Wow! What a day!
On January 24th I embarked on this crazy adventure called "running". I committed to joining Team in Training to run a marathon and raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. On May 31st, I will be running the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon - the pinnacle of this training.
Today, as a practice run, I ran the Famous Potato Half Marathon. I thought it would be just another Saturday training run, just done with lots of other folks. I didn't think it would be that big a deal.
I woke up at 4:30 AM for a race that started at 8:00 AM. Why so early? Well, ya gotta make doubly sure you have all your gear, get a shower to wake up, have some breakfast (Nutrigrain Eggo Waffles with Adams Peanut Butter is my pre-run breakfast of choice), catch up with the friends for a ride, then be at the park at 6:30 for the bus ride to Lucky Peak. Cold, windy Lucky Peak. Of course, there's the necessary pre-race bathroom break, where you stand in line for a porta potty freezing your underdressed butt off with the other hundreds of underdressed runners. Our goose bumps had goose bumps!!! The hardest part was surrendering my jacket to head to the starting line.
As I approached the starting line, I noticed a new friend, Thomas, standing nearby! What a great surprise! He had read my Facebook post about the starting time and place, and came out to take pictures. It totally made my day to have a supporter at the starting line!
So, my friends and I are standing in the middle of a mass of people... and finally, the starting gun goes off. And we're OFF! Sort of... well... when a sea of people all start moving at about the same time, there's a lot of start... stop... run... walk... But soon enough, the crowd starts to spread out, and we're really off!
Throughout my training I've been running long runs as intervals, so I have my watch set to five minute run then one minute walk intervals. During my walk intervals I see people pass me, when I run, I pass them back. Sort of a see-saw effect. Some (actually many) just keep getting further ahead, but hey, I'm out there, and I'm running!
The miles go by fairly quickly. There are water stops at every two miles, so we're kept well hydrated. I have my fuel belt with my gel "candies" and my Crystal Light with extra electrolytes, so I'm set.
My friend, Jenn, was running the intervals with me, and we find we're making pretty good time with our "system". My goal was to average 12 minute miles throughout the race, and we're ahead of that pace. After about eight miles though, I really start looking forward to those walk intervals!!!
At mile ten is the Team in Training water stop! WOO HOO!!! My TNT friends are there with water, hugs and cheers. As I leave them it hits me, I'm almost finished with my very first half marathon!
The last couple miles seem to go on forever... and ever...
Finally, Jenn and I hear the cheers at the finish line. As we come around the bend, I get that adrenaline rush and go for the sprint. Stretching it out... opening it up... full on sprint... I see the timing clock. As I run through, I see my friend Jacob with his camera phone held high.
I register the clock: 2:35.
Official time from start line: two hours and 33 minutes for my very first half marathon!!!
I'm done! I stop running... and there's my daughter Kayte, at the finish line, supporting her mom. What a sight! Then I see Team in Training coaches Mike and Louise and give them a big, sweaty hug.
Holy Crap! I did it!!! I ran an official half marathon!
I didn't expect it to be so exciting, because we'd run 20 miles on our last training run, but that was a much slower, easier run. I was told to take this one easy, which I guess I sorta did, but didn't. Our long training runs averaged about 13+ minute miles, because we took bathroom breaks, took it easy, walked a bit more... this, my first event, was an average 11.6 minute mile! About a minute and a half faster than my normal long runs!
Yep... I'm feeling pretty good about that!
After a bit of food and catching up with friends, Kayte and I head over to join the Team in Training folks as they cheer in the rest of the TNT half marathoners and the TNT full marathoners. Eventually Kayte heads home and I stick around to cheer in the friends I've made over the past four months.
I've gone from 0 to 20 in four months. In four months I trained for a full marathon and ran a half marathon.
In two weeks I will be running my TNT event, the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon! It struck me as I finished this half, that "Damn! In two weeks I've got to do twice this run!" It's a daunting thought! Can I do it? Yes! I can!!! I've trained for it, I've prepared for it... I can do it! It ain't gonna be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
I, whose idea of exercise has been a leisurely bike ride, hike or backpacking trip, am now officially A Runner!!!
What a fabulous feeling!!!