The training was slow. Thankfully, I had started to attend a strengthening class at the gym 1 day a week prior to deciding to train for a half. I had regained some strength in my core and hips which significantly decreased my pain with running (after the Disney half I ran in 2011 I had hip and knee pain that prevented me from running for months).
Here is when I should give a shout out to my husband who ran almost every run with me while pushing both kids in the double jogger. I could not have done it without him, because I easily lose confidence and his presence encourages me to keep going.
I am not a fast runner. My goal was to finish the race in less than 2 hours 26 minutes which was the time I ran my first half (with my sister). I thought I could do it, but none of my long training runs were encouraging me.
Bennett was in Nashville with my parents which made going to the Expo to pick up my race packet on Saturday much easier. I was not feeling well. I woke up nauseous with a headache. However, it was a beautiful Saturday, so we drove to St. Pete hoping/praying I would feel better. We picked up my race packet and walked around a bit before enjoying lunch at Mazzaro's Italian Market. I did feel better as the day progressed.
On race day, I woke up early, got dressed, ate a bagel and banana before heading out with my coffee to make the 7 a.m. start time. I have been to downtown St. Pete a number of times, but Sam always drives, so I left early enough to make sure I wouldn't be late if I got lost. Thankfully, the start line was easy to locate and there was a parking garage across the street. I had plenty of time to stretch, drink some water, and simply enjoy the atmosphere that accompanies a long distance race.
The race began on time. It was a cool, overcast morning and the view for the first 5 miles of the race was very enjoyable.
I started out slow and had to use the restroom at mile 3. I became discouraged, because I was not on pace to meet my goal, but after a brief text from Sam I remembered there was a time I didn't know I would be able to run more than 3 miles again. I took a deep breath and settled in. I felt good, just slow. I didn't want to pick up my pace too early, because I know myself well enough to know I would struggle much more through miles 8-13 if I sped up too early.
I can't remember exactly, but I am pretty sure I saw Sam, Lindsey, Nate, and the girls around mile 7. It is always incredibly motivating for me to see friends and family. I get a little pep in my step.
I began to pick up my pace and really felt great miles 7-10. I am amazed at how much the cliff bloks and power gels help me. My legs can begin feeling very heavy and fatigued. I can eat 2 or 3 Cliff Blocks and a few minutes later my legs are rejuvenated. It may all be in my head, but as long as it works the placebo effect is fine with me.
At mile 10, Sam mentioned to me that Lindsey wanted to run the last 2 miles with me, but she didn't want to throw me off. I encouraged her to do it, so they met me at mile 11 and she ran the final 2 miles with me. At first, I got really tired, because I was talking to her and picking up my pace. Thankfully, I noticed, pulled back, and stopped talking so much. As usual, the last few miles were tough, but at that point it is 100% mind over matter. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other, because you know you can make it. About 1/2 mile from the finish I looked down at my watch and realized I was going to meet my goal. To say I was EXCITED is an understatement.
I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 19 minutes and 9 seconds.
There are many reasons the race and time were accomplishments for me. Here are a few:
- I had a difficult recovery following Zoe's birth, so I did not know if I would ever run more than a few miles again especially not 13.1.
- This was my 3rd half marathon, but the first one I have ran by myself.
- I ran this race at my heaviest weight outside of pregnancy.
- Each time I train for a half I think a lot about my sister. We trained together for our 1st half in 2007. She had heart surgery the year before, so we were training to celebrate. While we were/are glad we did it, she had several problems the last few weeks of training and during the race which eventually put her in the hospital. Thankfully, she recovered, but she is still unable to run distances more than a few miles. I run for her knowing that she would be doing it with me if she could.
- I have always wondered how much faster I could run a half if I ran it by myself. I was pleased with the 7 minutes I shaved off, but honestly I know I could run it even faster if I trained a little differently. Maybe, one day when they kids are a little older I will shave off 7 more minutes.