I did it!!!
And I am a super nerd, in case you were wondering.
This morning, I was up and at ‘em at 6 AM so I could make it to packet pickup in time and then catch the bus to the starting line. I know this is somewhat counterintuitive, but these were my refreshments of choice.
Yes, I am aware that coffee dehydrates you, does weird things to your stomach, etc. etc. etc. Don’t care. Need my caffeine in the AM—no exceptions! The Clif Shot Bloks replaced my traditional gummy bears this morning, and I have to say, they did a pretty great job! I liked the flavor and they sat really well in my stomach. I will definitely try these again!
Packet pickup was this morning, which unnerved me a little bit. I like to get my bib all pinned on my shirt the night before so I don’t have to worry about it the day of the race.
Hurry up, Dad! Quit taking my picture so I can get my bib already!
What can I say? I was focused!
Once I got my packet, we went back to the car so I could take off my tank and pin the bib in place. Then I relaxed a little. But not much. It’s just not in me . . .
Then it was time to catch the bus out to the start!
Just like the first day of school!
In case you were wondering, here are the details of today’s race:
11th Decker’s Creek Trail Half Marathon
Morgantown, West Virginia
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Start 8:30 AM Masontown, West Virginia
I actually made friends on the bus, chatting with a man about the same age as my dad who was running his first half marathon. Pretty cool!
I was feeling really good once we got out to the start, doing a little jogging and chatting away with the other runners. I think just doing something normal instead of letting myself get all inside my head beforehand was definitely a good idea!
After a couple of trips to the portajohn, it was time to start!
I decided to adopt the mantra Be Brave while I was running today. I always play it safe and keep my pace conservative “just in case” I might get sore or tired or whatever during the race. Today, there were no excuses! I just went for it!
The first mile felt great—and fast! I went out in 8:13, which is much faster than I usually run, but I was being brave, so I just let myself enjoy it! The next 2 miles, I ran with one of the girls I was talking to at the start. I would have loved to run with her the whole time, but I felt like that pace might be a little quick for me to maintain, so I backed off a little.
That wasn’t easy to do. After all, I am competitive, even if it’s just with myself, but something I’ve always heard and never quite understood popped into my head. Run your own race. And that’s exactly what I needed to do. I didn’t know this other runner, but I do know me, how I trained, and what I am capable of. I listened to my body and kept up a decent clip that I was happy with, and that’s what mattered.
At the 10K mark, I was at just over 51 minutes—much faster than any “official” 10K time I’ve ever run. Weird, right? For a second, I got scared and thought maybe I should back off, but my mantra came back to me.
So I was. Around then, the other gal I had been chatting with at the start caught up to me, and we ran together for the next 3 miles or so. I liked having someone alongside me to help me keep the pace, but I also remembered that I was running my own race.
I also saw my Dad for the first time around mile 7! I was so happy to see a friendly face cheering for me!
Around mile 8, it was time for my Vanilla Powerade Gel. It was foul. I hated it. I also hated that it was crazy sweaty because I had to tuck it into my sports bra to transport it. Hello??? Compression shorts = no pockets!!! And then it got even better because somehow the sticky goo got all over my hand and attempted to cement my fingers together. Not solid. Luckily, there was a water station, so I paused and rinsed everything off. Ah, the woes of a runner.
Around mile 9, I kept running my own race and pulled ahead a little. Why not enjoy the ride and push myself?
I slowed my pace a bit to try to regain my bearings, but the proverbial sh** pretty much hit the fan. My right knee started to hurt—and you know what? I was pissed about it! I told myself that the pain was all in my head and told that right knee to EF-off! And you know something? It did. The pain went away.
What didn’t go away, however, was the uncomfortable rumbling in my lower belly. You runners know the exact feeling I’m talking about. OhmygodifIdontfindabathroomrightthissecondIamgoingtoliterallycrapmyself.
So let’s just say that my 11th mile was slow. At the first possible opportunity, I detoured into a briar patch where some violent and uncomfortable, but ultimately wonderful things happened. Again, the woes of a runner . . .
Feeling much lighter and most certainly relieved, I thought the last couple of miles would fly, but they were tough. I was able to pick my pace up again, but not to where it had been in the first part of the race.
So I looked in my mantra box for some motivation.
You can do this.
You are stronger than you think.
Dig. Dig. Dig. You have this in you.
Run your own race.
And just like that, I did do it!
I didn’t just do it, though. I did it 5 minutes faster than I ever have before!
I have never thought of myself as a long distance runner. I ran the 400 meter in track in high school and loved every step of that race. I never ever thought I could do a 10K, let alone a half marathon. But just like that . . .
I’m a distance runner.
And I make friends with other distance runners!
And take inappropriate amounts of food from the post-race refreshment table.
And go to the bathroom in briar patches without shame. OK, without too much shame.
I especially enjoyed the pizza after this race.
It’s so good when it hits your lips!
We lounged on the steps of the park’s amphitheater for a while after the race, enjoying the band and the boats going by on the Monongahela River.
I can’t tell you how great it was for me to have my dad there. I run for myself, but it was so nice to have someone there cheering me on and waiting for me at the finish. I loved having someone to celebrate with after the race! And my dad? He’s a great spectator! He genuinely likes being there and is excited for me. He’s the best!
After the disaster of the Monument 10K, Paula left a comment reminding me that we have to go through bad races from time to time to give us perspective on how awesome a great race makes you feel. A race like today’s is the other side of that coin. It’s the reason I run. Because when that hard work pays off, it’s something that’s just yours. It’s just for you. You did it. And when you feel that way? It’s better than awesome.