This morning I ran a half marathon. Now I am stretching my sore muscles. I didn't win any awards. I wasn't super fast. But I did it. Here is the really exciting thing - 4 years ago I couldn't walk a block without passing out. So I am excited about this milestone. Technically this is the 2nd Half marathon I have done. A year and a half ago I ran the Hostess Half Marathon without training for it and I made the mistake of ignoring knee pain and pushing through to create an injury that has been a LOOOONG recovery for me. SO my biggest goal this time around was to finish without knee pain and to walk when my body told me to walk.
Last night My husband Bill and I drove out to Bryce Canyon 4 hours later than I had planned. My original goal was to get to our campsite early, set up the camp in the light, eat some dinner, hang out with my friends: Liz, Aimee, Kim, Michelle and Natalie and whoever else happened to be there. I wanted to relax and calm my fears about feeling unready. As it turned out with Bill's work delays we weren't going to be there til after 9:30pm. ugh... I was sick to my stomach. This would mean RUSH to get the race packets, RUSH to eat, set up in the dark and maybe get to bed at a time that would allow some sleep in a tent. I was cranky, nervous, tired from my long day already, and now I wasn't even sure I wanted to go. When Bill finally was able to pick me up and we headed down the road I started crying "what am I thinking? Why didn't I just sign up for the 5K? I am not ready for this! We aren't going to be there in time for me to relax and I HATE setting up camp in the dark! Let's turn around and go back. I am so stressed out I am sick to my stomach. I really do NOT want to do this." I cried a little more. Bill sat quietly and kept driving. He didn't turn the van around. He must have thought I was joking or maybe he knew what I really wanted. I was stuck in a van and we were on our way to a race I no longer THOUGHT I wanted to do - Bill knew better.
We arrived at our campgrounds near Bryce Canyon at 9:30pm. Friends Aimee Langston and Liz Dansie had made sure my race packet was picked up and Aimee got it to me. Luckily the new tent we just picked up from the Catholic Thrift Store earlier that morning was super easy to put up. Bill pumped up the air mattress and I tried to relax before we drifted off to sleep. I love camping. I hate having to wake up early when I am camping. I hate waking up early when the person sharing my bed has woken me up several times during the night as they had to step out (again and again). Apparently all the stuff he drank to stay awake during the long drive finally caught up to him. 4:45am came around WAY too early. I could already hear other camper/runners outside getting ready for the race. I quickly gulped down a 1/4 serving of Shakeology knowing a full serving would be puked up and the little serving of goodness would help me over the next 3 or so hours.
I put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, packed up my Ultra Aspire pack with a water bottle, gum, cliff bar, ipod, and phone/camera. I slipped on my Vibram five fingers and now I felt like a runner - sorta. Bill drove me toward the start line. I debated back and forth about bringing my jacket or not. It wasn't too cold. So I put my jacket back in the van. Then I was ready. Nope. I'm cold again. I ran back to the van, found Bill, grabbed my jacket and jogged back to the starting line. NOW I was ready. Oh crap. I forgot my racebib and my shoe chip. I ran back to the van, grabbed my stuff, jogged back to the start and put the chip and bib (race number) on. Ok... now I am ready. I think. I know I forgot something. AWW Dude... I forgot to do something funky with my hair! Crap. I planned on looking awesome and wearing my hair straight up. Maybe it would give me super powers. I don't know. I just like doing stuff like that. Oh well. too late.
I met up with friends Michelle Smith and Brayden Nielson.
Michelle tells me my ipod is a white girl running mix. Hullo...? seen my color? If it were a black girl's running mix some Black girl somewhere would be ticked off that I stole their MP3 player. Michelle cracks me up. I am looking forward to her being on my Red Rock Relay team in September.
I try to find other friends I know are there but the crowd is pretty big and the race gun goes off.
I have decided once again to run without anything telling me pace or mileage and just to listen to my body.
I feel really good at the start. There is a nice flat or slightly uphill stretch before the downhill portion hits. I get to the top of the first hill and look down- wow... This is why I wanted this race to do. I LOVE running downhill! I let my legs just do what they want to do. I feel like a cartoon character - legs going round and round in circles super fast. I was speeding past everybody and I felt awesome! I didn't fight the hill, I just let it take me along for the ride. I saw my friend Summer Johnson. I had no idea she was running. I passed her and felt really cool. This went on for several miles. I was keeping nice fast pace and staying ahead of the 2:10 pacer. I started to slow down about mile 7. Then Mile 8 hit and my knee started hurting me. Crap. I promised I would walk if this happened. So I walk. All those people I had passed going down that hill were now passing me. I hate that feeling.
Ah well. I surrender. I walk til my knee feels good again and then I run. I am playing leap frog with several runners. I see a guy ahead of me that is seriously injured trying to keep going. He's done something to his foot and believes a tendon was torn. He can't even walk and lays down by the side of the road. His friends help him get settled with a ride back. Ugh... I do NOT want to be in that guy's shoes. I see another woman limping on a bad knee. She is determined to keep running no matter what and she is crying as she passes me while I walk. I am not going to be that person. My knee is more precious than my ego.
This is actually good. It's July in Southern Utah. Rain is good. But Rain in December like the first half marathon I did - not ok.
Mile 10... I am still running and walking, running and walking, I take a few stretching breaks. The scenery is amazing! I stop for a few photos here and there. I love the course. I'm having a blast. Just 3 miles left.
The Rain feels good. I take pictures of roadkill for Bill. He is a sick guy that has sent me photos of rotting animals before. I am just trying to return the favor.
I see the 2:30 pacer sign holder person... whatever - come up to me. I was like... "oh heck no!" There is only 1.2 miles left and I am not going to finish behind this pacer. At this point My knee feels great so I opened up and started running again.
Although soaked, I don't notice how wet I am yet. I try to text Bill and let him know I am nearing the finish. But my fingers are numb, my phone is nearly dead and everything is wet. My text to Bill ends up as "thrrte" it was supposed to be "I'm nearly done... less than 5 minutes away." It's tough to type while running and guarding the phone from the rain.
I see the finish line sign. I see Natalie Madsen, Liz Dansie, Chris Steglich and then I see Bill Cheering me on. I start leaping across the finish line. I feel amazing. Goal accomplished! No knee pain as I cross the finish.
My ending time is about 2:25 5 minutes later I see the 2:30 pacer.
I see Kim Mower and Mark Thornton and others.
Bill tells me Summer Johnson crossed way ahead of me. I never saw her pass me.
I make a new friends with someone I recognize as someone I have friends in common with on facebook - Michelle Peterson. We feel like we've been friends for a while even though this is our first time meeting each other - such is the magic of facebook and the running circle of friends we share. She talks me into signing up for a sprint triathlon in September. I feel nauseous.
I get really cold at this point. The rain is POURING and nothing on me is dry anywhere. Bill and I eat breakfast from the Lion's Club and I load up on everything plus a fruit and yogurt crepe. I am STARVING! I eat all of it (except the pancakes... I miss my multigrain mix).
My legs are starting to cramp now. Ouch. We stand up to go to the van. Ouch. My calves hurt. I find out I am very sore. We get to the van and I change into dry clothes and we head back to our campsite near the start of the course.
I spend some time stretching my legs in the hot tub at the the campground.
Aimee and Josh Langston are cleaning up their campsite. They brought their whole family. Now I wish Bill and I had too. It's a pretty spot and the kids would have enjoyed the pool and the scenery and all of it. Next year I am bringing the kids.
I see Aimee sweeping out her tent and say "hi". Then I tell Bill we are going to race the Langstons in clean up and get packed up before they are done.
So we quickly clean up and pack everything in the van super fast and... WE WIN! HAHA! I WON! I finally beat Aimee at a race! (That she didn't know she was in) LOL!
So we drive back home. I feel Good. I had a great time and I am excited to do it again next year.
My friends back home cheer me on through texts and phone calls. I am surprised that those little things mean so much as I finish. Thanks Cherie and Tyann!
Some things I have learned:
1 - As competitive as I am in my heart the only real competition that matters is just between me and my former self. The fact that I am doing more than I did 2 years ago and am stronger- is the competition that matters. Maybe in a few years I can shoot for a 1:40 time - who knows?
2 - I love ending the race with a smile on my face. I learned that from my friend Cory Reese. Stop. Take a photo. Talk to people. That makes the journey memorable.
3 - No injury is worth the risk. I had to wait nearly 6 months before I could run the last time I pushed through intense pain. It's not worth it. There is no shame in being passed up by other runners while you take a break to recover for a bit.
My final piece of wisdom: Start something amazing today. Go walk a block or a mile or sign up for a 5K or a marathon. find a goal you can shoot for and take it step by step. I am hooked. This all started by deciding to get off the couch dry my tears, put the Oreos down and walk 30 seconds then jog 30 seconds for a mile. That is where it started 4 years ago. AND THAT WAS TOUGH 4 YEARS AGO!
I am looking forward to seeing you cross your next finish line!