Monday, May 6, 2013

Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon

I can't believe it's over!  It came and went so fast it feels like it was all a dream.

Race day started at 6:45 when I rolled out of bed, made coffee, got dressed, and ate two eggs.  My mom and I got in the car and headed 45 minutes south to the race start.  The day was already looking like it was going to be beautiful, so that was a plus.  My mom dropped me off to get my bib and shirt while she parked the car.  It was way easier than I expected it to be and it took all of 2 minutes.  I used the porta potty and then my mom and I wandered around and people watched.

Overlooking the parking lot.

Love that man's shirt.  It says, "Remembering Boston. 4/15/13 We will not live in fear."

My favorite sign.

As 8:45 got closer and closer and I made my way to the staring line, I got more and more nervous.  

So I spent my time in line doing some calm breathing and people watching.  It's what I do best.  And let me tell you, around here, it's pretty exciting.

The man next to me at the starting line was literally running barefoot.

Trying to remember to breathe.

The gun went off and we were off.  According to the results, it took me 26 seconds to get to the actual starting line.  I didn't want to shove my way to the front since I'm not the fastest runner and I'm also super passive and non competitive.  I'm only competitive with myself.

The course was absolutely beautiful.  I tried taking pictures, but I was running and they came out blurry.  I never got too hot or too cold.  It started clouding up about 45 minutes in, which helped a lot.  The actual marathon consists of two out-and-backs and the half marathoners run the second out-and-back. The weirdest thing was that it seemed downhill both ways. Not that I'm complaining.  I spent a lot of time on the way to the turn around thinking how much I was going to be hating life heading back toward the finish because it seemed like it was all downhill.  Then I spend the second half incredibly confused because it looked as though the people running toward me were running uphill and I was still going downhill.  This makes me think the course is actually flat and it's all an illusion.  Some sort of magic.  ;-)

Miles 1-4_  These were easy.  I felt as though I was just warming up and since I hadn't run in two days, I felt really happy to be running again.  I did feel tired from the lack of sleep two days in a row, but nothing horrible.

Miles 5-6.5:  The fast runners had already turned around at this point and were passing me heading back.  This was mentally challenging as I knew I still had a little bit to go before the turn around.  I was still feeling pretty good physically.

The turn around sign.  Best sign in the world.

Miles 7-9: These miles were so hard physically.  I started feeling blisters on my feet and I kept doing the math in my head about how many more miles I had to go.  I had to keep telling myself that I was more than half way done, but it didn't seem to help since I knew approximately how many minutes I still had left to run.  I also drank about one sip of gatorade to see if that would help.  It only made me gag because it was so gross and then I was incredibly thirsty.  I did see my ex boyfriend's best friend around mile 8 still heading toward the turn around point.  We high fived and that was a really good pick-me-up.  A friend who I worked with was also running and I saw her heading toward the turn around at about mile 9.  There was another high five and it was very much needed.  

Mile 10:  This was my favorite mile.  I knew I only had a 5k left and I knew that I was actually going to complete this thing.  Somewhere in the middle of this mile my mom and boyfriend had found me.  I was SO excited I started running faster and high fived the boyfriend.  My mom thought I was the person behind me and was super confused until she realized I was high fiving the boy.  She then completely freaked out and was screaming, "SLOW DOWN! I HAVE TO GET PICTURES!"  Woman was crazy if she thought I was going to slow down.  So she SPRINTED down the road to get ahead of me to get pictures.  It was the best moment of the entire race and really what kept me going for the last three miles.

This was when she finally noticed it was me.  I was so happy.

This was me giving my mom a thumbs up for sprinting.

Miles 11-12: I had a long conversation with myself in my head during these two miles.  I REALLY wanted to walk.  I would go back and forth with myself about how no one would ever know if I walked a little bit, but I would know for the rest of my life and how could I live with that.  Over and over.  And before I knew it, I had run those two miles.  The girl who passed me in the 10 mile race to take 3rd in our age division passed me AGAIN and I was so mad, but she zoomed past me and I knew I wasn't about to catch up with her.

Mile 13.1: This was the longest mile I have ever run.  That .1 is the absolute worst.  The finish line was just after a bridge, so that .1 included a pretty good incline.  It did mean that the end was downhill since we were coming off of the bridge, so I sprinted, with my running partner in mind and how proud she would have been of me.  I finished in 1:52:32, which is 8 minutes under my goal of finishing in 2 hours!  That's an 8:35 pace.  I came in 23 out of 136 in my age division, 78 out of 677 female finishers, and 203 out of 1049 overall!  Not too shabby for my first half.  I was in such a daze as I crossed the finish line, I forgot to pose.

My mom, my boyfriend, and some amazing friends were there to congratulate me at the finish line.  I was so happy and excited to see everyone that I spent less time worrying about eating and refueling and more time worrying about getting hugs and posing for pictures.  

Finishers medal.

Best hug ever.

Wait!  He didn't run! (I adore this picture.)

Never been more excited.

 Fantastic supporters.

I was so excited and thankful for my whole cheering squad.

The whole not refueling thing came back to haunt me.  I do not recommend only eating 3 orange slices and the smallest slice of watermelon you can find after running 13.1 miles.  Boyfriend had practically ran out of gas driving to see me so we all had to pile into my mom's car to get him a gas can with some gas so he would be able to get back home.  Unfortunately, since the race is in the middle of nowhere, the nearest gas station was about 10 miles north.  The whole trip there and back to the parking lot took about 45 minutes.  By this point I had started feeling nauseated, but I chalked it up to being car sick since I had been looking at my phone a lot.

Skip the boring drive home to the place where we were going to have my post-race meal.  The place we really wanted to go to was closed, so we ended up going to the brewery, as did pretty much everyone else who ran the race.  I immediately went to the bathroom while my mom and brother waited for a table.  By this point I felt as though I was going to die.  Or throw up.  One of the two.  I sat in the bathroom for far longer than is appropriate before heading back out to our table.  I couldn't even keep my head up and was getting cold sweats.  I thought for sure I was going to throw up all over my mother.  I went to the bathroom another 2 times where I sat with my head between my legs praying I wouldn't puke in this public place.  My mom had to order for me.  I knew it was a low blood sugar thing the moment I thought how nice it would be for my mom to bring me a soda or a nice big piece of chocolate cake.  I NEVER crave those things.  When I came out of the bathroom the final time, this was waiting for me:

I didn't want to eat, but I had to force some down.  Within minutes I was feeling better.  Then we finally made it home where I proceeded to eat some fruit and a bite of the left over chocolate torte from Friday.  I felt 9000 times better.  Learn from my mistake: eat a lot more than three pieces of fruit and don't wait 2 hours to eat lunch after running a half marathon.

All in all, it was the greatest day I've had in a long time and I feel proud that I beat ALL of my goals.  I recommend this half marathon (or marathon) to anyone.  It's very special to be able to run through the redwoods.

1 comment:

  1. CONGRATS!!!!
    YOU ROCKED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I was so excited for this post!!! :)