As I sit laid up in my bed, with Biofreeze on both knees, I will share my reflections on the longest run of my life.
It all started back in March when I heard about the Rock N' Roll Marathon coming to Savannah. The perfect thing to scratch off my bucket list. I've always enjoyed running, but 3 miles was about my limit. So, the training began for a half-marathon (13.1 miles). I started out by printing off an on-line training schedule and followed it pretty closely all through the grueling heat-stroke days of the summer. My gym membership had expired so outside was my only option. Saturdays were saved for my "long runs" and I felt so accomplished when I finally made it 6 miles, running in circles around Forsyth. I stick with places I know! Circles worked for me- can't get lost that way, right?
Then the school year started. That's when training stopped. I had already given myself a stress fracture on the top of my foot from running, so I was forced to take a break anyway. Then came the dreaded "ant bite" on the bottom of my foot which landed me at a doc- in- a- box one Saturday afternoon. A round of antibiotics and almost a week of hobbling around later, I realized that my 1/2 marathon wasn't gonna be pretty. I had about a month until it was go- time and I had been out of commission for awhile.
As race time approached I figured I'd give the race a shot anyway since I had already paid for it. So yesterday I spent an hour in bumper to bumper traffic going over the bridge to pick up my packet. The expo made it well worth the trip cause I got some pretty cool gear!
Here is my Hippie Belt to hold my phone, keys, ID, etc.
I found some wicking compression socks I decided would be beneficial after I listened to the guy's sales pitch.
A moisture wicking headband (bandana-like)
Sport Beans & GU, all new to me, but sounded like I might need it if I was really going to trek it for 13 miles.
Later I decided a Wal-Mart trip was in order for a cheap sweatshirt and gloves that I didn't mind chunking on the road during the run once I warmed up (thank you Vicki Bradley for this idea....I'm new at this...not a clue)
Fast forward to this morning. At 4:30 AM my alarm clock chirped (Literally. I have cricket sounds as the alarm tone on my phone- its peaceful). By 5:45 I was on the Savannah Mall shuttle heading out to the races. Thank goodness for not having to deal with driving downtown- it would've been impossible. Once I got to the drop off on Bay Street I stood around trying to find warmth behind trees but my extremeties froze by the minute. Miserable.
Somehow through the sea of people, I bumped into my sister's friend Courtney and we decided to be running buddies. My dilemma was: Do I blow it out and see how far I can run without stopping? Or do I pace myself and run intervals so that I don't burn myself out and have to drop out of the race. Courtney decided she was going to "cruise" slowly and try to run without stopping, so I just followed suit.
On mile 1, I could not feel my feet. No exaggeration. My toes were so frozen that I had to watch where my feet landed beacuse they were numb & I didnt want to step in a hole and break my ankle. Around mile 3 I finally started to feel my feet again and Courtney and I realized that we were feeling pretty good for having just completed a 5k.
People were still fired up, hooting and hollering at mile 4, then around 6 or 7 it got a little more intense. Not so much laughter, just breathing. I was feeling extra excited because 6 miles had been my personal farthest. Mile 8 was the Gu station, so I told myslef I could make it
that far. (GU= you squirt it in your mouth for energy...and it's just that. GOO). Somehow I kept on trucking through mile 9...then ...10. I told myself- only 3 more miles from here!!! Then came mile 11 and thats when it really started to suck. I pushed through 11 & was overjoyed to see 12. I had run 12 miles without stopping. Amazing!!!! Surely I could go one more, right?
Mile 12 was the absolute worst. Imagine your quad muscle being stretched like a rubberband that is almost to it's breaking point. So tight!!! My legs just couldn't keep the pace so I had to alternate walking & running for that last mile. So close, yet so far away! I ran the last part through the finish line ending at 2 hours and 22 minutes. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
The rest is a blur of crowds, and medals, and water, and fruit, and energy bars. They were giving out big plastic trash bag type things to block the wind and keep our muscles warm. I wrapped one around me, found myself a spot in the sun and just....sat...and sat.....and sat.... loving the ground. The worst pain was afterwards by far. My legs have never felt that kind of pain before. I now understand why runners stretch afterwards. It was the only thing that brought relief.
At the end, Brian was kind enough to fight the mad traffic, come pick me up from downtown and carry me on his back 7 blocks to the car. I was worthless.
So as of now, I'm not sure that I will ever do another half marathon again. My body hurts too much to think of that. I can say that I've done it & that is good enough for me!