Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My First Half Marathon: The Louisiana Marathon

The headband I bought at The Expo!
This is a story of one woman's dream of being a runner.

It began in August 2011... Running, Weight lifting, Cross-Training... each week was regimented.  And as the weeks got closer and closer the anticipation built up. (See: Half-Marathon TrainingThe Countdown.Half-Marathon: The Final Week.,  Half-Marathon: This is it. ) 

My pasta carb meal with friends the night before. 
My pasta dinner with some running friends the night before. 
The day of I woke up about 5 minutes before 4am. Too early and a restless night of sleep. I only got about 4-5 hours of sleep and tossed and turned most of the time. So it wasn't quality.  But none of that mattered.  I had plenty more on my mind and much to do before the 7am gun, so off I went.  Got on my clothes, packed my bag, and began to fix myself breakfast.

My gear

Breakfast for a champion!

Ready for battle!

I woke up too early and had some down time to sit and read some blogs.  I found some great ones that were motivational and helped me to really get to where I needed to be emotionally.  I felt ready.  I was trying for 12:00 to 12:30 pacing.  About the fastest I've paced over long runs. Thus far I'd done 10 miles in 2 hours at a 12:26 pace.  So my goal was about 2:30:00 but under 3:00:00.  And to FINISH!

Stretching with #RunLA crew before the race. 

At the starting line!
Only minutes away from 7am gun and I was a ball of nerves!  Excited and scared,but ready to get some great running time in. All smiles of course!

First 3 miles - SMILING!
My first three miles I was pacing at 10:00 miles!  Knowing it was my enthusiasm and drive that was pushing me through I tried to slow down to pace myself, but I kept speeding up. Oh well.

There was such a great crowd at this event, everywhere we turned we had water stations.  People with signs.   ("I See Crazy People!", "You're only Half Crazy!" ) People cheering. Our names were on our bibs so I would get an occasional "Good job Christine!" which was very motivational.

At about mile 3-4 my right knee outside IT band started to hurt. It started to hurt bad. I kept pushing through hoping that it would work through and around mile 5 I broke down walking and starting crying. It was getting progressively worse. I took frequent stops to stretch out, hoping that the pain would lessen.  But it only grew.  I called Dubya from the course, "Bring Advil."

A tweet I sent from the course. 

At this point I was upset because I knew I either had to walk the rest of it or settle for a DNF (did not finish).
Both were like death for me.  
This is what I had feared. 

About halfway... still smiling!

I decided to alternate. When I walked it didn't hurt as much, so I walked until it went away and then ran (more like a jog) until it started to buckle. My pace was obviously slow and as others passed me by and the crowd started to thin reality started to set in to me. .... Will I be the last one to finish?  

I kept going and kept looking behind me to see if anyone was behind me.  
Was I doing well? 
Was I doing poorly?

Different emotions ran through my brain. I tried to keep motivated, but hadn't even finished yet and I felt like I failed.  

I found a friend to pace with who talked to me for a while about her running, her other half-marathons, and it was a good distraction to stop me from feeling the pain.  I even found a person on the course who recognized my DubyaWife moniker and we chatted and paced for a while. 

Around mile 10 I couldn't run anymore... Dubya arrived with Advil and I downed some and they walked with me for a while. I solemnly told it all to Dubya... how much it hurt, how I wasn't doing well.  I almost wanted to walk back to the car with him... just give in.  

It's over, I thought. It's over. 

Dubya just kept telling me to walk it.  "Finish it." He said. "You can do it, Mom." DubyaKid said. 

So I kept walking.

I walked miles 10 and 11, an occasional jog here and there, but mainly just trying to get close to the end. 

At the final water station as I gulped down my cup a guy yells, "Come on! You haven't come this far to walk it in!" And he was right. I had a mile left.  A fellow runner told me the time and I knew if I pushed I could try for a sub 3:00:00.  

So I set off for a run. Just a mile run, I thought.  I've done these before. As fast as I can.  

I heaved.  
I flew.  
I just kept going. 
No stopping. 

And as I rounded the corner, hearing the band playing, hearing the crowds, seeing the people cheer me on. 

I cried.  
I cried and I cried and I cried.

I heaved in deep gulps of breath as I tried to run. 

Finally, as I crossed that finish line I thought...

You did it. 
You finished. 

Crying at the finish line..

More crying...
 I finished at 3:00:05 (13:45 per mile), 1103rd of 1203 finishers, 646th of 724 females, 11th of 23 in the ATHENA division.
Pic with an attitude...
In front of the State Capitol, sharing my smiles with the Dubyas!

Enjoying food and music after my run. 

As I sat down to stretch to eat some food and to reflect on the experience.  ...I was disappointed. It wasn't my best run. I was in pain most of the time and didn't enjoy the running.  But everything else about it was wonderful.  The way it was coordinated, the friends and family who supported me, the atmosphere.  I loved every part of being there.  This was a great event. 

I hated how I performed.

But I checked my emotions.  Checked myself from comparing to others and realized that I'm of the 1% of the population that runs marathons. I did something that few people can say they've done.  I went from 255 lbs two years ago to running a half-marathon that day. 

I should be proud. 

I'm a super hero!
As I walked back to my car to drive home (a mile walk - how ironic that I had to walk more after doing so many miles...) I limped. I knew I was injured.  That I had a long week ahead of me of healing my wound from this experience.  But I smiled and I looked down at my medal proudly. 

The Front
The Back
I have something not many people I have.  
I am unique. 
My finish time is MY finish time.  

Added my new mileage to my car. 

We ate cheeseburgers and milkshakes that night and I sat on the couch all night with my feet up and watched movies.  As I watched the tweets and Facebook messages fly in from those congratulating me... I took it easy and allowed my feelings to settle from the day. I still wasn't really sure how I felt about all this. Should I have just quit and tried again another time when I wasn't injured? Do I want to do this again? Was it worth the pain?  Was it normal to be in this much pain? Did I fail?  Shouldn't I be happy right now? Do I want to run anymore?

Wore my medal all day!
So now we're here at present day... the moment has passed, the knee is healing (much better today than yesterday), and reality is sinking in.

Will I do this again? 

You bet your ass, I will...

After that experience I know now that the feelings of self doubt I had were from my competitive nature. I felt like a failure because I didn't compete to the level I want to. I wanted to be fast.  I wanted to glide. I wanted to feel like a million bucks afterwards.  Problem is that I felt like a failure, cause I allowed those things to overshadow the accomplishment. What mattered was the experience.  The journey.  

Was I trained for it?
Maybe. Maybe not. 

Was I ready for it?  
Absolutely not. 

I had no idea the mental challenge that an event like this can have on a person. This type of experience is so beyond the physical training that it can't be prepared for until you do one.  Enough said. 

Now I know what it takes. Now I know what needs to be done for me to feel like I'm ready. I'm mentally ready to start again in this endeavor. To make it better.  To be stronger.  Faster.  Leaner.  To feel like I'm out there to prove something to myself. 

Sub 3 hour half-marathon... it's a new goal.

Well... let's just hold off on dates for now... ;-)

A big thank you to everyone who supported me in this.  There are so many people I can't even begin to start naming names.  Because of you, I had the confidence to start this.  Because of you, I felt overjoyed to finish it.  Because of you, I didn't run alone.  

Get Mean. Twisted Evil Make a Decision. Exclamation Choose Health! Cool

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