On January 25, 2009 I did something I thought was NEVER in the cards for me. I completed my first half marathon!!!!!!!! I couldn't be more excited or proud of my accomplishments. When I first started this journey, I couldn't run. Period. I was out of shape, carrying around way too much weight and my body couldn't handle the impact. I would start panting just after a few breaths and LOOK AT ME NOW!!!! Here is the story:
A few months ago, I was encouraged by a few fellow sparks (Coffee-mate-y and Angespad) to "up the ante" and sign up for the Carlsbad Half Marathon. I thought they were crazy and I said no. I encouraged them but figured it wasn't in the cards for me. Then Coffeerun (Jessica) posted a comment on the Spark San Diego team page and asked if other people were goign to run it. This thread is what did it. There were quite a few sparks that were going to do it and Jessica posted a link to a reasonable training program. I thought, what the heck? I didn't want to be left behind! A few days later, I held the monthly outing for November and met Cellia6191 and fhamwey (Marcy and Felicia) and little did I know that the journey would be under way!!! Felicia stated that she was going to do Carlsbad and we convinced Marcy to sign up!!! It was a done deal. I had training partners and an event to train for. The next couple of months went by quickly and I ended up training with Jessica, Marcy and Felicia (all or some mix of) almost every weekend for our long runs. We made it through the holidays and stayed on target with our training. Before I knew it, the race was right around the corner.
Happy92003 (Kelly) and I met a couple of times to go for our short run during the week and we had a blast getting to know each other. The Thursday before the event we went on a short 3 mile run and it was THE WORST RUN I have had in a long, long time, if not ever. It was a struggle to get in a rhythm and my breathing felt labored. It was a tough route with hills but something that shouldn't be this bad. We even quit talking for a portion of the route because we were so focused and I just couldn't talk anymore. We walked for about 15-20 seconds and then we were jogging again. We made it to the three mile mark and I couldn't have been happier. I was feeling terrible. We started to walk back toward the cars and my breathing was STILL labored. My vision started to go black-and-white and I felt light headed. I wanted to keep moving but I just couldn't. I asked Kelly if I could sit down for a minute and she said sure, do what you need to. I sat down and she KNEW somethign wasn't right. She asked me if I had something to eat with me. I usually run with shot blox but I couldn't even respond. My thoughts were scrambled and my speech was slow. I couldn't get the answer out. Kelly took off like the wind to go get her car. Luckily, she had food in her lunch box and came driving like a bat outta (you know where!) to come to my rescue. She gave me her grapes and they were THE BEST grapes EVER!!! I was sooo blessed to have her there to help me out. I am positive that the reason I was having problems was because I did not properly fuel myself for the run. I ate early in the day but ran without adequate nutrition and my body had no part of that nonsense. I learned a valuable lesson that night but it shook my confidence to the core. Luckily, I have some awesome running buddies (Jessica, Kelly and Felicia) came to my rescue and pumped me back up. Those few days before the race were full of anxiety and excitement.
On January 24, 2009 a few of us went to the Fitness Expo to pick up our race bibs and look around at the expo. I couldn't believe that the race was the very next morning. I had butterflies in my stomach and it was obvious this was important to me! I wanted to get out there and complete this event. I had done the training and now it was time to have some fun!!! Shayna (seeshaynarun), Shannon (coffee-mate-y), Geoff (Shannon's BF), Marcy (Cellia6191) and Taylor (my daughter) went to Romano's Maraconi Grill to get our pasta grub on! We had a fantastic time together eating some delicious food and having great conversation. It was nice to be surrounded by other people experiencing the same exciting event with me. We left early to get some much needed rest. The race would start at 7:30am the next morning!
Race morning came quickly with little rest! I was getting nervous! Could I really do this? What had I gotten myself into? What if I fail? I couldn't fail...my family was there to support me and I couldn't let them down...or myself for that matter. We got to the race super early with little traffic and we eventually rounded up most of the sparks for some prerace pics. Jessica and I had agreed to run the race together and she wasn't there. I tried calling her and I only got her voicemail. I was shook again. How was I going to run this race without the support of my fellow sparks? I was worried and getting a little panicky. Marcy and I decided that we would just go to our wave start and hope for the best. There were SOOOO many people there. Thousands. Around 7,000 competed in the marathon and half marathon. You can only imagine how many people that is in reality. We looked for the wave 6 sign and Marcy, Felicia, Kelly and I made our way to the start. Out of the blue, I saw Jessica!!!! I was soooo relieved and excited. Everything was falling into place. I couldn't believe that with all those people being there, we found her!!! She had accidently gotten her phone wet and it wasn't working...that is why we couldn't get ahold of her. Thank goodness for small miracles. I knew with these two by my side, we could get it done!!!
The waves started and everyone started moving. I had butterflies flying around in my tummy like crazy!! We all agreed we would start off slow and try not to get caught up in the race tempo. We had our Garmins on and knew our pace should stay between 11-11:30 per mile. We aren't speed racers but we know our pace!! LOL! Jessica and I had ran part of the course a few weeks before the event so everything felt comfortable. The hill that was tough on our training run seemed like a breeze because of the adrenaline. There were soooo many people out on the street cheering us on. The first couple of miles flew by quickly! We were all chatting and enjoying the beautiful scenery. It was great!
At the 3 mile mark we stopped for a few seconds to stretch. Jessica had a hip injury prior to the race and her DR told her to stop every 3 miles to stretch. It was a quick break and I used the opportunity to stretch out my knees. I had a lot of pain during training and was concerned about them for the race. I had slight discomfort but nothing liek during training. This was a fantastic sign! We were off again. Amongst all the people on the side line there was a woman who held a sign that said "You Rock (Insert Name)!!! and I remember yelling out my name "Leah!!!" and screaming. We all laughed and kept on running. Marcy had her camera with her and we took photos of ourselves and each other while running. Marcy even asked some guy that was running if he would take our photo while running!! He agreed!!! LOL! Here are two of the photos:
There were professional photographers all along the course and every single time I saw them I would raise my hands in the air and smile. I was doing it!!! Little by little, mile by mile!!! About that time we hit the half way point and boy were we excited. Half way done with our first half!! YES!!! There was a big hill around mile 7 and boy was it tough. I just kept telling myself to keep moving. By this time, we had put our headphones on. It was time to get serious and focus. We would blurt out lines of songs to pump up our group. I remember Marcy singing "walk it out, walk it out" to me and I kept saying "let's get bunk in here"!!! ANything to pump us up. We made up the hill and kept on truckin!!! At the 10 mile mark, I was thinking it is only a 5k from here...you got this!! I saw the lady with the sign again and I just didn't have enough energy in me to say anything. I was focused! Our Garmins would ring with the completion of every mile and I was elated with every jingle! At about mile 11 it was time for a short walk break. I think we wakled for about 30 seconds but it was what we needed to get our breath and bang out those last couple of miles. I got a call on my cell from the family and told them I would be there in about 20 minutes or so and I kept on a runnin. By this point I had ran out of gatorade and I was THIRSTY! I sorta got in a funk over it. All I wanted to do was be done with this race. How much further??? Ugh!! I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and each step brought us closer to that beloved finish line. We got closer and closer and there were crowds lining the street and I was getting excited. i kept looking for my family and I couldn't see them. I kept on running and once we turned that final corner I saw the finish line. I TOOK OFF!!!! I saw this guy up ahead of me and though, "He isn't beating me" and I flew right by him at an all out sprint. I saw the photographers and threw my hands in the air and crossed the finish line. I couldn't believe it!!!! I DID IT!!!! I started to tear up because I really, really did!!! This was one of the best days ever!!! I set a goal, trained hard and completed it!!! 13.1 miles!!!!!!!! YES!!!!
They usher you through the finish line and all I wanted was some water!! I took two bottles and a goodie bag and tried to find my family. We made our way to our meeting location and all I know is my legs were hurting. Stopping is the most painful part!!! I hugged my family and we took a ton of photos. My dad walked around with me to help with the leg pain and I loved those few special moments with my pops. He is my number one supporter and with him behind me, I can do ANYTHING!!! He told me he was proud of me. Isn't this what every little girl wants to hear from their pop? I am sooo lucky to be the apple of his eye! He is the bestest.
Ty was proud and kept taking photos for me.
Tay kept taking photos and asked me when she could run a half marathon!!! I couldn't believe that by my example my daughter wants to follow in my footsteps! How cool is that?
The group had plans to go to Ki's Restaurant to refuel and we had an awesome time sharing our experiences and talking about our journey. I couldn't have asked for a better day to be shared with better people. I couldn't have done this without sparkpeople and my sparkpeople friends!! Thanks to all of you, I can chalk this one up to a success!!!!
San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon - Here I Come!!! With some great spark friends right next to me!!!!