Monday, June 10, 2013

Race Photos

I'm still not sure who exactly this older gentleman is crossing the finish line with me, but let me just say that I am glad I finished next to him.

I just love this one and the smiles on our faces!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Half Marathon!

Well, let me start out by saying that I did not finish in the time I wanted to. I was aiming for under 2 hours, but given all of the obstacles that I had to face during the course of the race, I can honestly say that I am not the least bit disappointed!

(Before the race with my wonderful Mom)

First off, let me begin by saying that the race wasn't even technically a "half marathon". My gps watch actually ended up at 13.78 miles at the finish line. This really threw me off, especially because the 13 mile marker sign was right at the 13 mile mark. After seeing that sign and assuming I only had .1 miles left, I gunned it like most people would do planning to use up that last bit of energy I was saving for a strong finish. However, the race seemed to just keep going and going and going after that. It's weird really. I managed to run 13 miles, but the last .78 was really what killed me. I am pretty good at pacing myself and listening to my body, so when my brain thought I only had .1 miles of running left, it not only allowed, but motivated me to basically sprint. Bad idea. Had I known I still had over a half a mile left, it would have continued to pace me properly, but unfortunately it wasn't given the proper information.

(Mental prep before the race)

Another thing I wasn't ready for at all were the hills, and the terrain. I certainly chose a very tough course for my very first half. Being someone who typically trains on sidewalks and roads, this was a pretty big challenge (especially for someone who is used to running in flat old Kansas). The whole course was weaved throughout a state lake. There was a lot of running up and down hills, running on rocks that varied in every size imaginable, ducking under trees, running on not only uneven terrain, but muddy terrain that was woven on a very narrow and steep path. There were also a few nasty hills, one really, really nasty one in particular that gained 58 feet of elevation, which no one including myself was able to run up. Plus, there were boards and small bridges put up to cross, and a lot of time you had to completely stop and wait for the people in front of you to get across before you could do so yourself. Needless to say, this race forced me to overcome many challenges that I hadn't trained for.

Lastly, and most unfortunately, I somehow managed to get a nasty side stitch, which started somewhere towards the end of mile 5, and didn't go away until a decent ways into mile 7. I ran for a bit pushing through the pain, but it got to the point where it was too bad and I had to walk. I was of course extremely frustrated, because having to walk almost a mile in the middle of the race totally killed my time, but I was trying to remember some of the advice that I had read in one of my running books which was "Accept the things you cannot change and adapt accordingly." this was hard for me, knowing I now would not finish under my goal time. It was also hard because I am a huge control freak, and I can't stand it when things don't work out my way, but that's just life.

(Right after finishing the race)

All in all, when I crossed that finish line, nothing else mattered. It didn't matter that I hadn't finished in the time I wanted to, or that the race ended up going almost three quarters of a mile longer than I expected. It didn't matter that I had to stop and walk a few times for hills or a side cramp, or that sometimes I had to slow my pace because I was stuck behind someone running slower than I would have preferred. What really mattered, and what always should matter was that I finished. Regardless of what place I finished, or what time I got, I FINISHED A HALF MARATHON... and a little more. Once again, running has taught me so much. I can say for sure that I am not the same person I was before I started that race. It completely changed me. It helped me to realize that while breaking PR's, and placing, and wanting to strive for goals are great, there is so much more to running than that. On that trail I saw all different kinds of people. Old people, young people, tall people, short people, injured people, smiling people, people who looked like they wanted to die right then and there, people running marathons, half marathons, 10k's, 5k'5... the list goes on and on. The one things we all had in common thought was that we made it. We overcame every obstacle in our way. We trained and stuck with it, we signed up for a race we knew would challenge us, we woke up way earlier most mornings than we probably wanted to, we fought through the pain, and told all of the voices in our heads that said we could quit that we wouldn't. We made it to the starting line, we gave it all we could, we encouraged and supported each other, and in our own time, one by one made it to the finish line... and to me, there is no greater reward.

I have said this before, and will say it a million more times before my life is done. The running community is full of amazing, loving, compassionate, and supportive people. Races aren't about beating other people, they are about coming together with others who share the same passion, and cheering each other on. Running is a competition between you and yourself, and as long as you are always giving it your best, you can't ever lose a race.

Storm The Damn Trail Half Marathon- 13.78 miles 2 hours, 22 minutes and (I kid you not) 22 seconds