6.03.2013

half marathon monday: race recap

T and I headed up to Hickory first thing Friday morning so that we could be there by midday. When we got there, we stopped in the little downtown area at this great local sandwich shop { Hatch } and luckily packet pickup was right around the corner. It was the smallest packet pickup I've ever seen---but then again, the race only had about 400 participants. I don't know if it was because I was nervous, but when I walked up to pick everything up, I gave the lady my maiden name without realizing it. She started to look and luckily T stepped in to nicely remind me that was no longer my last name. The lady laughed and told me that it was okay because it takes a while to get used to. Except for that it's been almost been 4 years. Oops.

{all the goodies from the expo}

The packet pickup point was right around the corner from the start line so we decided to drive the course so I could prepare myself for Saturday. I knew that this was a hilly course but since I live in an area with absolutely no elevation change, I wasn't prepared for what "a hilly course" actually meant. After driving the course and leaning what "a hilly course" was {scary pretty much sums it up}, I decided to throw all time goals out the window ( which I know is what they tell you for your first race regardless, but I still had a number in my head) and just make it my goal to run the entire course.

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After driving the course, we went back to the hotel so that I could get all of my stuff prepared for the next morning. We had a really early dinner (which unfortunately wan't that good) and headed back to the hotel. I iced down my legs because my shins were feeling a little sore which totally freaked me out but I actually fell asleep pretty easily. I woke up a few hours later, had some almond butter and went back to bed ( it's a very strange habit I got into when I first started my long runs and it's stuck).

{It sure does take a ton of stuff to run a half marathon!}

I woke up at 5 am, did my regular long run prep routine, ate a Luna bar for breakfast, and we headed out the door. Surprisingly, with all the stuff I had to pack, the only thing I forgot were scissors for my moleskin. Luckily the hotel had some at the front desk and a crisis was averted. It was a 10 minute drive to the start line and we were able to park just a few feet away. One of the biggest perks of running a race this small was that you could use real restrooms before and the lines to those never even got that long. The race started at 6:30 am and T walked up past the start line to avoid the crowds so I was able to see him shortly after I started. The first loop of the course was pretty uneventful, no major hills and SO many people on the sidelines. I had read about the support along the course and that was no joke. The people of Hickory are awesome. So many of them had set up outside their houses with flags and signs and noisemakers cheering everyone along. I knew my Nike Running app was off after the first mile because it said I reached my first mile WAY before I saw the marker. So I just stopped listening to the mile call outs and while I did pay attention to them on the course during the first loop, I stopped paying attention on the second loop. I'm guessing he first loop was about 5 miles and it came right back through the start/finish so I was able to see T again which was awesome. The second loop was where it got tough. REALLY, REALLY tough. Those hills were no joke. And the downhills were so steep, they were almost as bad as the uphills. I took a Gu around mile 6 and while I had my handheld water bottle, I ended up using a lot of the water stations. The course was absolutely beautiful during the second half and I tried to focus on that to take my mind off the course. At around mile 8 ( I think. As I write this, I am amazed by the bloggers that can give mile by mile recaps.) we cut into a wooded area and ran about a mile through on a bike trail. I thought it would be great because it was shady, but the entire entrance was uphill. But I did pass a handful of people who had stopped to walk so that was exciting. As I exited the park, there was a water station with ice cold towels--those things were amazing. I took another Gu on the trail and nursed it for about another half mile. Miles 9-12 were pretty uneventful but a lot of that portion of the course was on the road so it was pretty hot. And then there was the last mile / half mile ( I know you're enjoying my precision here!). I turned a corner and all I saw was uphill. I almost started crying. We'd driven this hill the day before so I knew it was coming but as I'm sure you can imagine, it's a bit more daunting after you've already run 12 miles and you're on foot. But I did it. I'm sure my pace was horrendous but I ran the entire way up the hill. At one point I almost stopped and this group of people was dancing around in the street and one of the guys yelled out " You can do it! You are a strong woman!". Hah. Clearly I couldn't stop there. It flattened out for the last few minutes of the race and the finish line was incredible. The race is small enough that the announcer called out my name as I crossed the finish line. Once I passed the finish line, there were people waiting with ice cold towels, water, and a finishers medal. 


And just like that it was over. Leading up to the race, I really thought crossing the finish line was going to be this really emotional experience. And it was, but it was also really bittersweet. I was so proud of myself for running the entire time but part of me still did wish my time was faster ( I'm my own worst critic. I will probably always wish my time was faster. This really is something I need to be better about.). And then I was really sad that it was over. I've been training for this since January and all of the sudden, it was all over. We hung around for the after party for a little while to get some fruit and water and stretch out. They did have beer and pizza for everyone but I wasn't quite ready for all that {I've come to realize that beer is only fun after a 5K. Anything more than that and I need a bit of a breather before booze.}. We spent the rest of the weekend in Hickory and it really is a cute little town. We headed back home on Sunday morning, took a little spin through the campus of my alma mater and just as I was winding down from the excitement of everything, I came home to this on our front door:

{My parents came by our house while we were gone and put this up on the front door. They are seriously the best}

Overall, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I put my mind to something I never thought in my wildest dreams I could do, and I did it. 6 months ago, I couldn't run a 5K and on Saturday I ran 13.1 miles. Not only that, but I never stopped to walk and with the exception of a few blisters, I did it totally injury free. And now, I have a new hobby. While those hills were BRUTAL, I am hooked. And now I'm looking forward to running a few here with no hills to see how much I can shave off my time. Speaking of time, my official time was 2:07:16 and I finished fifth in my age group. Fifth! Yet another perk of a small race.

My next goal is to run the Kiawah Half Marathon in December followed by the Charleston Half Marathon in January 2014 {I won't do a full yet, but I'm going to do two within a month and see how I feel}. Since there will be no hills whatsoever, my big goal will be to get my time under two hours. It's a big goal for sure but what are goals for if they don't push you, right? After all, a giant goal was what got me here in the first place. That way I can take the summer off from training and resume again in September.

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I also want to say an ENORMOUS thank you to each and every one of you. To my husband for being so amazingly, incredibly supportive of me throughout all of this.  For going along, no questions asked, as I completely changed the way we ate, let my runs dictate our schedules, and listened to me obsessively talk all things half marathon for months. And who, after all that, was awake at 5am on race day to cheer me on, capture every moment, and congratulate me at the finish line. To my parents for being my biggest cheerleaders: a job they have always done better than anyone else. To all of my family and friends for the support, the advice, and just for listening to me run my mouth about this stuff for the past 6 months. I tried not to let it consume my life, but the fact is it did, and you were all so patient listening to me talk about every silly detail of the entire process. And to all of you who actually followed along here. I know my Monday posts were dry and pretty lame but to any of you who read the posts---and honestly to any of you who are still reading this horrendously long novel of a post-- thank you. If it weren't for the endless amounts of support and encouragement I had along the way, I wouldn't have been able to do it and I surely wouldn't be planning on doing more. 

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2 comments:

  1. I love this post! I am so impressed with your dedication to this race and your triumph over the hills! Congratulations!

    I am also SO excited that you are going to run Kiawah!!!

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  2. I check your blog periodically, what an amazing accomplishment! You should be so proud of yourself! Congratulations!

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