Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mission Complete!

I did it! I DID it! IdiditIdiditIdidit!

I accomplished my goal that I set out to do five months ago. A goal I never dreamed I would be able to do. But it wasn't easy yesterday - in fact, the last two miles were miserable and when I crossed the finish line, I didn't feel excited - I was actually this mix of emotions that were mainly, well, pissed off and disappointed.

The night before the race, I hardly had any sleep. My mind was going a mile a minute and all I could think about was the race. I kept sitting up to check the clock, worried that the alarm on my phone wasn't going to go off. It did, and at 5:30 am, I bolted out of bed and into my running clothes. I went downstairs, got my one cup of coffee and started my steel-cut oats. Getting everyone ready and out the door on time to get parking at the race was my biggest concern, but it ran so smoothly and we didn't have any traffic to worry about! Ray was a huge help (still sick, but such a trooper), and the girls were so cooperative.

 It was in the low 40's Saturday morning, which isn't so bad, but the WIND...omg! The wind that was whipping around was freezing. We could have stayed in the truck longer, but I had to go to the bathroom so bad and seeing all the other runners start to walk toward the site made me nervous. I hit the porta-potties (with not a single person in line!), then we made our way to where all the runners were hanging out. There were three big bonfires with runners huddled all around them trying to keep warm. We found an empty hay bale to sit on and the girls and I wrapped a blanket around us - teeth chattering, legs shaking. I was beginning to think the sun would never come up and give us some relief.

I ended up visiting the porta-potties two more times. Unbelievable. The second time, a few lines were forming, but I got in quick. The third time, about 30 minutes until the race began, I ended up waiting in line about 15 minutes! While standing there shaking from the cold, a man behind me started up a conversation. He had been running for 28 years and was going to do the marathon that day. Very nice man, but delusional. He was convinced I would be running marathons soon. Ha! I've learned to never say never, but good grief...

A voice came over the loud speaker and announced it was time to get in our corrals. Squeal - it was time!! I gave Ray and the girls a kiss and found my corral. Being so cold, I didn't do a bunch of stretches like I normally do, but managed to squeeze in a few while in line. I felt ready though. I love that it was a small race - not the mega races I have seen on tv. There was a total of 2,098 runners for the half. My corral (E) got up to the start line in no time! I think that was my favorite part of the race - hitting that starting line. So exciting!! I crossed the line and spotted my family - the girls jumped up and started cheering. What a great feeling. I hit start on Garmin and off we went.

It was a narrow road in the beginning, so I kept a close eye on my surrroundings so I didn't crash into anyone. I was very pleased at my pace - I didn't start off full of adrenaline, like a bat out of hell. I was very calm, relaxed and running my race. It wasn't long at all before runners started to thin out and I didn't have to worry about hitting anyone - just enjoy myself!

The first three miles were a breeze. I just ran and took everything in. I loved looking at the surrounding beautiful park, loved hearing the footsteps all around me, seeing all the runners ahead of me, and listening to the conversations going on from people running together. We soon hit some of the hills I was worried about. I had seen these hills prior to the race, and they had scared me. Turns out, I had no problem with them. I saw so many runners having to stop and walk, and I was proud that I felt good going up them. At the top of what I thought was the biggest hill of the run (HA!), I saw Ray and the girls on the side of the road (that's when the picture was taken). Made my day to see them so excited for me - I went from thinking they wouldn't be able to make it, to having them give me such a boost. Love my family.

As the race went on, I was just so happy about how well it was going. Except...I had to pee!!! I actually had to pee at the starting line. WTH? After how many times at home and three times before the race? Good gosh. I managed to make it to mile 7 and stopped at a park restroom that didn't have a line. Thankfully, there was only one other person inside, so I got a stall and hurried. I was in such a hurry that I gave myself the biggest wedgie that I had to nonchalantly work out back on the trail with everybody running past me. Grrr. I got back into the groove and carried on.

Right around mile 9, I started to feel a little tired. I had taken some chews and water at mile 5, and had a few more. I was doing great on my pace though - kept it up right where I wanted to be. I had no idea what was ahead of me...Mile 10 was brutal. The entire mile was nothing but up and down steep hills. My legs were screaming at me. On the steepest of hills, I just put my head down, took short strides and told myself to just keep going. I passed many walking. I had just a few more feet to go to the top when my legs just quit. My mind said run, my legs said walk and there I was walking. That's when I started getting mad. I forced myself to run again when I got to the top of the hill, only to be met by even more hills. I made it through them though - I have no idea what my pace was at that point. I didn't care - I just wanted to get through this part. It just had to flatten out.

Mile 11 was a mile of negotiations. I was feeling like the hills had zapped me of all the energy I had left, but I couldn't possibly quit at this point. I was so mad at my legs, the course (which was absolutely beautiful - what a stunning park! But those hills!), the fact that I still had a good ways to go, the fact that I had to keep convincing myself to push on...this isn't the way I wanted to be feeling. I ran on at what started to feel like a shuffle. I remember even asking myself at one point "Why the hell would I want to do this again?!" Around 12.5 miles, I got a cramp in my side that just seemed to take over. I had had more cramps during the race but had been able to run through them. This one almost had me doubled over, so I had to walk. I probably walked a total of 45 seconds, but it felt like forever. I could hear people cheering and the announcer over the loud speaker - I was close.

I told myself I wasn't going to finish this damn race walking, so I started my shuffle again. What gave me a little more fuel was hearing complete strangers on the side of the road yelling, "You can do it, Amanda!" "Finish strong, Amanda!" I wish I had had energy for one final kick to take me over the line, but it was all I could do to get there. I did manage to throw my arms up - probably looked like I was celebrating, but in my head, it was more like a f* you to the last three miles.

Ray and the girls ran over to the rope, so excited for me and cheering, but I couldn't even talk. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't even do that - I was so exhausted! I grabbed a water and banana and finally made my way to them. Ray ran up carrying my chocolate milk and gave me a hug - told me how proud he was of me. I just leaned into him and stayed there trying to pull myself together. The girls were fascinated with my medal. We sat down for a little bit, but the wind was still whipping and I started to get the shakes. When we got to the car, I just couldn't believe the mood I was in! I look back on it now and laugh at how mad I was and what I was mad about! Mad at hills! I can do something about being mad at my legs...I need to cross-train before the next half I run. Yes...there will be a next half. I had a delayed reaction to my accomplishment - later yesterday, after a shower, food, Ibuprofen and a good nap, I was proud. It all began to sink in what I had done...I ran a half-marathon. I didn't quit. I didn't chicken out. I did it. And I want to get better at it.

Official time: 02:10:47

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