3 weeks ago
Monday, April 12, 2010
I did it. I ran a half marathon. And honestly, I am sad. I cannot believe it's over. After 12 weeks of training, months of wondering if I could do it days of anticipation, I have nothing to show for those 2.5 hours but some buffer leg muscles, a bib number and a silly picture with my bad ass running partner, Nicole. Everyone asks how the race went and I appreciate the question, but am usually unsure how to put it into words. First, I was so prepared for this race and I felt it most of the time. In hindsight, that tells me I could have pushed myself harder during some of the race, but the first one is always the cautious one, I suppose.
We anticipated a morning of rain and I woke up at 6 am, dressed in a long sleeve shirt. However, our 7 am start time brought nothing put dry skies and a cool temperature. Nicole's coffee kick supplied her with ample energy and smiles, which I was grateful for, but unable to reciprocate- I was too nervous. Should I drink water at every aide station? What about sports drink? What if the hills were too much? I wonder if I'll get bored. What if I hit that wall at mile 7? And oh my gosh, the hills- they were my never ending fear.
But we were off and I had no more time to think about those things. If nothing else, I know the sheer joy of running IN portland, ON the streets I've bussed down, walked on, driven in and got lost on, would keep me occupied. Nicole and I reached a natural ease pretty early on, but I began to feel my calf muscles burn around miles 3 or 4- when the first real hill appeared. I am thankful I did some hill runs on the treadmill over the past few weeks because "no hill" Lincoln is less than unhelpful in that department. Somewhere in here is when we saw a guy looping around and passing is because yes, he was finishing the race. I cannot even say that I was jealous or disheartened because 1. good for him and 2. that was not my goal, never will be and I had nothing to be upset about. We reached the top of the hill, grabbed some water and down we went. At this point, I felt strong because I knew a hill was behind us. Miles 4-8 are kind of a blur to me. Nicole and I talked so much, sharing stories, answering silly questions, reflecting on life, I am unsure where the time went. For me, this was a moment I thought, I am a runner. I am talking with a friend, trotting along, unaware that I am completing a half marathon. I remember stopping at every aide station- reminding myself to stop and drink the water so I didn't choke. I remember passing some of my favorite bits of Portland at this point- Pioneer Square, The Pearl District, etc. At mile 9, I reminded myself that was the longest good run I'd ever had in training. At this point, I didn't enjoy stopping at aide stations because I could feel my legs getting weaker and my knees feeling...raw...I guess that's the right word- the same feeling you get in your throat after running too hard for too long. Around mile 10- I think- the route took us back to the start area. "Sexy Back" was playing on the speakers and I needed a little mental push at this point because oh man, mile 11 was LONG! I know, it's the same freakin distance as all the others, except not. Along the way, miles were marked on large yellow signs and every sign I saw I thought, "that must be mile 12!" But it never was. (This is also the mile we could smell Elephant Ears from Saturday market- no these are not the real ears of endangered species, calm down.) Mile 11 eventually came to an end, but we were far from done because mile 12 was THE mile. The, "kick me in the ass, why do I think this is a good idea, kill me now" mile. The reality of being done was so close, I felt I could grab it with my bare hands until...the hill. The hill up to the Steel Bridge was by far the hardest part. I even told Nicole, don't let me forget how difficult this was. I was hunched over, could hear my breathing and felt like I was about to keel over and crawl. I didn't think it would ever end. Other racers around us were walking up the hill, looking out of breath. How were we running this?! Ironically, "I Will Survive" comes on and I don't think there could have been a more perfect song. Nicole starts singing and her energy while running is contagious, so I sang too. Two more light posts til the top...one more light post...done. I think we had around a quarter of a mile to go, and somewhere between that recognition and the finish line, the cheers got louder and I turned to Nicole and said, "ready?" and just ran. I am sure I wasn't running that fast- no gold medal in my future, but I felt like I was sprinting. I didn't even feel my legs- they were not a part of me and I was not focused on that. I was unsure how I would emotionally feel at the finish line. In my first race on Thanksgiving, I cried at the end, but all I felt at the end of the half was accomplished. I was grateful for my body, for my friend, for the city and for a beautiful day.
I was completely sore after and my knees felt like they were melting away. But I ate some oranges, the most delicious coffee cake and took photos with Nicole. When I went home to shower, I blasted the cold water to help my crying muscles. My feet were swollen and my toes were sore. The feelings dissipated as the day want on and I woke up today feeling amazing- like I had barely run 3 miles.
Overall, I am happy with how I did and count this as a memory I will work to never forget, but I am really antsy to work on improving my times.
I think it's safe to say there are more half marathons in my future.
Posted by AB at 4:10 PM