Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm Officially a Half Marathoner!

Well, after 7 months, 400+ miles, a few injuries, and countless hours of training, I'm proud to say that I am an official half marathoner! I still remember early in my training when I went out for a 4 mile run and could not even complete it. I stopped at 3.6 and later wrote in my journal -- "Just getting to 4 is so hard! How will I EVER get to 13.1?!" I was so discouraged! I didn't let it get me down for too long though. The next week, I went out and tried again, and I accomplished it! And each week after that, I built on just half a mile at a time and before I knew it, I was hitting double digits! I had a few injuries and a vacation that caused me to take an occasional hiatus from my training, but all in all, I stuck with it as best I could. And today, it all came together.

Back when I originally started training and racing, I set the goal to run my half in under 2 hours. After those injuries and the 3 weeks I took off while on vacation, I realized that a sub-2 hour mary was not likely in my future. I adjusted my goal time based on my recent training runs to about 2:10. I secretly set a more hopeful goal of 2:05.

Well last night, I was so nervous/excited, I could hardly contain myself! Luckily, I was able to get some sleep and got up feeling pretty good. My DH and I headed to the race venue as I munched on a PB&J and a banana. Once we arrived, I was pleased to see how perfect the weather was for running. The skies were overcast, shielding the energy draining (at least for me!) rays of the sun, and the air was nice and cool -- maybe 60 degrees. PERFECT! Soon, the race started. I tried to remind myself not to go out too fast, to run my own race. My pace was feeling pretty good though, and much of the race was downhill, so I figured that I would just listen to my body and go with it. I hit mile 1 at a sub-9 pace and thought, "Hmmm, I better slow a little." I then hit mile 2 at around the same time but I was feeling great, so I figured I would take the next big downhill at that pace and then slow up if need be. Well, to make a long story short, I felt pretty fantastic from miles 1-8 (despite the driving rain that started around mile 3 and never let up.) Once I saw my time at mile 8, I started to realize that if I could maintain this sub-9 pace, I could actually reach my original goal of a sub-2 hour race! I maintained the best I could and met my new goal time at mile 9. When I hit mile 10, I saw my time was exactly 1 hour 30 minutes. I figured, all I had to do then was run another 5K in under 30 minutes to meet the goal that I had previously thought was out of reach! I couldn't believe this was happening! I tried my best to pick up the pace and at mile 11, I was pleased to see that I still had 20+ minutes to run just 2.1 miles! I was getting so pumped! At mile 12, I saw that it was only about 1 hour, 48 minutes! I could run a 10 minute last mile and still make it under 2 hours! WHOA! Well, I tried my best not to dog it though and tried to really push it in, even as exhausted as my legs were getting. I looked down at my Garmin which had been completely accurate thus far and when I saw 12.9 miles, I started to sprint. (Now, when you have already run 12.9 miles, "sprint" is kind of a relative term! LOL!) Anyhow, after really giving it all I had, I looked up and thought, "Surely I should be able to see the finish by now... where is it?!" I looked back down at my Garmin and it said 13.1. WHA?! I looked back up and finally saw the finish line, but it was still a bit ahead of me. I figured, "Oh, who cares... just keep running your butt off! 7 months of training -- don't dog it now!" So I kept pushing and crossed the line at... 1 hour 58 minutes 47 seconds. WOO HOO! I had made my original goal with over a minute to spare! Oh yea! (Oh, and by the way, my Garmin had a final distance of 13.27... oh well!)

I was so totally excited... and exhausted! I really felt like I totally put everything out there and really enjoyed the whole experience. After I finally caught up with DH, all I could say was, "I did it! I did it!" He was so happy for me too. After we walked to the car and I finally got to stretch, I started thinking about all that I had done to get to that point. I actually started to cry a little! I was so happy to have accomplished my half mary. It was an awesome experience! Thanks to everyone who has helped and encouraged me along the way! I couldn't have done it without you! And I'm not done yet either. I'm not sure yet what's in my running future, but I know it's not over!

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