Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapter 2 page 445 - The Half Marathon for the ages

This is a long post - you can skip ahead to the photos if you want :)
I said it in an earlier post, but this race was 100% of having awesome friends!!!!!!!  I am sooooo blessed to have friends!!!!!  They came out, and their families came out, to cheer me on.  It made all the difference!!!!!!!!
A HUGE thanks to:
April (and her husband
Tia (and her sister, mother, and daughter)
Louise (and her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and sister)
Sue (from my half marathon class)
. . . and my parents!!!!!
These awesome folks and their families kept me going. 

I'm waiting on some group photos from friends (April, Tia, Jenn - if you have group shots of us all before the race and/or after the race - can you email me them?  thanks!) so just keep tuning in to see them!

Temp:  45* at race start with 99% humidity - cold!  Thankfully no wind!
Temp:  54* during the race with 56% humidity - awesomely beautiful.  Still no wind!
Temp:  50* at the end of the race and RAIN - nice distraction, but COLD!  PTL no wind!

Before the race - we saw lots of our friends so that was super motivating.  We took some photos.  Here are a couple I have:
Marcia & Bri in their corral getting ready for their 7:30 a.m. start for their 4 mile race.  SOOOO proud of these girls.  6 months ago they would have NEVER dreamed of doing this race!  They earned their way to the starting line!  Great job girls!!!!  High 5's all around!!!

You surely recognize Tia (left) and April (from Another Day in the Life of April) - these girls look great don't they!  So proud of them.  22 weeks of long, hot, and hard training all coming down to their first half marathon start just moments after this was taken.  Sooooo proud of them!!! They ended up finishing AHEAD of their goal time!!  Woot!

On the right is Val - she did my first 10K with me and now was doing her first half marathon with her friends.  In A LOT of ways, I owe her the most - without that awesome first race experience, I'm sure I wouldn't have continued racing.  I saw Val a the finish line.  She did GREAT in her first half - she ran the first 8 miles straight - WOW!  Great job Val!

These are 2 gals who have done the half marathon together each of the event's 4 years.  On the left is Ashley and she is an NP who used to work with me.  On the right is Stacey who is a hospital pharmacist.  So proud of these two!!!

Who are these people?  HA!  "L" surprised me by showing up on her bike.  She rode her bike to SEVERAL locations (wonder how many miles she road in all) around the route.  She was HUGELY valuable to me.  Not only did she give me a pep talk, but she walked 2 minutes with me, she took my non-working ipod from me, and gave me a fresh cold bottle of water - so awesome!  Thanks "L" for being the most amazingly selfless friend!!!! 
 And so after all of that socializing, the gun fired and we were off - I think this is a great photo.  3,300 racers  -thanks mom for getting the photo of "C" and I!  I wore those pink compression sleeves so that everyone could find me - I think it was a good strategy . . .go ahead, play the game "Where's Wells L"?  ha!
The first 2 mile were HARD - it was cold and my muscles were NOT happy.  I had learned in my half marathon class that there was no need to warm up for a half marathon because the first couple of miles could serve as a warm up, but I'm wondering if in the cold weather I shouldn't have done a little jogging???  Oh well, there had been lots of runs that "C" and I have had where the first 2 miles felt HARD and then once we warmed up they got easier - I had A LOT of hope that this was going to be the case - I couldn't "fight" for 13 miles.  At mile 2 I looked down at my watch to compare it to the pacing and noticed that my watch had stopped.  This was really about more than I could take.  My shoes were tied too tightly hurting my shins and my legs were not "flowing" like they should and now my watch has stopped???? I really almost just gave up on the hopes of getting a PR and thought about moving into survival mode - but with God's luck I pressed a button on my watch and it went back to the running stop watch time (must have hit a split button accidentally or something - didn't even know there was such a button).  Wow - that whole thing really took a bunch of mental energy and busted my "hope" balloon.  I was relieved and thankful when it worked.  I think about this time my legs also began to loosen up and I was on my way.  I didn't interact much, I just focused on running my race - which ironically became my running mantra "run my race" "run my race" - I found myself saying that quite frequently from miles 7-13.

Miles 3-4 I interacted a lot more with other participants.  There was a duo talking about books they had read.  They started off talking about The Help and then because I run/walk I lost them.  When I caught up with them again they were talking about the Twilight books - which I hadn't read.  They were sweet - they offered to discuss the books that I had read - how sweet is that?  I told them I had only been reading running books lately.

Miles 5-8 were boring very few spectators.  It's a beautiful part of the course, but you were "stuck" with who you were near.  This was also another chance for me to test out my mental strength.  I had spent HOURS getting my ipod play list ready.  I had planned to turn it on at mile 5 and cruise with it through mile 10.  Put in the yurbuds - NOTHING!  What?  How could that be?  It was charged, it was loaded - what?  No idea!  Nothing!!  OHHHH NOOOOOO!  What am I going to do?  My whole race plan was focused on being centered and blasting the jamz - now what?  I was a bit defeated!  I tucked the yurbuds back in my bra strap and thought about worked on my "now what" plan.   My first 5 mile split was exactly 13:00 m/m so I was cruising and ahead of the pacing on my arm - it was going great!  That gave me a bit of a boost.  And the pace wasn't overly challenging so I just started thinking about what do I do well during races - socialize!!!  So . . . I decided TO BRING THE PARTY!!!!  I talked to everyone.  I met some very fun (and annoying) people.  I really enjoyed these 2 guys where were hilarious.  I lost them around the 7 mile mark, but one of came over at the finish line to give me a fist bump (as did the book club girls)!  Nice!

Miles 8-10 were daunting. I  was scared.  Just before mile 8 I saw "L" and nearly cried.  I was SO scared about the "U" shaped part of the course that lies ahead.  There was a challenging hill at mile 9.5 and in my head it!!!  "L" walked with me for one interval and that was great.  The good news is that because the "U" shaped part of the route was different than we had trained on, it flew by (thank God).  Right before mile 9 I saw my parents - that was nice.  Then only a few steps later a girl came running up to me out of the blue - it was Sue from our half marathon class.  OHHHH MAN that was GREAT!!!!  She ran with me until about mile 10.5 (or so).  I saw my parents again at about mile 9.3 which was nice. At about mile 9.5 my life dramatically improved.  Kimberly from Healthystrides was there with her husband and new baby!  She ran with me for nearly a mile - wearing a sweater (and after crushing her 4 mile race earlier) - she's an amazing woman!!!  Thanks so much Kim!  We ran through the 10 mile clock and I had lost 2 (or 4 minutes) which really upset me.  She was like "don't worry about that - stay focused".  We hugged a couple of times and then she left.  As I crossed the 10 mile mat I heard "Hey Wells you're early" - ummm what?  It was my friend "M" who was waiting on the steps of some house.  It's true, I was early.  I had told him I would be there 6 minutes later than I actually was there - ha!  So . . . for a bit of time I had M and Sue on one side of me and Kimberly on the other - who can loose with awesome friends like that!!!!! 

As I had already known from past experience - miles 10-11.5 were hard!  They feel still pretty far away from the finish line and the route is a bit confusing (not like you can get lost) but it's easy to loose your bearings to know where you are.  M was still on and off with me.  We talked about strategy and he helped me to regain perspective which although I was a bit behind my 2:54 time at this time, I was still more than 5 minutes ahead of my original 2:59 goal!  He told me there was one more little hill (little?  It was short, but it was steep and I walked through an interval).  It think I only walked through 2 full intervals and then maybe parts of 2 more.  It might have been 3 intervals I walked through, but that's not bad (for me - and especially for me doing the race alone and doing it so much quicker than I normally run).

Miles 11.5-12 just needed to be done.  Ever get that way.  I was struggling, hurting (my psoas was killing me) and my legs had begun cramping up.  I should have fueled at mile 11 and forgot - too busy breathing I'd guess! ha!  M and I discussed my finishing strategy.  I talked out loud a couple of options and did some math.  At most I only had 24 more minutes of running - 6 total running intervals.  Surely I can run 6 more times (surely, right!).  At mile 12 I told M I was going to do one more interval - and then I would run the rest, then during that run, I announced "I'm going to do one more after this one" - ha!  I lost him for a little bit and felt a few drops of rain.  I went under an overpass and said out loud "COME ON RAIN" - I was READY for the rain to give me a distraction - I needed a distraction.

Miles 12-13.1:  Not but 2 blocks or so later, Jenn came out of no where to run the final stretch with me.  Thank you Lord for the distraction - and it rained too.  I say pour on the distractions.  And just then we turned the final corner and M said "you got to decide what you're going to do" - I turned off my beeper and said I would run the rest (.6 miles) all the way.  He said "ignore your beeper and just do it" - I told him I already turned off my beeper.  He wished me luck.  Jenn was talking to me and all I was thinking was about not dying (sorry Jenn for not being the most pleasant social company during that final run).  I ran down the tunnel and onto the field.  There were very few people in the stands which bummed me out - they were hugely motivational last year, but . .  I pushed.  I passed one person then the next, dug deep and pretended I was doing speed work.  I rounded the corner to the first base line and heard "C" yellling soooo loudly for me (I couldn't do anything but sprint one foot in front of the other and nod that I heard her - I couldn't turn my head or smile at her or even give her a wave - I nodded - it was sort of an autopilot experience - just 100% effort moving me forward).  I was 100% focused on the clock (which wasn't my time) and realized if I sprinted like my entire life depended on it - I would finish BEFORE 2:54 and that would be SWEET victory since I had lost some time during the middle 5 miles.

OH MY GOODNESS - final time 2:53:51 . . . nearly 8:30 minutes faster than my previous PR!!!!  WOW!!!!  I then coughed (asthma - still need to get that looked) at so much that I gagged so I spent some time leaning over a trash can.  I got my medal and thankfully "C" was there to help me get my food and water.  I just couldn't - I was breathing (barely) and that was all.  She talked to me and said "I know how you get, just breath, I'll talk".  Sweet isn't she.  Then I started seeing all of my new and old friends crossing and coming up to me for a hug.  There were several people who said that I helped them get through the race because of my energy - that's a pretty amazing compliment I'd say!  I know that I got through because of them!

Here are some amazing finish line photos my mom took - click on them to zoom in.  You can even see "C" and her facial expression as I'm finishing - priceless!!!!
I'm in between the girl in the teal and the girl in the orange . . . but not for long!  "C" is almost directly across me to the left behind the fence.  She's wearing an aqua colored long sleeve shirt with a neon green tank under it.  Zoom and see her face!  It's awesome!  She's so genuinely excited for me!

Passing some people here I come!  Zoom to see "C"

Still passing people - I'm racing the full 13.1 here people - get out of my way!!!!  Ha! If you zoom in, you can see that "C" has begun to run away from the fence so that she can run back around to meet me!! She had set her goals as a 2:45 primarily and then if the world was great maybe a 2:40 - UMMMM yeah, she crushed her race and got a 2:40 . . .she beat her PR by 9 minutes!!!!!

Another round of "Where's Wells L?" Hint - I'm still wearing neon pink calf sleeves - ha!


  1. I am so, so, so proud of you! Even though you thanked people, YOU did this. YOU trained for 18 weeks. YOU ran for 13.1 miles. YOU earned your PR.

    BTW, I'm really glad you let me run with you. I was planning to join you but I didn't want to take away from your experience - especially if you were in the zone. Can't wait to do it again! Next time, though, I'll ditch the sweater :)

  2. YAAAAAAY! I'm so happy for you! You totally rocked it :D

  3. I agree with Kimberly, you may have had help along the way - but YOU did it. YOUR hard work really paid off! I am so proud to call you my friend.

    And please, don't apologize for not talking more with me. I didn't expect you to! I wasn't sure if I should join you either but I remember you saying it helped you for the PCT, so I thought why not! I was honored to be able to run with you as you crushed your PR! I will have some pictures for you on Wednesday.

  4. Nice job!! Glad you had a fun race & a PR!

  5. OMG!! I'm SO proud! (Awesome race recap by the way!) It definitely helps to have such wonderful support from both friends/family and even strangers. Maybe one day we will get to race together- though I'm sure you will leave me in the dust lol

  6. YEAH!!!!!! You rock!!!! Fantastic job!!!

  7. Love the recap - and talk about an awesome PR -- wooooo hoooooooo!! Where's Wells L is surely going to catch on -watch out for whole races of people wearing pink compression sleeves!

  8. Yay! Congratulations on your PR! What a huge accomplishment! :)