Monday, May 20, 2013

My First Half Marathon Recap

Just call me Nervous Nelly over here because all I did for three days last week was worry and fret about the half marathon I agreed to run on Saturday. I was trying to think positively and release the negative energy, but it was all replaced by nervous energy. Friday night, I tried to go to bed early but that ended up being a waste of time since I couldn't sleep. I think I finally drifted off around midnight with my alarm going off at 4:45AM.

I had laid out all my things the night before so I got dressed and went downstairs to have some breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. The race started at 7:00AM and I knew it would take me a good 30 minutes to get there so I did pretty well and left the house a little after 6:00AM. I had already scouted out the location for my "practice run" so I knew right where I was going, which helped a lot. The last thing I needed was to get lost on the way to the race (which totally would have happened). One thing I did not plan on was the ridiculously long lines for the Porto potties. I should have just stopped off at a gas station. I stood in line for a good 20 minutes and then saw people lining up at the starting line. The horn went off and I had just gotten into the potty to pee. I started up all my apps: Pandora, Nike+ and Map My Run, then finished up and headed out. I only lost a couple minutes and we were being chip timed, so it was all good.

The course itself started in a business park and we ran around the block for the first couple of miles and then headed off to a running track for the remainder of the race. The course was relatively flat with the exception of miles 4-7. There were some wicked hills which were a lot easier going down the other way. I tried to keep a good pace going, but slowed down to walk the hills. I was trying to conserve some of my energy which I knew I would need for later in the race. I think I did run more than I walked, but I walked more than I would have liked.

I did break a cardinal rule of racing and tried something new during the race. They were offering both water and Gatorade/Powerade at all the water stations and I drank Gatorade and water at just about all of them. I also knew that I was going to need to refuel if I was going to run/walk for three hours so I brought along some GU that I had bought. I ate half of it at about mile 4 and the other half around mile 8. Fortunately, it didn't upset my stomach and it gave me the necessary energy I needed.

I got a few texts from Jason that really kept me going and totally made me cry. Since he wasn't there in person to cheer me on, he sent me texts along the way. The first twoI got around mile 8 and that is where I was really starting to struggle. I had never run that far before and it was taking a toll on me. His next one was around mile 10 and it is amazing how those encouraging words kept me on track. The last one came through right before my phone died during the last mile. Womp, womp. I guess running 3 apps continuously on your phone for 3 hours will drain the battery pretty quickly. Who knew?
The last couple of miles were so tough. I just wanted it all to be over. My legs hurt, my calves were on fire and my fingers were swelling up again. I kept going, though. Run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a little. There was a girl a ways ahead of me and I just tried to keep pace with her and not fall back too far. Once I got close to the finish line I all out sprinted and finished strong. The timer read 3:12, but my official time was 3:10. So, I did not make it in under 3 hours like I wanted to. That is okay, though because I pushed myself harder than I ever have and accomplished something I never in a million years thought I could do.
Me and random guy I work with
Some lessons learned:
Don't wear cotton socks and underwear. My socks really started to rub towards the end of the race and I have a nice blister on the bottom of my right pinkie toe. Cotton underwear is okay, but I need to invest in some moisture wicking undies. Friction and sweat leads to a nasty case of crotch rot. I am not going commando, sorry.

Training is essential. Seems like a no brainer, but even short runs mixed in with extra strength training made such a difference for me. Now, I just need to build up my endurance so that I can run the whole thing.

All in all, it was the toughest thing I have ever done and that includes giving birth 5 times. It is such a mental game you play with yourself to push your body further and further. My hips are ridiculously sore and my left foot hurts, but I wouldn't take it back for anything. I am more excited than ever to run my next half in September.