Guys… I ran 13.1 miles on Sunday.
WHAT?? I’m still in disbelief.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… a year ago (hell, even six months ago) I would’ve laughed in your face if you told me I’d be running a half marathon this year. But then I was able to shed some dead weight, voluntarily and involuntarily, and things got… easier. So I trained, and I ran.
It was exciting, and fun, and funny, and hard, and painful, and rewarding, and exhilarating.
I managed to get a great night of sleep, so for the first time ever for a race I actually woke up well-rested and refreshed. Uh… can that happen every time? Even better, I managed not to have tummy issues, if you know what I mean…
My excitement this week, and especially this morning, was through the roof. I met up with a colleague at the finish line to catch the shuttle to the start, and the excitement never turned into nerves. I was surprised by this. Once the shuttle dropped us off, I ran to the ladies’ room… and can I say thank GOODNESS for NH Motor Speedway and actual BATHROOMS instead of port-a-potties. It was clean, and warm, and so much less psychologically damaging than those awful boxes we usually line up for. There were actually women hanging out in the bathroom to keep warm.
After the visit to ladies’ room I chatted with a smaller group for a few minutes (one of the ladies recognized my outfit from a Facebook post I did earlier in the week for the very purpose of being recognized so that we could find each other for the group photo – WIN!), then dropped my sweat pants at bag check (it was cold… I needed the extra layer at first), and headed up to the start line for an MRTT group photo.
Apparently neon yellow/green was the color of the year.
Then I got to my corral and did a quick Facebook Live post (which sadly I am unable to post here), and then the National Anthem was sung, the gun went off, and off we went!
I realized very quickly that I was running way too fast – I normally average a 12:30/mile. While I would expect my race pace to be a bit faster (adrenaline is a crazy thing), I was running closer to 10:30/mile for a little bit. Whoops! Looking back at my splits, my first mile was 11:11 which I’m simultaneously proud of, excited by, and horrified by. Needless to say, I needed to slow way, way down if I was going to survive the entire 13.1 miles.
There were these amusing signs all along the course… I couldn’t help but snap pics.
For the record, sometime around mile 4 I ditched the long sleeves. It was cold and windy, but I get really hot when I run. I should’ve just run in short sleeves and shorts.
When I hit the 10K split, I was SO excited to see a photographer… vain, I know. But selfies can only get me so far, and they’re hard to take when I’m actively running.
Eventually I hit the 8mi marker and I knew I’d be heading up the worst hill of the entire course. It was pretty awful, I won’t lie. I ended up walking most (ok – ALL) of it.
Image Credit: MapMyRun (edits are mine)
Who the hell puts a hill like that past the halfway point of a half marathon?!
As I was heading into the 10mi marker, along the sidelines I saw a familiar face from high school. Mind you, I graduated over ten years ago from a relatively large school. This wasn’t someone I was even necessarily friends with, and recognizing him was SO unexpected. I had to say something. As I ran by the exchange went something like this:
Me: (pointing right at him) HEY! Are you Dana?
Me: Did we go to high school together? Pinkerton Academy!
As I was running off he yelled, “What’s your number?” and when I turned around he was signaling at his stomach to indicate bib number, so I hollered my bib number back at him and kept going. I won’t lie, though… my first thought when he asked for my number was that he wanted my phone number and I was a little like:
Image Credit: grabyajimmie.com
But heyyyyyyyyy Guy From High School if you’re reading this, thanks for friending me on FB… maybe we can go for a run sometime. Or maybe not, because you’re a triathloner (yes, I wasted no time stalking your FB profile) and you probably run way faster than me. So for you it would probably feel like a walk. Wanna go for a walk and maybe grab a beer (Diet Coke for me) and some fried pickles or cheesy fries after? Cool.
Eventually I found myself running up another hill. But then this funny sign happened:
These signs… these signs were my life blood during this race. They were so entertaining.
I managed to snap a selfie between miles 10 and 11, and do another Facebook Live post just after mile 11. Shockingly enough, I was still smiling at this point. That’s crazy. My legs were toast, my hips hurt, my right knee and arch weren’t happy, and the big toe on my left foot was numb. There was a lot of walking at this point. I only trained up to 11 miles, so the last 2.1 were the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever done.
Eventually, I caught a glimpse of the finish line and decided to turn on Facebook Live again and run the last .5mi. It was slow and painful. A police officer directing traffic encouraged me to keep it up, and I thanked him (I thanked all volunteers and police officers. I’ve never done that before, but I can assure you that I will do this at every race from now on) and kept moving. Soon after, a spectator read my cheeky headband and commented that the finish line was just ahead. That made me laugh! Then I saw my colleagues Kaitlin and Allie cheering me on, so naturally I did a funky little shimmy to say hello.
THEN I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE OF MY FIRST HALF MARATHON.
I was a bit intimidated by the six gorgeous beauty queens handing out medals. I was all sweaty and tired and they were all fabulous in their tiaras (Millennium has a tendency to invite young ladies the Miss New Hampshire state and local pageant system to participate at races – as a former contestant, I fully support this). But then I remembered that I had just finished a half marathon, so I got over it. I plucked my medal from the hands of a glittering young lady, said thank you, and finished up my Live video with this gem of a pose:
Shortly after crossing the finish I saw Kaitlin and Allie, and another colleague Theresa who also ran the half marathon. As I was saying hi, two women ambushed me from the side – my original cheer squad, Paula and Darlene (whom I started my one 5K every month goal with last year) showed up to support me! I was so surprised – I thought they both had to bail, but they came anyway. I got a bit teary-eyed about this… it was such an overwhelming, lovely feeling to complete such a huge task and be so supported by the women who helped me start this journey.
I checked out my race results and was thrilled to see that I finished in 2:46:51. This is a minute and 51 seconds longer than the goal I had semi-set for myself… my real goal was just to finish. But as I trained over the last 16 weeks and saw my pace improving, I realized there was a chance I might be able to hit runDisney’s 2:45 pace requirement for corral assignment. I just missed it – I knew that walking so much during those last three miles was the reason, but I will take these results anyway. I am so proud of myself!
Not once was there a moment that I thought, “I can’t do this.” My excitement held throughout the race, though I do wish I had a buddy to stick with the entire time. As I ran further my body hurt, but I pushed through up until those last three miles, where I really just struggled. My brain wanted to move, but my legs weren’t having it. Regardless, this was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. Even better than finishing both of my degrees.
I gotta hand it to Millennium Running. They run a tight ship for their signature events. Registration is easy, bib pickup is easy, getting to the start line is easy, everything is always well-marked, their volunteers are incredible… their race events are so much fun!
I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF.
After the year I’ve had, if this is the last good thing that happens to me this year, I will be perfectly happy.
Did you race this weekend? If you’re a Disney runner working on POT, did you hit your goal?