Monday, December 6, 2010

My Monster 13.1

A half marathon? If you would have asked me that 10 years ago I would have chalked it up as a nice thought, something that I would like to think I could do someday but would never actually accomplish. Truth is, I admired all those runners I saw out on the road pounding the pavement and I envied the runners I knew.  I always wanted to be a runner but didn't think that I really could and I didn't even know where to start much less how to progress. Every journey begins somewhere and mine began in my mind years ago.
Fortunately, I didn't let that thought hold me back forever. The idea, desire and dream was always there it just came into fruition later...when I was ready!

I struggled for some time when I began to write about my first half marathon and today, 6 weeks later, I decided that I don't need to write the history of how I got here. You just need to know that I did...and YOU can too!!! Don't let anything, anyone (especially yourself) or any excuse stop you from pursuing your dreams and goals! Boom...Bottom Line!!!

Race day...Here we go!
Chicago Monster, October 31, 2010!
Me and Joanne waiting to GO!

I spent the weekend downtown with two friends. Vicky was doing the 5k and Joanne was doing the half marathon too. The night before the race we found out that we had a special visitor in town, President Obama! His visit caused the organizers of the race to either cancel or re-route the day before. Needless to say, they decided to re-route. I can't imagine what that must have taken to pull that off...all for one man's visit! This re-route will come into play at the end of the race so keep reading :)
The halfers started first so Joanne and I found our place in the long line of runners and waited for our turn to take off. Joanne and I were talking about our hopeful finish times. I knew I wanted to finish in 2hrs 30mins or less and acknowledged that I would probably be walking on and off throughout as I knew my training leading up to the half wasn't where I needed it to be.
As we crossed the starting line I thought "Here I go, no turning back now, girl!" The air was chilly and I was thankful for the gloves I had purchased the night before, as well as the awesome race day hoodie and skull cap from Team Ortho! Great gear!
Joanne and I started off at the back of the line, not wanting to be too ambitious. Starting off strong we just started running. We started passing people together but after a while Joanne took off ahead of me wanting to stretch her legs a little more.
Every time I run, every time I race, it's MY run, it's MY race! So it was with this one, my first half marathon. I just ran at MY race at my pace! I wasn't looking to earn anything other than the gratification that comes with finishing and maybe finishing within the time that I had set in my head! So off I went!
Since it was Halloween there were many people dressed up in costumes. That made it not only fun but it was easy to remember who passed who and who I was keeping pace with. One in particular was my childhood hero....Wonder Woman! Haha...she was no Lynda Carter that's for sure! She was one that in the beginning constantly passed me up only to stop and walk then repeat. She did this for the first 3-4 miles maybe, then I at some point she fell behind and I never saw her again. In my mind I remember thinking how important it is to just find your pace and stay there. There's no need to expend so much energy, especially in the beginning. This is a long race and there is a lot of energy that needs to be generated to continue and finish.
I wanted to keep my pace but I also wanted to stay hydrated, so I stopped at every water station and walked a bit so I wasn't sucking air as well as water. As, I approached mile 9 or 10 I could feel my legs begin to feel heavier and heavier. It was a cool 45 degrees and I was soaking wet from sweat and I was getting chilly even though I was warm. I stopped and walked to take my hat off and to peel off my top layer which was my hoodie. Because my bib was on the hoodie I actually took the time to unfasten and re-fasten my bib to my shirt. I'd say that took about 3-4 minutes and maybe a good excuse to rest my heavy legs ;-)
It was also around mile 9-10 that I could tell where we were at. We made our way back to the finish line the way we came which was along the lake front. In my mind that made the run that much harder because I then knew about how much longer I had to run. Tired, moist and cold it was a battle of the mind now.
My last little "break" came in the form of a potty break. I had passed many port-o-potty's along the way and at around the 11 mile marker I decided I better go. That took another 3-4 minutes, awkward minutes I might add. But then I was off and running again. Pushing forward, telling myself that I've come this far so there will be NO STOPPING NOW!!!
Approaching the area where we began and would finish was such a relief to see. I passed the mile 13 flag and with an immense feeling of satisfaction within me I pushed myself knowing that I only had .1 mile to go, or so I thought! I ran passed the crowd cheering for us as we ran passed. There were people clapping and handing out high fives. It was so exciting to know that I was nearly there. The finish line isn't far and so I continued to run...and run...and run!
Then confusion set in as I, along with other runners,  began running parallel to the finish line as it began to get farther and farther away. Rather than running toward we were running away from that blessed line. I stopped a couple of times to ask other runners if this seemed correct, they were as confused as I was. Finally we heard a race router clapping and cheering telling us we only had about .25 miles left!!! WHAT??? A quarter of a mile left??? Are you kidding me??? This was SO disheartening to me and I felt myself fade. It was then that I walked here and there for 5 seconds at a time. Why? I don't really know! When I stopped to walk one last time a little fairy angel came along side me (literally, she was dressed up as a fairy :) and she tapped me and said "C'mon, keep going...let's go!" And so I did as she ran beside me! I'll never forget her! She made me accountable to myself and the race.
When I finally saw the finish line I didn't sprint to it, I was sprinted out so I had to stay focused to just cross over it. Although there were lots of people there at the end I didn't see anyone on the sides, I didn't hear anyone cheering, clapping, hooting or hollering. It was just me, myself and I getting over the line. I know it doesn't sound very glorious...but I did it and that's all that mattered to me.

Vicky was at the finish line. She did her 5k and waited for me and Joanne in the cold until we finished. What an awesome friend! Then I saw my husband, kids and father-in-law who came down that morning to see me finish. I hugged my husband and began to cry. I cried because I DID IT! I cried because I was relieved! I cried because they were there to share in that joy and again I cried because I DID IT!!! What an amazing feeling it was. All of the hard work that led to this one day...and I DID IT! Me! The girl who two years ago couldn't run 3 blocks without whining that she wanted to stop! Haha...isn't that awesome?  And guess what? If I can do it....SO CAN YOU!
Here's the kicker and where the re-route comes in to play. Later that day as well as the following day people were posting on the Facebook page that the race was actually 13.4-13.5 miles and not 13.1. Days later Team Ortho acknowledged that the actual distance was 13.4 miles. I finished my race in 2 hours and 33 minutes! I reached my goal time and if the distance had actually been 13.1 I would have beat my goal time. But hey, I had a GREAT time, I'm SO glad I did it!

Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, set goals and follow a plan to make those goals a reality! You'll be amazed at what you can do if you set your mind to do it!!!


Thank you for reading my long, drawn out and at times grammatically incorrect blog with extra exclamation points...and all... :)

1 comment:

  1. This is so great! You have inspired me to set a goal greater than I have ever done before (5K). So, who knows? Maybe an 8K or 10K... :)


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