Sunday, September 26, 2010

Women’s Half Marathon

Disclaimer: Sorry, there’s no food here, but I just have to share what I did this weekend because it is truly miraculous.

Remember in my last entry when I talked about doing Couch to 5K? Well, I decided to skip over the last few weeks and the 5K, 5-mile, 10K, and everything in between and move right up to the 1/2 Marathon. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that I accidentally ran a half marathon on Saturday.

It all started a week ago this past Friday. My mom, a dedicated runner since before my birth, has been struggling with her hamstring. She had signed up to run the Women’s Half in Nashville on September 25th but found herself still dealing with her injury. She called me up and asked me if I would do it with her. We would mostly walk since there would be lots of other walkers and probably finish in about 3:30. I agreed. So now I had 8 days to ready myself for a half marathon. You know, like you do.

Friday, I did an easy workout on the Arc-Trainer, went to work, a wedding rehearsal, and picked up my race number, t-shirt, and goodie bag at the Expo. While tempted by the fun running accoutrements, I decided to wait until I did a “real” half to paste a big 13.1 sticker on my car. Joe and I went to the kick-off party for our church fellowship groups, and I had more wine than I intended seeing as I was doing the half the next day. But we headed home, and I set my alarm for 5:30 AM.

When it went off the next morning, I chugged some water, threw my clothes and Garmin on, and waited for my mom to arrive. The banana I had set aside to eat was bruised beyond being edible, so I ate a Nature Valley granola bar. My mom arrived and we zoomed downtown to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where there were lots of women roaming around, many in pink.


Jo Dee Messina sang the National Anthem, and I declared that, pre-emptively, the highlight of the race. The gun went off, and we shuffled toward the front since my number put me in the last corral. So what happened? How did I, a running neophyte with little to no training, run a half marathon? In the simplest of terms, we started running at the beginning, trying to pass by some of the slower walkers and get closer to the walk-joggers, and we never really stopped. The half marathon that I was supposed to walk with my mother with a few jog breaks turned in to a half marathon that we ran punctuated by a few walk breaks.


When there were hills, we walked up them. When I got tired or my knees got a little achy, I walked for a few minutes. The longest running race I have finished in my life was a 5 mile race when we lived in Dallas 10 years ago or more. First we passed the 3 hour pace group and then the 2:45 pace group. When we passed the 5 mile mark, it was the longest race I had ever run. Then we passed the 8 mile marker, the 10 mile marker, and all we had was a 5K in front of us. Of course, it was the hardest 5K of my life, but I never felt bad. It was a gorgeous day, if a bit warm. The course was lovely and laid out well, if a bit hilly. Then my mom and I crossed the finish line holding hands. I had just run (for the most part) a half marathon in 2 hours and 32 minutes, an 11:29 pace. WTF?

Like my mom said around mile 12, “You didn’t really think you had completely escaped the gene for this, did you?” But seriously, I wouldn’t recommend doing what I did. By some miracle, I didn’t hurt myself, experience any intestinal issues, chafing, blisters, dehydration, or any of the myriad things that can happen during a half marathon. I’m young, relatively fit, and stupid, which occasionally works out to my advantage. I didn’t have time to get nervous. I didn’t have a plan. We just went out there and had fun, keeping our bodies’ limitations in mind the whole time. I also did this with an extremely experienced partner, my mom, who has run many, many races, including ultra-marathons.


It was also fun! The volunteers at the aid stations, the other participants, and everyone who cheered along the route were so enthusiastic and encouraging. I can’t wait to do another half marathon, next time preferably with some training and alongside my husband. My knees were sore afterward, but otherwise I’m not in too much pain. For now, I’m going to finish C25K and then work on increasing mileage, but completing this half marathon successfully has really given me the boost I needed to keep running.

Have you ever done something that you never imagined you were capable of doing?