My First Half-Marathon: A Recap & a Journey

Hopefully you can see that! If you click on it, it will enlarge (I hope!) Those are my half-marathon stats.

Here’s the breakdown:
Mile 1 was pretty much downhill so I was coasting down at about a 9min/mile pace and whizzed by the 2:15 pace girl and decided to slow the eff down. Stephen cruised on by me, caught my drift and slowed down too.

Mile 2 felt a bit more flat, but based on my shin splints, I think there was a slight grade to it. Right after mile 2, I told Stephen my shins were on fire. He told me to slow down, so I did, but the pain didn’t stop. I changed my stride, felt pains elsewhere from running like a fool, but kept thinking about how good it would feel to finish in a respectable time. I kept reciting to myself: “You can be sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow” and decided to settle for being sore instead of sorry. I figured I have no other “real” races coming up anytime soon, so I pushed through and accepted the injury that was bound to set in.

Miles 3-4, the pain really set in. I started to question whether or not I was going to be able to push through it. I wasn’t even halfway done yet and the pain was intense and not subsiding. I concentrated on breathing out the pain with each exhale. It worked only in my mind. I pushed on. I kept reminding myself of my goals that I had set: I could stop to walk, but then I automatically didn’t meet one of my goals. The faster I run, the faster this is over and done with. So I pushed on through. Oh, and my iPod came disconnected from my shorts somehow, so I almost tripped about 5 runners as I stopped to pick it up. I know, cardinal rule of runner’s etiquette, but EFF THAT. I would have never seen that baby again, and WORSE- I would have to run 10 more miles WITHOUT MUSIC. Hell no. No one fell, a lot of people cursed at me, and I saved my iPod!

Mile 5: the pain stopped. I just stopped noticing it and it just was gone. I smiled and I knew, this race was mine and I was going to finish. Less than 10 miles left!? I got this. My pace increased by a little more than 20seconds from the past two miles- this was my second wind and due to the fact that my shins stopped being little bitches.
Mile 6- still feeling good. Saw Stephen’s family cheering us and saw my boss!! I was singing out loud at this point and a nice lady looked at me and said: ” Are you doing the half!? I JUST GOT AN UPDATE IN MY EAR THAT WE’RE HALF WAY DONE!!!” I thought to myself: I could TOTALLY do that again. I’m going to finish!!!! As the miles went passed, it became more and more real that I was going to finish. GOAL NUMBER ONE WAS GOING TO BE ATTAINED!!! Cloud 9, my friends.

Mile 7: Slowed down here a bit for some GU chomps. Also, this is where my parents said they would be waiting to see me. After I didn’t see them, the worst thoughts ran through my head: did they get into an accident on the high way? Did their car break down? WHERE ARE THEY!? I literally had to shake my head and tell myself to cut it out. My negative thoughts definitely showed in my pace here. I couldn’t even call them even if I wanted to. I was so worried. It then occurred to me that the sooner I got to the finish line, the sooner I could figure out if they were okay. On I ran.

Mile 8: We entered Meadowbrook Park. I was overwhelmed with happiness as I told myself: This is YOUR trail. YOU RUN THIS PARK. YOU KNOW THIS PARK. DO IT. And so I did. Stephen wasn’t looking too hot though..

Miles 9 & 10 (sort of blurred together) Stephen started to slow down as did the course. Meadowbrook was narrow and people were literally getting in my way. I was torn between slowing down for Stephen or speeding up and shoving these people out of my way (I told you, running brings out the worst in me- in the best possible way). I realized Stephen was long gone. I could no longer see him when I turned around. I tried running backwards at one point to try and see him, but I couldn’t. I worried about him for a second- was he just going to drop out? Was he just going to walk the rest of the way? Does he feel okay? Should I stop? He would stop for me- DAMMIT SHOULD I WAIT!? I then realized this was my race. I wanted this race. I literally was responsible for a handful of people registering for this damn race- Stephen included- as well a few other people. How could I, the mastermind behind registering for this thing, give up? Hell no. No fucking way. My legs were hurting. My IT bands felt like they were going to snap and take my knee-caps with them. My VMO’s were sore (Vastus Medialis Oblique- the muscle that sticks out on your inner thigh, right above your knee-cap) they’ve NEVER been sore on a run. My entire quadriceps were burning. “You can give up your time to stop for a pain that’s not going to go away anyway, or you can suck it up, finish in a respectable time- but either way, you’re going to be in pain.” Deal. GAME ON. Then, a tap on my shoulder. YESSENIA! I needed to see her. I didn’t realize how mentally tired I was until I saw her and I let out a sigh of relief. Quick updates about everyone and we ran on. I felt like I was working hard to keep up with her, but I just set my sights on her pace and settled into the music and let it carry me. I realize there’s a 5K left, and again, it hits me: I’M GOING TO FINISH. I’VE GOT THIS.

Mile 11: 2 miles left. I look at my watch: If I keep this pace, if I keep going, if I don’t stop, I can finish this thing in well under 2:30. Holy shit. Holy shit. Not only am I going to finish but I’m going to beat my goal time! Holy shit.

Mile 12: Somewhere in this mile, I saw myself pass Yessenia, but I convinced myself she passed me. There’s no way I was running faster than her. I felt beat up, tired, so sore- and her pace was faster, her pace is always faster. I look at my watch: I can finish this thing in under 2:20. Holy shit. Holy shit. My mind was too tired to add, but my pace was good, really good. 9:51, my best pace all race long.
My watch beeps..

Mile 13! .10 miles left to go and I am pushing as hard as I can and I realize I’m doing good, so good that I’m passing people left and right. My pace was 8:17. I could hold this for .10 of a mile. One more turn into the stadium and up a ramp- I’m good at inclines, I push it. Pass more people. The stadium opens up before me and I feel the cushion of the astroturf under my feet. The bottoms of my shoes want to stick to the synthetic surface, but I pick them up faster and faster. I’m smiling and running and looking at my watch. I’m going to finish this thing in less than 2:15!

Mile 13.1: I cross the finish line in 2:14:30

I’m alone but surrounded by so many people.
I get my medal and what feels like forever later (it was probably 2 seconds- but I was in a time warp of reality-denial), Yessenia finds me and we hug and I hold back my tears.
What the actual hell just happened? 
13.1 miles behind me and I gave it my all.
Every single goal of mine was met and exceeded. I gave that race my all- not one single bit of me was left inside when I finished. Not one time did I throw in the towel. Not one time did I succumb to pain or mental weakness or defeat. I owned that entire race. From mile 1 to mile 13.1.

I made a play list based on my estimated times. Every 3 miles or so I put in my favorite song (every 32 minutes or so) I would have to listen to it 4 times before I made it to the finish line. Half way through the playlist were two of my favorite songs- and when I heard my two favorite songs playing right around mile 9, that’s when I knew I had to push through the pain-I was running better and faster than I thought I could. I had to keep this up. My legs hurt so bad, but I kept telling myself that pain is in the mind- the pain was nothing. No one will know how bad my legs hurt- NO ONE WILL CARE- but my time matters. No one’s going to ask me: HOW BAD DID YOUR LEGS HURT!? They’re going to ask me: WHAT WAS YOUR TIME!? Pain is temporary. Pain was part of the plan– it comes with the territory. If races- 5K’s, 10K’s, Half Marathons, Marathons, Iron Man, whatEVER were filled with tickles and rainbows and smiles and fluffy clouds of love, then EVERYONE WOULD BE DOING THEM. 

I don’t know what the statistics are, like how many Americans participate in endurance events- but it’s got to be less than 33% which is the number of Americans who are obese. So, for that alone, ladies and gentlemen, I AM PROUD. DAMN PROUD.

The official pictures aren’t up yet. And I accidentally sent my USB cord home with my parents, so the only pictures I have are this one from before Stephen and I set out to meet the day:

and this one right after the race with my parents that I already posted:

and this gem:

From the Marathon RELAY last year, 4/30/2011.
My, my, what a difference a year makes. Seeing this makes me laugh until I cry, for so many reasons. Some pictures are worth 1,000 words and this one is worth one year’s worth of stories, so seven bajillion words. Mayra said it best when she said (referring to this photo): “Who did we think we were!?”

From the moment we decided we were going to run that relay last year, to the moment when we were all on board running this half marathon (which was all at different time, haha!), running has been quite the journey. Everyone starts somewhere, and if you’re anything like me- your running journey started NOWHERE. As in, I was never a runner. I sucked at running. My body fought me tooth and nail- and sometimes, it still does. But after what I did yesterday, mentally and physically, I am a runner whether my body likes it or  not.

I’m already researching more races to sign up for. Mostly smaller races, like the Dirty Girl Mud Run (!!!!) but I would love to get in one more half before the winter sets it. I’ve got my heart set on a PR already. And I’m going to get it, whether my body likes it or not 😉

What I’m excited for is to look at the pictures from myself from this first Half a year from now, laugh, and ask myself: “who did I think I was!?” knowing that now I am so much better- in so many ways.


2 thoughts on “My First Half-Marathon: A Recap & a Journey

  1. Pingback: Eating Habits & Significant Others « whatevertheroute

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