Monday, September 1, 2008

13.1 miles, a boot, some gatorade and a lot of nausea

Before I start on my whole saga of "how it went", I think there are a few things I need to mention.  
The first is that running a 1/2 marathon is a little like winning an academy award.  Sure, you do all the acting on your own, but there is a support team of directors, agents, and probably an acting coach thrown in for good measure that help you win.  So, the Oscar goes to....
I would like to say a quick thank you to Rachel of Stroller Strides Richmond.  She has been a wonderful role model and source of encouragement.  After my first 5K she was the first to congratulate me and say, "See g., you can do anything!"  So, thanks, Rachel for helping me believe.  I also need to thank my "co-actresses" - EG, CM, NL, FC, and Cookie.  Thank you ladies so much for your words of wisdom and humor over the past 4 months.  You are amazing women.  And lastly, I want to say thank you to T, also of SS, who has helped me to reach higher than I ever would have imagined.  Words cannot express how much your support has meant to me.  I doubt I ever would have even tried for this if we hadn't met.  
Now, I will start the 72 page saga of running my first half...

We left Richmond in the afternoon for a quick drive to P-town to drop off our stuff at my Dad's house before heading to the Race Expo.  This was my first race larger than a few hundred runners and longer than a 5K, so I was unprepared for the scope of the entire event.  The expo was cool, but I kept looking around in awe and fear.  Every so many minutes I would tremble inside and think, "g.  You have a broken down foot.  WTF are you thinking?"  We met the rest of Team "Run Like a Mother" at the expo, took an amazing photo and headed to dinner.  
Let me make a side trip here- we are all gorgeous women.  Look at the photo and you'll agree.
At dinner I could hardly focus on the conversation.  I swear, I was so nervous that I was practically sitting in T's lap- tough considering she's already sharing that space with one other person.  I wasn't so distracted to not notice the fly in FC's drink though- that was pleasant.  From dinner we made it back to P-town- with the help of Nancy Navigator, and after the usual pre-sleep rituals of going through our goodie bags, discussing body glide and body glide, we "went to bed".  I would love to say at this point that I fell into a deep satisfying sleep from which I awoke refreshed and recharged.  I would love to- but I can't.  I can tell you that at four o'clock in the morning I was laying in the deafening silence of the house listening to the clock tick and thinking, "just go to sleep, you'll be exhausted tomorrow if you don't.  Just don't think about your foot.  Just pace yourself.  Just stick to the plan.  Just don't let yourself get sucked out too fast.  Just... go to sleep."  So, 7 hours, 2 beds, 1 deflated air mattress and a TICKING CLOCK later, we "woke up" to get ready to race.

Upon arrival at the Race, I went to UPS and checked my Boot.  That way it would be waiting for me at the finish.  I think that was the smartest thing I did all day.  Then I separated from the fast girls and went to carrol #19.  Yea, so, me and 800 other slow people hung out for a few minutes until it was time to move up.  And move up.  And move up.  And before I knew it was time to go.  As the sun really started to come up over the haze, I thought of something that I had somehow discounted during our training runs.  Its not the heat, it's the humidity!  I was pouring buckets of sweat, and I immediately thought of T's advice, "They'll throw energy gels at you, Don't take anything you haven't tried before!"  

My plan was simple.  Run for 5 minutes, walk for 1.  Rotate through 5 and 7 minute running intervals in an attempt to rest the foot.  It worked pretty well for the first several miles.  I was running 11:12 minute miles for the first 3... then around 6 miles I was at 11:53... not bad really.  But around mile 10 my foot just sort of gave up.  It wasn't a hammer explosion of pain or anything (like when I actually tore the ligament), but it was pain.  So I'm running and it's a little like this- pain, step, pain, step- and I thought, I ought to walk for a while, because if I don't I might not be running for 4-6 weeks.  I walked.  Right past the 10 and 11 mile marker.  Occasionally I might jog a few hundred feet to test out the foot, and then I would walk again.  I made tons of friends, partly because I am friendly looking, but honestly, I think its because the back of my shirt read, "Because a broken foot is NOT an excuse to quit."  

As I was walking along, my first thoughts were about how I was not succeeding in my goal, and then I remembered that 5 months and 10 pounds ago I had never really run anything more than 2 miles.  I could hear Rachel's voice in my head as I replayed a conversation about how much of this is mental.  "See g.  You can do anything."  By the time mile 12 was in view, I was determined to run.  I was also thinking I could still make it in under 3.  So, I booked it the last mile.  In fact, I ran a little too hard and had to walk for a few seconds to recover from the slightly light headed going to vomit sensation I got with about a half a mile left.  And then I figured, well heck, if I pass out after I finish, it won't affect my time- and I went for it and hammered down the boardwalk.  I made it in 2:55:21.  15:21 slower than I wanted to run BEFORE I broke my foot.  I hardly registered my time, because I was feeling a little sick at that point.  Maybe that's even a little inaccurate.  I felt terrible.  For hours.  I just couldn't eat.  I'm still not really eating.  I nibble, but- ah well.  I'm sure I'll make up for it later this week!

After the race I met up with the girls, collected my boot, walked the mile back to the car, and we hopped in to head back to our families.  I would love to tell you about how when I got home I stepped into a cool shower which was followed by nap- but it would be a lie.  Instead I had the girls drop me at Busch Gardens to meet my family for a day at the Theme Park.  I know it was crazy and irresponsible.  Lecture me later.  

Basically I've been asked 100 times today, "how was it?"  Well, it was the hardest thing I have ever done*.  It was a challenging distance, and I have no need to attempt a full marathon until I can get my half time down to near 2 hours.  I'm planning another Half in November, because the truth is, I'm not satisfied with my time.  Sure, I'm proud I finished on a damaged foot, but enough of that excuse.  It's old.  I believe I can do better than 2:55:21.  This time, I ran 13.1 miles.  Next time, I need to conquer it.
*childbirth is always excluded from that statement

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