>Well friends, yesterday was the big day – the half marathon that I’ve been training for over the past 12 weeks. It.was.awesome.
This was my second attempt at the 13.1 miles – the first was the Country Music Half. And I just had a much better running day yesterday than in April. I felt more prepared (even though the training period was 4 weeks shorter) and just felt like I knew what to expect this time. I knew when I’d hit walls (mentally and physically), but mostly I think I was just mentally in a better place about this race. I had decided a couple of weeks ago to just try and enjoy this race and not worry about when I finished. Consequently, I finished five minutes faster than the first race. 🙂
Yesterday Rog dropped me downtown on Broadway to make the one block walk over to the race start, at 6:30. The race started at 7. Perfect.
I caught up with some of my Fleet Feet training group and took in the pre-race festivities. I immediately felt a totally different vibe than the Country Music Half. This was 99% women. Over 5,000 of them. (only a few dudes running in support of their ladies.) Everyone was nervous and anxious – there wasn’t anyone doing wind sprints at the starting line and grunting like a linebacker, like you typically see at most race starts. It was just so much more low key and a GOOD kind of excitement was in the air.
I got in line to use the ol’ porta potty one last time and got in my corral with 14 minutes till the gun went off. (FYI, you line up in corrals by estimated finishing time, so you aren’t having to work your way past slow pokes the whole first several miles. In the Country Music Half I started in corral 13 or something – in this race I started in corral 2. Hello…clearly not as many people in this race. Ha.)
Jo Dee Messina started belting the National Athem as we watched the flag fly over the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tears.
About 8 minutes or so before the start (can you tell I was checking my watch?) I see Erin Wright Brown and Noelle Money walking towards me – they had come looking for me so we could run together! So excited. I normally don’t run with folks, except for my Rog, so I secretly was a little worried I would get all psyched out, but we were all just wanting to take this race at a nice steady pace and enjoy it. So it was perfect. I seriously could not have done as well without these ladies. We just gossiped and talked and I loved every minute of it. We ran together until about mile 8 – and we had some sub-10 minute miles in there, which is not usual for me!! I’m usually a 10 or 10:15 or even 10:30 if I’m really just trodding along. So to see some 9:42s and such on my garmin, was really amazing for me. 🙂 These ladies pulled me along and I so enjoyed it.
About mile 8 or so I had to take a teency walking break, then ran some more through about mile 10.25 with Noelle. Erin was already speeding off into the sunset at this point! 🙂
I was starting to feel a little yucky – and think my blood sugar was getting low. My teeth were chattering and I just felt like I was bottoming out. I patted my stomach at Noelle and waved her on. I started reminding myself of my mantra – “Just finish…walk when you need to.” And I did. About this time I watched a girl fall out at mile 10.5 – eyes rolling back in her head, totally crashed in the middle of the street. I don’t know about ya’ll, but seeing stuff like that throws me for a loop. So now I’m worried about this poor girl, as strangers are squirting gatorade in her mouth trying to bring her blood sugar back up, and here I am already feeling yucky, too. Scary and ugh. My heart went out to her! So I did a little walk/run for the next mile or so until I got to a water station and against my race day regimen, I pounded some Gatorade. I needed some electrolytes! I felt instantly better – instantly.
The last couple of miles were brutal – hilly!! Thanks for THAT, race organizers. I ran every flat part, and walked the last hill – the bridge from the Titans stadium back to downtown. It was either walk that bridge, or walk across the finish line 🙂 Ha.
As I was walking the bridge I looked at my Garmin and thought “if you bust tail right now, there is a small chance you could actually get 2:15….” and then sane Jenn said “shut up, you moron – unless you want to fall over and bust all your teeth out, you will NOT start sprinting right now. Just finish…remember?” Seriously – my inner-monologue could have me committed.
Sane Jenn won-out. I turned the corner to the last .2 miles – I could SEE the finish line. I thought “ok, now you can sprint – finish strong.” So I started to pick it up – but my body didn’t. It was like “um, heck no.” Ha! Funny how you tell your body to do something sometimes and it just doesn’t compute. So I continued trodding along at my 10:30 minute pace and crossed the finish line very proudly. I think I also took quite the finish line picture, which I can’t wait to see.
They had military servicemen putting medals around our necks. This normally would have brought me to tears and I would have thanked him, instead of him congratulating me – but I think I was so out of my mind tired that I practically pushed him out of the way to get to the porta potty. Poor guy. Awesome touch by the race organizers though.
I stopped my garmin at 2:21:01. I was thrilled. That was at least 4 minutes faster than my first race – and very close to my very loose goal of 2:20. Upon closer inspection of the official chip time results today, I was actually at 2:20:58. ROCK! Very proud girl.
This is the only photo Rog could snap of me at the finish – look at this girl – does she look defeated or what? Ha.
After my potty break, I borrowed a cell phone to call Rog – and right as I was dialing I heard him calling my name. He saw me finish and had tracked me down. SO happy to see him!! He got a big sweaty hug.
After a little Gatorade, this was one happy lady! Very proud of herself and all of her running buddies!
My man – he was very proud of his girl.
Noelle! Amazing job, girl. She is having knee surgery soon, might I add, and Erin is having foot surgery this week. And they both beat me. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
After pounding more Gatorade and water, we trodded (up hill) to the car. I got the car and called Mom and Dad to give them the race report – I told them to not dare bother coming to this one as I wasn’t sure if I’d finish before 3 hours 🙂 And they are coming to visit in a couple weeks for another race anyways!
Upon return to the Flat it was time for an ice bath. Also, climbing the stairs to the Flat made me realize I had a very new and different pain in my right ankle (my problem leg!). I’m hoping it’s just soreness, but it’s a new pain that I’m not familiar with and makes me nervous. We shall see. I’m definitely taking a few days off from running, so hopefully that will do the trick.
Ice bath – with Callie’s supervision of course.
That’s a bathing suit, not my undies. But if you look closely, that is a phone number written on my thigh. He recently changed it and I was afraid once the running crazy took over my mind, that I wouldn’t be able to remember it should I need him.
Really, cat? Really?
Ah – that’s a happy girl. Showered, relaxed, and watching the Vols play with Callie.
Later in the day, napped and recovered -showing off my cool medal.
This race was great. There were only a few moments where I thought “why do I do this to myself?” unlike the entire second half of the race last time. It was definitely a good running day for me. There are really great days and really bad days (reference post about my 12 mile run a couple weeks ago) – and you never know when you’ll have one and you can’t control it. Fortunately, God was smiling on my run yesterday and it was amazing.
I saw shirts and signs and people who were running for a cause – and I kept thinking to myself, “I run because I can. I run because I’m able.” I kept reminding myself how blessed I was yesterday to be healthy and able, as I suffered through those last couple of miles. I’m very thankful and blessed to be a runner. I can’t believe that as of April this year I had yet to run even a 5K – not a single race. And now, in 5 months almost to the day, I’ve run 2 half marathons and 2 5Ks – all with people I love by my side and supporting me and me supporting them. Blessed. I’ve pushed myself farther and learned I’m stronger in the process over these last few months than I ever knew was possible.
Here’s to hopefully lots more miles of healthy running!
Big shout out to my half marathon girls Doss, Mauri, Erin and Noelle – so fun enjoying parts of this running journey with you ladies! We all totally rock. 😉