But let's back up a bit... (settle in kids, this is gonna be a long one)
The Cleveland Half Marathon has been in my sights since May 20th, 2012. That was the day I completed my very first 10k, and also the day I decided I couldn't let the early bird pricing for the following year pass without registering for something. Honestly, I signed up for the half marathon (almost) only because at that time it was only $10 more than the 10k. I mean, 7 more miles for $10 more dollars?! I am nothing if not a bargain shopper.
Fast forward to May 2013, and as I have noted many times before, I was not in a great place with my training, but I knew that this was just something I had to do (despite being told "It's OK if you quit, no one will judge you." Seriously?! Not the motivation I needed, and although I know it was sincere, I don't want anyone ever telling me to give up something no matter how down I am.) Annnnyyywayy.... I gave myself alitttle pep talk and got ready to take on one of the biggest goals of my life thus far.
Friday, May 17th. I travelled home late night from a work conference in NYC. Despite being in the city that never sleeps and has some of the best eats and drinks that I've encountered, I managed to get in some good sleeping and layed off the hooch as much as I could. Because I didn't get home until almost midnight, I didn't even bother setting an alarm for Saturday as I know the sleep you get the night before the night before the race is most times more beneficial than the night before (ya follow me?).
I went home and started pulling out everything I would need for the following day. I came home to a nice surprise on my back porch... A perishable box that once opened, revealed a cooler with two live lobsters, scallops and crab meat! Our friends had sent us a lobster dinner from Bar Harbor, Maine to enjoy pre-race. With that, I realized I had a couple hours to burn while J was still at work, so I headed out to find a couple cold ones (carbs? no... ah well). After visiting with my cousin for a bit, J texted that he was home and the water was boiling. Commence full on seafood assault to the system... along with alot of hydration!
|This is how we do pre-race carb loading.|
After smashing our faces, J hit the sack around 10pm and I followed around midnight (I know, I know, but there was no way I was going to toss and turn in bed, when I could be catching a life changing movie on LMN). I slept pretty good as the pre-race jitters slowly faded away.
|Sunrise breakfast of cliff bars and iced coffee, |
a reminder to run for all of those that can't,
and surprise meeting with the bestie on my way to the bathrooms.
Sunday, May 19th. Race Day. My alarm went off at 4:45am, and before I hit snooze for the second time, I pushed myself out of bed and headed right downstairs to get started on my race day ritual. Iced coffee - check. Thomas' English muffin with peanut butter and a banana - check. Ginormous glass of water - check. Sprint to the bathroom - check. After getting dressed, actioning my race braid and waking up the hubs, I downed one more iced coffee and a cliff bar (which I had to choke down. I had never had them before and probably never will again - blah!). We had some time to get downtown as we are only about 7 miles away, so we packed up the car, rested for a beat and than hit the road. We only hit traffic on the exit ramp, and scored some great parking right at 9th and Ontario. *In hindsight - while it was a nice 1.6 mile warm-up walk down to the start, walking those 1.6 miles back to the car was a touch more difficult. But we will get there...
Miles 1-4: The start is a slight uphill until you cross out of downtown onto the Shoreway. I knew to take it easy the first couple of miles as my legs were still getting warmed up and I feared the onset of my usual "1 mile in" shin pains and calf tightening. I was keeping a steady pace along the Shoreway as I hit mile 1 (insert dance party here - and pretty much every mile marker here on out). I kept at that pace through mile 3 and despite the damn near perfect overcast with a slight breeze weather, it was around here that I took my first walk break. While walking I texted Little Lisa as I would be passing her apartment building around 4.5 and as a precaution requested a baggy for my phone and some salty pretzels. *I had brought some swedish fish and a couple extra nuun tabs, but I sweat VERY salty so was worried about my sodium levels (alittle dramatic, but rather safe than sorry). I rounded the corner at West 110th and Lake and saw her and Dave (still in their jammies) on the side of road cheering me on! She was out of pretzels, but blue corn tortilla's would later do the job! I stopped for a brief chat, sweaty hug and BIG thank yous and was on my way.
Miles 5-7: Mile 5 was uneventful, just kept on keeping on. I stopped for a little power walk at mile 6 to refill my water and enjoy some sweet fish. It was at some point during these miles (I believe early into mile 6 on Detroit) that I saw a neighborhood gentleman walking along with his brown bag beverage, and I had to fight the urge to go up to him and cheers against my water bottle. While I normally don't condone drinking that early (with the exception of SPD and tailgating), I couldn't help but laugh to myself and think "more power to ya man!" Going into mile 7, I realized I had made it more than halfway. Although it seemed like someone turned the heat lamp on when we turned onto Franklin, that didn't last too long, but it did drain alittle bit of me heading into the next couple of miles.
Miles 8-10: These are the miles where I was not sure if the wheels were going to come off, or what was going to happen. I got really hungry and quite possibly ate through mile 8 while trying to keep a steady walk/run interval going so I wouldn't lose any momentum. While passing mile 9, I had to choke back tears as I am pretty sure I almost had a breakdown. I am still trying to sort out if it was excitement/anxiety/who knows what the hell was happening - but this was the first time I remember having to push out the thought of "am I going to make it?!" Mile 9 was throughout the Tremont neighborhood and boy did I need the support that was out there. If I could classify it, I would say mile 9 to 10 was an emotional roller coaster. I went from almost breaking down, to running through such a support system that I couldn't help but smile. Rumor has it there was also a beer station during this mile, I missed it, but the OJ from Southside was perfection. And the Mariachi band from the hispanic church was the icing on the cake! With that said, these were not my proudest miles, but I got through to mile 10, and did an extra special happy dance at the mile marker as up until today, this was the farthest I had ever ran. I WAS going to make it.
Miles 11-13: Running back into downtown, I felt like I was being called home to the mothership and I just had to navigate these last couple of miles so they could beam me up. Right, at this point, I think I was just dillusional...in a good way. Your mind can take you to some crazy places when you are trying not to focus on the slight hip pain I was experiencing at this point. My least favorite stretch was Huron/Ontario. While I greatly enjoyed the band outside of Hard Rock and the Uncle Sam high fiving and cheering, the road was dusty and sandy and I couldn't help but think that I was going to bite it before I hit mile 12. I took it very slow and was elated when I turned at W. 6th and saw the water station and more hoses. At this point, the sun was out in full force and I needed a cool down (and some more swedish fish). I wanted to refill my water bottle with some fresh cold water, but with 2.1 miles to go, I wasn't going to piss around. The sun, and the final full mile met me with an odd popping sensation in my arch of my left foot along with a weird little pain (knot?) in my right butt cheek. Despite wanting to run this one all out, I slowed down a bit and it is here that I want to thank the nice CEI lady that was out working, but took the time to high-five, thumbs up and pretty much hug almost every runner that passed her. with an encouraging word for all of us. I remember she said "I admire each of you, keep at it girl, you are an inspiration!" I was hurting at this point, but I only had .6 to go. I gained alittle bit of speed after that encounter. And if I saw her today, I would give her a ginormous hug and tell her how her words and support got me to mile 13.
.1 Mile to go: I would like to tell you that I sprinted to the finish at this point. I did not. I did however pick up my pace, and toughed it out for a strong finish. The best part about approaching that finish (and maybe the last bit of oomph that I needed) was seeing J right up there yelling and cheering for me. I gave him a quick (what I thought was a smile - he saw something alittle more fierce) and a wave and threw my arms up and smiled as big as I could.
I had made it. And I had a medal to prove it this time!
I am a Half-Marathoner.
|Half marathoners!!! (I wish I could find my new koozie...?),|
The ice I requested for my ice bath that was heavenly!
One of four blisters that I had (two on each foot... I got lucky!)
Vegging out... quite literally.
- First and most important... THANK YOU to my husband who has/is supporting me on this crazy running journey I have ventured onto. Funny story (I may have told this one before), J and I used to make fun of runners (I know, I know... but as humans we tend to make fun of what we don't understand). We would see runners along N. Marginal while we were out getting our drink on in the early morning hours every Sunday during football season, and we would look at one another and say something funny (in our defense, it stayed between us, we would never yell or say anything loud enough for the runners to hear... I know, I know). J still jokes with me that I've turned into one of those "DB runners" and we giggle together. And while I know he supports me, I don't think he really "got it" until that one Sunday in May when he accompanied me to the Half Marathon. He gets it now, and I might even have him agreeing to volunteer at a water station next year! I love you JPH - I couldn't have done it without you and your stupid jokes!
- My second HUGE THANKS goes out to Brad - who if I'd have never come across his #5kin100days (free) running program, I probably would still be standing on the sidelines making fun of runners. I completed the #5kin100days and graduated to the #10kin100days only to find out that he had since started not only providing his free running program, but a paid version with extra support. I reached out to him in December to see what the cost would be for a Half Marathon training plan/support and he actually worked with me, providing me week by week training plans all out of the goodness of his heart - for the sole reason that running changed his life, and he wants to give that help anyone that needs it. I couldn't have done it without his support and guidance. It means the world to me, and I will never forget his knowledge and kindness!
- We ran through many parts of Cleveland that I would have never expected to see/have the support that we had. Old and young alike were outside cheering us on! It meant the everything to me (I know you were out there for everyone, but at times, I needed to believe it was just me you were cheering for... and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!) This includes all of the thousands of volunteers and businesses! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
- You will hurt when you finish. That is all.
- For the love of all things good and holy, once you cross the finish and get your medal - Grab your snacks/water and get the hell out of the finish area. I literally almost vomited on a guy because he was wondering around and didn't move despite my many "excuse me's" He looked like a veteran racer, so in my mind - he should know better. Although, I will cut him some slack, as he may have been disoriented from the race... or something like that *I didn't end up vomiting, but I had to stop short, and I think it jolted my body something weird and that was my first reaction.
- I never did experience shin pain or calve tightening throughout the race. Someone was smiling down on me that day!
- All of the pain I experience during mile 12 to 13 was nothing serious. I walked off the arch pain, and it has been good ever since. And my butt - butt muscle - just needed a good stretching. Thankfully, all I had after the race was a bad case of DOMS.
- I came out of this race, 13.1 miles, with only 4 blisters and all 10 toe nails. Both of my little toes were one big blister, and the blister in between my big toe and second toe (one on each foot). I was one lucky duck. *bestie lost a couple toe nails.
- Finally, Go Me! I had estimated a 3:30 finish for my first half, and I kinda killed that by 13 minutes. I know it was a month and a couple weeks ago, but I am still riding high and I have to say, that sticker looks GREAT on my car!
|Because I couldn't finish without another gross pic of my toe blisters.|