Disclaimer: this post started out simply to talk about this weekends half marathon and turned into a 2 year belated race recap of my first half marathon as well. Funny how things have changed.
October 16th, 2011 I started and somehow finished my first half marathon. I had trained to do a timed walk/run over the course of a few months with Kyle's sister, Carrie. She talked me into the whole thing so you bet I was counting on her to get me through. I had gotten a new pair of running shoes and she convinced me the way to go was to sign up through a training group. A local running store - Front Runner - had a Sunday morning group and she said she was told it was good for beginners and they even had a walk/run pace group. Awesome. I told her I'd go and she said she'd drive.
She picked me up that Saturday morning and I had no idea what to expect. We were going to check it out before we paid to sign up and I was okay with testing the water that way. What was a running group going to be like? Crazy people who run 5 minute miles and do marathons probably every other weekend with 10K's during the week. That's what I thought anyway. I was glad to see a mixture of people coming to the group and they were kind of explaining how things would work and pace groups. We thought we'd try the 13 minute mile group - sounded easy enough to me.
Woah - wait. I forgot to ask how many mile(s) we were supposed to go. I hadn't been too active in awhile. I could walk for a good amount of time but I was committing to a pace group and I didn't know how this would go. OH, and the answer to my question was that the half marathoners were going 4 MILES. ON THE FIRST DAY. Oh my gosh. I was going to die.
"Suck it up, buttercup" is what I told myself as we set off. We made it about 0.1 miles before I was huffing and puffing and it was obvious we needed to fall back to the walk/run group if I had a chance of surviving this. Soon after we did it was obvious that we had fallen behind the group. Kicking and pouting and huffing and puffing, I finished those 4 miles and I didn't want to go back ever again.
Carrie convinced me she'd help me along the way and that I could do this. I got a gym membership and worked out with her a few times a week either there or at a trail/park area near her house. I hated every second and celebrated every workout with Chipotle or Dairy Queen or Taco Bell. I deserved that much for working so hard, right?
Weeks came and went. We kept showing up and she kept being my #1 cheerleader and pushing me through the miles. When I found out about a month from the half that she was going to be gone on a 3 week belated honeymoon I was not happy for me but super pumped for her trip, it sounded amazing! Panic immediately set in and I didn't know how I was going to cross that finish line alone. I was freaking out but luckily a friend from nursing school, Tiffany, said she had signed up as a run/walker too and we'd be race buddies. I was so relieved! I hadn't been training with her and I hoped I wasn't going to hold her back because there were so many times I wanted to quit and I walked even when Carrie said to run. I struggled through every mile of those training weekends. Tiffany and I did a walk or two together before race day and I thought everything would go smoothly with us as a team out there because we were going the same pace and at that point just wanted to finish.
Race day came and Tiffany and I met up and set out for the start line. We took photos with the running group and got our 13.1 stickers out for a picture too. Two days prior I had finished my last day of my first nursing job and I was going to be moving to Cincinnati the next week on my birthday. That same last day of work was the day I got my genetic test results telling me I did not have Huntington's Disease. It was a huge week for a heck of a lot of reasons and I felt good going into the race. I had a shirt made that said "Doin' it for Dad" on the front and "Ask me about HD" on the back since I was fundraising for the Huntington's Disease Society of America for this event too. You can't back out if people have given you money to do it! We set off at the start of the race and the adrenaline was flowing. Our run portions were pretty fast, faster than I was used to and I was tiring out well before our walk periods. I didn't train drinking too much water and definitely not with Gatorade so when I drank at every water stop along the way it was no wonder I felt miserably sick just after the 6 mile marker and told Tiffany I needed to walk the rest of the way. I was dizzy and thought I was going to pass out. I kept moving my feet and knew we were about half way done and I just wanted to finish what we had started. I told her to keep going without me but she didn't and to this day I'm so thankful for that because I might honestly have quit going right then and there. I never said it - but thank you for staying with me, Tiffany. I thought I was the stronger one going into the race and I was wrong and was more than glad you were there with me the whole time.
We finally finished in around 3 hours and 30 minutes. I saw Kyle at the 13 mile marker and just about broke down in tears. I get very emotional crossing the finish line and the closer I got the more people I had yelling my name from seeing my race bib and my shirt and telling me how proud of me my dad would be. When they put the medal around my neck the tears were flowing and for a moment I was the most proud of myself I had ever been. Then, realizing I had stopped moving, my body went into freak out mode and all I wanted to do was sit or lay or something to get off my feet. I found Kyle and we had to walk up 2 sets of stairs and across the road on a skywalk to the car and I about had a melt down because I did not feel like I could move one more step. I finally got to the car and we went to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse (a tradition that continued after my second half) and went home for a well deserved shower and a nap. I distinctly remember telling him the moment we got in the car after the race - "I am NEVER doing that again." Two weeks later I registered for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon that next May.
Moving on to almost 2 years later and 20 weeks into marathon training I was up for a 13 miler. I'm apart of several running and fitness groups on Facebook and through Scrambled Legs Running I signed up for a "virtual" half marathon. Virtual races are held for several different distances and you pay your entry fee and usually get a bib, race shirt and medal in the mail from the host of the event. Most all of the proceeds go to a charity and in this case it was the Wounded Warrior Project. I submitted my fundraiser for this marathon as an option for the donation and came in a close second to the WWP and it too is such a great cause. Even though sign ups for the race were still open for a few more days I figured I'd just use this training run as the perfect time to go ahead and do the extra 0.1 mile and call it a half.
I'm back on night shift now and thankfully was off Friday to get back on a pseudo day time schedule for Saturday because that's when I'd planned on doing my run. I worked Saturday night shift and knew today wouldn't be a great option. I've figured out over the last several weeks that I simply cannot eat before I run or else it's bathroom city within the first few miles and I just don't feel good at all while I'm out there. I forgot to do laundry when I woke up from my short sleep early Friday afternoon and we had gone to go see Planes and have a date night at Bravo for my cheat meal. We got home around 9 and I wanted to get back to bed so I could get up early and get my run in and have time for another good nap before working last night (my life is a series of naps when I work nights!). So, laundry situation averted by an old sports bra and a pair of Under Armor tights that I'd had but never actually fit into to wear before but I tried them on and - TA DA! - they fit perfectly. I had an outfit ready for the morning so I decided to get to bed. I'm realizing now I should fill up my Fuel Belt little water bottles and have whatever energy snacks I'm taking with me, keys, phone armband, headphones and sunglasses all laid out too but that never occured to me until it was taking me 40 minutes to get out the door. I forgot my gum and sunglasses but finally got started around 6:20AM after a short video to let you all know I was out there kicking butt :) Next week - be more prepared both with laundry and with race "gear".
The sun had just started to come up, it was 68 degrees with 98% humidity and I thought I was going to dehydrate from sweating so much by the time I was 5 steps out of my apartment building. I hit Start on my RunKeeper app (making sure to turn off the screen on my phone because I learned the hard way the previous week when my battery died RIGHT when I got home), start on my heart rate monitor and felt that my Slam had kicked in and I was on the move.
I went my typical route for my long runs - out the back of the apartment complex, through the housing development to the main road, down to the end of the main road thats by the front of my apartment, and back the other way down the hill, UP the hill and through another neighborhood. That neighborhood takes me to a roundabout that I go straight through and I dead end into the town of Mason where I make a left hand turn. I follow the main street until I hit route 42, 42 to Tylersville Rd and down it until it's time to turn around at the halfway point. It's a lot easier for me to say to myself "just go 6.5 miles" then "okay.. just make it back home!" It keeps it from seeming so crazy far if I can break it up. My RunKeeper app updates me every 5 minutes as to how many minutes I've been going, my distance and average pace. It comes in over my music and it keeps me where I want to be. I was running through the second neighborhood mentioned and a guy passed me, then down Tylersville he passed me again and I lost him for a bit. When I had turned around after about 10 minutes here he comes again passing me. Where had he gone and where the heck was he going?! This guy was fast! He waved every time and it was kind of funny by that last time. It's also a big deal to me to wave and say "good morning!" to everyone I come across because I couldn't do that while training for that first half marathon 2 years ago. I hated everyone running around me all fast and peppy while I'm struggling to get a single breath let alone be able to say anything at all to anyone.
The first several miles I was cruising. I didn't want to start too fast and get tired but my legs wanted to go a certain speed and I decided to let them. My goal pace for race day as I've said before is 12:30-13:00 minutes/mile. I ran 4 of my miles in the 11:00 min/mile range and my average pace going into mile 8 was right at 12:00 minutes/mile. I was so pumped! I felt great! I knew I was beating my 3 hour goal by a landslide so I started eating my sport beans then to save a bit of energy and gather a bit more to finish strong. I had had a vanilla honey stinger gel around mile 5 (an hour in) and kept my pace after that so I was pleased. Not my favorite form of energy but it worked. The sport beans were good but they took me awhile to get down and required a lot of water because they were super sweet tasting. I ran after I got those down until I got to the big hill about a mile from home. This thing is pretty big and I hate it. I love running down it at the beginning of my run to get good momentum for the smaller hill after that I always make myself run up. That smaller hill is the same hill that I fell down in week 2 and hurt myself. I'm always very hyper aware on that hill going up and down and I even pause my music and just 100% focus on my steps and where my feet are because I'm still pretty terrified of that spot. After I got up the big hill and got my heart rate back down I finished with a slower jog until I hit that glorious 13.1 mark on my phone. I had done it. I felt amazing the whole time and I felt even more ready for next weeks Little Miami Half Marathon about 20 minutes east of where we live just past Kings Island. It's on the bike path that's supposed to be "fast and flat" so I hope for an even better time than the 2:43 time I got this weekend. I am determined to beat that time! Carrie is finally joining me in my half this time around and she's even just recently told me she's doing the full in Columbus too! It'll be her 5th full marathon and I think that's pretty awesome.
Overall, this weekend's half was 200% better than my first. I didn't feel like I was going to die. I didn't say "I never want to do this again" at the end. Heck, I even worked a 12 hour shift after I did it! I'll admit that it wasn't my best or most productive shift but everything worked out. I've got 2 other virtual races in mind and one even benefits for Huntington's!
I've already ran 40 miles this month and we're only 1/3 of the way through - this is crazy! I got a new meal plan and new workouts from my awesome trainer and I am ONE POUND away from Onederland. This will be my week. I will crush this half and I will make it to Onederland.
I also got my own Facebook page called Training Lindsay and I've got over 100 fans already! When I hit 200 I'm doing an Advocare Spark and Slam giveaway - so stay tuned.
As always, I cannot thank you all enough for your never ending love and support of me and this process/journey that I have been working so hard towards. Here's to another week and another race report next weekend! Have an amazing week!