Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Year Later.

A year ago at this time I wasn't running. At all. I had run all summer, and then quit mid-August. I missed the beautiful, cool fall days that were perfect for a run. I also set aside my goal of finishing a half-marathon (or at that time, a full marathon), at least for a bit.

But yesterday was the day. I was able to check that one off of the bucket list. 13.1 miles, conquered.

I had my doubts. Going into yesterday's race, I had not run since the previous Sunday, when I had a horrible run. It was so bad that I had to call Chris to pick me up around mile 7, four miles shorter than what I was hoping to do. I spent the week limping. Tight calves and shin splints. I declared it a week of rest, and spent my nights stretching, icing, and taking a painkiller or two. I got a massage on Tuesday, which helped some, but didn't take away all of the pain. It certainly didn't give me confidence that I'd finish the race. That was my only goal - just to finish.

How I spent the night before the race.
When the alarm went off at 5:00 am, I was already awake. I was in and out of sleep all night, and thanks to a playful but incredibly annoying cat, I woke up at 3:00 am, and couldn't fall back asleep. I put on my gear, ate a little breakfast, and packed up my stuff, and walked out the front door at 5:15. I wanted to get in some slow jogging up and down the block, just to get a sense of whether my legs were on board for the road ahead.

Chris was a trooper and drove me to Miller Park at 5:40 am. A time that neither of us regularly see. We parked, I stretched, went to the bathroom three separate times, and then lined up. My bib said "Corral K," which wasn't even a true corral. Just the back. Like "Hey slow people, find somewhere to stand behind Corral J. And don't get in the way of the people in front of you." Sounds good.

And then it started. And I ran. I ran down Canal Street and past the casino, where it was super smelly, btw. And then over to the Iron Horse Hotel, and back for a loop around the Harley Davidson Museum. And then around the rest of the city, past Miller Brewery, and through some neighborhoods, and then back to Miller Park.

It was a pretty scenic run - although I only half paid attention. I was mainly focused on keeping going. One mile at a time, most faster than my average training run. As I would cross a mile marker, I'd recite my mantra. "Alright Mile 9. All in on Mile 9." No idea where that came from, but it helped. Other times I counted backwards from 100. Over and over. Boring, but it kept me from stopping and giving up. And it also helped me to ignore the various pains in my legs and feet, and an icky stomach feeling that came and went throughout the race. I knew that I'd be looking at some huge blisters when my shoes came off.

Beauts, aren't they?
Popping blisters has become my sad post-race ritual.
At mile 11, I walked. I powered through all of the other hills and up the start of the on ramp, but I eventually met a hill that I couldn't take.  So I let myself walk to the top of the hill, and then picked it back up. It helped that there were folks with signs, cheering along the way. "Pain now, beer later." Best one by far. Am I right?!

Mile 13 brought me into the stadium. It was totally surreal to run through and see all of the families and friends that were in the stands cheering. And then to look up and see that we were on the huge screen, woah. I wanted to speed up through the stadium and finish strong, but I also had the urge to slow down and take it in.

As I ran the final portion of the race and through the finish line, it hit me. Not the pain, but the overwhelming feeling that comes with accomplishing a major goal. One for me that was really hard, and not without set backs. And somehow, I managed to sort of rock it. And blew my own expectations for what I could do.

I just wanted to finish, and yet, I did way better than I thought I ever could!
I know for some people, 13.1 is nothing. And I am in total awe of everyone I know who has completed a full marathon. Because as soon as I finished, the first thing that came to mind was "Oh hell no. No way that I could do what I just did, but twice." In fact, as I found my sister and Chris at the end, and started to cry, all I could say was "I can't believe I finished! I don't want to do a full one."


I promise that giant wet spot is from dumping water over myself.
Not all sweat. I think...
Maybe that goal will come back around later in life. Maybe. But for now, I am pretty proud of checking this off of my list. And I think I'll focus on recovering for a little bit. Because right now I'm walking like  an 80 year old. And just want to sleep on my couch.

Give me a week or two.

Didn't get it done before 30, but getting it done within 30 was pretty great too.

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