Monday, August 30, 2010

Spirit of Columbus 1/2 Marathon Recap

Hello, hello -- and happy Monday :)

I was trying to "save" this post until I had an official time to post for you (and, loyal blogger that I am, I have been checking the website all day ...) but, as of the time that this post 'hit the presses', results have not been posted. Suffice it to say, I was not "removed from the course", and my garmin (which, being caught up in the moment, I started late and stopped late) reads 2:57:46.

So... let's jump right in, shall we?

As a general rule, I never sleep well before races-- which, I believe, is probably caused by the overwhelming mix of nervousness & excitement that sets in the eve of "race day". Still, I did okay -- bouncing out of bed at 5:00 5:30am, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to run.

Err... Right. Actually I was just really grateful that I had the foresight to set the programmable coffee maker the night before. 1 cup of coffee later (which I apparently did not consume quickly enough, as I carefully poured myself 1/2 a mug-full of creamer, and almost peanut-buttered Gracie, who had her nose in the wrong place at the wrong time... Gahh.. I couldn't make this stuff up, bloggies)-- things were looking up :)

Or, rather, down. These new socks were a joyful addition to my race day attire :) Fun socks are like fun underwear (sorry, Dad)-- no one but you knows that you are wearing them, but they make you feel a little extra special all day long :)

Breakfast was consumed (PB+J on toast .... and another splash of coffee), J was awakened... and we were on our way. (... after one dead car battery... which was handled with grace & minimal panic on both of our parts. Really, it was a blessing, as J's car does not have working air conditioning, and it was awfully nice to blast the air on the way home... but I'm getting ahead of myself :)

We arrived at the start line a little after 7am, and met up with my parents, who had come to wish me luck (my father also took on the duty of my personal paparazzi-- the next couple photos are credited to him!)
Then, since we had some time to spare, (and.. well, nerves, you know?) I decided I'd use the bathroom one final time ... which turned out to be a pivotal point for the entire race for me.

Now, lest you think I am going to launch into a diatribe about the evils of coffee (NEVER!) and how drinking a cup of coffee before the race was a mistake (which it wasn't, thank heavens :) -- I'll tell you standing in line for the porta-potties was a good thing not only for the obvious reasons-- but, even more so, for the woman I met while I was waiting.
(me & A. in the blue hat)

I can't remember who started the conversation-- and really, it doesn't matter-- the important thing is that I met her. We made a little small talk; I found out that this was her 1st half marathon, and inquired whether she had a specific goal. She told me that she was aiming for 12:30 splits. In a burst of uncharacteristic bravery (which, perhaps I can attribute to my mother's presence -- she's always been able to talk to anyone), I asked her if I could run with her for the first couple miles (my thinking being that if I could give myself a little cushion in the first few miles, I would be less likely to be eh-hem "booted from the course" later.)

And just like that, a friendship was forged.

I have to say... although I've always aspired to be a faster runner (remember my goals for a sub-8 minute mile, a 24 minute 5k, and a sub-2 hour half?!), being in the mid-back of the pack has blessed me immeasurably. I've found (and I wonder if it's like this at the front of the pack too... I just honestly have no experience :) that when you are not as focused on beating your neighbor to the finish, you have time to cheer them on. And that's incredibly wonderful.

I was able to stay with A. for 5 (!) miles-- and I am incredibly proud of that. We cheered each other on for over an hour-- sharing stories, goals, and encouragement. I didn't get a chance to meet up with her at the end, but J told me that he saw her cross the finish line. It was truly an honor for me to be able to run with her during her 1st half marathon. I only hope that I was able to be good company for her as well-- and that she might have an idea of what a difference she made for me yesterday.

Of course, after A. and I separated at mile 5, it was a bit of a struggle. It didn't help that the last 6 miles were a straight shot down S.R. 33 into the city (read: no shade)... and by the time I hit mile 10, I was hurting a little. But it was still good. Every step was a blessing. I chatted with the other women who were racing around me, I waved at the police men who were directing traffic around the racers, I yelled thank-you's to the volunteers, and (because I was one of the last participants in) I took 2 cups of water at each water station :) It was hot (HOT), and it was hard (and I have the aches and blisters today to prove it), but I am so glad that I did it :)

I actually beat my goal time (3:15 ish.... 15 min/mile)-- but J made it to the finish to watch me cross, and that meant a lot to me :) We drove home (in the air conditioned car-- hallelujah!), and I lay on the floor and contemplated the meaning of life for a while with Gracie (ughhh.... I'm not sure what the deal was... apparently I didn't fuel quite right and my salt/water/food ratios were off... I felt like I had the worst hangover EVER... poor Gracie didn't know what was wrong with her Mama, and hovered close by to keep an eye on me), before I showered and ate a mac & cheese recovery lunch :)

And today? Well, quite frankly, I had forgotten how much this stuff hurts :) My back and my ribs hurt, I have a blister between my toes, and I'm walking like a little old lady... but I'm happy, and I'm really proud to add this race to my list of races & life experiences.

What's next? A sub-2? An all walking half? A marathon? I have no clue. But I promise to keep you posted...

For now though, this tired girl is peeling herself off the couch and headed to bed...

Have a fantastic Monday night ;)

What is one of your proudest accomplishments?