My Race Story

A couple people have asked me to tell them my "race story" about completing my first half-marathon, which I successfully completed yesterday. In truth, I don't have much of a race story. I ran...I kept running...I ran some more...then I kept running even more. I don't really have any crazy stories to tell, but I'll try to make it as exciting as possible. Disclaimer: re-reading this now, I realize I have failed in this regard.

I did see a couple people throw up. That's exciting, right?

Okay, so...back to my story. It was cold Saturday morning. Brrrrr. Before the race I snuggled up to the engine of an idling semi-truck along with some other runners. Once I was in the crowd of about 10,000 waiting for the race to start, I felt okay. I lined up with the 2:20 pace group...that's a 10:41 minute per mile pace. This seemed pretty reasonable and I felt would get me to the finish line in under 2:30, which was my goal.

It was about this moment that tragedy stuck. I realized that the playlist I had made for this event had not been synced to my iPod. This was particularly distressing since it had Gangnam Style on it, and I was really looking forward to listening to that at some point. Instead, I listened to the mix I had made for Nathan (which I have come to realize has the "F" word on it), which meant I heard a lot of One Direction and Rhianna.

Grrrr! Perhaps this was why I sort of felt like crying as I stood there in that huge crowd. Or maybe it was because I was all alone (with 10,000 other people) because my husband was up with the 8:30 per minute mile pace group (holy crap that's fast). Or maybe it's because I was about to try something I've never tried before. Actually, yeah...that's why.

So, the gun goes of...and we just stood there. And then we'd move forward a little. And then stand there. And then move forward a little. And hey! Then I could actually see the start line!

Once we got going, I felt great. Almost immediately I realized I would not be needing my hat and gloves for long. I would have tossed them aside, but it was David's hat. And I knew I would want the gloves later. The gloves fit in my pocket, but the hat...I carried that hat for 11 miles. 11 long miles. At least I wasn't carry an entire outfit, which some people I saw at the TC marathon seemed to be doing.

At about two miles, I realized I felt kind of hungry. I freaked out a little bit, because I still had 11 miles to go...and there wasn't any kind of nourishment until mile 8.5. I pictured myself bonking at mile 7 and being carried off the course. Fortunately, once I started drinking water, the feeling subsided.

Around mile 3 I saw some friends...and then about 3.5 I saw my mom, sister, step-dad, and nephew. And then at mile 4.5 I saw my dad. And then I was sad...because I'd seen them all at the beginning! And who would cheer for me at the end when I was tired and grumpy?

I needn't have worried. At mile 8.5, while I struggled with the little packet of Hammer Gel, I heard my dad shout "MICHELLE!" and there he was! Smile! "You're doing great!" What a great boost!

And then just a little ways away I spied my step-dad and his camera. I knew that meant mom, Gretchen, and the Little Guy were nearby so I started looking for them. They were on the other side of the road, so I veered my way over there to give them all high-fives, and then I was on my way again!

Really, having people there to cheer for you helps so much. Most people do not cheer for random people like I do. I like to pick random people and yell, "I like your socks!" or "Way to go dude in red shirt". Then again, the last two events I cheered at were an Ironman at about mile 80 of the bike leg and a marathon at mile 19....both points where people REALLY need a boost.

I felt really good still at mile 10. Really good. I'd been a little ahead of the 2:20 pace group for about 4 miles, but they caught me at mile 8.5 and then I stuck with them again. When I got to mile 10, I really thought, "wow...I'm going to run the whole way! I'm going to finish with this pace group and David is going to be so proud I stuck with them the whole way!" Really, all that was left was a 5K!

Then....then there was this long, slow hill. Maybe it was around mile 10.5. Do not let the organizers of the Monster Dash fool you when they say it is a downhill course. Whatever. That hill really sort of did me in. I stopped and walk for about a 1/2 mile, and lost the pace group. Once I started running again, I could see their little sign bobbing around in the crowd, but I knew I'd never catch them. So much for the 2:20 dream.

Then, light at the end of the tunnel! I saw my friends again at mile 12. It was just the little boost I needed to keep least for another half-mile. I stopped and walked for just a little bit, and was really kind of annoyed with myself. I mean, there I was in the last mile, and I was walking. I searched on my iPod for the Beastie Boys. I needed something to get my adrenaline going.

So yeah...once I could see the finish, I got sort of emotional again. To the point that there was a very, very brief time where I was having trouble getting a good breath and worried I was going to fall over within sight of the finish. I managed to get control of myself. In the end, I never did cry. Maybe when I finish a marathon.

I crossed the finish line, and just felt really glad to be done, and sort of....well, sort of like I did after I went skydiving. I didn't feel this great adrenaline rush or anything. I just felt sort of dazed and spent and bewildered. If you have ever seen my skydiving video, you know that when they asked me how it was, I responded in sort of a spaced-out voice, " was neat".

My next thoughts were: "Boy, I hurt" and then "Man, I'm cold".

The first person I saw was Michael, and I was so happy to see him, because that meant I wouldn't be wandering around all alone trying to find my husband. Right behind him were David and Paul and I think I told them my time (2:23) and there was some chatting, I got my water, and my measly bag of food. I find it interesting that Team Ortho gives you the exact same amount of food at the end of a half-marathon that they give you at the end of a 5K. I guess it was okay...despite the fact that I'd been hungry at mile 2, I wasn't feeling too hungry at that moment.

Michael suggested that we go down for a beverage at the post-race party, and really all I wanted to do at that exact moment was go home. The three of them had all finished at least a half-hour before me, so I think they were at sort of a different point in their post-race recovery. I was just cold and sore and wanted to get away from all the people.

Yup. Upon completing my first half-marathon, the most immediate feeling I had was, "I want to go home."

Fortunately, that feeling passed and we all want to the Grandview and ate lots of eggs and bacon and drank a lot of coffee. Next time, I'll be sure to suggest a place where I can get a Bloody Mary. But, it was a lot of fun to share our race stories and wear my medal in public.

So, now that it is the day after...I had a great time. I will definitely do another half-marathon. I had so much fun and for most of it, felt really great. Just that last mile and a half sort of sucked, but the rest felt really good.

And surprise, my shins feel pretty good. My ankles and toes are pretty sore, but my shins held in there.

My official time: 2:22:59. A PR!


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