The half marathon I trained for with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training (TNT) was yesterday. The first race was local, an inaugural race, that I wanted to support because it was local. I figured that, if I wanted a local race, I needed to be participating in it.
The first Half took place in early April. It was quite cool in the morning, but it promised to be a beautiful day. I didn't feel ready. I had made it to some of the long Saturday training runs with the Team, but due to a little time-issue (can you say overcommitment - see above - title of this blog) I could not make it to many of them. I did, however, faithfully run about 5k 2-3 times a week with a fellow TNT participant, who happened to live in my neighborhood.
Since I usually don't run on my own, I had never trained with music, but I was going to take an Ipod shuffle on this race. There goes the old adage that you should not try anything new on race day....
I was extremely nervous the night before that first half, had really vivid crazy dreams and essentially didn't sleep. From the long runs I had learned that adequate nutrition was important for me, but I had not considered that possibility, that my nerves would not allow me to eat. Rather than having my breakfast of champions (banana and Luna bar), I just sipped some Gatorade and that was about it.
When the race started, I quickly settled into my pace. I'm slow, and I was going to avoid the mistake I tend to make in 5k races: picking off the
First mile or two went well, then I had to go potty... I had just gone before the race. Silly body! Luckily there was no line.
... and off she goes again.. this time, glancing back to see if I was the last runner by now, but I was not. Phew!
By mile 3 or so, I had found my stride. I was jogging along with a walker, who had completed many half marathons. In our conversation, he referred to his walk as a "shuffle" and I was wondering, what I should call my jog since he was just my speed (and actually beat me in the end...). Oh well, this was my race!
Turns out, listening to music while running is really fun. Some of the songs just made me want to run, and together with the sun that had come out - and the beautiful scenery - this had the makings of a really good morning. At about mile 4 or 5 I commented to my fellow walker that, to my surprise (because I really hate running), I was actually having fun. Who knew? Apparently, I just had to get past mile 3 or 4 to get to the fun part of running.
At mile 6, my Ipod petered out. It beeped 3 times, and that was the last I heard of it. Seriously? That sucked! Now I was really on my own, plugging along, one foot in front of the other, and found that this was distinctly less fun than running with music. Bummer!
I was glad when I saw the half-way point of the course.
Time for another potty break. Seriously?
This is where I made my main mistake. The port-a-potty was just beyond a water/Gatorade station. I did not want to walk back the 10 feet to the table, so I skipped the Gatorade this time around. I would pick it up on the way back.
Bad move! By the time I got to the very farthest spot in the course, I was getting dizzy and light headed. Dang! And no Gatorade station in sight.
Luckily for me, there was a lady jogging alongside me. She had been around me - little ahead, little behind - for the entire time. We had chatted a few times and she saw that I was having a rough time. She asked me, if I wanted to do intervals with her, but I declined since her intervals seemed to be a little more than I could handle, and I told her that I was desperate to get back to the Gatorade station. She was packing on-board nutrition and offered me a sip from one of her bottles. Ahhh, that Powerade was just what the doctor ordered. I was so thankful to her.
As she jogged off, I found another runner to jog along with for a while. I love the conversations you have have on the course. Everyone had a story to tell. Who knew that running a race could be that much of a social experience.
My body was doing quite nicely. I was mainly jogging, walked the hills, and generally was having a good time.
But then, suddenly, at mile 10, my body was done. Prior to mile 10, I was jogging the course and considering jogging the hills. Now I was walking the course and considering jogging the downhills, and decided against it more often than not.
By mile 12 I knew that I had to just walk this baby in, if I wanted to make it at all.
I did make it - and with the required short little sprint through the finish line, I had my first half marathon under my belt (3 hr and 8 min) - and I knew that I wanted to do this again.