Monday, May 3, 2010

First Half-Marathon Yesterday

Today's half-marathon went about as well as I could have expectedI haven't kept up with my walking and running very well so far this year, so today's half was, I am almost positive, only my third run since January.  Except for a feeling of burnout around miles 9-10 when I just walked (and rubbed my aching back), I ran some of every mile today, and that had been my only real goal.

Nitty-Gritty Race Report:

  • Mike (ran it with me; this was his third half-marathon) and I ate especially well the past few nights, and I, at least, got enough sleep last night to feel okay this morning. I'm used to getting up for work between 4:30-5:00 a.m., so I was awake at 4:00 and got out of bed at 4:18.
  • Peanut butter on a whole-wheat bagel, a banana, two glasses of water, and some iced tea for breakfast, plus my usual multi-vitamin and calcium pill.
  • We walked down to the bus stop at 5:30 a.m., and the bus came around 6:00. It felt wonderful out: Warm, but not too hot yet, a slight breeze, and the air just smelled good. It wasn't raining yet, and the forecasts had all called for it to be raining at that time, so I was just glad we wouldn't be soaked before we even got to the race.
  • Neither Mike nor I like crowds, and this one was a doozy. We were just getting crankier and more anxious as we stood there waiting for the start. But much admiring of runners' awesome calves and leg muscles, laughter over the guy in the shark-suit, and many repeated reminders to each other of "I don't want us to feel like we have to wait for each other--I want us to run it as fast as we can" (Val to Mike) and "You just be careful" (Mike to Val, as always).
  • The race started with no fanfare or announcement that we heard, and we walked for 12 minutes before even reaching the starting line.
  • It started raining the very second we crossed the starting line, and it was soon pouring. Rain-rolling-down-our-faces pouring.
  • This was my first time running with music--I had added a bunch of songs to my iPod over the weekend for this--so I was happily distracted the first few miles by hearing some of my favorite songs.
  • We both probably would have run this faster without each other, but we stayed together until around mile 10, despite having said we wouldn't. We were around the same pace until then, so there was no avoiding each other or losing each other even if we'd wanted to. I ran too hard/fast too many times along the way to try to keep up with him and then paid for it with a few side cramps, and then I'd need to slow down and walk just to recover before I could run again, so my paces were really off today.
  • My iPod's earphone-things refused to stay in my ears starting around this point, and I kept stopping to mess with them and put them back in, repeat ad nauseum. Mike and I had our usual squabble at this point when he kept giving advice that I hadn't been asking for and kept telling me to give him the iPod so he could keep it in his pocket. "I'm KEEPING it! I want to FIX the stupid thing and WEAR it! I can't hear my MUSIC if it's in your POCKET!" To which he replied, "Well, then, I don't know what to tell you," which he always says at this point in an argument. And I responded with my usual "I didn't ask you to tell me anything, so don't worry about it!"
  • Around this point, the photographers were up ahead. With the rain pouring down, no doubt we all looked half-drowned, but we were around the halfway point by then, so I didn't care.
  • . . .. It was the halfway mark and I was tired, my right knee was hurting a bit, my lower back was killing me, I couldn't listen to music anymore because the earphone-things wouldn't stay in my ears, I was tired of the rain, the sides of my upper arms were getting chafed from rubbing back and forth against the sides of my soaked-through t-shirt, I had no one to talk with as Mike was pretty far ahead of me then, and it all just put me in a bad frame of mind for awhile.
  • 'Don't remember much about miles 7, 8, or 9.   It's probably better that way. :)
  • Somewhere around mile 8, 9, or 10, we passed a girl standing off to the side with her shoe off rubbing her foot. I went back to her and asked her if she was okay, and she said no. She'd twisted her ankle and couldn't walk on it. I stayed with her for a few minutes talking with her, offered her a couple Aleve I had with me, and told her I'd stay with her til the next paramedic drove by, but she said to go on ahead.  She was walking a little after that, so I assume it wasn't too bad of an injury.
  • I started noticing around then how many people were limping. I slipped twice today because of all the rain, but that was it. By mile 10, I was very aware of how lucky I'd been and what a toll this was taking on people. So much limping. Mike noticed a woman with a big cut and bandage on her leg.
  • Mike found his afterburners, as he told me later, sometime around mile 10, and he took off ahead of me. He turned back once, and I just waved him away, glad to see that he was finishing well.
  • By then, it had either stopped raining or was just drizzling, so I tried my iPod again, and lo and behold, got the earphone-things to stay in my ears the rest of the way. ♫ "Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks, some doors are open, some roads are blocked. . . You got a HEART! SO! BIG! it could CRUSH! THIS! TOWN!" ♫  Ah!  Tom Petty again! :) To hear my music again helped so much those last few miles.
  • Somewhere toward the end, a man nodded at me as I ran/limped past and quietly said, "This is a real accomplishment." That one line turned around my perspective of the entire day's experience and all the beating-up-of-myself that I'm prone to doing. My first thought when he said it was "You have NO idea."  What he said and how he said it, even if he said it to 11,000 other people as they ran past him today, made me feel so grateful for my health and just so happy about the run. Thank you, Sir, again, whoever you are. Your words were exactly what I needed to hear.
  • Thanks to those words and my music, I ran a lot of the last couple miles.
  • The last mile of the half-marathon was in complete chaos by the time I ran it because, unbeknownst to us, there had been a bomb threat earlier in the morning and the finish line and last mile had had to be re-routed because of it. When I came off the last bridge, not even sure where I was in the downtown, the line of runners that had been ahead of me all day was no longer there, there were people walking and running in all different directions, I saw no barricades, and I had no idea where I was supposed to go. I asked four different people for direction/help between that moment and the actual finish line, and two of them gave me the wrong advice and had to come running after me telling me so afterward. I ended up having to circle back at one point and go another way, wasting more time, slipped on the sidewalk and almost fell, and even the finish line itself was chaotic--a complete mob of runners, walkers, finished participants, spectators, people with baby strollers, kids walking dogs--and between the chaos and the just-wanting-to-be-done-with-it-already, I was crying even before I got to the finish line.
  • And then as I crossed it, I asked a volunteer, through my tears, "Am I done?" And he looked shocked at my ignorance and said, "Yes, you're done!"
  • I was given a Gatorade--and a foil blanket that Mike and the volunteer insisted I take.
  • We walked until we found a good place to sit down. The foil blanket actually felt wonderful--They were right! It was so comforting and warm!--and I was glad I had it around me. We sat outside awhile then went over to Mike's office. He bought me some peanut M&Ms, and I finished those and my Gatorade while we talked. I still felt weepy but pretty good physically.
  • From there, we walked two miles for breakfast/lunch. I felt great once I got some real food in me, but when we finished and I stood up from the restaurant booth, I almost fell:   It felt like--and fourteen hours later, still feels like--someone was screwing a screwdriver into the sides of both my knees. Once we started walking again, I felt better, but even now, every time I stand up after having sat awhile, the pain returns.
All in all, a good day. We finished, and we're just a little sore--Mike's hip and the sides of my knees--and I've completed, with no real training for it, my first half-marathon. Unprepared wasn't the way I'd intended to do my first one, but it was what it was, and regardless of what the chip time or pace indicate, the experience was, as the kind man pointed out, "quite an accomplishment."  I'm happy with it.