Sunday was the big day; my first half marathon (the Maryland Half) and Katye had graciously signed up to be my pacer/personal cheerleader. Unlike my night before the Cherry Blossom, I was not nervous. I stayed up by the course with a friend and we had a nice girlfriends night; pizza, salad, watermelon and drinks (woops!!!). I went to bed around 11 and woke up a couple times during the night (new place, new sounds). When I woke up around 5, I heard the sound of rain. Not just regular rain, but pouring rain. My heart sank, but I got up, got myself moving and got to the course with 30 minutes before the start.
I found Katye inside the grandstand, and she looked super cute as usual, in her pink plaid running skirt and compression socks. We made our way out to the start and the rain stopped! Maybe this was going to be a good race for me after all!
Once we started out, we were running about an 11 min mile, which I felt ok with. I knew I was not in shape to SUSTAIN it, but I was in shape to FINISH it. Katye was great; she kept talking to me about various things, kept encouraging me and was warning me about what was next so I could prepare mentally.
I learned a few things during the course of the run. I for SURE like running with people better than myself. I was actually ok running without music too. I also should have gotten my tushy outside for a few more runs instead of totally slacking the last three weeks. Finally, I HATE HILLS. There were so many hills, steep and long. I just tried to go to the next cone on the road before taking a break and walking. I would pick another cone to start at and so on. I tried to power up hills the best I could, ignoring my burning quads (in my mind the faster I go, the sooner it’s over and its worth it—Katye even noted that I run faster up the hills than down them). Katye told me to get mad at them, so every time we started a climb, I said "son of a b*tch" and just went for it. It worked, until the Mays Chapel Road. Honestly, if I could have sat down, cried and just waited for a police officer, ambulance, stranger or animal to drag me, I would have, but Katye kept me going. It was daunting just to look at, and challenging to walk up. I had a hard time catching my breath up this bad boy and my hip was starting to bother me during the climb. Seriously, whoever designed the course must HATE runners!
We made it to the top, finally, and started to go downhill. Most of the last section of the race was downhill and it was soooooo nice to let gravity help me move. When we got to mile 11.25, which is the farthest I had ever run and I hit my wall. I was ready to quit. I was ready to cry. I was trying to hide it, but I think my face and eyes gave it away. Katye noticed and talked me through it, kept me focused on finishing; honestly I know my body got me to the finish, but Katye got my head there, which was just as important.
The last 1.75 miles was a combination of walking and shuffling (but I was moving). Katye had been telling me I was sprinting the last .1 miles. I didn’t think I could do it, I was not sure where I would be able to get the ability to sprint it from. Then, I just realized (even though Katye was telling me at mile 2) that I had it. That I was .1 miles away from finishing something many people don’t ever attempt and I just let go. I somehow mustered up enough strength, endorphins and excitement to get to a 7:07 mile pace for the last .1 miles and crossed the finish line at 3:05.
So sure, it’s not the goal I had in mind, but maybe it was silly to set a timed goal. I was not disappointed I missed it; in fact, I could care less. I was just happy to finish, to run further than I ever had before and being able to say I could do it!
Again, I would not have made it without Katye. She is an awesome pacer and a great person to run with. She kept me focused, positive and kept my head going when it was so far out of it. I hate to think what the race would have been like without her, because she made it what it was for me, so thank you for that Katye! If you follow her, make sure you tell her that she is a rockstar and you can't wait to run a race with her, and if you don’t follow her, why the heck not? She is awesome!!!
Now, I am just nursing some aching muscles and a sore foot/ankle. I am not quite sure what happened and there is no swelling, but my right ankle/foot is bugging me pretty seriously. Hopefully it just needs some rest and ice so I can get back out there for my next run!!!
Will this euphoria end? I am just so psyched that I did it. By 10:30 yesterday, I had done more than most people do all day and I loved that feeling! How about you? How long does your race excitement last??