It’s been a week since I ran my half, so I figure it’s about time to let you all know how it went :).
The Man and I put our little girls in the hands of his mother and headed out the door at 5:45am on Saturday morning and pointed the car to New Orleans. After a 5 hour drive and a few stops, we headed to the Expo at the Convention Center.
The center was packed with people buzzing around every which way. Along with the runners, there was some sort of cheerleader thing going on as well. I searched out and found a steady stream of abnormally fit people going in a certain direction and followed them into the correct hall. From the very first minute, I knew I was where I needed to be. This was where I should be. Not because I am abnormally fit, but because I want to be 🙂
As a steady stream of people passed by, I couldn’t help but observe the many different genres of “runner” that I saw. There were the pros, sleek and trim and cool as a cucumber. Another day at the office for them. There were the groups and teams, giggling as they huddled together for another photo-op. Leaning on each other for support and inspiration. And there were the rookies, with eyes and clothing sizes a little wider than the rest, lingering in front of every station. These were my people, and there were plenty of them.
After getting my bib and info packet, we were off to explore the chaos. I had to stop for my own little photo-op…
I have to say that we didn’t stay too long at the expo. Too, too many people for this chick. I tried to soak it in as fast as possible. A few free samples here and there and I signed up for a new magazine subscription so I could get a “free” tshirt 🙂
The rest of the day was spent grabbing some good food and visiting family and a Tulane baseball game. It was a beautiful day to spend in the city, but I have to say I was quite preoccupied through most of it. I suffered with an upset stomach through most of the day. Nothing dramatic, just enough to feel upset. Nerves, yuck!!
Around 9 o’clock I decided to call it a night and get myself ready for the morning. I laid out everything I needed for the next morning; this is the pic I took of it all before I packed for the trip:
The white fleece jacket is forever-old and needed to be retired. I chose to bring it to the starting line to ditch when we started. It was too cold to go without anything while waiting, but knew I would heat up pretty quickly. I give myself a +2 for that idea, as it worked perfectly. The waist belt was something I bought the day before we left town. Without my running jacket, I needed a pocket to carry my iphone in so I could contact The Man when/if I reached the finish line. Another +2. It was a great $10.00 purchase from Academy. I didn’t feel it the entire run, and it was nice to be able to text when I was reaching Canal St. to let the husband know I was reaching our checkpoint.
The bodyglide has been long-run staple ever since I had a sports bra incident that made me look like a had an underwire attack; and the shot bloks I would have really liked at about mile 6, but I forgot to pack them the morning of the run.
After getting all my gear ready, I read over my instructions a few dozen times and closed my eyes praying for sleep.
It worked. I slept like a baby.
Alarm was set on the iphone for 5am and it didn’t take me long after the first sounds for me to remember the monstrous task I had assigned for myself that day. I quickly went about getting dressed and ready and eating the peanut butter and banana sandwich I had made for myself the night before. I woke The Man up and we headed out the door by 6:00am. After a short drive in a sleepy town, we arrived at the shuttle set up for runners at the Superdome. After a sweet send-off from the husband, I closed the door and found myself alone on a tremendous journey. I loaded the shuttle bus and sat quietly, watching couples and friends walk by through the window.
A nice older gentleman sat down next to me and politely asked me about myself. He was from Atlanta and has done dozens of half marathons throughout the years. It was a nice ice breaker into another runner’s perspective. I felt better automatically.
After a short walk from the bus stop, I found myself at the starting area.
I had about 1/4 of a bagel and a bottle of water, and made my way to my corral.
I wisely went to the port-a-potty before the rest of the crowd filled in. There was quite a line at this point. You can see a line of blue potties in the background, right above the people. That was the main group of them, but luckily each corral had five or six in the start line as well. Everybody’s got to go before a race!
After about 20 minutes of waiting, we saw the front line take off but my corral took about 35 minutes to work up to the start line. I snuck out of the barriers to pee again 🙂 and barely missed a beat. +2 decision again for me. I didn’t have to go at all while running and every potty in the race course had a line waiting.
Finally, the start!
Mile 1 – went by in a flash. Just excited about watching everything and every body go by.
Mile 2 – trying to settle into a pace. I notice on my Garmin I’m a little faster than normal. Try to bring it down a bit to I don’t burn out too fast but it’s too easy a pace right now. Still excited.
Mile 3 – HOLY CRAP MY STOMACH IS CRAMPING!!! Where did that come from? I try not to dwell on it and inhale long and slow, breathing down into my belly. It works.
Mile 4, 5, 6 – Just cruising. Slowed down and staring at various butts as we all go along. Also start having routine water stations about every mile or so and decide to walk 30 seconds through each one so I can actually drink it and not splash my face instead.
Mile 7 – Yeah, I’m tired. Yeah, I’m thinking to myself, “a couple of weeks ago I did a 7 miler and it was long and hard and I was ecstatically happy with it. and now I’m just a little over halfway done… boo…“.
Mile 8 – I got to see my smiling husband as I went through the Quarter. He snapped a pic and then I promptly stopped for a second to talk and stretch. My back/hamstrings were getting pretty stiff at this point.
If it looks like those two ladies were walking, it’s because they were. 8.4 miles in, people were dropping like flies.
Mile 9 – Along with the water, they had energy gel (Gu). I have never wanted anything more during a run. I was way past empty on the energy scale. I took mine down quickly, and I admit, a half mile later I picked up an unopened discarded packet and had it as well. I’m telling you.. EMPTY!
Mile 10, 11, 12 – THE HARDEST 3 MILES I HAVE EVER “RUN” IN MY LIFE! Mile 10 had a donut shop and the air was the best thing I have ever smelled. Thoughts of beignets faded into the background as I smelled those heavenly donuts. Two runners actually came out of the shop and joined back into the race with a bag of chocolate cake donuts. I hated them instantly for taunting me. Taunting me with donuts, and taunting me with the fact they could joke about eating donuts after running so long. They had no idea I hated them, either. I observed it all in silence as I suffered along the live oak covered cracked pavement of Esplanade Ave.
The 13th mile – We were teased a little by thinking we had to run down and cross a bridge and come back to the park. When we reached the bridge we realized the path went the opposite direction and then came back around, adding a 1/2 mile or so. That was depressing. My whole body hurt, but the last few miles I realized it hurt just as bad when I walked as it did while I ran, so I carried on. As we approached the finish line I was passing runners that were walking back from the finish line, already carrying their finisher’s medal. I was soo ready to be one of them.
THE FINISH LINE!
There was no energy left to speed up for a strong finish, so I made sure just to finish in an upright position. It would be bad form to collapse at this point 😉
I quickly realized there was no one to greet me. The Man hadn’t made it to the park by shuttle bus yet (there was no parking for spectators, boo!). That was a little disheartening, but I tried to enjoy it all as much as I could. I was given my medal and grabbed up some free grub before finding a nice tree to crash under until my cheering section arrived (sister-in-law and brother-in-law joined husband).
That’s a pic of a very tired, but very satisfied girl. I just finished a half marathon! I went from huffing through my first Couch to 5k 90 second run, to running 13.1 miles!!! Granted, I was slow (2:55), but I was never in this for speed. I wanted to go the distance – and the distance I conquered 🙂
I really believe now that I can do anything I set my mind to. The body is an amazingly adaptive thing. If you sit on the couch all day, it will adapt to that. If you push it through exercise, it will adapt to that as well. It was my decision to get off the couch, and I’m so very glad that I did.
I don’t really know where I go from here. I am going to run a 5k in Portland, Oregon next weekend visiting family, and I have a few 5k’s scheduled for this spring/summer. The Man and I have got a plan to start lifting/running together to lose some poundage. Funny thing that I haven’t lost any weight during training. My appetite was as big as my training plan! I’m also pretty weak as well, so I’m looking forward to adding some weight lifting to tone up a bit for summer short season.
Sorry it took so long to recap! Work life is pretty busy right now and kids never let up (school kids or home kids!).
Night y’all – and I hope this inspires you to do something to improve your life. You don’t have to run 13.1 miles, but you should investigate that nagging thought in the back of your brain that pushes you out of your comfort zone.