Yesterday I participated in my first half marathon. My son did it with me and I am so very thankful for him being so supportive. It was one of the toughest things I have ever done, physically. I did NOT train for it...never even considered doing a half until we did our 8k three weeks ago. I saw a Groupon deal for it and thought, "What the heck. Why not?"
Yesterday morning started out great. We woke up at 5:30 a.m. in order to be out of the house by 6:30. We had an hour drive to Peoria from Mesa. I was scared but excited. I was about to do 13.1 miles. I have never participated in anything longer than an 8k and I thought I was going to die doing that a few weeks back. We got to the park about 40 min before start time and I immediately thought "What the hell did I get us into?" There were not many runners but the ones who were there were serious runners. Umm, definitely not me...at least not yet.
I had my son and I set up towards the back of the group. We started at 8:00. The weather was perfect. Felt pretty good about this adventure. I started out doing really well. I ran for over a half mile straight before starting to feel a little winded and tired. I was pacing myself to keep from keeling over later on. (Remember, I just started running 6 weeks ago. I still suck at it but am getting better.) My goal was to try and run 5 min and then walk 5 min through the race. Yeah, not so much.
By mile 2 the participants in the 4 mile "fun run" began to catch up with us. "Really? Whatever show-offs. Of course you can run faster than me, I am going 9 more miles after your are finished" is what I thought, but I was coming to find out how truly hard this was going to be. Oh, this is why people train for months for one of these things!
I was doing great energy wise and was singing loud, dancing around during our walking sessions and generally trying to embarrass the teenager from miles 3-5. We were having a good time. Then the leader came back from the other direction and I thought "Oh shit." I turned around at the next mile sign and saw 12 miles. Um, we aren't even half way and the leaders are almost finished! We did 5 miles in an hour but still had 8 more to go. Maybe I need to get serious here.
The running for 5 walking for 5 thing lasted a very short period of time. By mile 6 I was lucky if I could run for .10 mile without needing to stop. I did my first energy gel (PB flavor) and it helped a little bit. At mile 6 I sent my son ahead. He is in better shape than me and can run longer distances. "Go on...save yourself! I'll make it without you."
After another 1/2 mile a huge group of runners passed me going the other way. They were getting closer to that finish line as I walked further away from it, and I began to see how far behind I was and started to get worried. Am I the last one?? I spent the next 3 miles trying to catch up with the older lady in front of me who was walking her ass off and not slowing down a bit. Why can't I catch her?! During this part I was also getting a lot of support from the returning runners who were telling me how great I was doing and to keep up the awesome work. I started to cry. I couldn't help but think they knew I was the last one and felt sorry for me. The crying caused my sunscreen spray to get into my eyes and that made me mad and cry even more. Around mile 7-8 I became very emotional. Thought I was losing my mind for a bit. Here are these actual runners telling me how great I was doing when I was doubting myself and even saying how stupid I was to attempt to do something like this with no real training. So for about 3 miles I walked. All I did was walk. I was so sore. I was so tired. There was no way that I was going to be able to run again during this event.
The finally I hit mile 9 and about a half mile after that was the turn around spot to head back towards the finish line. Did my 2nd energy gel (chocolate, barf) and saw that I wasn't last...I was second to last. Holy crap. Catch the old lady!!
When I got to mile 10, I got a boost from somewhere. I looked at my HRM and saw I was going to have to push myself to finish in the 3:30 I set my goal at. Okay, run. Well...jog. I jogged off and on for the next 2 miles. Wanted to cry again when I saw mile 12 because I only had 1 more to go. Then I saw the old lady!!! Catch her!!!! I did...I ran until I caught up to and passed her. I looked behind me and the woman in last place was closing in on me. Walked for another 1/2 mile until I hit mile 13. Then I ran. I ran as hard as I could at that point (which wasn't much, believe me) and crossed the finish line at 3:25. I was handed my medal and it was over. Almost everyone was gone at that point. I was feeling very let down. No festivities, no "Hooray, you did it!" from random strangers. My family wasn't even at the finish line. My son came in about 15 min before me and had gone to get my husband from the truck. I would have probably cried had I not been so tired. So I put on my medal, walked to the water table and got a drink with the woman who had been behind me the entire race. Ate a banana, found my family and headed to the truck. It was done. I was in pain. My fingers were as swollen hot dogs and my hands looked like balloons.
Since we were on that side of the valley we went to Cabela's immediately after leaving the park. I knew that I was going to be in trouble in a few hours by how I felt at that point. Made myself comfy on a stack of rifle cases that I prayed wouldn't fall from under me while my husband shopped. I could hardly walk. Drove an hour back home and could hardly move to get out of the truck. I made my way upstairs and took a shower because I smelled pretty ripe (note to self, don't forget deodorant when doing 3 1/2 hrs of physical activity). I felt slightly better after my shower but had a hard time getting dressed because my legs forgot how to work.
Last night I was in so much pain I couldn't believe I paid money to feel so bad. I was very grateful my MIL invited us over to dinner or everyone in my house would have starved. I was waddling and could barely lift my legs to walk, let alone do anything else. I laid around a lot. Took a bath when we got back home, took some anti-inflammatories, put in a movie and went to bed. I slept like a rock. Didn't hear a thing until my husband came in to kiss me goodbye on his way to work.Woke up this morning feeling 70% better.
This was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done. It will not be my last. I will train for another half and will run it. I ran about 3 miles total in this one. Weak, but I finished.
Out of 220 participants I came in 218th. You want to know the definition of humbling? Having people twice your age kick your ass in a running event. But again, I started and finished it under my goal time. And for that, I am truly proud.
Still dark out! What am I smiling about?!
Sun was bright :-)
We were so happy...no clue what we were about to do.
There I am, all the way at the bottom.