Monday, October 4, 2010

i did it!!

i did it! i did it! i really did it! i completed my first 1/2 marathon. i ran 13.1 miles. it was a very surreal experience. i was a serious ball of nerves for weeks leading up to the event. nevermind, the actual morning of the race. (can you say frequent bathroom breaks?) i got some great advice from a running friend in california that told me to make sure i got lots of rest that entire week before the race. thank goodness i listened to her b/c the night before, i had a terrible sleep. woke up every few hours, heart racing, stomach in my throat kind of feeling. yikes! luckily, she also said i'd be running on adrenalin. yay to how our body compensates! the drive to the race was strange. i did feel the nerves and i remember feeling like i was shaking somewhat. i don't know if it was the cold (it was only about 8-10 degrees celsius and i was determined to wear shorts) or if it was b/c i was so nervous. When D and i arrived in the town of the race, we tried to find a parking spot. seriously tough. on the first road in, we took note of a porta potty. we turned around and went back to it. first potty break! ha ha! then we finally squeezed into a tight parking spot. put on all our gear, downed a gel pack and walked to the starting line. again, saw a long line of porta potties. what do you think we did next? you got it! while i walked out of the porta potty, some girl was singing 'o canada' over the loud speakers. waited 'til she was done and started stretching it out, eyeing all the other runners. what an experience! seriously! since this was my first race, it was interesting to me to observe this whole other sub culture. this culture of 'runners'. people wearing all sorts of things. tall, gangly man with a mustache wearing a sweat band on his head, tank top and shorts and a see through disposable rain poncho overtop. tall blonde girl with short shorts and tall pink knee socks. little man with black baggy shorts and black tight tank top wearing a fanny pack with water bottles in the back. and a whole lot of lulu. we were then directed over to the starting area. you were supposed to line up in sections of where you'd think you'd finish. there were big signs that had these times posted, 1:15-1:30, 1:30-1:45, 1:45-2:00, 2:00-2:15, and so on. we lined up near the sign that read, 1:45-2:00. was i shooting for the moon standing there? did i feel out of place? kind of. was i a real runner? oy! it was intimidating waiting there. while we waited, some people were handing out purple balloons to some of the runners. both D and i grabbed one. at a certain point, the MC told us to release the balloons, in honor of those living and dealing with mental health issues, etc. it was pretty neat to look up in the sky and see hundreds of purple balloons. almost right after that they said, "runners... on your mark, get set..." BANG! off went the gun! and while we were running past the start, like 3 or 4 big confetti machines went off. it was loud. loud with a capital L! D got kinda freaked and we just laughed and ran! D told me before hand, try and see how far i could run before music, so off we went, listening to the pounding of all the runners feet. people were left and right, ahead and behind. it was crowded but fun, intense! we were just coasting along. when we got to the mile 1 marker i was shocked! we did it in 7:30! we were running fast. adrenalin, other runners pushing us forward. whatever the case, we knew we had to slow down. we would burn out quickly if we kept up that quick pace. it was amazing though. i didn't feel like i had run that fast. i felt like i was floating. strange but interesting. mile 2 and 3 were run at a more normal pace. there were still a ton of people during these miles. not only did you loop back around and see runners who were ahead of you, but you saw all the runners who started after you. i liked this part of the race. i saw some women i knew from town who were running the 10k. it was neat to cheer them on! i also remember during these miles that i was feeling a bit overwhelmed thinking, "ay yi yi! i still have 10 more miles to do!!! i don't think i can complete this!" finally around mile 4 i put on my music. it was a bit of a distraction but i can't say it was like all my training runs where i NEEDED my music. all i can say is that the music was just 'there'. D was running a bit ahead of me and i just followed her. it felt good to be a bit behind b/c then i felt like i had something i was running towards. i knew i had to keep up with her and that was good. during mile 4 she struck up a conversation with another running woman. i soon found out that this woman usually kept up an 8:40 pace and she happened to have a garmin watch that told her the distance accurately, etc. golden!! we hit the jackpot! ha! we stayed, or rather, i stayed with her for the duration of the race. around mile 6 we stopped for our first water break. we walked through the water station and this felt great. we could adequately drink our water without spilling it all over us. then we were off again. at mile 7 i took my next gel pack, gulped down some water and even used a wet sponge to cool off. the sun was beating down and the air was warming up. really, it was the perfect day to run. next to no wind. cooler temps (probably at this time around 13-14 degrees) and sunny. this weather really was an answer to prayer. my prayers for the past month have been on the weather for this day. isn't fall delightful?! anyhow, both D and B (our new running pal) announced that at mile 7 we were at 1 hour. that felt GREAT!!!! i felt great! then D said to me, "we're gonna finish in under 2!" it was like a new burst of energy i got. which is good, b/c now we hit the part in the race that just goes straight down a highway. about 3-4 miles of straight highway running. i was quite alarmed and nervous that i would hit a 'wall' on this part of the route. fortunately, it wasn't so. i started the route happy and excited. during this leg of the race you are running west, out of town, and the really fast runners that are ahead of you, are coming back into town, running east. so they are passing us to our left and i'm yelling every so people, "great job!" "keep it up!" "good work!" i have no idea what possessed me to utter these remarks. i have no idea if those runners even appreciated the comments. but it was almost like i was saying those things to not only them, but to me. perhaps i needed the encouragement (subconsciously) and so i put it out there for them and for me! whatever the case, it did draw some giggles from D who turned around and said, "is that YOU yelling 'great job' to everyone?" ha ha! at mile 8 they were handing out free gel packs. so, we each grabbed one. why not? even if the whole time all it's producing is a placebo affect, i'm all for it! we took them at mile 9 at the water station which happened to be the turnaround on the highway. now WE were the so called 'fast' ones, heading back into town, passing the runners behind us on the left side. that felt great! mentally great! around this time D took off, she still had it in her to speed up and so we encouraged her to go. B and i continued steady on in our pace. we were running well together, besides, it's always nice to have someone to chat with during a long run. shortly after we passed the mile 11 marker, which took us on a little detour off the highway, i remarked to B that running a marathon felt a lot like labour. you just have to take it contraction by contraction, or rather mile by mile. you knew there was an end in sight but it felt like it was going to take forever to get there. between mile 11 and 12, B had to stop. she told me to keep on running and so i did. i didn't turn around to see what she did b/c i felt like if i looked behind i would not have been able to move forward. so i continued on. a couple minutes later, thankfully, B was back at my side, encouraging me on. mile 12 was killer for me. first, we pass good old chicken chef restaurant. ewww... deep fried smell, first of all in the morning is bad. but deep fried smell in the morning on race day at mile 12, disgusting! my stomach was turning. we were on the last stretch and B said to me, "you see the end of the road up there? you turn that corner and you're basically at the finish line." i could not believe it. i knew it wasn't far away but it felt like i couldn't even move my legs anymore. i looked at my watch and knew i only had a couple minutes before it was 2:00 hours. i knew that i had to speed up and that was incredibly difficult b/c everything in me wanted to S L O W down. i wanted to stop, hobble over to the curb and lay down. but i knew that i would be so mad at myself had i not at least tried to make it to the end in the time i wanted. so, with my jelly legs churning, my heart pumping, my mind racing with so many thoughts and emotions, i picked up my pace. all the while, B was encouraging me. i could hear her behind me when i took off saying, "you can do it!!" i turned the corner and realized i still had a little bit to go. i could see the finish line in the distance but i had to run through a path in the park first. apparently, the path wasn't clearly marked to caution people that a marathon was taking place b/c there were people all over the path. i almost tripped over an 18 month old kid. jeez! that was a bit annoying but i pressed onward. i saw the clock for the first time and it said 1:59:19! i ran full steam ahead and came in seconds later. i couldn't believe it! i accomplished my goal. i wanted to finish under 2 hours.. and i did... 1:59:29 (take away about 15-20 seconds off that b/c of where we started behind the starting line)! ha! i just made it in but i achieved what i set out to do. i averaged about 9:04 minute miles. most of my training was around 9 minute miles so i'm very happy with that time. coming in at the finish line was pretty neat. people were yelling, "great job!!! good finish!" and we were herded like cattle down a line to give them our bib #'s. after i exited that line, i saw D! she ran up to me and we hugged and cried. she finished just a couple minutes before me. it was an emotional moment. then my mom came (whom i didn't know would show up), the girls and then M. it was so neat to have all these people, who i love so dearly, be with me after i accomplished this event. i felt blessed and spent! i was pooped! my legs were so sore but i was ecstatic! B came in only about 20 seconds after me and so i rejoiced with her too. i couldn't have ever done the time i did with both D and B helping me along. they were Godsends! truly my running angels! we partook of some of the 'treats' they had for runners (orange slices, chocolate milk, etc) before we left. i will say that my thighs hurt like a banshee for about 3 days post race. i'd never felt that before and, from what i hear, is totally normal for a newbie, 'first-timer' after their first 1/2. i did feel like an old woman though and could hardly believe that this same body that was aching and hurting and straining to do the most simplest of tasks had ran 13.1 miles at one time. crazy! i am happy to say that it didn't last forever and i've even gone for a run since the marathon and it felt great. 9 days post run and i'm already thinking about the next 1/2 marathon that i'm gonna run (next june).

here's some pics from the race:

this is my very favorite picture! i am getting congratulated by D, and flanked by my mom (in pinky red), B (behind me in baby blue) and the lady telling us where the water tent was (in green). ha ha! anyhow, i love how D's hands are on me in an embrace.
this is me saying to myself, "what on earth did i just do?!"
feeling good, post race (about 7 mins after i came in).
we are STRONG!!!! :)
and one shot of my beautiful family! i could have never done it without M's support and encouragement to get back out there!


Lisa said...

Congratulations!!! Great race recap! You did SO well.

The sore quads is not just a "newbie" thing. It happens to me after every major race. I think it has to do with sprinting at the end on tired legs. It doesn't happen to me on any training runs, only races where I push myself. Going up and down stairs is tough for a few days.

I am so glad that my advice helped you. I can't wait until you run your next race!!

Great job, Steph!!! I'm so proud of you!

meg duerksen said...

hey girl. i just read this WHOLE post! and i cried.
you are so inspiring!
you really did it. that is an amazing story. i hope i have one of those someday.