Saturday, April 24, 2010

Drake Half Marathon

Well, I achieved my initial goal: complete a half marathon. I must say, it was sooo exciting! Adrenaline carried me through the first five miles. I smiled every mile.

Before the race, everyone started assembling at the start line. We became more and more crowded. There were people of all ages, 10 to 71. I think I saw both of them and everyone in between. An announcer made continual countdowns to the start time. I worried that we were maybe a little too close to the starting line. I was with J and wanted to run with her as much as possible, but thought we should have been farther back to allow the faster runners up front. She is a great inspiration and pace setter for me that I felt a stronger need to stay with her. The shot gun went off and the line moved rather slowly until we all got up to pace. We moved as a wave of bobbing heads. Excitement mounted. People were passing me like crazy. It was ok. My goal was to finish, nothing more.

It was so exciting to see all the people lining the streets, cheering on the runners. There were cowbells, little kids giving high fives to the runners, trainers offering verbal support to their team, people dressed up in costumes, etc. It was humbling to know that all these people were blindly cheering on total strangers. We were treated like royalty by everyone. Even when we stopped at a convenience store afterward, a few signs read "No public restrooms". I went inside and asked if "public" meant not even customers. I was prepared to just walk out, but he looked at me and J in our running attire, then to our numbers and medals, and said, "for the Drake runners, come on back!" At mile 2 we started seeing the 8K runners coming back. All the runners cheered for them as they were really pushing it back to the finish line. We later saw a woman running. Someone said, "Hey, that's the first woman!" Cheers erupted for her. It's this positive, encouraging environment that made the whole experience breathtaking and make me want to do it again.

I had loaded up on carbs all week in preparation of the run. I knew I was really scheduled to run 18 today so 13 was going to be easy. It's been 4 weeks since I've run that few miles in one run so I was just going to take it all in. I had only run 6 miles since last Sunday morning. I worked the foam roller on my legs and low back. That was incredibly helpful! I felt so prepared for the race.

As I said, the first 5 miles flew by! It was a great feeling. The gradual 3 mile climb was a struggle toward the end of mile 6, but I felt great about 1/2 mile later. We were averaging 9 min miles. wow that was fast, but we kept the pace. My fan club was really moving around to find a place to cheer me on. Miles 7-11 were getting progressively more difficult, but we started passing other people regularly. I had lots of self-talk and positive thinking because J was so focused and just not talking like she usually does. She said we were not doing our usual conversation pace. Just when I needed it, I saw my family. That helped me get through the pain and the hills, not that they were really that bad. I knew I had a big, gradual hill coming at mile 10 so I was mentally preparing myself for that. Mile 11 proved to be challenging as I was not prepared for those hills. I really didn't remember the hills at this point. I thought if I could make it through mile 10 I was home free. This is where the mental game got me. J was still running with me, but I felt we were slowing. I looked at her and said, "no matter where we are, you need to finish in front of me!" She just looked at me and smiled. At mile 12 she said, "well, if I'm going to make 2 hrs 5 min I need to go". I said, "GO!!" She forged ahead. No matter if I run 3 miles or 13, my last mile is always the worst. I think it's part of the mental game: you're almost done. Then, I shut down. I feel all the pain, anguish, struggle of the run. Only 1 more mile left. I can do it! It's only a mile. I visualized "to the end of the road past school and back". No problem. I've done it 100 times. One foot in front of the other. I felt myself slow to a crawl. People were passing me like crazy. That made me down, too. Just finish. That's all you have to do is finish. A water station was coming. I stopped to take a drink. A man who talked like a trainer was really encouraging me with lots of positive talk. I threw my cup to the side and thanked him. I kept going. I got a little farther and just couldn't go anymore. I stopped. It was probably only about 20 seconds, but it felt like an eternity! I said, ok, move your feet. Get going. You can do this! I was getting lightheaded again, my heads was falling back like I was falling asleep mid-stride. I consciously lifted my head, shoulders back, feet forward, one after another. Do it for Grandma! [I decided I would run the race for her.] I turned the corner and thought, ok 3 more blocks...or was it 4? I could barely see J up ahead. All of a sudden I hear on the loudspeaker "Janet Potter!" She had finished. I then heard another trainer shout, "empty the tank!!" That gave me a very brief burst of energy. It seemed like another eternity to get to the finish line. People passed me left and right. It was like they were getting a second wind and I had hit the wall. I had so many carbs this week. Maybe I went too fast at the beginning. OK, I went too fast at the beginning. Finally I could see the finish line with my own eyes. It's right there. I saw the final legs of all my difficult runs in the past. I made it through. I WAS going to finish this race running! I felt like I was so out of it and I was swerving all over the street. Oh great, that's just what I needed...pass out feet from the finish line and have everyone panic and come running to help me. No, that's NOT going to happen. I can do this. I heard "Kimberly Huegerich!" from the announcer. What?! I hadn't even hit the blue finish mat. Hitting the mat, a man announced, "2:07:XX" YES! Not bad, still within my unofficial goal.

Once I got past the mats I just wanted to collapse. I was staggering all over. I gulped 2 big glasses of water and staggered to the shoot. I saw J. I smiled. It was over. She came and greeted me. I was only 2 minutes slower coming in. We walked it off a little and she said, "You need to get your medal on. Let me help you with that. Bill and your kids can't see you without your medal!". My legs were jello. We looked around for everyone, but didn't see anyone. We went to the food tent and I gulped another box of juice, walked 2 feet and grabbed another juice. I loaded up on bagels, pears, cookies, bananas, etc. I ate a bagel bite, a cookie, and then a pear. I tried to eat a banana. It was perfectly ripe, but felt stuffed so I threw away the last 1/4 of it. It was a GREAT! run. I just kept smiling....

During the run I got lightheaded about 3-4 times. I don't know if I was slightly dehydrated, fatigued, or what happened, but was a little concerned. I really wanted to walk a few times, but I kept going. I'm glad I did. I just walked for a few seconds the last mile. Having J with me really kept me going. I don't know if I could do this all by myself, but I'm still smiling...

13.1 mile run; some light walking; RPE - 4; excitement - unchartable!

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