Monday, May 19, 2008

Never Say Never, Because I Can

Here's my Half Marathon story.....

We drove up to Cleveland Saturday morning to meet up with Erika and KD. After getting my haircut and getting a quick bite to eat at the mall we headed down to the Expo to check things out. As we passed the starting point for the race I could feel my heart begin to race. In less than 24 hours we were going to be lining up and taking off at that exact point. Yikes. The Expo was SO much better than the Honolulu Marathon Expo. More than likely Hawaii isn't as accessible as Cleveland so I'm guessing that's why there weren't many vendors when we went. The Cleveland Expo had a ton of vendors and they were giving out free stuff. I got a couple shirts along with a Bondi Band (see below) to add to my running gear.

Afterwards we went back to their place for awhile before going out to dinner at Grande's Italian restaurant. We all carbo loaded and made a quick stop by Ben and Jerry's before going home to get ready for the race. I couldn't believe how fast time was moving as we got closer and closer to race time. We were all debating what to wear, as the weather was to be unpredictable/questionable. The temperature was to be in the upper 40's to low 50's. Looking at my running journal I could see what I wore, when I wore it, how warm/cold it was, and how I felt (too hot, too cold, just right). I couldn't deviate from my comfort zone. I had settled in a long sleeved top, a polar fleece running top, and my usual Adidas pants. So much for wearing my new bright green shorts with coordinating top. I got everything set out and after 5 tries got my number pinned just right. Before we knew it, it was 11pm. Time for bed.

Surprisingly I slept well. I hadn't slept well all week and the night before the big day I did. I don't get it. Whatever, I was pleased. The alarm went off at 4:30am and soon enough the house was buzzing with everyone getting ready. While sitting on the couch eating my oatmeal Rocco and Lola (the dogs) raced inside from being outside. I went to pet them and found that they were wet. Oh no. It was raining. I just told myself that it'd be okay, maybe it'd stop by race time. By 5:30am we were on the road heading to downtown was still raining but had let up. We walked to the Galleria which was the "headquarters" for the race. Thankfully we were able inside to keep warm and dry, but not for long. After a bit of a whirlwind of a morning consisting of us losing and unable to find David (long story), waiting in a VERY long line for the bathroom, and then coming to find David where I had left Erika it was time to head out for the race. I felt like a deer in headlights, just taking it all in. People were all doing their own thing. Jumping around, stretching, getting warmed up and pumped up. I just wanted to get this thing started. I threw on my garbage bag for protection over my already wet clothes in hopes of protecting myself from further soaking. Thankfully Erika gave us the heads up on bringing and preparing trash bags for each of us. Looking back they helped a great deal. Never could I have imagined running a half marathon, let along a half marathon in the rain, and in a trash bag.

7am arrived and it was time to get the show on the road. There David and I were, standing in the pouring rain asking each other why the heck we were doing this. All we could do was shake our head. Any other day we probably would have said, "Well, we'll just run tomorrow...." or run a shorter route. But no, this was the Big Day. The bell went off, we could hear the rise of cheers and movement around us. It was starting. We knew mom, dad, and Sita were planning on being there for the start. We weren't sure whether they'd make it, but we kept our eyes out. Before crossing the start line I caught a glimpse of my mom's pink coat, we exchange "woo's!", gave high fives, and off we went. I couldn't help but have the feeling before I get on the Dragster at Cedar Point. Total anticipation. As we crossed over the official start line David and I said our goodbyes and off he went. It'd be another 2 hours and 42 minutes before I'd see him again.

To begin, the pack was so tight. You're weaving in and out trying to set your pace without tripping over someone else. As the race moved along we stretched out and became more comfortable. It seemed to take forever to hit the first mile marker. Actually, it seemed to take forever to hit each mile marker. Thankfully as the race went on it seemed to be a shorter and shorter time in my mind....of course not necessarily in reality. At mile 1 I caught mom's coat out of the corner of my eye. She was hooting and hollering, carrying on. I made sure to let her know I was wearing hot pink under my trash bag so she'd know what to look for.

At mile 2.5 I found myself going around the Browns Stadium and heading up the "dreaded hill." It's the hill that has been a beast to me for every Cleveland run. I got a quick glance and holler from KD and continued on my way. Running up the hill I looked over to see runners way ahead of me running up and entrance ramp to Route 2. They were going up and up and up. Oh boy. I knew that mile 3-4 was going to be the toughest elevation. Actually, any elevation was going to be tough considering I had almost no training since Sandusky is flat. I knew it going in and was prepared mentally for it. Of course that didn't mean it didn't give me a challenge.

I couldn't believe I felt the urge to urinate so soon in the race, especially after waiting forever to go to the restroom. I kept seeing people dodge off the course, obviously seeking a place to relieve themselves. At least I wasn't the only one dealing with the urge. Unfortunately I'm a female and a modest one at that so I couldn't just go off into the trees and relieve myself. And of course every porta potty stop had huge lines. At mile 5 I saw people still heading off the course but could see they were heading to a building. I was in luck. It was a public restroom. Even better, there was no wait. I was in and out. I also ditched the trash bag, as it had stopped raining and refilled my water bottle. I couldn't believe that I had already drank 1/2 bottle. Of course when I left the bathroom it had started raining again....after I had thrown away the trash bag. Ah well, continue on.

I absolutely loved miles 5-8. The neighborhoods were so pleasant with gentle rolling inclines and dips along with gorgeous homes. We had many cheering sections too. I couldn't believe the amount of people that came out in the weather to cheer us on. Once I reached mile 8 I found myself with a couple policemen of the torch relay. That was pretty cool to see them as they handed off every 1/4-1/2 mile. Of course they lost me after several handoffs since they kept handing off to fresh individuals.

By mile 9 my legs were tired. I also felt the urge to relieve myself again. I had never had to relieve myself twice on a long run but didn't deny myself the need. I stopped at a porta potty and once again headed off. From mile 10-11 I found myself walking/running/walking. Anytime I walked I'd keep a good pace along with a smile on my face. Instead of beating myself up for walking I just enjoyed my surroundings and took in the experience. Going over the Superior Bridge was awesome. Seeing it from a different angle/view I was in awe.

I had finally reached mile 11. I could taste the finish. At mile 11.5 I saw mom and dad once again. They asked quickly if I was okay. I flashed a smile and said, "Yeah!", gave them high fives and said I'll see you in a few. Mile 12 came. Let's head home! I exchange a quick conversation with another runner, finding out that she had only been running for a year and it was also her 1st Half. We encouraged each other and then I turned the corner and set my sights on the finish. I could hear the cheers. I kept pushing and finally kicked it out with about 1/4 mile left in the race. I could feel my pace and the volume of cheers increase as I got closer. For the last time I caught a glimpse of mom's jacket, could hear them along with Sita yelling, I raised by arms and crossed the finish line. Whew. I did it. I received my medal, placed it around my neck with pride, and grabbed a few pieces of food before leaving the finish area. I quickly found everyone and we headed into the Galleria to stay warm and recover. I was fine for about 10 minutes and then I started feeling ill. I can only determine that it was my sugar getting too low. I've had the problem before so I know that I must force myself to eat but it still doesn't make it easy when all your body wants you to do is vomit. After a time of recovery and some massage from Sita it was time to head home. We recovered the rest of the afternoon, trying to believe that we competed and finished a half marathon.

I'm sure David won't post so I'll give you a quick race report for him. He did awesome. He finished at 2:04. Just amazing. He truly is the hare while I'm the tortoise. That's okay though. I have to admit though, a little frustrating considering I "prepared" more than he did. He was unable to train most of the winter due to the cold/limb numbness, while I still trudged through snow. But that's okay. He served his time in Hell while in the Marine Corps. Running didn't initally come easy to him. It was just pounded into him for so long that his body finally accepted it. I am very proud of him and thankful that we could share in this experience together yet separate.

Erika did awesome as well. It's so unfortunate that she didn't meet her goal, but that's okay, things happen for a reason. KD and her are so great. They put up with us newbies the entire weekend and we totally appreciated it. Sorry guys for being a pain. I can't wait to run another one in the future. Of course that's if you'll allow us. Hopefully the morning will go smoother.

Looking back on the experience I've realized a few things.....
I had hoped to run the whole thing and not walk. But that's okay. I understood my situation and reminded myself that my goal was to finish a half marathon. That which I did.

Looking at pictures I really need to work on my posture. Yikes.

I still don't want to do a marathon but I can see this as the start to many future half marathons. I can't wait to get back out there and start training for the next race.

As expected, there was really nothing to worry about and be anxious about. Of course the mind and body work on 2 totally different wavelengths so I'll have the same problem for future races. Hopefully this will just put it in a better perspective.

I totally enjoyed my atmosphere and experience. Even the anxiety, excitement, the pain, and the nausea. The day turned out absolutely beautiful by the end of the race. The sun was out, I was watching what was going on around me, taking it all in. In talking to David he doesn't really remember people, buildings, or all that was happening around him. He was hooked on adrenaline and was cruising along. I on the other hand am slower and figured I might as well take advantage of it. I'm not really the type to go all out with pushing myself with pace. Actually the only time I looked at my Garmin was to check out my distance. Not once did I look at my pace. I didn't care. Looking at my stats I kept a decent pace in the beginning. Too bad I didn't keep it. But that's okay. I'm happy with my result. I don't see myself wanting to train hardcore to reduce my race time by a lot, but I do see myself wanting to better myself even if it's with baby steps. In addition, my parents now know where I stand in regards to pace. No one realized how slow I was I guess. They kept wondering where the heck I was and were worried that something happened. I guess that explains why they asked, "Are you okay?" at mile 11.5. Mom says that if I continue doing these races I have to get a GPS on my body so that they can follow me. She couldn't believe how draining it was just to keep an eye out for me. Sorry mom. And sorry it took so long to get to you. As my new shirt says, "Remember, the tortoise won the race."

More Pictures From The Race


Jan said...

We remain incredibly proud of both of you. Congrats on your accomplishments.

erika said...

Way to go woman! You accomplished something great on Sunday, and your desire to keep running makes me smile...once the running bug bites, you are infected.

I am so proud of you.

You know what us crazy runners like to say...
"Please Jesus, holla back."

I think you got a response on Sunday...congratulations!

kyleroth said...

Great job, guys. It was nice to have you up for the weekend.

Sita said...

And Jesus replied, "Holla!"
Here's an observation from sita of some of the accomplishments and blessings you've achieved:
-You gained control over many aspects of your life. [planned a plan]
-You found a holistic/therapeutic outlet for some angst; running w/Rx.
-You're making it happen with your wonderful mate! [working your plan]
-You've found an awesome preceptor and friend for lifetime! Erika & family!

As always: Full of love, full of pride,