Oct 23, 2013

The night before the race.

Well, I completed my first half marathon on Sunday. I'm going to be completely honest about the whole experience. It was the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my whole life. Both physically and mentally. I'll start at the beginning...

Saturday night I ate whole grain pasta, ground turkey, spaghetti sauce and some garlic bread (I love me some garlic bread!). I drank tons of water throughout the day and I had a couple of glasses with my dinner. I was ready for bed around 8:45. My boyfriend lead me through some "football stretches" and then I got into bed. My boyfriend (who I refer to as the water Nazi) got me a glass of water and put it by my side of the bed. He told me I needed to drink it through out the night.

I woke up several times in the middle of the night. I kept thinking it was 5:45 or close to it. I was anxious. I did actually remember to drink some water at one point and I even told my boyfriend. He said, "That's my girl." When my alarm finally went off I jumped out of bed. I was nervous. I felt shaky. I felt a little excited. But more sick than anything. I woke up my boyfriend and I started getting ready. I put Pandora on and my boyfriend started dancing all over and making me laugh. I started to feel better.

While I was getting ready my friend, John, called to wish me good luck. He said I sounded like I was in good spirits. I think at this point I had a "Let's do this!" attitude.

He couldn't contain his excitement for me.

Once we were both ready we headed out the door. I had my arm band, my phone, my apartment key, my head phones and my Gatorade chews for my halfway snack. The event would take place at Wilson Creek Winery which was only like four miles from our apartment. But once we got closer there was traffic. I expected this. When we reached the first parking lot I had my boyfriend pull in. I said good-bye and jumped out of the car. He had to go to work. I was a little sad that he wouldn't be at the finish line but my parents would be.

I immediately looked for a bathroom. I found one but the line was wrapped around the building. At this point it was 7:24 and the start time was 7:30. I left the line and headed towards the starting line. Luckily I found a line of porto-potty's right at the starting line. I snuck my way in and did my business. I was so glad I got that over with before the race.

There was a mob of people, as you can imagine, at the starting line. I was so nervous. I'm pretty sure I was shaking. It was probably a mixture of nerves and the cold weather. I put my head phones on and pressed shuffle on my playlist that I had made. The first song that played was Jonny Lang's "Anything's Possible" and the announcer yelled GO! I started to cry as I started to run. It was a very emotional moment for me. And it was just so weird that that song played first...out of the sixty songs on my playlist.

Within the first thirty seconds, there was a hill! We were running through vineyards and the dirt was flying up everywhere. I could barely breathe. It got better later on when people started spreading out. I know for a fact that I had dirt up my nose. It was not the best feeling.

Mile 1 came pretty quickly. I think I was distracted by all of my surroundings and it helped the time fly by. After that time slowed down though. I usually average 15 minutes or a little less per mile. I think the first 7 miles I was on track and then my body began to resist. Every mile seemed longer and longer. The scenery in wine country is gorgeous but the hills are brutal! I started eating my Gatorade chews on mile 5. I finished eating them on mile 7. I was surprised that they helped me get through the rest of the way. I didn't get hungry at all until after.

See that hill in the distance...Just one of many.

Breathtaking view

My parents were going to meet me at the finish line. At first I was optimistic and I told them to meet me at 10. After mile 7 I texted my dad and told him that I was slowing down and I wouldn't be at the finish until after 10. Now that I think about it, I don't even know why I told my parents 10. That would have been a 12 minute mile average. I'm not quite there yet...I wiped the sweat from my face a couple times and every time I did I could feel the salt. I don't remember ever feeling that before.

I was freaking out from miles 8-10. I had looked at my clock and for a moment I thought my 8 mile time was getting close to 30 minutes. Well, turns out they didn't post a sign for mile 9. I was coming down a hill (what felt like the thousandth one!) and at first I thought it was a mirage. I saw a 10 in the distance but I kept thinking - there's no way! I mean, mile 8 did feel like the longest one yet but there was no sign for mile 9. I got closer and yep, it was a 10!!! I was relieved at this point. Double digits. Only 3 more miles to go.

My mind and my body were ready to continue running but my feet would not allow me to do so. I pretty much walked the last 3 miles. I had blisters forming and the bottom of my feet were burning.

I texted my dad when I got to mile 12. I tried running again but it hurt too badly. I walked as fast as I could. When I finally saw the magical number 13 I started running. I didn't care about the pain anymore. I just wanted to be done! In that moment, "Halo" by Beyonce started playing in my ears. This was the live version and this version always makes me emotional because she dedicates it to Michael Jackson.

Wouldn't you know it, I had to go up another hill to get that last .1 in! When I got to the top there were people with bells. They were yelling but I couldn't hear them since I had my headphones on. When I took them off I heard the best words I would hear all day, "You're done! You're done!" I felt great! But for some reason the finish line was down the hill and around the corner.

When I turned the corner I saw my mom and dad standing there. Both had their phones pointed at me, snapping pictures. They both looked so happy. And believe me, I was ELATED!!! I was done! I had done it! The announcer was trying to call my name out but I guess he didn't have the information to match my bib number so he asked me what my name was. I told him and my mom kept yelling, "It's her first half marathon!!! Her first one!" Yep, she's one proud mama. He said my name and then came over and shook my hand and congratulated me on completing my first half marathon.

Let me tell you, the cut off for the race was three and a half hours. I just BARELY made it. My official time was 3:24:55.4. I can not tell you how proud of myself I am.

Aw, my proud parents.

My friend, Emily, who actually got me into running, also ran a half marathon with her sister in Colorado on Sunday. She texted me when she was done and I told her it was the hardest thing I've ever done. She wrote back, "But didn't you love it?!" I responded, "Actually, no." Haha. I loved the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. But I don't remember loving the way I felt out there on those dirt roads. I'm just so glad it's over.

So what's next?! At the moment, I have no idea. I'm going to focus on weight lifting with my boyfriend for right now. I may do some short runs here and there but I have no intentions of signing up for anymore races any time soon.

Yes, I did wear this ALL day.

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