Friday, May 25, 2012

the 1/2 marathon journey

*it's taken me three tries to write this post.  how do you put into words a life changing experience?  well this time i will just document it.  it's a long post.  and i wrote it so i can remember what went down, and put words with photos.  thanks to bobby, my parents and sergio, our trainer, for capturing the images.
i've had almost two weeks to let the experience sink in.  i'm still on the runner's high and feeling really good about it.

in many ways i'm still getting used to the idea of saying "i ran a 1/2 marathon." i. ran. a. half. marathon.  not i want to, or i'm going to, or i will.   i ran a half marathon. i refrain from telling the grocery store clerk that i ran, although each time i've been in there i'm tempted to.  but i'll talk about it for hours to anyone who will listen, or read.

here's how it went:

my parents, sister, sofia and i left for solvang on friday morning.  the goal was to get to the hotel, check in and pick up our race packet early.  we wanted to get to a talk by bart yasso and the race coordinator with tips on how to run the course.
we grabbed our bibs and shirts.
then some cheese and crackers and a glass of wine.
and sat with some of the runners to go over the course.  the excitement building as we hear the details.
then we "carboloaded" at tower pizza.

after dinner we met with the run group to get motivated and drive the course.  it was helpful to see what was waiting for us in the morning.  the hill that we dreaded didn't look so bad in the car.  and it was absolutely gorgeous.

then it was off to bed to rest for the big day.  i had set my phone alarm to go off at 4:45 am.  we needed to be outside our hotel at 5:45, to catch the bus at 6, to start the race at 7.  sofia and i turned the lights off at 9:30.  bobby and the boys got to the hotel at 10:50pm.

i woke up at 5:16am.  i jumped out of bed complaining that my phone didn't go off and i was going to be late.  bobby told me that he had turned off my phone when he got to the hotel. (i have alerts on it that go off in the middle of the night.) i was in panic mode, not at all the way i had planned my morning to go.  but i did manage to take a hot shower, take a deep breath, and get out the door on time. (and yes, bobby apologized profusely for the mistake.)

gaby and i waited for the group to come by and then decided to walk to the park and get on the bus before it got any later.  it was cold, foggy and dense.  we both decided not to bring jackets for fear of having to carry them on the 13.1 journey.

after using the port-a-potty we found our team and posed for some pictures.

then it was to the start line, the singing of the national anthem and the air horn to announce the start of the race.

gaby and i had planned on running our own races so we ran together for a while and then went our separate ways.
that's us right in the middle by the "s".
for the first few miles it felt like everyone was passing me by.  i felt good but it didn't seem like i was going very fast.  at one point i heard someone say that we had hit the one mile mark.  one mile?  that was quick.  but i had no idea how fast i was going.  i tried checking the run app on my phone to see my pace but i couldn't.  at that moment i decided it didn't matter when i finished.  i wasn't going to be constantly checking my pace.  i would run fast if i had the energy and i would walk if i needed to.  regardless of my time i was going to end up with a  personal best.

i also think i was smiling for the first five miles.  sheer joy coming out of me.  the day i had prepared for was finally here.  i was putting my endurance, strength and confidence to the test.
at mile 6 we were in los olivos.  bobby and the kids were there to give me the encouragement i needed to move on to the second half of the course. and i was feeling pretty good about it.  i took a few more bites of my power bar just to give me some energy and i stopped at every water station to stay hydrated.
the weather was perfect for running.

at mile 7 i hit corkscrew, the first of 2 challenging hills.  to be honest it wasn't that bad.  at least not any worse than anything we had done in training.  i told myself to keep running til i got to the top and then i could walk if i needed to.  but i didn't need to.  when i got to the top, i wanted to jump up and down with excitement.  if there was one thing we were ready for, it was hills.

at this point i knew it was going to be down hill for a while so i decided to keep running until i really needed to stop.  i also took a look at my pace (for the first time in the race) and realized i was doing pretty good.  if i kept up this pace i would make it to the finish under my goal time.

for the next few miles it was up and down, literally and figuratively.  rolling hills.  beautiful scenery.  i thought about stopping and getting pictures.  but my competitive side (didn't realize i had one) wouldn't let me slow down.  so i took only this picture while i was running.
see the vineyard behind the fog and the runners in the distance?

around mile 10 my left toe started hurting.  it had been bothering me during training and it felt like a sprain in my toe.  turns out my shoes are too small and it caused runner's toe.  i really wanted to walk but i told myself "you didn't come here and train for 16 weeks to run 12 miles and walk 1."

at moments it really hurt and i just pushed through.  at mile 12 i hit the next hill.  again nothing i couldn't do.  but it took every last bit of energy to get over it.  at that point people starting yelling, you can do this.  you look great.  you're almost there.

one guy yelled "just 45 seconds and you are there."  i smiled so big that it made him laugh.  that's when i started hearing the cheering, the crowds and i knew bobby, the kids and my parents would be there to see me cross the finish line.  i felt the tears coming on, but i wanted them to see me smiling not crying.
and there they were.
and there i was.
and then i saw the finish line.
and then i saw the time.
and the tears came again.
but i wanted  to cross the line so badly that i didn't have time to cry.  all of my energy went to moving my legs and keeping myself going.
as i approached the finish the lady running next to me said "congratulations" and gave me a high five as we crossed together.  that was an awesome moment.

my goal was to finish under 2:30.
my dream was to cross at 2:15.
my official time was 2:14:36!
they removed my chip from my shoe, gave me some snacks and skinny water and then took my picture.  i had my medal and was greeted by bobby with a huge hug.  and then it was over.

i hadn't really thought about what that moment would feel like.  i was done.  i could stop running.  i felt great.  i felt like i could run more.  i met up with other people from our group as we waited for everyone to cross the finish line.
my sister looked so happy as she approached the finish line.  i am so proud of her for what she has accomplished never running before and doing a half as her first race.  wow!  not sure i would have had the guts to do that.  but she did it, with a huge smile on her face.  and her support and encouragement throughout the process meant everything to me.  i love that we did this together.

then we went back to the room to shower and get something to eat.  we went to a restaurant across from the hotel and met up with our group again to take pictures and tell stories.
that's sergio, our trainer, in the front row. he was awesome!
and eat tuna melts.

in the middle of lunch i started feeling really sick.  bad stomach cramps, nauseas and just plain sick.  i've done some research on that and it could be a combination of stress, the food i ate before and after, and my body reacting to what i just put it through.  whatever the reason it was painful and it lasted almost 3 days.  i'll have to do some experimenting before i do my next half.

yep, i'm hooked and ready to do another one.  not sure which i will do yet.  but i will run another half marathon before the end of the year.  why wouldn't i?  it felt amazing and exhilarating and i can't wait to do it again.
thanks again for all of your support. it fueled and inspired me.  the donations, the cards, the texts and phone calls meant the world to me.  thank you!

i'm  running today for the first time in 2 weeks.  so looking forward to getting back into it and continuing where i left off.  it's just the beginning...


Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you! You worked so hard for this and it paid off! You are an amazing role model for your chldren and all of us! Love Sue

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you! You worked so hard for this and it paid off! You are an amazing role model for your chldren and all of us! Love Sue