First, let me reiterate how huge I feel like this is for me. A month ago, my runs were no longer than 2.5 miles. Couple this with being 15-20 lbs overweight (about 10 of that is those last few darned pregnancy pounds) and the fact that I've never run this far even pre-baby, and I will tell you that I did not anticipate this being part of my summer plans. But, I was inspired by my friend who recently ran a half marathon and figured that if I just signed up for it, I would have to make it work.
I was very confident up until about a week ago when we went on vacation. I didn't exercise while we were gone and I pretty much pigged out. When we returned, I just was not that into running. And, it was race week. I knew I just had to squeeze out five miles during one of my runs so I knew that I could do the race without walking. I did on Wednesday, merely two days before the event. The last mile was pure hell but it was what I needed so I didn't make some pathetic excuse to try to get out of going.
Then, last night about two hours before it was time for me to leave, I started getting nervous. What was I thinking? I don't have a runner's physique, and I started fearing that I would stick out like a sore thumb. It was like high school all over again, that sensation where you feel like everyone will stare and laugh at you.
Once I got there and analyzed the crowd, I realized how silly that was but I was still really freaked out... what if I was last? As we were getting ready to start, I felt more and more like I was going to be sick, but I had to shake it off. And, I kept thinking about how I knew I could run five miles... I just did it two days ago! I'm so glad that I did too, because that thought carried me through a lot of the difficult moments of the run.
I think that my favorite part of the event was how many people in the community were sitting in their yards, cheering us on. Several people even set up sprinklers over the road so the runners could cool off, including the local fire department which set up a huge water hose. It was a good thing that the beginning of the course ran through the town because there had been a huge line for the ladies' room (which of course, only had two stalls) and I saw several women running into houses and then running back out giggling, saying "I had to go!" There were water stations at every mile marker, and the county's sheriff, Mark Wasylyshyn (seriously, that's how you spell his name, and no, I have no idea how you pronounce it) handed me one of my cups of water. This is pretty much a celebrity to me, keeping in mind that other celebrities on my list are Father Dominic and Jay Berschback.
The suckiest part of the race? The third mile. At the first two mile markers, my times reflected that my pace was just under 10:30, which is super for me. When I ran that five miles earlier in the week, it had taken me about an hour. I know that focusing on staying ahead of the people that I had already passed and working on passing people ahead of me helped a lot. Not having to push a jogging stroller for once helped too. However, that third mile was through the country, sans shade. Now, the country path that I run down each day also is out in the blazing sun, but I always leave before 11 a.m. when it is a bit cooler out. This is opposed to running at 7 p.m. when it is much hotter out. I really started to fear that I was going to have to walk at some point, and my head started pounding with pain. I intermittently swore to myself and then would tell myself, if I can just finish this mile then I will be more than halfway done, and I will be back in the shade again.
I don't have my mile to mile pace results back yet, but I know that third mile was the slowest. After that, even though my legs and feet were starting to feel like lead, I could focus on running back to town. When I hit the fourth mile marker and was told that I was at 43 minutes, I was utterly shocked. OMG, I can finish this under an hour! And, seeing people that were walking helped, too. Here I was so concerned that I was going to be last, but I ran the whole thing and that is something to be proud of in itself.
I sprinted to the finish and crossed the finish line at 54 minutes even. That's a 10:48 pace!!! I'm sure that to experienced runners, this is nothing, but to me, this is super awesome. I do not aspire to be a fast runner. I have short, stocky legs and competition against others is not my thing. But, doing better than I ever have before makes me wildly proud of myself.
I was shaking with exhaustion and excitement when I finished, and drank about five or six cups of water. Then, I found my friend and her family. Pics were taken, congratulations were said. I was elated on the way home and shared my accomplishment with Jon. I squeezed Amelia and thought about how great it will be for my little girl to grow up seeing her mommy being active, and to maybe run some races with me someday.
Next up is the Susan G. Komen 5K in September, and then I am running a 10k in October. And... I'm pondering a half marathon in April. I need to talk more to my friend about the training involved, and I would have to commit to running throughout the winter, which I'm not big on. I've always switched things up and done step/spin classes when it's cold, and running/rollerblading when it's warm. However, when I think about being able to say that I've ran a half marathon, my pulse quickens a bit with excitement.
I'm not big on quotes, but I read this one recently in an interview done with Allison Sweeney-- "I told my trainer, 'I want my body back!' She was like, 'Why go back? Go forward! Be the best you that you can be today. That might be thinner and more toned than ever.' Any time I doubt myself for whatever reason, whether it's because of my weight, my physique, or my current athletic abilities, I think of that quote. There's only one direction to go, and it's forward.... in all likelihood, with my running shoes on :)