Today’s post is brought to you courtesy of The Great Big Bloggy Post Exchange! My guest blogger is JenWa098, from the fabulous ~Will Run for Cupcakes.
My First Half-Marathon, or “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough”
Let me preface this post with disclaimer: I started working out on October 3rd with weights and work-out videos. I started running on February 18th. In February I ran a grand total of 3 times. My first 5K was 6 weeks later on April 2nd (31:17). My 2nd 5K was April 30th (28:20). With so much experience oozing out of every pore, I figured I should run a half (Who wouldn’t?). (Oh, and the Monday before the race I was diagnosed with Exercise Induced Asthma but with my allergies I was having all the time asthma). Hence the title of this post.
The Mountain to Meadow is an out and back half-marathon. It was originally 13.7 miles, but the course was changed race day to a true 13.1. It starts at 5200 ft, is somewhat level the first mile and climbs to about 5700 ft over 4 miles. Then you run downhill for several miles. The second hill at about mile 8 climbs about 500 ft in a mile. It was so steep they had two aid stations...one half-way up the hill and one at the top! Then the road goes slightly up and down and up and down for the remaining 4 miles to the finish.
The starting gun was actually old black powder rifles fired by Lewis and Clark re-enactors. I started out comfortably. It seemed everyone was passing me. I tried not to let it get to me, and in my mind kept saying, “Just run your race, just run your race”. When I encountered the beginning of the first hill I kept a steady rhythm. My pace was about 10:15 per mile the entire hill. I remember someone passing me while coaching a friend and saying “Long smooth strides...Long smooth strides...up the hill”. I laughed because it sounded so simple. They passed me and I tried to not let it bother me.
Then I began the descent. I had trained running up a really long hill for 5.5 miles and then running back down. It killed my knees and I worried it was a poor training method. But then something miraculous happened. I passed the “Long smooth strides” couple. She couldn’t run down the hill because her knees were unable to handle it. I felt awesome as I easily passed her and she pulled to the side. I caught up with some women using a side road as a toilet (no porta-potties here). I was proud of my GI Tract as it was not giving me any problems! Yay for my bowels!
Past mile 8 I rounded a corner. There was the steepest mother of a hill one could imagine. Behind me, a race volunteer yelled, “Welcome to the new hill!” Then he cried, “Hee-ya” as if encouraging cattle. I began a slow jog, staring at the ground, afraid to look up. When I finally did I realized EVERYONE seemed to be walking it. Then I had to make a decision. I could either try to jog up and maybe not finish, or I could walk. I chose walking and jogging a few steps here and there. I was almost crying, because I really wanted to run the whole way, and I remember wondering if it meant I wasn’t really a runner. “Long smooth strides” and “bad knees” caught up. He looked over to me and said “Look, we are almost to the top...see how the trees look? Just a little further”. I made it to the top and began a slow jog trying to will the strength into my legs. For some reason Long Smooth Strides and his friend fell behind me somewhere and I never did see them again.
The final miles are a blur. I did see a bicyclist and asked him how much further. He told me about 3 miles. I gained slowly on a runner. He had jogged up the entire hill but was now walking and jogging. As I got closer he kept looking back at me. As I passed him he eyed my Amphipod belt....”Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to have any toilet paper?” He looked worried. Very worried. I exclaimed, “In fact, I do”....and so began one of the most awkward relays in history as I handed off my sandwich baggie of TP. He exclaimed, “Many blessings to YOU” and ran off into the woods.
I was able to finish at a slow jog, sheer willpower making me put one foot in front of the other. My final time was 2:27:31. Afterward, I stood around talking too long and felt a little woozy, but with Gatorade, 2 oranges, and some Great Harvest bread with huckleberry jam I felt much better!
Well, the toilet paper relay made me feel good. Not only was I prepared and able to help someone during my first half, I was able to keep my own guts inside my body! Yay Me!
I ran into an old neighbor who is quite the runner and who couldn’t believe I chose the M2M as my first half. She said it was one of the toughest. I don’t know if that is true, but made me feel good.
While I was standing with Mike, two women walked by me and said “Good job!” Then one of them said, “I kept my eye on you the whole way, but you just kept going up around the corner”. Someone was following me? Wow!
Final #'s (not great, but oh well).
21/35 Age Group
What more can I say? I saw a t-shirt the other day I was thinking of buying. It said, “thirteen point frickin’ one”. Amen.