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Monday, March 7, 2011

my 13.1 mile baby

I love a good preface: 
- I started running 8 months ago and couldn't really run three blocks. Read about that here.
- I've always wanted to experience a gory, exciting home-birthish, lots of screaming sort of story for myself. I can't because c-sections are my plot in life. My babyday stories are beautiful in their own way, but not necessarily what I'd always dreamed for myself. 
- When I first started running, reading marathon recap blogs reminded me a lot of birth stories.
- Even though I didn't crazy love running, I knew I wanted one of those recaps. 
- I ran my first race ever this weekend, a half marathon
- I'm worried I've alienated every facebook friend & twitter follower of mine this weekend with my obsessive half marathon statusi, so let's get this out of my system once and for all. I appreciate your patience. 

my first half marathon recap - 
Columbia Half Marathon

Let's actually start at my wedding. 
I'm the sort of person whose body is naturally a little more jittery and anxious than calm. At my wedding, I had a few of my first "happy panic attacks", one even at the altar. When this phenomenon occurs, I giggle, make crazy faces, and usually move my body in jerky, sporadic movements in a good Liz-Lemon-dancing-impersonation. I had about 19 happy panic attacks in the three days leading up to this race. I kept telling Nick, "I want to run the race RIGHT NOW!", at like 10:18pm on Tuesday night. I think a lot of runners feel this way the week before a race since you've massively cut back your running to rest your body up and all you want to do is RUN. 

Also this week, I kind of started thinking. What if I ran that mammajamma fast? (fast for me) I wrote this post and still stand by my statement that I think slow running is better than no running, but I just sort of started to wonder. When I first started running, my long run (anything over 5 miles) pace was S-L-O-W. Somewhere around 13.5 minutes/per mile. On my last long run before the half, it was up to 11:30 minutes/mile. My short runs, though, are a whole different story and a good bit faster. So I just started dreaming about running the whole half somewhere in between my long run pace & short run pace. My goal before this week was to finish before 2 hours and 30 minutes (11:45 min/mile pace) but on Wednesday, I started picturing myself crossing the finish line with a 2:10 over my head. It felt crazy, but doable. 

everything set out the night before. shot blocks, shoes, clothes, chap stick, head phones.
 After my sixth happy panic of the night and a medium sized bowl of this pasta on Friday night, I passed out. 4:45am came quickly the next morning and I started chugging the water. I've not done a great job hydrating myself well for long runs and wanted to make sure I drank about 100 ounces before the race. Ate a bagel that I'd been hiding from the kids all week, a little bit of coffee, and sat down to do some bible reading. Read Psalm 28 and was so encouraged by these words, blessed be the Lord! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy, The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. I'm going to write about the Jesus-side of this half marathon later, but that there is a little tidbit. That's how my heart felt that morning. 

my fave mug:)

Elias woke up at about 6am and was more excited than I was. That kid was so super sweet about my race. Sweet Laura T picked me up at 6:45am, and after a few awkward pictures of me practically hyperventilating, we were off. When Laura dropped me off at the race start, I was so glad I was alone. I had some serious, serious excitement/nerves/emotionalness to deal with and I'm so glad I didn't have to try and function as a normal human around anyone I knew. I put on some soft worship music, found a corner away from other runners, and stretched those old bones out. When it was time to line up at the race start, I knew I needed to calm down quick. Ya'll, I was actually crying a little I was so excited. I can't say it enough, but running was just this thing that I never though I could do, that my body should not be able to do, and here I was running my first half-marathon, more excited than ever. Praise God. And it began. 

stretching & hyperventilating! all at once!

Mile 1: I'll tell you one thing, it went by WAY too quick. I had perfectly planned out my first few songs for the race and that was just dumb. I didn't hear anything but these thoughts running in my head, "oh man oh man oh man oh man i'm running a half marathon oh man oh oh man there are a lot of people passing me oh man oh man oh man i'm going too fast oh man oh man this is so great oh man oh man, i just passed the first mile sign". I knew I was going way too fast this mile because I passed the one mile marker wayyyy before I heard my ten minute update on my runkeeper app. Oh man, no good. Slow down Jess. If I wanted to hit a 10:00/mile pace, I needed to run slower in the beginning and faster at the end and I didn't want to burn out in the beginning. 

Mile 2: I have no recollection of. Nothing. At one point I texted Nick and told him I was running fast and I think he could tell from the timing I needed to slow down and told me to relax & stay steady. Love his guts. Sometimes when he texts me something firm & encouraging, he writes "insert physical touch", which he did during the race. I love him. 

Mile 3: I picked my pacers. There was a man/woman couple about 50 yards in front of me that looked like steady, season runners in marathon t-shirts and I wanted to stay just behind them and hopefully open it up later and pass them. Also, there was a man in a red shirt who was running either 5 feet in front of me or behind me at all times, so I started just sort of settling into a normal pace. I was running around a 9/min mile at that point. Still too fast. Tried to slow down. 

Mile 4: Nick let me know I'd be seeing him at the fifth mile. To slow myself down, I tried to fix my mess of a hair. No lie. It was a mess. I know I was running, but there's no use in running up on your husband looking like a crazy lady. During this mile I ate some shot blocks and I may or may not have danced a little to "run this town" by Jay Z. I can't help it, that song has a hold over me.

Mile 5: Bad news bears. Nick told me when I passed the fifth mile sign, I could look to the left and see him. I misunderstood and thought he and the kids would be standing on the sidewalk, and in reality they were stuck in the car, in the parking lot near the 5 mile sign. I looked furiously for him and then got a text from him saying I looked great. I didn't care how I looked, I just wanted to see him! I called him and used a voice that I haven't heard myself use since I was in middle school. I immediately started crying like a dejected teenager. This was by far the hardest mile. I was going too fast, I had just missed seeing my sweet family, and I was way too emotional. I held out hope that I'd see my sweet sister, Mom, and nieces at mile six and pushed on. 

Mile 6: The second downside to running too fast, aside from potentially burning out early in the race, is that you will inevitably arrive at the places you're meeting your spectators BEFORE you told them to be there. If I was running 10:00/miles, I'd be at the six mile mark at 9am, on the dot and told my mom and sister so. As I passed the park where we'd started (the 6 mile mark), I saw a few sweet friends who were so sweet to cheer and yell (thank you SO MUCH Kim, Brittany, & Katie) and didn't see my mom or Katie or the kids. Just after passing the park, I got a text from Katie at 8:58am saying, "Almost at Finley park!". Double drats. Going too fast still and just missed them. I worked up the courage to call them as I ran and Katie said they'd try to meet me later in the race and if they couldn't they'd see me at the finish. She was so encouraging and sweet, so I felt a bit better. 

Mile 7: First long hill. Not a huge incline, just a massively long one mile increase in elevation. A few people I was pacing myself with stopped and walked or fell behind. I really slowed down and ran this mile at about an 11:00/mile pace. In the long run, it helped me keep running and helped me to just calm down and settle in to the race. It's kept trying to tell myself that it was ok if I didn't see family, but my whole world was changed when Katie told me they were waiting just past the 8 mile mark! I sprinted up the rest of that hill, grabbed some gatorade and tried to straighten my hair again:). 

running up on the fam, elated!

 Mile 8: Thank you Jesus for family. For my sweet nieces and sweet Able, my nephew, who truth be told - has never had much for me, but ran out to the road and gave me a big hug! It was such a blessing to see them and made me feel overjoyed and excited to keep running. 

Mile 9-11: The most normalish running I did the whole race. I realized just after seeing the family that I wasn't listening to my music at all, I wasn't praying, I wasn't talking to the Lord or even just losing myself in running. I had been racing, calculating times, and stressing my brains out, which were things I did not enjoy. Up until mile 12 was all residential so I just shifted into a normal run. I would like to be doing that stretch of miles right now. I didn't care who was around or that we were racing really. At one point, I may have closed my eyes and lifted my hands in worship. Don't tell anyone. Pace settled into 10:30/10:15/mile. I was on pace to run under the finish line right at 2 hours and 10 minutes. 

During this time, Nick texted me and told me the last mile was all downhill, which THRILLED me. I thought maybe, just maybe I'd beat my 2:10 goal, and I really was feeling really tired and fatigued. I ate some more shot blocks. I thought about it for a second and couldn't figure out geographically how it could be downhill because I knew the layout of the city a bit. I trusted him anyways. Good decision for life, bad decision for race day. 

and, then. Mile 12: The 12 mile marker was at the base of a mile long uphill stretch that looked ominous and awful. Nick was right in that the last part was downhill, but it was only the last .2 miles that he could see. I walked through the water station at Mile 12 and for the first time, really wanted to quit. That hill looked awful. I started into that thing and I'm not sure if you'd call what I was doing "running" as much as I'd call it spirited-crawling. The couple I'd decided to pace myself with back at mile 3, stopped and started walking. I'd lost the man in the red shirt during the seventh mile hill and a woman in front of me stopped running altogether and puked. Not encouraging. I also noticed I'd totally stopped sweating, and was covered in a salty residue - a cue that I was pretty dehydrated, despite drinking my weight in water. I got a little nervous. I just kept crawling-running and pictured myself running under that finish line with a 2:10 above me. About 3/4 of the way through mile 12, I checked my phone and saw I'd been running for 2:11. It was a no-go, but I kept running. 

Mile 12.9-13.1: There was in fact a short downhill and as soon as I turned the corner toward the park, I could see my whole sweet family and my running buddy Kim. I felt like I was sprinting at this point, but watching the video I see what bad shape I was in. Just as I passed them, sweet Glor ran out to me and I hesitated for a second, wondering if I should pick her up and run through the finish line or just keep going. I worried if I picked her up, I'd fall out, so I kept running and prayed she wouldn't have a meltdown! I could hear my sweet family all the way through the finish line and I wasn't even sad when I saw 2:15 on the clock in front of me. I didn't meet my crazy new goal of 2:10, but had really exceeded my first goal and in general, my entire lifelong expectation of why my body could do. 

Everyone huddled around and I was so thankful for a family that was so supportive. So thankful for a husband who'd sacrificed so much for long mornings of running and a wife obsessively googling "first half-marathon tips". Thankful for a mom and sister willing to drive two hours on an early Saturday morning to cheer me on, and so thankful for the kiddos who didn't seem to notice that I didn't actually win the race:). After a few minutes of near puking and the world spinning, I was back in my present mind and loved sitting on the grass with the kiddos, as they stole all the food they had out for runners. I'm glad those Oreo's and pizza went to good use somehow, because I couldn't imagine eating right then. I took one bite of a banana and spit it out before I did something more unpleasant. Also, I'd like to note here that everytime I imagined the finish line, I imagined burying my head in Nick's chest and sobbing. Ugly crying across the line. In reality, I think I was too dehydrated and I'd used up all my emotions during mile 5. My sister cried a little, so that counts:)

crazy tired donkey face
this one

Two hours, a veggie burger the size of my face and a shower later, the kids were napping and I was off to the grocery store. I resisted wearing my race metal to the store, cause I was back to being a normal mom. And I'm so thankful for that kind of life. For a God who's blessed me with a life like that. Half marathon in the morning, poopy diapers, grocery shopping, and kiddo cuddling in the afternoon. 

I also, would now, like to give you a medal if you've made it through this post. 
You're my hero. 
Thanks for listening. 

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