McDonalds Half Marathon
I am sitting here wondering where I begin. There is so much on my mind it’s hard to get it all out.
The half marathon dream started in October 2009. I was coming to the end of the C25K program and was starting to look around for my very first race. At that time I was starry eyed for doing my first 5k. I was constantly looking online and through the SP running team threads asking questions and getting advice. I can remember reading member’s signature section and seeing all the HMs listed. I can remember posting that I don’t think I will ever be able to do that. Or, I am so far away from ever covering that much distance. But in the back of my head and deep down in my soul I was dreaming of being a HMer. I was hoping that some day I would get to have a medal (bling) around my neck. And thanks to all of my SP friends in my challenge groups and on my running teams that DREAM came true.
The week leading up to the race was nerve WREACKING. I was so ready to go that I had my bag packed on Monday to leave on Friday. I had been communicating with Mom2Alex2004 (Jill) for several months and as the days got closer we sent more and more emails. She helped to keep me grounded and let me know that I would do great; there was nothing to be afraid of.
When Friday came I was more than ready. I left my home around 6am and began my 4-1/2 hour journey. I was traveling alone, which if you know me was a big hurdle, but I was ready. Once I got to Richmond and was checked in at my hotel Jill came and picked me up for lunch. I was a little nervous about our first meeting face to face but she was wonderful. I can’t begin to tell you how open and welcoming she was to me. It felt like we had been friends forever. After lunch Jill took me on a tour of the HM route. This was a great way for me to prepare mentally and know exactly what to expect. The day of the race it was nice to know when to expect to turn and when any kind of hill was coming up. After the tour we went to the expo. There were a few times when I misted up getting my number and walking around, but all in all I held it together pretty well. I was more than a little excited to be able to buy the items that said “13.1” because I am now part of that wonderful group. I bought a magnet for my car, sticker, hat, and keychain all with my new title. The other fun part about the expo was getting to meet more sparkers. We got the opportunity to meet Health4lyfe and take pictures. We were also anticipating meeting LabLover but we missed her. It’s just so cool how running has changed my life. It’s has helped me lose weight; get through some stressful times; meet new friends online and face to face; and helped to break me out of my shyness. It’s not completely gone but I am more willing to put myself out there now because there is so much to gain from it. After leaving the expo we went back to Jill’s house where we had dinner and I got a chance to meet her husband and kids. IT WAS A GREAT DAY, WITH EVEN BETTER TIMES AHEAD.
The night before I thought I was going to have trouble sleeping, but after the adventure I had I was more than ready to go to bed by 10pm. I laid out all my running stuff, set the alarm clock in the room and set my phone alarm, just in case, and was out like a light. Jill was picking me up at 6am so I set both alarms for 5am. When the hotel alarm went off I turned it off and laid there waiting for my phone to do the same, but it didn’t. When I got up to check why I saw that the hotel clock had not been changed and it was actually 4am. UGH! Luckily I was able to doze off for a few more minutes before the brain decided it wanted to run at a million miles a minutes with thoughts of how everything will go. Me and Jill actually laughed about us both having dreams, the previous week, about mile 7. So that joke was running through my head first thing. So I was up, put myself together, ate my peanut butter on whole wheat sandwich and had ½ of a G2. I was so nervous I think I went to the bathroom 3 times before leaving that room. But I was ready and I was going to be strong, and then I got to the lobby and saw Jill and broke down crying. I was a little surprised myself. I had done so well the day before and then to just break down and start crying as soon as I saw her, it was surreal. It was at that moment I realized that I was really going to do this. I was going to run a HALF MARATHON. There was another lady from Illinois we met the previous day that was riding over with us also in the lobby. They both smiled and told me that it was going to ok and that I was going to have the best time of my life. They would be so right.
Getting to the event we parked a few blocks away from the finish line and started walking towards the start. It was COLD that early in the morning but it was a beautiful day. We all took pictures and walked around looking at the downtown sites. It was really nice having a hometown tour guide. After a trip to the potty and checking our bags we made our way to our wave. Jill had on shorts so she was really chilly and by that point my fingertips were freezing in my gloves. Also my toes and the balls of my feet felt like they were frozen. Talking to Jill earlier I told her that she did not have to stay with me. Since it was my first and that I would be doing run/walk intervals I did not want to hold her back. But she let me know she was here for me and that we were going to do this together (CRY). We were in wave 6, so when the first wave took off and we had to move up my stomach dropped a little. Then the next wave and then the next. When the wave in front of us took off my hands started to shake. We were next. I hugged Jill, took a deep breathe, started my music and then stepped across the starting mat into my DREAM.
The first 5miles passed by in a daze. I can remember it taking about 2-1/2 miles for my feet to defrost. I can remember talking to Jill. I can remember looking around at all the different people. Men, Women, Small, Heavy, Young, Old, Walking, Running…They were all there. I use to believe that only the “elite” ran half or full marathons. That it was a crime to even think about putting yourself out there if you were not skinny and did not run the entire distance. Oh how wrong my perspective was. Being on the course and seeing all the “athletes” was truly eye opening and awe inspiring. I was so proud to be part of that group. I was so into the environment and enjoying Jill’s company that I can’t even remember the first hour of music that played. I just did not hear it. I was in another world. AMAZING.
So when we first started we did a few 2:1 intervals to get my knees warmed up. We then increased to 3:1 to finish out the first half hour and after that we stuck with 4:1. This was a great pace and I could not believe how fast the 4min runs were passing. At home it would feel like forever, but there it was like every time I looked down the interval was over. I don’t think my head started to settle until we came into the park and passed the 10k split. I noticed mile 7 but I didn’t really acknowledge it at the time. We were on the back side of the loop through the park and there were a lot people out cheering you on and making noise. When we passed the 8 mile marker I looked at Jill and laughed. I told her we made it through the 7th mile strong and we are over halfway there. I found the perfect pace to settle into and told myself over and over “I can do this” that “I will do this”.
Miles 8 – 10 was where I started to feel a little discomfort in the back of my left knee. It was strange because it actually felt better when I was running then when I was walking. At that point I was rushing to get through the walking intervals. Jill was having trouble with her knee also so a few of the walks we extended to 2mins. I never really got tired or winded. I felt like if it wasn’t for my knees being sore then I could just keeping going. The good part was that there was so much activity on the back miles. There were tents with water, cookies, pretzels, cola and even beer. I pretty much kept to what I brought with me on my belt; G2, chewy granola bar and Gummie Bears (thanks Crystal). After crossing mile 10 I was in new territory. 10miles was my longest run to date. I blew that out of the water. I remember yelling 3 more to go. I remember all the people cheering and coaches saying, almost there, you are doing GREAT. Mile 11 was actually our fasted mile. Jill kept saying “can you feel the finish line pulling you in”. It was so exciting. The closer we got the more people were there cheering you on. At this point we weren’t really doing 4:1 intervals. We would run to a certain spot and break then run again. We took our last break a little over a half mile out. I looked at Jill and said “lets finish this” and we did. Coming down the final stretch we gave all we had passing some people and smiling all the way. I could see the finish line, it was RIGHT THERE. Right before we crossed the line Jill grabbed my hand, we threw our arms up and crossed the line together (CRY).
It was done. I DID IT… I AM A HALF MARATHONER!!!!!
(10k split 1:22:12)
Place: 5208 of 6605
Age: 527 of 573
Sex: 2992 of 3278
It was such an amazing feeling I can’t even describe it. I cried then, I am crying now just writing this out. I have come so far. This time last year I could barely run 30mins straight, but now I am a HMer. I have been hurt and suffered with pain in my hip and both of my knees which put me on the sideline, but I am a HMer. Life has gotten in the way many times but running has helped me get through the rough times. I have met and become friends with some of the most amazing and supportive people I will ever know because of SP. I KNOW for a fact that if I had not found SP and had everyone holding my hand along the way, I would not be here, I would have given up. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love and appreciate all of you.
I know this was long, but thank you for taking the time to relive this journey with me.
Here is a link to the photo slide show
Here are some pictures:
Packet Pick up (Jill tried to catch me crying - almost)
My 13.1 Gear!
Health4lyfe / Dreamrunr / Mom2Alex2004
Post race PRIDE
Post Race Dinner - YUM!
I can’t wait for the next one. I am already starting to plan. Right now it looks like Pittsburgh in March2011. There is a 5k and 8.1mile walk/run, HM and 30k. Guess which one I am doing? Wanna come along, let me know. It’s going to be a big meet with other Spark runners.
Making her dreams come true