Monday, September 9, 2013

Half Marathon: DONE!!!

Saturday was the big half marathon!  It's all done and I am so glad!  The race was a big accomplishment and I'm so very, very proud of myself.
The race is all about getting the picture.  And the medal.
My morning started with a 4:25 am alarm.  It wasn't too hard to get up because of the anticipation.  Q-ball also started screaming shortly after.  I worried that it would take forever to get him back to sleep.  He only wanted a bottle so it didn't throw me off much.  I was a touch later to the bus pick up than I'd planned but I was still there in plenty of time.

We had a full bus on the way up and I sat next to a woman who was probably just about my age and running her third half marathon this year.  One of the pacer runners sat just a few seats up from us.  He was loud enough that we could hear his conversations perfectly.  I kind of wanted "accidentally" bean one of his friends with my water bottle.  As they talked about someone who agreed to pace a full marathon at a 4:30 finish time the friend said, "4:30?!  Well, yeah, I guess he could run a 4:30 and get his free medal," in a mocking tone.  Free?  FREE?!  It was good I didn't have anything to throw or I might have dropped something horizontally and in his general direction.  My best guess for myself to finish a half marathon was 2:15 to 2:40 (with a pipe dream of 2:00 if I was having a really fantastic run) so a full marathon of 4:30 seems pretty impressive to me.
Hey, look!  I took a before picture!
Once we got to the starting point we stood around fires to keep warm while we waited.  After a while three women from another bus came to the fire bucket where I was standing.  We chatted and took each other's pictures.  Two of them had been running together for about ten years and the third was running her first half marathon.  The three of them felt bad that I didn't have a running buddy.  I didn't mind.  They eventually left for the bathroom and I met up with them again unexpectedly when I decided I should probably also take a little potty break. That was the point when I decided I would tag along with them.  They were very welcoming and invited me before I would have asked.  Just before the race started I followed their lead and slurped down an energy gel pack.  Nasty.  Super duper industrial strength nasty.  I thought the flavoring would make them taste good.  I was mistaken.  But I guess if they help then choking them down isn't the worst thing I could do.

After the race started I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were running close behind the two hour pacers and that I felt pretty good at that speed.  Within the first half mile one of them intentionally gave us a good look at his right glute.  The half mooning, by the way, was not done in a gross or suggestive manner, I just can't remember the back and forth jokes that led up to it.  We passed them soon after and fell in behind the 1:55 pacers.  I was pretty stoked about that.  One of the ladies I was running with, Tiffani, developed a stitch in her side and dropped back a little.  I dropped back with her to keep her company and make sure she was okay.  We covered several miles like that, chatting every now and again when our breathing would let us.

The canyon wasn't closed to traffic and one of my cousins was scheduled to do his Eagle Scout project at the top of the canyon.  I saw two of my aunts and their families driving up on their way there.  I was super excited to see them and waved and smiled like an idiot trying to get their attention and say hi.  That was fun.  I was still doing pretty well then so I probably looked good when they passed.
One of the 2:00 pacers.  Interestingly, the woman in the green striped shirt is the one I sat next to on the bus ride up.  Also, you can see my butt and shoulders on the left side of the picture.  Blue tank.  I swiped this picture from
Before the race I did not stretch sufficiently.  My calves became very angry with me by the time I got to the mile 4 aid station.  At that point they were little knots of pain.  By the end they were great balls of fire.  It wasn't pleasant but it also wasn't anything I couldn't handle.  The calf pain was my faithful and constant running buddy.  :)  On the bright side, the canyon run is gorgeous.  It's easy to take it for granted when it's in my backyard.  I can't wait to go up when the colors change.

We caught up with the other two friends right before an official photographer.  I decided to be a big shot and jump for the picture because I was still feeling pretty good.  The jump wasn't so bad.  The landing, however...  I didn't take into account the downhill nature of the road or how my burning calves would take the impact.  At least I didn't fall down.  I blurted out, "That wasn't very smart," and the photographer had a good laugh.  If there's a picture of that I'm totally buying it.  I would love to see the expression on my face.

After the 7 mile mark I really started to fade.  It became very difficult to feel strong.  I had to pull out some mental techniques to keep going.  That worked for about a mile.  After going through the mile 8 water station I realized my options were to slow down or pass out.  Walking through the water station showed me how weak my legs had become.  I opted to slow down.  I prefer not to get road rash on my face.  Tiffani had caught up with her friends.  They looked back to check on me and I waved goodbye to let them know to keep on going without me.  The two hour pacers had already passed but there was no mooning this time.  :)  At around mile 9 or 10 I allowed myself to go into a fast walk.  I did that twice more before I hit mile 12.  I walked again when I had about half a mile left so I could call the Hubs and let him know when to expect me.  His phone is so fancy it took me a while to figure out how to place a call.  Oh, the irony.  I had hoped not to stop to walk at all, but I'm not disappointed with myself.  I pushed a super fast pace for over 8 miles and that is amazing to me.  I'm not sure how my calf muscles made it through.
Waving to the Hubs and the kids.  You can see that my legs had stopped working.
As I approached the finish I tried to speed up a bit.  There wasn't much left in the tank but I got a little bit out.  I saw my mom cheering me on and choked up.  I got that under control (wouldn't want a picture of me crying through the finish, would I?) and spotted the Hubs and the kids standing with my in-laws.  I finished strong with my arms up and saw my dad standing behind the finish line taking pictures.  Big smiles were shared all around.
Just after finishing
My least favorite picture of the bunch.  For honesty's sake.
After I stepped into the finishers' area I saw Tiffani and thanked her for running with me.  She grabbed her daughter and had her take a picture of us.  I had her do the same for me.  I thought it was sweet that she told her daughter I was the one who had helped her through the first eight miles.  She was the one I'd been leaning on to go as far and fast as I did.  I'm glad I got a picture with her.
Running buddy
Following that I met up with my family again to get a picture at the finisher sign and get some food. Once I'd eaten my food I got that lovely, overwhelming need to rush off to the bathroom.  I ran (read: hobbled along the best I could) to the Honey Bucket line and was lucky there was one available. After that bit of pleasantness I picked up my bag of belongings and we went home.
The water felt SO good.
Now that you've read all the way to the bottom I will post my results.  2:05:59.0 was my final time. I'm totally shocked and super impressed with myself.  I really expected a time closer to 2:15 or 2:20 if I felt good through the whole race.  Had I not kept pace with those women I'm pretty sure I never would have gotten a time like that.  I also would not have been so worn out by mile 8, but that's more than half the race I ran at a pace faster than I thought possible.  I'm pretty proud and my family is sufficiently impressed with me.

Aftermath:  Could be worse.  I saw someone there with a bloody blister on her heel and heard someone else exclaiming, "Look at your toe!"  I'm sore as the day is long, but not injured.  There is a weird spot under my toe callous.  It hasn't yet finished coming to the surface, so we'll see what comes of that.  The sore muscles, however, are nothing to sniff at.  I didn't get a good chance to stretch before or after the race and I'm paying the price for that.  It's kind of funny to hear my legs snap and pop as I walk, though.  I won't be sneaking up on anyone any time soon.

As is customary whenever I run a long distance, I got wretchedly sick and the recovery time for that far exceeded the race time.  It's pretty much four or five hours of shuffling between the bed and the bathroom until I can get up again without feeling the need to void my stomach or my bowels.  The rest of the day after that is spent gingerly getting up and around because being sick doesn't get me out of wife and mommy duties.  I'd rather run the race again than feel so cruddy.  As I lie down on the bed trying to stay in just the right position so I don't puke or mess my pants, I wonder why on earth I did this to myself and why anyone would want to run a full marathon.  Then I remember that the people who do it actually like to run and they probably don't get so sick for so long.  Lucky ducks.  I haven't figured out how to keep from being sick.  Running would be so much more enjoyable if it didn't include sick time.

Now that all is said and done I'm not sure how I feel about running another half.  I love the feeling of accomplishment.  I would like to be able to run a half in under two hours.  That was something I never thought I would approach.  I just don't know that the motivation to run it at a faster pace is greater than the motivation to avoid being sick.  If I could find out what it is that makes me ill for hours afterward and change it then it would certainly be a goal I'd work toward.  As it is...we'll see.  but I'm glad I did it.  Go me!

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