Monday, December 21, 2015

My First Half-Marathon!!!

One morning in training I planned to do a 10-mile run.  I cook hamburger patties and freeze them to eat after my runs for protein.  This particular morning I remembered to take it out of the freezer but left it on the counter.  I went off without water and without my post run chocolate protein drink.  All I had in the car was the hot tea I’d made as part of breakfast. 
  God, what are you trying to teach me?  No hamburger patty is one thing, and no protein drink is one thing, but You let me walk out of the house without WATER?  For a 10-mile run???!!! 
Guess what.
  My times were faster that day than normal.  I did stop at a store about half way and get some coconut water and a banana, but God was teaching me that I need a lot less than I think I do.

So early in 2015 I made not exactly a resolution, at least I didn't call it that.  I just said and wrote down that this year I would run a half-marathon.  This paper has been on my fridge all year. 

A few days before my half-marathon, I saw an item I was interested in on a Facebook sale site but I’d have to drive 12 miles to get it so I decided not to.  Then it hit me that I thought *driving* 12 miles was too far but I’ll be *running* 13.1!

The morning of the race I woke up to nice breezy weather; a little warmer than ideal, but I’ll take it. 
I felt ready.  Prepared.  This sure beats not preparing well and wondering if I’ll make it.  I was more excited than nervous.  At the start I ran about a tenth of a mile before realizing my music wasn’t on!  Then I had to find the beginning song.  I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of getting that ready before the start.  Okay, all set now!  Running well.  I recognize this area I’ve been running for months.  I belong here.  I wonder if I should move from the blocked-off street to the sidewalk I’m familiar with.  Nah, I’ll stay here.  It’ll be some novelty mixed with familiarity. 

My time is great!  A little faster than usual, but not excessively.  It must be adrenaline and the excitement of the race finally happening. 
I’m coming to the first refueling point, 45 minutes in.  I didn’t wear my fuel belt because it’s ugly and bulky.  I see Brianne and Nico!  I’m glad she wore an orange T-shirt; that makes it very easy to spot her from far away!  I swallowed some mashed sweet potato.  It provides vitamins and good carbs.  I drank some watermelon juice/coconut water/salt concoction I came up with on my own.  No energy gels or Gatorade for this runner; I’m going as natural as possible!  I walked while it digested and talked with my daughter and son-in-law, but the total walk time was no more than 2 minutes.  See you at the next refueling place! 

I ran across the blocked-off south span of the Park Blvd. bridge, not the north span with a pedestrian lane like I practiced, but I knew that was a possibility.  No problem; I can handle a little bit of unfamiliarity.  Still going strong.  I started 30 minutes early with the walkers and other slow runners, but the fast runners had already caught up with us.  Many as they passed me said, “Good job!”, “Looking good!”, “Keep it up!”, etc.  Ahhhh, positive encouragement!  And from the fast runners!
I met my support crew again at about mile 6.
  Yay!  I’m thankful to them for providing me fuel so I didn’t have to carry it myself or rely on what the race provided.

About the halfway point there were lots of people at Seminole City Park to cheer us!  One of them was my running friend Lisa who took the pictures you see here.  Thanks, Lisa, for the encouragement and picture-taking!  I was feeling strong, smiling, and really enjoying the race!

A thought, one of thousands, occurred to me while I was running.  Everyone knows that it’s not wise to cram for a test and that you really should manage your time well and be prepared, but hardly anyone follows that advice.  Let me tell you, FOLLOW IT!  I’m so glad I put in the necessary time training.  It was still work, and I still didn’t end up with a record pace, but I enjoyed it and felt confident.  That was worth all those 4 a.m. alarms to run before the rest of my day started and all the sweat and sore feet I endured for the last 6 months specifically and the last 4+ years generally. 

My phone died at mile 10.3.  Grrrr!  I made sure I didn’t unplug it from the charger until right before I left the house and that I had no apps open in the background and it still died on me.  I’ll have to find out why. 
In addition to feeling prepared with the distance, I’m glad I was prepared with this particular course.
  The Pinellas Trail is beautiful!
I entered Taylor Park in a different place than I had trained for.  I’m rolling with the flow so it was fine.  I made it to the 1/2-mile-long crushed shell path and my legs didn’t collapse under me.  Back on concrete now and only about half a mile to go!  I can hear the music at the finish line.  I’m coming, I’m coming!  I finished!  I ran my first half-marathon!  I ran 13.1 miles!
My time was 3:13:19, which is a 14:45 pace per mile.  That’s slow, but about what I run in training, so it wasn’t a letdown.  I’m happy that I ran and that I finished!  I’m happy that my fitness club friends and others encouraged me to go ahead and do this race and not wait.  I’m happy that God changed my heart and then my mind and my body so that I would even want to run much less actually be able to do it!

My mom and dad were in the park but couldn’t get to the finish line, so  I saw them soon after.  I walked around for a little while drinking water, got some of both kinds of pasta and an orange and a banana.  It’s amazing how good food tastes when you earn it!  I burned about 2600 calories so I needed to replenish some of them.  Wow, recovery is hard.  There was no time to nap in the afternoon because we drove over an hour to meet some family for supper.  I took a pillow and tried to sleep in the car but sleep didn’t come.  I had a post-race massage 3 days after.  Ahhhhh!!!  My body is just TIRED.  I took the whole week after the race off from running and I’m fine with that.
The overlying feeling for this race and much of the training was joy!  I loved the whole race experience and most of the training, especially when the weather cooled down (well, cool for Florida).  I felt joy each time I ran a new distance in the weeks leading up to the race, starting with 10 miles.  The joy of the Lord is my strength!

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