Sunday, November 16, 2014

My First Half Marathon

I really just have three words to sum up how I felt yesterday: I did it!

Never did I EVER think that I would complete a half marathon! I used to loathe running and sometimes, I still do. (And sidenote, let's just accept the fact that I used the word "loathe" and said it in the Grinch's voice because I'm already in the Christmas spirit, haha.)  But, after completing the Monument Avenue 10K in the Spring, for some reason, I decided that I was going to sign up for the Half Marathon. Um, okay, I know one of my goals for this year was to participate in more races and everything, but I thought I was just going stick to races that were between 5K and 10K. NO idea how a 13.1 mile race made its way into the line-up!

So, I signed up. I signed up to run with a pace group, the slowest half marathon pace group, in fact, because I knew I would want to start out too fast and wouldn't be able to keep my own pace throughout the whole race.  Plus, it was a time that I felt was a good goal to set for myself.

I continued running all year, but I really started my training plan for the half marathon in July.  I really stuck to it with each particular running day and its distance, my cross training days and my strength training days (which I was already doing while training for the Spartan race).  Did I have speed bumps along the way? You betcha. In the early fall, my right knee started hurting...a lot.  I could barely walk without pain, let alone run.  When resting it didn't work, I finally had to suck it up and go to the doctor, so I wouldn't get too far behind on my training.  Well, going to the doctor usually isn't good news for me, and this was no exception.  I had pulled the anterior ligament in my knee, and flared up an old knee injury. LOVELY. Through that whole injury, from the initial resting to after the appointment and more rest, I was out of running for a month! That was kind of a big set back that did not make me happy!!  Then, several weeks ago, I did who knows what and ended up pulling a muscle in my back that wrapped around my right side, too. It hurt to do simple stuff like get in my car with my work bag in the mornings, roll over in the bed, play bells at church. It was ridiculous. Finally, the week leading up to the half marathon, this muscle started to get a little bit better, but it still was hurting some when I woke up that morning, but I had so much adrenaline that it was the last thing on my mind.

After all that had happened, I wasn't sure about the anticipated finishing time I originally hoped for. Since my training had its interruptions and challenges, and this point, I just wanted to finish!

I know it probably sounds like I'm just pouring out excuses, but when I look back years from now, I want to remember how I prepared for my first half marathon, the set backs I had, and how I still completed it!!

So, yesterday morning, I woke up way earlier than the alarms I had set because I was both anxious and excited. I finally got up and got dressed for the below freezing temps that I wasn't really excited about running in, as I had never run in temperatures that low before!  We finally got out there, and Matt was walking with me to find my starting wave. I was looking for my aunt, Kandi, and my cousin, Aimee, because I knew they would be around the same area as me. Coincidentally, I just happened to hear Kandi's voice and they walked right up behind us!! It worked out great because we ended up running the whole thing together!  And, that pace group I signed up to run with? Yeah, I never looked for them, because I had a better group to run with!

Matt, Mom and Dad were standing right at the starting line as we passed, and the start all happened so fast! Before I knew it, we were at mile 2 and that's when I got mad. My left knee started hurting. Seriously?! My left knee has never hurt me while running, and it chose that time to start?? Perfect. I kept changing my stride, and that would help alleviate the pain for a while, but then it would come back. It was a constant battle through the rest of the race! I was so mad.

It was so much fun running through Richmond! I was most excited when we ran past the Science Museum, which was in the first couple miles. Shortly after that, we conquered the hill on the Boulevard right by the Diamond.  Of all the hills we ran/walked, we owned that one! haha. I kept looking forward to Mile 7, because I knew we'd be in Bryan Park at that point, and that was the next Party Spot for the half marathon, and that's where Mom, Dad and Matt would be.  We saw Mom first, so we stopped for some stretching to loosen up.

Check out this sign Mom made!

Shortly after we passed her, we ran into Matt and Dad! It's always nice seeing familiar faces on the side for some encouragement to keep on going!!

Dad got these pictures of us running:

Matt got this pic:

I can't remember at which Mile this happened, but we started hearing police sirens behind us on the left side of the road. I turned around to see police motorcycles, but I didn't know what it was for. Aimee and Kandi told me the Elite Marathon runners were coming up on that side of the road! It was so cool to see them come breezing by, 20+ miles in, like it was NOTHING. We cheered them on as they came on by, and I decided I was completely fine sticking with 13.1 miles! haha.

When we were in the last few miles, I felt like we would NEVER get to the finish line. My knee was still killing me, and then, just when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did. My calves started cramping. BAD. I honestly thought they were just going to pop right through my skin. (I know, what an exaggeration!) I kept stopping to stretch them, running different ways, but I could NOT get them to loosen up. It killed me being so close to the end and having to keep stopping.  When we approached Mile 10, we ran through our favorite spectator set up: Christmas!! They were playing Christmas music, and Santa and a couple elves were there! It was there that some random stranger from the Christmas-scene gave me a pat on the back and said, "Just 5K left! You can do it!!" My initial thought was, "Yeah, easy for you to say. YOU'RE NOT RUNNING!" But, after getting that out of my system, I realized that's why I love these running events: EVERYONE is so supportive and encouraging, and it was more than fitting that it was a Christmas person who gave me a boost of encouragement to keep going! haha.

In the last stretch of the race, Aimee kept reassuring me, "we're literally almost there!" "the rest is all down hill!" and I kicked up the pace, forgot about all of the pain I was in, because when I saw that finish line, I was going to cross it as quickly as I could!!!

Here we are getting ready to cross the finish line!! Video by Mom, pictures by Matt!

Regardless of all of the pain I endured, I was most proud of myself, because never once did I get tired aerobically. I could've definitely kept on going if I wasn't hurting so much. Who knows, there may be another 1/2 marathon in my future....I haven't decided just yet. Let me recover from these injuries, first!

And, to finish out this post, I thought I'd share these half marathon quotes I have been finding on Pinterest either as inspiration or as something I now read and think, "oh yeah, I can totally relate now!"

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