Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It all started with a 5K! I started this weight loss journey on SparkPeople officially right after New Year’s 2008. I was reading posts about others who had run in their first 5K. That totally inspired me and I thought, why don’t I give it a try! I found a 5K in my area and then completed the Couch 2 5K program found here on SparkPeople. I remember running that first half mile and nearly dying!!! And also thinking….how am I going to possibly run for 3.1 miles!!! Fast forward to April 5th…I completed my first 5K. While walking from the finish line I made the following comment to my family, “Well that wasn’t too bad. I can do a half marathon….it’s only 10 more miles!!”
So that’s where this hair brained idea all started. Once I think about doing something….look out. I set my mind and go after it! So I started running more races. Then I met some other ladies in my local town who were training for the Philadelphia Distance Run, a half marathon, and I told them that I would really like to run that race also! At the time I was suffering from Plantar fasciitis so I hadn’t registered yet. Then I finally just decided to suck it up and register for the race….if I had to walk the entire thing I was still going to do it!!!
So this past Sunday, September 21, 2008 I ran my first half marathon! It was truly an amazing experience that I will never forget and one that I can check off of my “bucket list.” I started the experience on Saturday afternoon. Allen, Collin and I headed to Philadelphia around 1:30pm. We had Michele, John and Alyssa following us to our hotel. After driving through stop-n-go traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway we finally got to our hotel around 3:30pm. We checked in and immediately headed down to the Expo to pick up our race packets. After that we enjoyed a great dinner at the Hard Rock Café. Then we headed back to our hotel room. With two children and two couples in one room, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. I was wide awake at 2am and then pretty much tossed and turned until about 5am when I got up to take some Excedrin for the massive headache I had. Michele and I got ourselves prepped, ate some “breakfast” (a banana and piece of bread with some peanut butter) and then made the 2 mile walk to the starting corrals. We were in different corrals so we hugged and went our separate ways. I decided to wait in the never-ending port-a-potty line and luckily managed to use it just before we headed out. Fortunately, Cheryl, one of my Tastefully Simple team members, spotted me just before we “started” the race. So I managed to work my way into the crowd to her. And then we were OFF!! It took us 15 minutes to actually cross the starting line. For the first 3.5 miles I ran with Cheryl. We talked and chatted a bit and really took in the sights and the bands along the way. Cheryl was so excited because this was her first time in Philadelphia!!! I remember seeing an old gentleman with the following sayings on the back of his shirt, “At 76 I still have some kicks and at 75 I still had jive!” I made it a point to run up alongside him and pat him on the back and said, “Way to go sir!” He thanked me and told me that “He was older than John McCain!”
I continued running until mile 5 and then I took my first walking break and ate some of my peanut butter pretzels that I had pinned to my hydration belt. I remember thinking to myself, Okay Amy…now just run to mile 7 and then you can take another break. Which is exactly what I did. After that mile, I pretty much took walking breaks every mile or at every water station. We crossed Falls Bridge just before mile 9 which was another unforgettable moment for me! I gave a hi-five to an Eagles fan with a large green, foam hand out. And then crossing the bridge was such a beautiful view of the Schuylkill River and the trees! I thought, how cool is this to be running over this bridge. There was also a man playing the bag pipes at the end of the bridge. Somewhere around mile 10 my right leg just above my knee was starting to cramp up. I stopped to stretch as much as I could. Luckily it got better with each stretch. I also remember around this point in the race seeing two women, each on a separate emergency buggies, with oxygen masks and IV’s of fluids being hooked up to them. That was a bit scary!! I made sure to grab extra waters and the remaining stations!! Mile 12 seemed to last forever and I walked quite a bit of it. Once the crowd of spectators started growing I knew that I must be getting close to the finish. I figured I needed to look like a runner so I better start running!! So I ran until the finish line. I remember seeing the 13 mile marker and getting very emotional!!! I was so relieved, proud, and excited to see that number! I couldn’t cry for some unknown reason…maybe because I had sweat so much by that point. So I started to almost hyperventilate! Then I also spotted my husband Allen and my son Collin in the crowd which made my emotions rumble once again!! I ran as fast as I could to the finish line and put my arms way up in the air as I crossed the line!! The best part of this whole experience was that I had hoped to finish this race in two and a half hours…..and my final chip time: 2:30:23!!!!! WOWZA!!! I couldn’t believe it…I had met my goal!!! What a fabulous feeling!!
I never would have thought that I would be a half-marathon runner! But I can proudly say that I completed my first half-marathon with flying colors for my short running experience of only eight months. I hope that I can continue running for the rest of my life so that I can experience this great feeling once again!!!