No lamb, no garden, no immaculate conception but there IS something about me.


Race report: Yuengling Half Marathon

I would like to start out this post with the key takeway points that you should glean from this if you reach the end:

1) I have the most amazing friends and family in the world.
2) I am insane.
3) Biofreeze is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
4) I am insane.

Now that the cliff notes version has been provided here is the pre-story synopsis:

Last year I signed up for the Yuengling Half Marathon in Virginia Beach with the intention of running it in 2 hours or less to beat my previous race time of 2:20ish. Then I started having heart problems and ended up paying an extra $35 to have my registration deferred to this year. I have been determined to run this race since I forked over that extra $35 (in addition to the $100+ for registration) but had become even more determined the last 2 months. However, I had not been able to get the appropriate training in and have only been able to run about 2 miles 1-3 times a week since the middle of January.

Fast forward to last week...
I was still up in the air about whether or not I could run this race even though mentally I knew I needed to do it. At first I needed to do it because I wanted to prove subconsciously to someone else that I could but then it became about me and I needed to prove to MYSELF that I could do it. I'd lost my running mojo and I needed it back fast. My awesome best friend since high school stepped up to the plate and said that she would go with me as I'd lost my previous cheerleader but I was wavering back and forth for the last month over whether to do it or not. Last weekend became critical mass when someone tried to talk me out of doing it lest I hurt myself and a switch flipped in my head and it was game on. Nothing will make me want to do something more than when someone tells me not to or that I can't (except to eat broccoli...or do my dishes immediately within a few days of dirtying them). I emailed my aunt and uncle on Wednesday and asked if I could stay with them and of course, because they are super awesome, they said I could despite the last minute warning and this race became a reality.

Fast forward to Saturday...
I spent Friday getting ready to go (obsessively packing, prepping my ipod, painting my race shirt, pacing for no reason, sharing strawberries with the bun, etc) and we left very early Saturday morning in a brand new Dodge Charger with only 2 miles on it that National car rental let me have after I whined that there was no way I was driving an Altima or a Jetta to VA Beach (I'm an Executive Elite member due to work so if I whine enough they usually cave ;). The drive was about 8 hours and Beth spent the majority of it sleeping with a short break to listen to the SU NCAA game (we won!). We arrived in VA Beach with 45 minutes to go before the Expo closed where I needed to get my bib and goodie bag. As soon as I got my stuff and walked through the expo I started having a panic attack, went back to the car and cried like a loser with my face smashed on the steering wheel of a brand new car that I was scared out of my mind that I wasn't going to be able to do it. It's tough admit my breakdown in a major public forum but there you go: I'm not perfect, I'm not always strong and I am my own worst enemy. But Beth, being amazing and having known me since the bad hair/no makeup/Chic jeans days, knew how to calm me down and we eventually went to my Aunt and Uncle's so I could try to sleep after driving the course (I never drive the course before the race but I really wanted to this time...of course it turns out I drove the marathon course but whatever, it calmed my nerves so it worked).

Stuff I got at the expo: a bag, a technical shirt and my race bib (note the Corral 2...HA!)

Sunday, the day of the race:
I woke up before my alarm and made Beth drive me to the race lest I crash into a telephone pole. True to my normal form I was extremely touchy and anxious before the race but it happens every time so at least I'm consistent. We found parking and started making our way to the start line in some pretty mild weather with light wind. We came across a McDonald's and I decided I needed to go to the bathroom even though I never do before a race. While I was waiting there was another woman in front of me. We made small talk and she told me that the weather was much more mild than the year before. I responded that my friends who ran it last year said it was awful and that I was supposed to run it last year too but had to drop out due to my heart problems. I told her, a complete stranger, that I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to get through it due to my lack of training. That's when she told me that she understood, she had run the marathon the year before and had done great but had suffered two miscarriages in the last 4 months so she hadn't had much time to train and she was just going to do the best she could. I told her that I was sorry and she said that she was ok with the miscarriages and as far as the race was just going to take things slow. We joked that we would see each other walking and would touch base again then (I never did see her again, what with 13,000 people running plus spectators).

It amazes me sometimes how wrapped up in our own misery and uncertainty we can be and forget about the world around us. When things seem really bad I have always tried to focus on the fact that someone else has it so much worse and I am so blessed even if it doesn't seem that way. Here I was, standing in the middle of a McDonald's bathroom, meeting a kindred spirit who gave me my resolve back in a 2 minute conversation. We had both spent the last few months suffering from a broken heart but hers seemed so much bigger than mine. I have always said that everyone has a story that can make you cry and the woman I met gave me the courage and calmness to go into the race. I have no idea who she was but she changed everything for me in those few minutes and I owe my success in part to her.

After I left McDonald's we started walking and walking and walking. It turns out that we were MUCH father away from the start line than we had realized. After about a mile and a half with the start time inching closer and closer I started to panic because I couldn't see the start line and could hear them counting down the race. I left my coat with Beth and hurried to the line with almost no time to spare. Because when I signed up I was planning on running the race in less than 2 hours I had been placed in Corral 2 but decided to stick in Corral 7, aka the last corral, when I finally got to the start line. They were letting the corrals go one at a time in waves so luckily the countdowns I was hearing was for the first two corrals. I only waited 10 minutes or so before the gun went off and it was time to run!

If you caught my mention of it earlier yes, I did use my ipod for this race. Mentally I needed the crutch of my own personal dance party to get me through it since I had no idea if I was going to be walking 5 or 13 miles. My goal going in was to run a mile, walk a mile and do that for the entire race. I started out very slow in order to conserve my energy but I still somehow managed to miss the first mile marker. By the time I saw mile marker 2 I looked down at my watch and saw that I was managing 12 minute miles. Definitely not my fastest pace ever (actually my slowest by far) but I was happy that I was doing pretty well and staying consistent. I told myself I would get through mile 3 and then slow down to walk. I figured I would text Beth and my aunt to let them know where I was at that time however true to form when I got to mile 3 I still felt ok so I pushed it to 4, then 5, then before I knew it I saw mile 6...the almost halfway mark. I swear that I was on cloud 9 at that point, I had already pushed much harder than I thought I could and was still feeling pretty good. 2 of those 6 miles were all uphill on a steady gradient and I somehow made it all the way up! The weather was absolutely perfect, about 60 degrees with a light breeze and sunny but not too sunny. A beautiful day to run.

After mile 6 I decided to walk for 5 minutes and then run the rest of mile 7 to try and save some energy to get to the end. I've never run out of energy for a race but that's of course because I was trained for it and didn't want to run out at the end. I did this every mile up until mile 10 when out of nowhere I hit the wall. "The wall" in the running world is when mentally and physically you get to the point where you feel like you just can't go any farther. I have never actually hit it before but it was literally like I slammed into a huge brick wall and just wanted to lay down anywhere. This is the point when I start to lose a lot of time because I was walking so slowly and literally started staring at the side of the road in longing, thinking that maybe I could just sit for 5 or 10 minutes. My shoulders hurt so bad that I wanted to cry and I was just trying to find a position to keep moving without being in pain but I'm not going to sugar coat it, the last 3 miles were brutal. I kept trying to talk myself into running but I just couldn't physically do it, my feet were like lead and my knees were like rubber.

After what felt like an eternity I finally I hit mile 12 and the boardwalk to Virginia Beach. I was determined to run over the finish line no matter how slow I was going and I'm happy to say that I did! My overall time was pretty slow but that didn't matter to me. I went into this race just trying to get through it and do my best and I was happy just to cross the finish line. As soon as I was over the line they put my medal around my neck and then handed me my finishers hat, a bunch of food and my finishers sweatshirt. Beth was following along next to me since the finish line was all blocked off and it felt like it took me forever to get through the line and finally get to a point that I could lay down on the grass and try not to die. Everything in my body hurt but the day was beautiful and sunny, the ocean was amazing and I was beyond happy.

After I sat around for a few minutes recuperating (and announcing on Facebook that I finished, natch) we went onto the beach to look at the sand sculpture and go into the finisher's tent. They were giving out free Yuengling and Irish stew and had a band playing, it was like a huge sweaty party. I was exhausted though so we headed back to my aunt and uncle's house so I could shower and sit down. My shoulders hurt so bad at that point that I literally thought I was going to pass out so my aunt gave me some Biofreeze to put on them and let me tell you what...I have no idea where it's been all my life but holy baloney, it was amazing! I have really sensitive skin so it burned pretty bad but it was so much better than how much shoulders were feeling.

This is what I painted on the back of my shirt on Friday, SO many people tapped me on the shoulder during the race to tell me how much they liked it! (The front of my shirt was just a big green shamrock)

On my way back from the race I told Beth that I was determined to eat 5000 calories or else the race wasn't worth it so we went to Red Robin after I showered and I drank my weight in rootbeer floats and ate a bunch of mozzarella sticks. I don't think I came anywhere close to 5000 calories (nor did I want to) but it was definitely a well deserved meal. I did get a hot fudge parfait from Dairy Queen later that night though and enjoyed with with a side of Biofreeze since the torn meniscus in my knee was acting upby then.

The next day I drove the whole 10 hours home while Beth slept, stopping at Sonic for a gallon of Cherry Limeade and Chik Fil A for chicken tortilla soup along the way. I was in a massive amount of pain and could barely walk but that was only because I wasn't properly trained. After my last half marathon I was absolutely fine the next day so I am looking forward to my next one being much more comfortable and MUCH faster.

My next one, you say? Oh yes, you read that correctly. My running mojo is back in full force and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot of races coming up this summer (I started training for my next 10 miler yesterday) and I can't wait. CAN'T WAIT!!! (Well, now that I can walk again :P)

In conclusion: I am equal parts awesome and insane so look out, world!

That is my "exhausted" face. Please remember that this is a judge free zone (in regards to you judging me, I can judge whomever I want). Also, my medal has a bottle opener on the bottom and a detacheable charm, how awesome is that??

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