Let's be real: my honest feelings about running up until the last year or two have always been that it's useless unless you're playing with a dog, playing with a kid, or trying to drop the Chester who's tailing you. Running is torture designed to make a select few masochists feel superior.
Then I became one of them. I became the person who runs. And honestly, I feel pretty conflicted about being a "runner", even to this day. Because guess what? Runners are indeed a crazy bunch of people. They push themselves to the limit, rest for a few days, then try to find an all new limit.
On Saturday, I found several new limits.
I decided that my first half marathon would be the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon. I picked it for a lot of reasons, but I'll give you my top 3:
1) It was a $35 registration fee, including the technical tee. You can't find that deal anywhere for a half marathon.
2) They touted a net downhill of 1000 feet, with a "fast" course meant for setting PRs on.
3) It is a fundraiser that benefits a local school's athletics program.
So I signed up, way back in February, thought about training, and then really didn't. Train, that is. I politely ignored it, assuming that I had "lots of time". Thankfully, I started the Revolt Now Fitness Program, which got me moving in the direction of fitness. Suddenly, I felt spectacular, and like running was a piece of cake, and that I could conquer any distance set before me. And despite a not-great 10 mile run, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would feel good enough come race day to run 10 miles of the half, if not the whole thing.
So Saturday morning, I woke up at 4:40am like this:
I walked 4 blocks to the parking lot I thought the bus was picking up from, only to find out that the bus was picking up a half mile away. So after a mile long walk, I made it to the buses, at 5:45am. I loaded on the bus and made it safely to the start line by 6:05 am... well, almost the start line. The bus dropped us off a quarter of a mile from the start. By this point, I was a little put out at all of this extra walking... didn't they realize I had to save some of that energy from my carboholic breakfast for the race??? No matter. I got my race number and hurried into the one shelter available. Colorado Mountain towns are notoriously cold in the mornings, and it was hovering in the upper 40's or so. So everyone packed in like a bunch of sardines and got cozy. However, it was far warmer than hanging out outside. Nevertheless, come 7:50, we were all outside, getting lined up for the start. I lined up as far back as I could. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to witness my potential struggle [if my legs were still not working right from the ill fated 10 miler], so I was even behind the 3 hour pace group. But when the start went off, all plans of a sedate start flew out the window. I was too cold to walk the first mile, as I had originally planned, and settled into a comfortable jog. First I passed the walkers. Then the 3 hour group. The next thing I knew, I was hanging out with the 2:40:00 pace group, an awesome group of women all from the Denver area. They were so sweet and supportive, and I love them with all of my runner heart. Since my iPod decided not to work after all (dang it, Apple!), I was really glad for their company.
The thing I noticed about the race course was that it was not the easy, straightforward, downhill course that had been implied in the advertising for the race. It was a rolling hills, challenging, mentally difficult 13.1 miles that just so happened to be a net downhill. I managed to run for 8.25 miles with the 2:40:00 group, but around 7.8 miles, I started to feel some tweaking in my knees. I knew that my time with the group was limited, but I hoped that the brief walking break at the 8 mile water station might stave off my departure from the group. It didn't, unfortunately, and when I left the pace group, it was to walk the remaining 4.85 miles to the finish line.
I have a lot of feelings about walking those last miles. They are pretty conflicted. I'm proud that despite having to walk, I ran more consecutive miles than I had up until that point. I'm bummed that my IT bands did not want to cooperate, as I had the gas to make it to the end otherwise. I'm angry at my lack of preparation. But most of all, I'm proud that I made it. I'm proud that I showed up to the starting line, and then made my way to the finish, as best as I could.
Ammon was waiting for me at the finish line with a smile and celebratory banana. He saw me walking, and tried to urge me to run. He wanted for me to finish strong. But at that point, my knees were in agony. My glutes were locked up, and my left foot was sending shooting pain up the rest of my leg. Running was not an option. So I walked as best as I could across the finish line, stopping the clock somewhere right around 3:04:55. Not a great time, but respectable, given the circumstances. I had nothing left to give, at that point. What I remember next is Ammon herding me through a water line, then down a slope to the football field for my race goody bag, food, muscle milk, and rest. Oh yeah, and a nap under the goal post.
All of that, so that I could do this on Sunday evening:
Next half marathon is November 23, 2013 Shiner Beer Run in Shiner TX with the fam-in-laws and Nerky Meg. It's going to be epic.
I have more to say, but this is probably long enough for one day. Until next time (tomorrow) my friends...