Wednesday, September 09, 2009
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time! This past Saturday our elephant came in the form of a half-marathon that Will and I signed up for on a whim back in July. I hadn't really considered running that far before. In fact, I had only ever run 6 miles at one time but Will's sister, June, and her husband, Steve, convinced me that we could do it so I signed up for it quickly before I could change my mind. (It's funny how sometimes we don't believe in ourselves until someone else does.) Anyway, there was no backing out. We paid our money and had no choice but to go for it. As soon as we were home from vacation I found a training plan and we got started.
The training was challenging but never more than we could handle. We did all of our long runs on the Jordan River Trail which made those runs really pretty nice. It's so quiet out there and you can feel secluded but without being too far from civilization. I actually look forward to my long runs because of that trail. Even though I saw at least one snake cross my path every time I ran out there. Creepy but it usually put a little extra pep in my step!
The only snag in training came for me 3 weeks before the race when I wore some new shoes out for a 9 mile run. By the time I made it back, I had strained a ligament in my foot and was out of training for a little over a week. Not smart! Injuries are certainly a part of training, though. And I'm learning to work through them and not get too down when it happens. After all, it always gets better, right?!
Race Time: I was really anxious/excited the day before the race. I spent the whole day doing the two things I do when I'm nervous- cleaning and baking. I really get a lot done when I'm anxious about something.
That night I made pancakes for dinner (a little carbo-loading) but I really had to force myself to eat it. I just didn't feel like eating but knew I had to so that I would have fuel to burn on the run. So, I ate a pancake but wasn't able to eat anything else the rest of the night. Will's sister picked the boys up at about 8:00 pm and took them to her house to stay the night (yay for awesome sister-in-laws!) and Will and I got to bed early to get some much needed rest. Well, I should say we both got to bed early only I wasn't able to fall asleep until past 11:00. Pesky anxiety.
So, finally we made it to race day. The day that I would become a bonafide long-distance runner. I was so excited that I jumped right out of bed when my alarm went off at 5:00 am. I ran downstairs to eat half a waffle with peanut butter and 1/2 a banana. Again, I didn't want to eat but knew I had to. Will and I were out the door by 5:45 and on our way to Spanish Fork.
It was dark and rainy when we arrived but once we got our race packets, put our race chips on our shoes and pinned our numbers on our shirts, the sun was starting to come out and the rain stopped. It looked as if it would be perfect weather for a run. I made a pre-run trip to the loo and met a bunch of friendly ladies while waiting in line. People are super friendly at long-distance races. I even met and talked with a few people while running! It's like some kind of "we're all in this together" attitude and it's infectious. I love that.
Will and I made our way over to the starting line. We were both feeling confident and ready to go. The race started and we were on our way. Knowing we didn't want to go out too fast, we stuck to our race plan and ran at about a 9:25 min/mile pace for the first 6 miles. Our plan was to run a negative split (basically run the 2nd half faster if we felt like we had the juice to.) Around mile 6, we hit the big, mile-long hill. No kidding, we ran uphill that entire mile! The Garmin beeped when we hit mile 7 and I realized that we had run our fastest mile yet! That's when I knew we could pick it up a little. Miles 7-13 we averaged a little under a 9:00 min/mile and finished the race in 2:00:45, a 9:13 min/mile average pace. Wahoo!! It's great when things work out the way you plan them to! Of course, I would have loved to have finished in under 2 hours but I was just happy to have finished. Under 2 hours can be my next goal. :)
As soon as we crossed the finish line, my legs locked up. I felt it right away. I had to run around for a couple minutes just to keep loose as I cooled down. Will seemed fine. He was just happy to be done I think. Let me take a minute here to talk about my husband. I basically forced him into running this with me and I think it was the best training decision I could have made. What a huge support he was for me. He was right by my side the whole time, giving me gels when it was time and gentle encouragement when my IT band was acting up. I loved sharing this with him. I just love him.
Anyway, we congratulated ourselves, had some water and fruit, and walked around until they handed out medals. We finished 108 and 109 out of about 270 runners. No awards for us although we were hoping maybe Will would finish in the top 3 of the Clydesdale division. That's for guys that are 200+. But alas, he didn't. We sat through the billion different raffles hoping to win an iPod or a camera or even a chicken dinner but it wasn't in the cards for us. It's okay, though, because we had already gotten our award- the feeling of knowing that we had finished the race was enough for us. And finishing easily, without a single thought about stopping, was our reward for all the hard training.
All in all, a great experience and way easier than I expected. I'm feeling completely confidant about training for the full marathon. Training starts next week!