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My 2nd and most difficult half-marathon

Monday, April 16, 2012

I woke up several times throughout the night checking the clock, the last time I checked was at 4:14am, just one minute before my alarm would “wake” me.
I started the process of getting ready for the half,which included breakfast, because unlike all my other races... this one I was running while 9 weeks pregnant.
I was dressed with everything in hand and out the door heading to my brother’s house by 5:10.

We left his place at 5:30 and started driving to St. Louis to find somewhere to park, easier said than done when you’re talking about 15,000 plus runners and the people there for volunteer work, to cheer, and support them.

Next up, we got into the huge lines to use the “johnny on the spot”. I must say, our timing was great, after going to the bathroom for the last time before the race we had enough time remaining to walk to the start line and get into our corrals.

The corrals are exactly that, I hadn’t ever felt like cattle until that morning! You couldn’t get ANY closer to the people around you, and some people had “nervous gas” going on, terrible! The corrals were marked A, B, C, and so on. I can’t remember how far it went, E maybe? When you registered for the race you told them what you were shooting for time wise for each mile (your minute mile), and they gave you a corral letter, my brother and I were in corral C.

After listening to a few speeches and the National anthem (mmmboy is all I can say!), we were off! Well, sort of… the race started at 7:00, our corral finally reached the start line at about 7:02-7:03. It was a gorgeous day to run, about mid 60’s, cloudy, light breeze here and there… I was really enjoying myself in the beginning!

Not even a mile into the race we went under an over pass, where my brother had warned me AND was right, a bunch of men who didn’t get to go before the race, ran off to the pillars to go… yep!

When we approached the first water station I had a girl run into me, literally pushed me into another chick in order to get to the table, I guess she thought there would only be two tables… for 15,000 people?! I heard a volunteer yell after we got up close and personal that the water stations were always for 100 yards, thankfully it never happened again.

Not even two miles in, I hear the crowd of people in front of me start to roar with cheers like a huge wave, as it got closer I started looking across the road and there he was, the marathon runner (he was already at mile 5 or so!), and I cheered and as he passed and the wave of cheering continued behind me. There is nothing to describe it, gave me goose bumps! Happened again when a guy racing in a wheel chair whipped by and the woman marathon runner. Every time a group starts cheering loud, whether runners, volunteers or people there to support us, I would get the goose bumps despite sweating! There is nothing like this experience!

We got to run through the Budweiser Brewery and I must say that was pretty cool! This whole race was a great route because along with running through the brewery, you could see the arch multiple times, run by Busch stadium, you run by the start/finish of the race about half way through and have a huge crowd cheering for you, and all the really awesome buildings!

Let’s talk hills; this route is FULL of them, including a long 3 mile incline! I agree with my brother, that hill showed who had trained well and who hadn’t. Most people started off strong but died off to a walk, nothing wrong with walking, but if you trained with any amount of hills you should have been able to pick a pace and keep it up.

Mile 6: I passed Tyler and my sister in law, as well as some man splashing runners with oil or water… he missed me and my brother, wonder if that’s why we experienced calf cramps, hehe!

(I'm in the black tank and blue shorts... the guy is in white in the background in two of the above photos)

About mile 6.5 I felt my left knee doing its thing, I was thankful to get that far pain free, but needed to find a way to get through the rest of that race. I walked to the side of the road, did some stretching, retied a shoe and started power walking. When the pain would subside I would start a light jog again, when pain returned I went back to walking. This system, though annoying, was working, I could definitely keep this up until the end.

I saw my brother about mile 9 I believe, he looked strong as he was approaching mile 11 and I knew he was going to kill his goal time. That was a happy moment, before things went downhill.

Much to my surprise there was a table near where the half and full marathon runners split up, that was handing out little beer samples to runners, even more surprising, the amount of runners taking it! Bleck!

I passed mile 10 and saw a lady outside of the medical aid station with a piece of card board and some white/clear-ish stuff on it, my thought was “icey hot or bio-freeze! I’m gonna get some and smear it on my knee!”… As I passed her I ran my fingers across the board, just after doing so I hear the lady yell “VASELINE!!!” I looked at my handful of a glob and thought “oh crap”. That lady must have thought I had serious chaffing! I had too much to just smear it on my clothes, so I ran with it in my hand for about 5 minutes, haha! I just kept staring at it, finally I needed to stretch due to some slight cramping in my right calf, and so I wiped it off in the grass and moved along.

Mile 11 came by and I was struggling more and more with calf cramping in both legs, but mostly my right. I had to walk more often now, not because of my knee, but the cramping.
Mile 12 my right leg cramped so bad my toes started twitching and then curled up crazy tight! I couldn’t walk on it; it’s truly an awful feeling! Knowing how close I was and that my PR was coming soon I was pushing as hard as I could, but the more I tried the worse it became. I stopped and stretched again.

Then, there it was, the finish line! At the top of the last hill! I could see the crowds lining the streets, runners picking up their pace, and the finish line sign! I was so relieved! I started my hobbling jog again… halfway up the hill a guy patted me on the back as he passed me and said “you’re almost there!! Keep going!” As soon as he was in front of me both my legs cramped up, all my toes curled in and I couldn’t even walk.

By the little gate with all the people standing there looking at the runners, I stood… trying to force my legs into a stretching position, staring at the finish line and crying.
So close, watching all these people pass me, I can’t even walk to the finish line, I get tears every time I think about it or tell someone. It’s horrible... pain is bad enough, but when you can’t even move, it’s absolutely the worst! I stood there stretching for a minute to a minute and a half, those poor people standing there watching me, there was nothing to say. They stopped yelling at runners because, well, there I was crying right next to them and no one could say or do anything for me.

I finally felt stretched out enough, I started my hobbling jog again, those people cheered so loud for me as I left their side, they have no idea how much that fuels a runner.

I made it to the top, and I crossed that finish line.

I had about three people ask me if I needed a medic, but I told them it was just leg cramps and walked on, I wanted to get to the tent with my medal! Several people were passing them out, but I saw one man actually placing them around the runner’s necks, I went to him. He was so genuine while congratulating me on finishing.

(smiling through the tears)

This race was by far the hardest, most emotional race I have ever done. I will never forget it, and I can’t wait to run another half.

If you haven’t set a goal, you should.

If you haven’t set a goal and tried to reach it, you should.

If you haven’t set a goal, tried to reach, and were successful, the time is now.

No excuses! I did it... pregnant, bum knee, and extreme calf cramps...

You will never understand the emotions involved until you do. There is pride in achieving a goal; there are so many rewarding aspects of hitting a goal. Doesn’t have to be running… but if you do run, it’s time to push yourself to a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, and so on. Most people don’t start shooting for a goal when they’re already fit; they get fit along the way.

(The blue is see through-ish)

Thank you EVERYONE who has been so supportive, those who have given me countless advice on how to train, and handle my knee situation, those who cheered me on, those who have inspired and motivated me. I love you all… more than I can ever express.

Rock it out!

Much love,
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    before i congratulate you on the half marathon can i congratulate you on the pregnancy i think that is totally awesome news.how are you feeling?any morning sickness?how do you feel about it?tell us more?that is great.now on to the half marathon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon re cramps the only time i got them that bad so i couldn´t walk or move was in pregnancy especially zakariyas it was so bad that sometimes i had to go to emergency with it as it lasted so long.i like all the others think you are pretty awesome for seeing it to the end.also i am having the funny scribbles but it ony seems to be when you are using an apostraphy`like in the word haven´t etc.keep on keeping on love.you rock. emoticon
    3288 days ago
    Holy crap.. You're PREGNANT?? Did you ever mention that before on SparkPeople? I totally missed it if you did!! That is amazing that you did this at 9 weeks pg. when we're almost the most hormonal of all.. and so tired! Do you have any children now? WEll, CONGRATULATIONS on the pregnancy and OMG - CONGRATULATIONS on achieving this goal! So sorry to hear it was so difficult near the end with the cramping! Wow.. Emily you did it!!
    (FYI, there are some weird text artifacts in this that make it hard to read.. not sure why.)
    3290 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/19/2012 9:48:37 PM
    Amazing!! You are such an inspiration emoticon emoticon
    3290 days ago
  • MAMACAT2_3
    You are a supastar Em, simply amazing!! Thank you for sharing this with us, I could feel the struggle through your writing.....but you still finished!!

    3291 days ago
  • YDAVIS23
    Congrats on those last 100 yards - you are a survivor!
    3291 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6851971
    HALF MARATHON!!!! FABULOUS!! Congratulations, EM!!!!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3291 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10926102
    You are so amazing and such an incredible inspiration! Congratulations momma!
    3292 days ago
  • no profile photo CD11939314
    Congrats!! You excelled and you're freaking awesome!!!!!
    3292 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3300558
    EM! Im Super proud of u! Everything you did to get through this marathon is amazing. I had a feeling your knee would start to bother u, i was hoping it wouldnt but i had a feeling it would. Its such a LONG run , im so glad u got through majority of it without the pain. WTG for finishing it. emoticon Girl!
    :) and look at u wanting to do another one already hehe. I think u should definitely get ur leg checked out before then though.
    3292 days ago
    Awesome job finishing!!! You rock!
    3292 days ago
    Awww! So proud of you for finishing! I teared up reading about being so close to the end and not being able to move. emoticon
    3293 days ago
    I understand the emotions, I cried as I read your blog. Congratulations and how awesome are you already thinking about your next race! You rock!
    3293 days ago
    Awesome job on finishing the race. emoticon I am doing my first 5k in may
    3293 days ago
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