Friday, December 31, 2010

Yukon Do It! 1/2 Marathon

13.1 Miles.
Sounds like a lot.
It is.

Let me turn back the clock a little...about 3 weeks ago my husband, Erik, said to me, "You want to run a 1/2 marathon?"  Of course my response was, "I'm not ready yet!" 

I had never run more than 6.75 miles before that day.  Erik just replied, "If you can run a 10K, you can run a 1/2 marathon."  Turns out, he was right.

Let me turn back the clock further...back in August I decided one day I wanted to be a runner.  My husband had been able to do it, so why couldn't I?  I thought it would be a fun way for us to have an activity together.  I signed myself up for my first 10K and began training which leads me to today.

It was 6am when my alarm clock went off.  I didn't want to get out of my bed yet because I had already looked at my iPhone and seen that it was only 18 degrees outside.  I laid in bed and tried to stretch a little there...lazy I know.  Erik was already up and dressed and stretching beside the bed (he's a morning person, unlike myself).  After finally getting up and getting dressed, I headed downstairs for the pre-run ritual.

I have a tendency to get real nauseous when I run so what I found works for me is to have some sort of bread before my run.  Today's menu: 2 pieces of sourdough with a little butter.  Nothing special, but it sure helps.  Next stop...Starbucks.  I'm not usually one to drink a lot before or even during a run because of the nausea but today a short black coffee with a splenda and a little bit of cream sure sounded divine!  My sister-in-law, Andrea, met us there and with her husband, Jason, and we were off to Manchester State Park!!

So one of the things that made me want to become a runner was the racing community.  They are the most supportive group of people!  As soon as we got to the park we ran straight to the bathrooms.  While standing in line; all the ladies were all smiles and already saying hello to one another, asking each other about race histories, and just striking up friendly conversations.  As soon as Andrea and I got out of there, the race officials were calling that the race was about to begin!  EEEKKK!

Erik and Devin (our oldest son who is 15 who was also running his first 1/2 marathon) lined up towards the middle of the pack and we lined up next to them,  Andrea and I looked at each other and agreed we didn't want to be that close to the front.  We then made our way to the back 3/4 of the pack where there was a nice open pocket.  Next to us was a guy in a Marathon Maniac shirt...yes they are maniacs, but I have all the respect in the world for them!  He smiled at us and said good luck.  We told him it was our first ever 1/2 marathon and he replied; "Nothing matters out there, just to finish is an accomplishment and have fun doing it."  I wish I would have got his name because boy was he right.  So the race began...

It was so cold!  I mean C-O-L-D!  Our biggest fear was that we were going to look like Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber with frozen snot running stuck to our face as we crossed the finish line.  That was kind of our joke that kept us going for several miles actually.  The first mile was interesting.  We didn't even leave the park.  We looped back around by the start line which was nice because we got to see the crowd again and hear the cheers to root us on.  On our way out of the park I finally ditched my jacket and threw it onto Andrea's car.  Jason was kind enough to bring it back to the finish line for me at the end of the race. 

After leaving the park my face was hurting from the sting of the cold.  My lips felt like they were going to fall off because they were already so chapped and we were still in the first mile!  So this is where the story gets a little strange...we were running along this farmland when off to my left were not one but two CAMELS!  Yep, camels.  One with one hump and one with two.  Andrea jokingly refers to them as "space camels" because she said that no one would believe that we came across two camels in 20 degree weather while out jogging a 1/2 marathon on New Years Eve.  It was another joke that kept us going for several miles. 

Something to keep in mind while running is that drivers don't remember the rules about pedestrians on the road.  Cars don't slow fact, I think there must be a target on me somewhere and an alarm that goes off on their radio that says "THERE IS SHARON--SWERVE TO HIT HER!"  So as several cars proceeded to speed by Andrea and I would get in single file, her behind me because she was in the brighter yellow reflective shirt and we gave them the international sign for slow down.  When they didn't we gave them another distinctive international sign. :)

At about mile 4.5 we got to the first water stop!  Water never tasted so good.  I am not one to usually stop for it but I knew I needed it.  We grabbed what we needed and thanked the volunteers (which is important to me because they have been standing out in the cold for a long time just to help us out) threw our cups in the trash can and kept going.  It was at about mile 5 or shortly after that we saw the lead bike with the lead runners.  That meant they were more than 2 miles ahead of us.  It didn't matter, we weren't racing for time...just to complete and have fun.

We cheered for every runner we encountered who had already made turn.  It was a smile, a "great job", a "way to go", a high five (from my spin instructor Al) name it, Andrea and I said it.  We even saw our fellow Marathon Maniac from the start of the race and he called out to us and told us we were doing great!  We call ourselves the "cheerleaders of running."  Andrea then asked, "Who said runners don't smile?" 

We finally saw Erik and Devin at almost the halfway point.  They looked strong and I was so proud of them.  They asked us if we wanted any water since Erik had a water belt on.  We declined.  They kept going and Erik yelled out that he loved me and he was proud of us.  That solidified that I knew I could finish the next 7 miles. 

The next couple of miles went by pretty fast because we had people to cheer was a nice distraction.  The pain and fatigue was beginning to set in but we were doing our best to push through and talk each other through it.  Our hips were hurting from the uneven terrain.  My right foot was starting to really ache too.  The only thing we were looking forward to was getting to the next water stop.  The problem was when we got there, they were out of cups.  No water for us.  We hadn't had anything to drink since mile 4.5 and we wouldn't get anything until the end.  I had some Gatorade with me but neither one us thought we could stomach the sweetness of it.

So up the hill we went...or was it a mountain?  It really seemed like a mountain.  Without water, energy drained, no one to cheer for, aches and pains setting in, pure was a mountain alright.  We wanted to walk but it hurt to much to stop now.  So we just kept running, kind of like Forrest Gump.

Once we made it to the top of the hill, umm...mountain it finally leveled off and my pain set in in full force.  I had jogged for more than 11 miles without stopping and I had to walk.  I could only do it for about 10 yards though.  It really did hurt too much to stop.  We finally made it back to the entrance of the park at mile 12.  We decided to walk up part of the entrance hill hoping that it would be the last time we would have to walk, we were wrong.  Inside the park it was a lot of downhill and it was too much for my right foot.  I had to walk about 4 more times.  Again for about 10 yards at a time but still I just couldn't do it without walking...the pain was too much.

As we were making our last turn, Andrea and I grabbed hands and ran towards the finish line.  My goal was to finish in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.  As we approached the finish line I could see clock and it said 2 hours and 19 minutes!!!  We did it!!!!!  Erik and Jason were waiting there for us.  It was wonderful. 

As we were being given our finishers medals the guy handing them out asked, "How was it?" I replied, "Great, it was our first!"  He then replied, "Well that deserves a hug!" and he gave us both a great big hug.  See what I mean about loving the running community?  They are the best!

So now I'm completely hooked.  Who said runners don't smile?  I know I do. :)