have Signs for each min/mile group. The last group is 14 min/mile and up. I’m aiming for 15-16 min/mile, so this is my group.
Mile 1: It’s still dark, the sun is just coming up and it’s cold. I’ve done some stretching, probably not enough (the line for the Port-o-let was really long). I turn on my tunes and start with the Disco Jog that should put me at a 14 min/mile pace.
Miles 2 and 3: Getting into the groove. The sun is up and I’ve warmed up enough to shed the windbreaker. Just after Mile marker 3 I see the front-runner. He’s running — really running hard, like you would expect for a mile race. There’s no one even close to him.
Mile 4: I start to see one and then two more of the racers. I’ve done well at keeping to my pace, but I decide that the underwear were a bad idea. Even though I used what I thought was a generous amount of Body Glide, there’s chaffing in the crotch-al region.
Mile 5: Hooray! The first outpost of Port-o-Lets. I really need to go (again). I decide that I’m going to ditch the underpants. Just basically ripped them to pieces and down the hole they go. Commando time. There is a very steady stream of people heading toward the finish line passing me. It’s really nice when someone gives me a thumbs up or “Keep Going, You Can Do It.” And really encouraging, since they are all running hard and I’m sure they are getting tired too.
Miles 6 – 7: Just trucking along. There are 3-4 people that are going about the same pace as I am, we pass each other back and forth, depending on water stops, etc. The turnaround is just after mile 7. I can finally see that there ARE people behind me.
Mile 8 and 9: My fastest miles so far of the race. I’ve been averaging 15 min/mile (bathroom and water stops), but I break thru and have two 14 min./miles. I’m feeling good. I’ve counted at least 10 people that will finish behind me. Yes, I’m just a little bit competitive.
Mile 11: I hit the wall. I hurt all over. It feels like my toes on my right foot are going to break off every time I take a step. My hips hurt, my knees hurt. I’m sure I’m getting another blister on my left heel. I keep going, but change my music to just songs instead of a running mix. I keep going by mouthing the words and sticking to the beat.
Mile 12: This is reminding me of childbirth. It’s painful, it seems to be taking forever. I want it to be over. I have only 1 more mile to go. I change back to the running mix and push ahead. I go faster because I just want it to end.
Mile 13: I can see the finish line! Oh frabjous day! I squeeze out the last of my energy to run through the last 0.1 mile to the finish line. As I get closer, I can see Mark taking my picture. Yeah! Three hours and 30 minutes! A fantastic time for me.
I get a big hug from Mark. A girl comes up and puts my medal around my neck and points us to the t-shirt and goodie-bag people. I get my shirt and stagger over to the food/water and get my bagel, water and a banana. I can barely think, much less talk. The euphoria of the finish is tempered by the fact that we have to wait around for the shuttle bus to take us to the car. I’m getting stiffer and stiffer every minute. I’m thinking, “I never want to do that again.”
Yes, it was HARD. But, few things that are considered a major accomplishment are ever easy. For me, this was a major accomplishment. I’ve never run more than a 10K before and in July couldn’t even run a quarter mile!
Now, when things get tough in the future (and we all know they will) I will tell myself: “Hey, you can do this. You ran a Friggin’ Half Marathon! If you can do that, you can do anything!!!”
It’s two days after the race and I’m still a little sore. But I went to Boot Camp tonight (didn’t occur to me not to). And maybe I’ll think about doing another half next year — someplace fun like the beach or Disney World.