Oh hi!!!! Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week or so. I’m still super busy between school, work, being a good wife, and taking care of little Charlie. Right now he’s doing this
So I have a few minutes to myself to type up this post.
Josh and I are having so much fun with him right now. He’s got quite the little personality now, and has grown a full pound since we got him! He’s pretty much sleeping through the night now without accidents, and we’re doing better on the potty training front too. He has his first day of puppy school this weekend, and we’re really excited to get him trained and using that little terrier brain for some good.
Last time we talked I mentioned that I ran my first half marathon, the Women Rock Marathon, in St. Paul, MN on Sep 1, 2012. I found the race online early this past summer and decided that it looked like a ton of fun. I was itching to train for a race so I payed the [somewhat] hefty price tag* and signed up.
*The race is run by Team Ortho which does a lot of urban races in the Twin Cities. The following is their mission statement straight off their web page. “To improve and enhance the lives of orthopaedic patients through our commitment to supporting research, education, and advancements in orthopaedic technology; and to promote good muscular, skeletal, and joint health by encouraging an active lifestyle including training for and participating in amateur athletic events.”
Because the race is put on with the intention of fund raising for their cause, it did cost a little bit more than a normal half-marathon, but I have to say it was well worth it. I felt great supporting a cause that I really believe in, and the whole thing was more than just a race, it was an event.
So anyhow, I started training by following this plan by Hal Higdon. I loved that this plan had 4-5 workout days a week, and I didn’t feel like it consumed my entire life. I also have had some serious runners injuries in the past (IT band trouble, patella issues, shin splints…) and this plan’s runs were short enough that I was able to add lifting to some of the days too to help strengthen my muscles and prevent injuries. Overall, I would say that it was a great intro training plan that allowed me to finish the half. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to run a race, but doesn’t have a ton of time to train. You can follow my individual workouts that include my lifting sessions here.
After 12 weeks of training, the race day was finally here. I drove the 6 hours to St. Paul and met my mom and aunt who ran the 10K. We went to the race expo where we were greeted by this.
That’s right, firemen. Everywhere. The race was a women’s only race that held a ladies only theme throughout. The expo was well organized, including packet pickup, wristbands for the after party, and tons of vendors.
After the expo we went to get some dinner and just relax before the race. I knew I wanted to eat something that would fuel my muscles, but also something that I ate on a regular basis that my body was used to. I ended up choosing a grilled portobello sandwich which was delicious, and downed probably a whole pitcher of water myself in an effort to hydrate.
After dinner it was close to 8 so we just headed back to the hotel to get everything together for the next morning and try to get some rest. I layer out my running clothes, pinned on my bib, hooked my chip to my shoe and tried not to get too nervous. I was excited, but also really scared. I had followed my training plan, but was still scared that I would not be able to finish the race for some reason. Silly me. Luckily I was so tired from the new puppy the week before, I so tired and fell asleep no problem. I ended up waking up around 3 when my nerves really kicked in and laid there restlessly for the rest of the night.
We woke up at 5:15 and I attempted to drink some more water and eat a banana and bread with peanut butter to get some fuel into me. My stomach was upset because of the nerves, but I knew that if I didn’t eat I would be sorry during the race.
We got dressed and headed down to the main race village where I said goodbye to my mom and aunt and got on a bus to head to the marathon start. I boarded the bus, turned on my iPod and tried to get into the race zone. We drove about 7 miles up to north St Paul and got off to head to the starting line. I was ready to go. There was music blasting, women of all shapes and sizes, fans cheering… It was awesome! Standing in the corral waiting for the gun to go off, all of my nerves went away. I was just so excited! I was about to do something that I had worked so hard for for months. And I was ready. I saw a fan’s sign and it said, “Trust in your training.” And I realized that I was going to be okay. I would finish this race.
The national anthem started and I got the chills. It was so surreal. And then the gun went off.
It took about 2 minutes to get from where I was in the corral to the actual starting line. Once I got there, we were off. The first mile was spent doing a lot of passing and weaving around people. I tried to stay focused and not start out too strong. I stayed right with the pacer, especially in the beginning. Around mile 3 the stampede had pretty much ended and we were all spread out. I was feeling so good! I ended up running with the pacer that was one faster than I originally intended. It was so comfortable. She was doing a great job of encouraging everyone around her.
The whole time there were fans everywhere along the sides of the course yelling and cheering for everyone that came by. It gives me the chills just thinking about it! I knew that none of those people were there for me, but they were still cheering for me and smiling.
The race had 3 bands set up playing live music along the course. I made sure to turn down my music as I ran past them and really tried to take in that experience. It was really unique!
There were water stations every 1.5-2 miles and I got water at all of them. I kept running through most of them, but I drank water all throughout my training and never felt any bad effects so I knew that I needed the water to keep hydrated.
Mile 8 had gu gel in addition to the water and Powerade. I took the gu and made sure to chase it with lots of water. I got to mile 9 and my legs felt like cement. My head was positive, but I knew I was slowing down. I had lost my favorite pacer at the gu station.
Between miles 9-11 there were some rolling hills and I found myself slowing and walking quite a bit. At mile 10.5 I looked down at my watch and felt a little discouraged. I had lost a ton of time in the past few miles. I dug deep inside, realized that my legs had had a chance to rest a little those past few miles, I had gu in me so I had a little more energy. It was time to pick things back up. I didn’t really have a hard goal time, but I knew I wanted to finish strong. I could do this. Trust in my training. I kicked my legs, cranked my music, and worked my tail off that last 1.5 miles. I just kept telling myself I was almost done.
Once I got to the home stretch I was feeling strong again. My legs were tired but they were not going to stop for anything. There were tons of fans cheering in that last half mile stretch. It really gave me an extra boost of energy! I looked down at my watch with the finish line in sight and started “sprinting” as fast as my legs could take me. I was so close I could taste it! As soon as I started sprinting Edge of Glory (Lady Gaga) came on to my iPod. This was it. I actually started tearing up. I can’t explain those last 2 minutes to you, all I know is that I was running with a part of my body I had never run with before, my heart. It was the only thing that had any juice left. And the next thing I knew, I had crossed the finish line and my mom and aunt were there to catch me!
I felt amazing. Tired, excited, emotional, and super sweaty!!! I had done it.
I went and got my necklace from the firemen (The “medals” were these super cute W chair necklaces with pink sapphires in them) Awesome!!!!
I got some water and a snack bag and went in the shade to stretch and cool down.
After a little while I was cooled down and we went back to the car to change out of our sweaty clothes. Then we headed back to the after party where everyone got pink champagne in a Women Rock flute! They had a band there and it was really fun to just sit and talk with all of the other runners.
About 30 minutes later I started to feel really tired. We decided to head back to the hotel where I took a shower and laid down for a few minutes while every one else got ready. Then we went to lunch, did a little bit of shopping and hit the road home.
That ride home was killer! I was so tired. I stopped and got some coffee which helped. But if I did it again I would have someone else drive, or stay an extra night. I had to get home to Josh and the puppy though! I made it home safely.
Overall, this was a life changing experience. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of running though those crowds at the finish line when I thought I didn’t have any gas left in me. My time was okay for my first race.
When I decide to do another one, I probably will follow a little harder training plan in order to improve my time. And also not get excited about running with a faster pacer than I should be. I think I would have felt a little better miles 9-11 if I would have run closer to my training pace. It didn’t seem like a big change at the time, in fact the slower time felt slow to me at the time, but it made a huge difference in the end.
The race itself was so well organized and such a fun event. I loved that it was all women. And all of the special touches they had from the race expo, bands along the course, to the champagne after party. SO MUCH FUN!!!!
Okay, so if you’re still with me – bless your heart. I will share my race playlist and gear with you later on.