I know, I know, I said I was going to write this blog entry earlier this week, but the professional photography wasn’t live when I thought it would be and then the rest of the week got away from me. Excuses, excuses. Anyway, I’m here to give you the full report on my very first half-marathon!
All week long the receptionist at my office kept talking about the big cold front that was coming in over the weekend and how it was going to pour all weekend long. I didn’t want to believe her. Every time I check my weather app it forecasted blue skies on the race day, but Friday morning I checked and it looked like the inevitable might happen… the rain and the cold. But still Saturday looked worse than Sunday, so I was hopeful that mother-nature would get it out of her system the day before the race. That evening, Nick went out with his friend and when he came home a few hours later he had this troubled look on his face. He played me the voicemail that was on his phone from his godfather, Ken, who was given only a few months to live during the fall. More or less, this was the voicemail: “Hey Nick, it’s Ken. Guess what, I’m in the French Quarter. We are making our way to Texas (from Florida) and will be there for the weekend. Sunday would be a great day for us to get together. We’ll be staying in Hubbard (about two hours from Dallas) at my sister’s place. Give me a call when you get a chance.” The timing of this couldn’t have been worse. Obviously we needed to go see him but what were we going to do about the race. I said it was just a race and we could forego it and drive down to Hubbard Sunday morning. Nick, knowing how hard I trained and how important this race was for me, nixed that idea right away. After throwing a few ideas around as to how we would make this work, we decided that we would leave straight from the race, stop at the 24-Hour Fitness in downtown Dallas to shower, and continue on to Hubbard to visit with Ken. It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Saturday morning, Nick and I headed down to Fair Park Saturday morning to go to the expo and pick up our registration packets. On the way there, Nick asked me what my goal was in regards from this race. I told him I just wanted to cross the finish line. That was my original goal when I signed up to do this race. Obviously over the 12 weeks I learned where my pace might actually fall and so I had an ideal pace in my head, but if I didn’t fall within that pace and finish time, I wasn’t going to beat myself up over it.
The expo was pretty cool. We stopped by the Luke’s Locker booth and got some good deals. The women’s stuff was pretty picked over but I got two new pairs of Nike Tempo shorts- my preferred running shorts- on sale, so I can’t complain too much. The expo was very crowded so we didn’t stick around too long. Plus, with the race and a trip to Hubbard the next day, we wanted to get all of our weekend chores and errands done on Saturday.
Saturday night we packed our bags and got our running clothes together, had Nick’s favorite pasta dinner and I called it a night. Nick on the other hand stayed up working on his iPhone games. I work up periodically and came out to remind him of the time and how many hours were left until we had to get up. I don’t think he appreciated it that much! He finally came to bed around 2:00 AM for a few hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 5:00 AM. We had a quick bite to eat, grabbed our stuff and were out the door, walking into a light drizzle of rain and 30 degree temperature.
In the 12 weeks leading up to this day, I thought I would be so nervous, but when we got into the corrals and walked towards the starting line, there wasn’t an ounce of nerves in me. I was just filled with excitement. We crossed the start line and we were off! At this point the drizzle turned into real rain and as we wound our way through Deep Ellum and into downtown, the rain continued to pick up. I felt pretty emotional in the first two miles. I was excited to be apart of this race. 25,000 people came together on this freezing cold, rainy day to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles. For some reason, this really touched me. The miles passed and I was drenched, despite wearing a trash bag the whole time. At about mile 4 I decided there was no point in avoiding puddles. My feet were soaking wet and they weren’t going to get any more dry over the next 9 miles. I was gratefully for having wool socks on instead of cotton socks. My feet stayed warm the entire time, despite being soaking wet. At mile 7 I hit a wall. I was fatigued and needed to walk just a little bit, just to the top of the small incline, which was about a block, if that. At mile 8 I decided it was finally time to start drinking water, a challenge in itself. I grabbed the first dixi cup I saw and took one small sip before dumping the rest of it down my chin. That little sip was going to have to hold me over until mile 9 and the next water stop. After repeating the same experience at miles 9 and 10, I stopped running at the water stop at mile 11 and walked with the water, drinking two full cups. At the end of the water stop, I tossed my two empty cups and started running again.
Right around mile 11 I spotted my boss and his wife and their two kids who had come out to cheer. When I spotted them I was so happy to see familiar faces. I really appreciated all the spectators who came out to watch that day. It was a huge help getting through the miles, but seeing familiar faces really perked me up. Thank you so much Brian, Koko, Austin, and Miles for coming out! I know the weather was awful so thanks to you four and every spectator who was out there for sticking it out and giving the runners the support!
The last few miles are a bit of a daze for me now. I remember thinking somewhere after mile 11 that I was crazy for wanting to continue on and train for a full marathon! Around mile 11.5 or so, the marathon and half marathon joined up again (we split at about mile 8- the full went north to run around the lake and the half went south towards downtown, Fair Park, and the finish line) and I saw the first place marathon runner pass me and head to the finish line. Damn was he fast! At mile 12 my Nike+ GPS paused and stopped playing music, which was über frustrating. I couldn’t get the music to play so I ran the last mile in “silence” I’m so glad that happened on mile 12 and not mile 2. Running 1 mile in silence is torture enough! Fair Park was in distance. I crossed through the gates and saw the finish line just around the corner. At this point, I think I stopped feeling the motion of my legs running. I ripped off the garbage bag that I wore the entire race and made my way to the finish line.
As I crossed the finish line I grabbed a mylar blanket and about burst into tears. The past 12 weeks had been so emotional for me. Deep down I knew I could do it, but fears and doubt filled me along the journey. Running my first half-marathon has definitely been a mind over matter situation for me. And honestly, after so many miles, my body becomes numb and I don’t feel anything physically anymore!
From the picture above, you can see that my clock time was 2:33:21. My official chip time, though, was 2:09:42. I am quite pleased with my time. They ushered us into the finishers pavilion to get our medals and finisher shirts, so I didn’t get to see Nick finish. I got my finisher picture taken, despite shivering and dripping all over the place.
Once Nick and I met up we decided that going to 24-Hour Fitness to shower was a horrible idea and that we’d rather take hot showers in the comfort of our own home, so we headed home before taking off for Hubbard, TX.
(Okay, I’m wrapping up, so bear with me for just a little bit longer.) In sum, it was a very rewarding experience. Even though it was pouring rain and freezing cold the entire time, I wouldn’t have asked for my first half marathon to be any other way! Here are the things I was so grateful for on the race day:
1. Wool socks
2. Garbage bag
3. A hat (which I never, ever wear when I run)
5. My boss and his family for coming out and supporting me
6. My friends and family who were thinking about me from afar
7. Nick for being my cheerleader along the way, telling me I can do it no matter how frustrated I got! I’m so glad we got to do this race “together”. Although we didn’t really physically run together, having you in the race with me and being a part of this goal of mine means so much! I love you!
Thanks everyone for your support!