For those of you who do not already know – I ran completed my first half marathon on December 12th!! :) Go me! Go me!
As December 12th approached, I began to prep myself physically and mentally for the race. Carb loading was *awesome*! (It is quite possible that I may have taken advantage of this and ate one too many potatoes!) I made sure to get plenty of rest Thursday & Friday night before the race as well as drink plenty – I mean plenty – of fluids. My boss poked fun at the fact that I was in the bathroom every hour on the hour both Thursday and Friday. But I refused to fail as a result of dehydration!
Race day was more than I could have imagined – and to be perfectly honest – a little overwhelming. Charlotte’s Thunder Road is a Boston Marathon qualifier. Over 3,000 people ran the marathon and half marathon. Showing up at 6:30a.m. in the freezing cold was a bit nerve racking for Jennifer (my running buddy) and myself. I mean, we were amateurs. Two fun loving girls who decided to take on a challenge and run for fun. Definitely not runners trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon! Nevertheless, we completed our warm up, sucked down our disgusting GU Gell (supposed to give you a burst of energy to complete strenuous activity – but honestly taste like slimy BO – SO GROSS!) and stretched for the start of the race.
As we approached the start line, I stood in awe of the elite runners at the front of the pack. These people were holding up signs showing a marathon race time of 3 HOURS! That’s 26.2 miles in three hours. To put this in perspective – it took me 2 ½ hours to run half that distance! Needless to say, Jennifer and walked a little further to the back of the pack with the “not so serious” half marathon runners and did our best to keep limber.
The gun signaled the runners to start – and we were off. Actually, we had to wait for about 2 minutes to begin running due to the large number of participants – but the race had officially started. Miles 1-6 were a breeze. Literally, I felt like I was running on air. As my muscles warmed and my body temperature rose, I began to shed my layers. First my gloves - it felt so cool to take off my gloves and throw them down in the street. I was Shee-rah – Running Warrior Princess. Who’s a hard core runner now!?!? Then my fleece had to come off. Unfortunately, Jennifer accidentally pinned my race number to my fleece and my shirt underneath. So when I tried to pull off my fleece, I almost gave everyone a free show as my t-shirt came up over my head as well. For those of you who have never tried – removing safety pins while running is not an easy feat and I would not suggest you try it at home! In the end – the fleece came off and I felt great. The fresh, cool air was invigorating – just what I needed to continue and finish my last 7 miles.
While I won’t lie and say that miles 7-11 were as easy as miles 1-6, they certainly were doable. My training had prepared me for this. The hills were pretty killer. Since Thunder Road is a qualifier race, the course must be a test for the competitors. Fellow runners had warned Jennifer and myself that Thunder Road was hilly – but I had no idea what I was getting into. I wouldn’t call this course a “hill course”. I swear, somehow the city of Charlotte managed to bring in a portion of the Appalachian mountain range for the weekend. It was intense! We would run up hill for over half a mile at a time. The so called “down hill slope” would only last a few hundred feet and we were dragging ourselves up hill again. It was grueling – but we kept moving and we kept a steady pace.
At the beginning of mile 11, I met my demise. The course ran through many patches of construction. In one of these rough spots, I twisted my ankle. At first I was concerned that I may have sprained my ankle. After a few steps, it was apparent that my ankle was fine. “Whew – that’s a relief!” About 30 feet or so later, an intense pain in my left hamstring began to emerge. It felt as if someone has stuck a knife in the back of my knee and I was running with it in place. Every step sent a pain down my leg. At this point – I completely began to regret my decision. “Honestly, who needs to run 13.1 miles? What in the world did I think this would prove? Only crazies with a serious issues get up this early on a Saturday morning to run this far? Me – little miss cheap herself – paid $60 to actually do this??” I should have known better…..
Although every step was a chore, I finished my race. The last two miles I literally chanted to myself “Move your feet. Move your feet!” Poor Jennifer had to slow her pace to stay with me. I told her to leave me, but she stayed by my side. I kept running though – up the hills, through the crowds, I kept my feet moving! As I approached the finish line I saw my wonderful husband. He had such a huge smile on his face and I knew he was proud of what I was about to accomplish. With the last shred of energy I had left, I crossed the finish line. Of course, immediate after crossing the finish line I felt surge of energy. I could have gone another mile (or not!) I ran over to Steven, gave him a sweaty kiss and got my medal.
So that’s it – I have completed my first half marathon. I fully intend to run another and better my time. While I will never be an elite runner and I truly doubt if I will finish a marathon, I am proud of myself for my accomplishment. It’s nice to know that an accountant with significantly more book smarts than athletic abilities can run 13.1 miles! It may be the only athletic thing I’ve done in my life – but I did it! :)
Finish Line w/ My Running Buddy!!