Monday, October 29, 2012

The Scenic Byway Half Marathon: Part II, Thirteen Point Freekin' One

Need to catch up? Read Part I.

Race day was a drizzly cold. It was the kind of rain, that when landing in your eyeball, kind of blurred your vision. It felt like I needed windshield wipers for my eyes. It was chilly outside, but I was comfortable in my cold weather running garb and figured I could peel off layers during the race, if I needed to.

I positioned myself near the 2:10 pacer and planned on starting fast enough to keep her behind me the whole race. Without Pete with me, I wanted to have something or someone there to inspire me to keep pushing if I my pace started to lag. I figured the 2:10 balloon was inspiration enough.

I run with the Runkeeper app on my phone to track my runs. I also wore a watch this race. I usually don't keep track of my pace, but I thought watching my time as I hit each mile marker would give me a good distraction and incentive to keep the first 8 or so miles at a good pace.

Again, my "good pace" is relative to me. My last few weeks of running I had pushed through the 9 minute barrier and was running at 8:50 per mile. My goal for the start of the race was to keep my
miles as close to 9 minutes as I could. I hoped, if I needed to or was forced to slow down the last few miles, I could still achieve a good race time overall.

At the start, I chatted with a fellow runner as I turned on my GPS, Runkeeper and iheart Radio app. I jogged in place and watched all the runners around me doing the same nervous, jittering, pre-race dance. There was a fog above the runners from all the hot breath in the cool air. There was quite a nice crowd around us. Lots of kids bundled up in their strollers, or sitting on their Dad's shoulders. At least, those were the race watchers I noticed.

When I heard the gun, I started to feel the masses moving around me and hear the scraping of their feet on the wet pavement. A smile crossed my face and I didn't feel it pass till mile two. I felt like happy-crying. I was so nervous and excited. I kept thinking to myself, I was finally doing it. I knew I could do it!

Start of the Scenic Byway Half Marathon via the Belle Plaine Herald.

The first mile was through the town of Belle Plaine. There was large decline at the end of mile 1, and then large bridge into mile 2 over the Minnesota River. I stared out over the water and saw the brown beach, grass, and wooded areas. I thought of my Dad. He was hunting that day.

As we inclined onto the scenic byway, I started to envision the course map. I had spent a few weeks here and there visiting the map online. At the time, I thought about how I might be feeling or what I would be seeing when I was actually racing. I felt a sort of odd relationship with where I was running, even though I had never been there before.





As I turned onto the Scenic Byway, I ran through a little construction and then found a nice easy mile 3 and 4. The road had a nice roll to it. Soon, into the not-so-far distance I started to see the first of what would be, several large hills. They made me a little nervous, but I kept Pete in my head. During our ten mile race he mentioned he needed to keep his pace up on the hills, as to not get winded. This really seemed to make no sense to me. Why would I want to go faster on the hills? Won't I get too tired?

I have been incredibly fearful of walking during my runs. I worry I won't be able start up again. I feel I am giving up. I would rather slow my pace down and not actually walk, than to run at a faster pace and have to walk. So, on the quite intense hills, seeming to stretch a few minutes of running, I pushed myself hard. I kept telling myself as soon as the hill was over, I would jog off the pain. As I ran up the hills, my body felt like it was running at a 45 degree angle. I pumped my arms, I breathed hard out of my mouth and push my legs with what felt like everything I had. As the incline subsided, I ran through the pain and imagined myself running down hill. Through all the hills in mile 2-8, I never had to stop.

Mile 7's hill was a BEAST. There was another female runner about my age that was ahead of me the first 6 miles. I tried to catch up to her but was having a tough time. I passed her on the top of the mile 7 hill when she walked it out. I never saw her again. There was a nice decline for the next mile or so and a volunteer told me there was a water stop at the bottom of the hill. I ran for that water stop like a bat out of hell. However, even with my even pace, the 2 hour balloon passed me.

I struggled for a half of a mile or so with the passing of the balloon. I wanted to catch up to the pacer, but I was enjoying my run. I wanted to keep the enjoyment of the run more than finishing in 2 hours. I let the pacer and her yellow balloon go and kept her in my sights until mile 11.

I started to feel my toes numbing a bit at this point in the race and I was feeling a slight ache in my left ankle. A pain I had never experienced before on any of my other runs. I stopped to re-lace my shoes, stretch my hamstrings and hips at the water stop. When I stopped, I actually felt my legs shake and the sweat start to pour out of my face as I tied my shoes. Worried my body might give out, I quickly kept running through to mile 9.

I was definitely tired by mile 10, but I was so excited to pass the mile marker knowing I still had some fight in me. I often have, what I call, a "crumbling" feeling in my legs when I get through the last mile or two of my long runs. It feels like my legs have no support in the knees and I could just crumble at any point. I did not feel this at mile 10. I was very optimistic at this point in the race.

That feeling was short lived. Mentally, mile 11 was very difficult. The pain in my ankle and numb feet were very, very distracting. I stopped to walk for 5 steps three separate times in these two miles. It killed me to stop and walk, but mentally I was starting to give up a bit. I knew there was a huge hill at mile 12, so I drank Gatorade at the mile 11 water stop in hopes to get my second wind.

I knew Pete, my babies, and my Mother were at the race. At every sight of race spectators I hoped to see their sweet faces. I needed to see them. I needed a push. I needed something to help get through the pain. It did not help 3 people passed me in mile 11. I still remember each one who did. I kept telling myself how far I had come already. There was so little of the race left! I tried to picture leaving my house on my short runs. The rest of the race was shorter then the "little loop" (3.3 miles) Pete and I frequent.

Then I saw it. THE HILL. I seriously considered just walking up it. Could I really run up the hill and still finish the race? As the hill started I took out my headphones. This hill needed my full attention. As I pushed though the pain, I tried be positive by yelling to the spectators and race volunteers, "how mean to make a course with such an awful hill at the end!". I could barely talk, and I am sure I sounded like a babbling, red-faced, idiot. As the hill came to it's peak, I hoped not to see my family. I am sure they would have worried!

I walked another 5 steps at the top of the hill and turned to look behind me for the first time all race. There it was: another yellow balloon. Oh, hell no. I did not just run up that hill to get passed by the 2:10 balloon. No way. The pain in my ankle now turned my run into what felt like limping. I kept going.

After a minute or so of "don't-let-the-balloon-get-me-how-much-longer-is-this-insert-swear-word-here", I saw them! I saw my husband, children, and mother. Oh, how I needed to see them, too.

 
I babbled again to Pete about how the balloon was behind me. I am sure he had no idea what I was talking about. I waved to my kids and said, "Hi, mommy!" to my mom.
 
I ran pass a group of spectators who were cheering, "You are almost there! Just around the corner!" I turned for a block or two and then saw the red "finish" just a few short blocks away. I started to feel the swell in my heart. I was going to finish the race. I was going to finish the race!! I can't remember if I saw a 13 mile marker, but I sure looked for one. So many people were cheering and telling me great job. I just kept saying "thank you" over and over again, like a beauty queen or something.
 
I ran through the finish. My chip was ripped off my shoe and a medal was placed over my neck...
 
and I cried, like a little baby.

Read Part III.

8 comments:

  1. Hahaha! I am crying just reading this!!! So proud of you MB!!!

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  2. No joke I teared up at the end. I so know that feeling and it is amazing :) Altho I have no intention of submitting myself to it any time soon just reading it is enough to have shared a little bit!

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  3. I just love reading your blog! I feel like I'm living your life right along side of you! CONGRATS MB!!! Job well done!

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    1. Thank you, Grauntie! It was an amazing day & I am having fun sharing my story!

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  4. Katie made me read this, I never saw it when you posted it. As all said above you made me cry!! It is a wonderful story of determination and I am SO very proud of you!!

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    1. That was from my mom (Donna) by the way. She accidentally posted as me.

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