Monday, October 22, 2012

The Scenic Byway Half Marathon: Part I, Pre-Race

If you have been following my current obsession with running, you know the completion of a 10-mile race in September marked a huge milestone in my life. I set a goal for myself and I achieved that goal!

Well, then I just got greedy.

What else could I do? How far should I go? Is there more my body can handle? Pete is nursing a hip flexor issue and we talked about running a half marathon together. However, it is no secret we are hoping for baby #3 in coming months, and how much longer did I have to race in a half marathon?

I decided, with Pete's consent, to run a half marathon on my own. I was feeling pretty tired the last few miles of the 10-mile race and wasn't completely sure I could handle another 3 miles added on to the next race. When I completed 80 miles in the month of September, I knew I could do it! I signed up for the Scenic Byway Half Marathon in Belle Plaine, MN on October 13.

My body was hurting after uping my weekly miles in September. I started having knee issues and feeling a little "burnt out". I had my doubts about finishing the half marathon injury free so I started to taper my runs 2 weeks before the race. What does that mean?

If you follow my activities on RunKeeper, I was running 4-5 times per week in September. My distances ranged from 3-10 miles. In October, I cut the miles down to 12 miles per week and didn't complete any runs longer than 8 miles. Part of me felt guilty cutting runs out, but I knew I had to be healed up for the race!

A week out from the race I started to panic a little about not having completed a 10+ mile run in a month. I thought I was such an idiot for just deciding to run such a long way, when I had never run that far before. I started to get nervous I wouldn't be able to complete the race all together. What if my body gave out? What if I fell, threw-up, got dehydrated? What if I made my family worry about me? What if, what if, what if...

My stomach was in knots for days. I didn't even want to talk about the impending race day. The night before the race, my little family had spaghetti dinner together. I swear, I had to force myself to eat. I had planned to go for a short 2 mile run the night before, just to stay loose, but I was still too nervous to go! I couldn't sit still. For hours I picked up the house, did laundry,  packed the kids for the next day for Pete, showered, picked out my running gear. I tried to get in the mood, but I was feeling like I was making a huge mistake.

Thankfully, I woke up the next morning at 6 a.m. feeling FANTASTIC. I was so excited to get to Belle Plaine! My heart and soul went into running mode. I started envisioning how thrilling it would be to cross the finish line. I fantasized about the sights I would see, the music I would listen to, my fellow runners, seeing Pete and my babies at the finish, and receiving my first medal. I started to be positive about my first half marathon.

After waking, I dressed, ate peanut butter toast and had coffee. It would take me an hour to get to the race site so I knew I could drink some coffee and wash it down on the way to the race with plenty of water. I put make-up on to make myself feel good.

Race morning vanity.
I expected race morning to be raining and about 50 degrees, so I dressed warm in running leggings, running shorts, and a long sleeve tee. I also wore my Asics, a headband to keep my ears warm, my armband to hold my phone, and head phones. I run to music via the iheart app and I chose the Coldplay station. It was a good upbeat music mix on previous runs.

The drive to the race was a little nerve racking. I honestly thought I was going to puke. So, many thoughts were going through my head and I feel with my stomach! I stopped at the Belle Plaine gas station to use the bathroom, not sure what the race site would have for restrooms. It was pretty cold and drizzly out and I feared I may have gotten to the race a little too early. I didn't want to stand in the cold for an hour and get soaked!

I found a place to park and headed to pick-up my race packet. I wished Pete was there. It is so much more fun to have him there with me. I scoped out the site and used the bathroom, again. I headed back to my car to put my bib on and leave my backpack. I sat in the car and listened to talk radio for about 20 minutes before heading to back to the race site.

I used the bathroom AGAIN, just in case! Seriously, it was going to be 2 hours before I would get to use one again so I had to be sure. I waited around before heading to the start line. I stretched and walked around briskly to get my legs warmed up. When the announcer gave the runners a 5 minute warning, I headed to the start line.

Before heading to the start.

A nice woman was standing next to me at the start. We small talked about how cold it was and hoped we dressed right. We talked about our race goals and our experiences with running thus far. She was hoping to finish the race in 2 hours and within the last year or two had lost 50 pounds. I didn't see her again after we started, but I know she finished before me! I hope she finished far enough ahead of me to complete her goal.

I went into my first 13.1 mile race hoping to finish in 2:10 or better. If I finished at 2 hours I would be pleasantly surprised, if I finished after 2:10 I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I saw other runners and their families. I saw kids with signs waving to their Mom. I really felt like I was a part of something really amazing. The runners around me were not trying to win the race, but be winners for themselves. It is such an inspiring and scary moment to know we were all about to embark on a huge achievement and a huge test of endurance. I waited and waited and waited to hear the shot fired that would start it all...

Read Part II.

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