Tuesday, October 14, 2014

33Before33 - #1 - Half Marathon!

I absolutely cannot believe I am writing this post.  When I made this "33 Before 33" list I just kind of typed that out and didn't really think much bout it.  At that time I had run the Huckleberry Trail, which is a 6 mile trail in VA.  I honestly have never really liked running - although I go through spells where I do it quite a bit.

Anyhow, a couple of months ago I started thinking maybe it would be fun (ha!) to go run the Hokie Half Marathon in Blacksburg.  I had almost forgotten about its spot on the list, but was more thinking that it would be a really challenging thing to do for myself.  So I downloaded a few training plans and started not following them right away.  Actually I did okay but kind of fit them to meet my needs, which wasn't a big problem.  I was able to build up my endurance for longer runs - up to about 8.3 miles.  Then the next run was a disaster and had my shins in a terrible mess.  At first I thought it was just shin splints, but then realized maybe my running shoes that I wore that day were wearing out, so after fixing that and resting about a week I was back in the game.  My knees started really hurting after runs longer than 6 miles so that meant fewer short runs because I needed more recovery time.  I had worked up to a 9 mile run and a 9.2 mile run before we left for Disney (3 weeks before the half). This was the day that the registration fee increased, so I bit the bullet and registered for the race.

Of course I had no time to run the week we were gone, but I got lots of walking miles in!  When we got home (2 weeks pre-race) I did a 10 mile run (more on that later) and felt pretty good - although it took me like 5 or 6 days to recover enough to do another shorter run 8 days before the race.  That one really hurt my knee and it continued to hurt off and on the rest of the week.  After much prayer and consideration (and a 1/4 mile painful jog down the road), I decided not to run at all the week before the race - running with rest seemed better than running injured.  I had lots of encouragement from friends and family.

The weekend of the race I was a nervous wreck.  We dropped the kids off with Jonathan's parents and headed to Blacksburg to get my race packet and run a few errands.  My heart was beating so fast during that whole afternoon!  I was also nervous that it was calling for rain and a temperature around 50 - about 20 degrees less than what I was used to running in.  Plus it was a morning race and almost all of my runs were at night.

Anyway,  Jonathan and I left his parents' at 5:45 the next morning and headed to Blacksburg.  I forced myself to eat some oatmeal.  About the time we pulled into the CRC parking lot near the starting line, it started raining pretty steadily.  It was also pretty chilly and just totally not what I was used to.  But, 7:34 came and off I went.  My right knee started acting up after the first 1/3ish mile, but I prayed for it and it stopped and really never hurt again the whole race!  Here are the things I remember thinking along the route...
1.  My GPS on my phone is wrong.  It was off a little bit by the first mile, it was off by 1/2 a mile by the time we got back to the Christiansburg mall around mile 3.5, and it was off by 2 miles by mile 12.  So my GPS thought I ran 15 miles.  And it was then that I realized my longest run of 10 miles was probably more like 8.5 - which would make my real longest pre-race run 9.2 miles.  Yikes!
2.  It rained the entire way.  I think it slacked off maybe twice and almost quit for a few minutes around mile 4.  I was drenched - I stopped probably 4 times to try to wring out water from my pants - it was making them so heavy that my legs were aching!
3.  Right when I topped the hill where you can see Lane Stadium the song "God of this City" came on my playlist.  Think God wanted me to pray for the NRV?
4.  My husband is a rockstar.  He saw me off at the start line, drove to the mall (where I happened to run past him while he was in line to park, haha!), drove down to Merrimac to meet me about mile 5.5, drove to Chicken Hill to see me about 8, drove to some random road on the course to see me maybe around mile 10, and then was there waiting at the finish line.  It was SO encouraging to see him every few miles.
5.  I remember vividly the day I ran the Huckleberry right before we moved to NC.  It is about a 6 mile trail and I even ran an extra .2 miles to make it an even 10K that day.  For my half, I ran about 3.5 on 460 from Blacksburg to Christiansburg mall, got on the Huckleberry and ran all of it, ran another 2ish miles on Blacksburg town roads, got back on the Huckleberry for maybe another mile or so, and then ended up back at the Corporate Research Center where we had started.
6.  An uphill started at about 12.5 miles.  That is just mean.
7.  I walked more than I wanted to, but I still feel like I did really well.  I didn't stop at all until about mile 6 and didn't stop to walk much at all until I started walking up some of the more steep hills on the trail around mile 7 or so.  I walked and ran intermittently for the last 4 or so miles and the last mile was probably more walking than running.
8.  My time was 2:41.  That is a little over a 12 minute mile.  My "goal" was 2:30, so I'm really pretty happy with my time considering how cold and rainy it was.  With my wacky GPS I had thought my training runs were faster, but really I think most of them were at about an 11 minute pace.
9.  Apparently Sears at the NRV mall is now a Halloween store?  Really weird.
10.  The finisher medal was really cool.  The really long line for chili - not so much.
11.  GU gel isn't really all that bad when you are exhausted after the first 7 miles.
12.  There were some really sweet people along the way just rooting for us.  Of course there were lots of volunteers and EMTs, but there were also just lots of random people standing in the rain.  My two favorite signs said - "Seems like a lot of work for a banana." and "Chuck Norris never ran a half marathon."

J had a flight to catch, so we headed to Roanoke after I changed out of my soaking wet clothes and headed to Cheddar's for a post-race dinner.  I lucked out and got to see one of my best friends and her husband while we were in Roanoke.  It was a great ending to an exhausting, yet exhilarating, day.

So far I haven't had hardly any knee pain.  My legs are tired, obviously, but not in the excruciating pain I've experienced the past few weeks.  I know that the KT tape, Aleve, and Ibuprofen have helped, but I also know that God has been so faithful during this experience and has answered my prayers repeatedly - and also the prayers of my sweet friends and family who prayed for me on Sunday as well.

So, the jury is still out on whether I'll ever run 13 miles again at one time - but I am proud of this accomplishment!  :)  I think I get extra points for my first half being a hilly one, in the cold rain, after less than ideal training.  :)
 approaching the finish
 Glad to be done!
 That's a long way to run for a free magnet.
 notice the umbrellas
I think this picture is ridiculously unflattering - but I don't care.  I finished 13.1 miles.

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