Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The night before the race I felt nervous... would I make it in less than 4 hours... would I still be able to walk afterwards! Would my bad knee hold up OK? Would my friend agree to iHOP after the race!?!
I slept badly... It took me a while to get to sleep and then I woke at 4 and I don’t think I got back to sleep. It was an early start and my friend picked me up at 6.15am. We got to Ladner and had to line up to pick up our chips and bibs (sounds a bit like chips and dips).
My number was 831. There were 165 registered in the half marathon. It was pretty chilly and I debated wearing my rain jacket for the run... the forecast had said there was a 90% chance of rain and the clouds looked threatening. However, by 7.15 the temperature had warmed a little, or perhaps it was just me getting hotter and more nervous! I saw my massage therapist there too. I’d told her about the race a few months ago and she sounded interested. I think it was her first half marathon too. But she is definitely not carrying an extra 50lbs with her, like I am.
At 7.32 they sounded the gun and we were off. Most people ran to start but I’d already decided to walk for 2 minutes as my warm up. Within a couple of minutes there was only one person behind me. For the first 50 minutes or so I ran cycles of 6 minutes running, my interval timing bell would chime and I would go a little faster for 2 minutes then walk for 2.5 minutes. This worked for a while but I then played with a setting and lost the bell at the end of the walk section so I would walk until I felt my body recover a little, then I’d start running again. By about half distance, I decided that 8 minutes of running was too much for my overweight untrained body to handle so I changed my interval bells to 4 minutes, 2 minutes and 2 minutes. From then on I would run, hear a bell then decide whether to continue or not. By about 8 miles I was kind of doing my own thing. The bells were still going off but I was listening more to myself and pushing myself by saying “I’ll run to the white car then I’ll walk” and using landmarks rather than the bells.
I completed the first half in just under 1.5 hours and was pretty happy with my performance. I didn’t imagine that I could do it in 3 hours as I expected my second half to be slower. I was experiencing muscle soreness in my thighs, inner thighs, hips and calf muscles. I had been worried about my calf muscles as they’d been sore after my much smaller runs that week but after I’d ran my intervals for about 7 miles, they didn’t hurt any more – it was the inner thighs that were the troublesome area for me.
I passed another competitor at about 8 miles and didn’t see anyone else for the rest of the race except for volunteers. I also remembered passing two other ladies at about 2 miles, so I believed I wasn’t last, which was a bit of a fear of mine.
At mile 11 a volunteer gave very bad directions and I ran past the turning and found myself lost and I got into a bit of a panic. I was gulping air quite loudly as I tried to calm myself down a bit. I would estimate I wasted about 4 or 5 minutes with my wrong turn and expended quite a bit of energy with the extra running and trying not to panic. I had to double back and calm myself. It was very frustrating as when I ran through the finish line the time was 3:00:27 – so if I’d not made that wrong turn, I would have been under 3 hours!
Coming up to the finish line I saw a lady who said “lovely day for it and it’s easy as it’s so flat!” – That was the last thing I really wanted to hear – that it was easy! I am not sure if she was a competitor or not but that really is not a good thing to tell a virgin half marathoner struggling through her first time. That last mile seemed longer than all the others. It seemed never ending. I kept trying to run a bit more but I was exhausted. I wish I had now – I did this for my first 5K race too and just missed out on a time under 40 minutes – I got 40 minutes and about 10 seconds. As I reached the finish line, they announced my arrival – reading my number and saying “Come on Abigail! You can do it!” It was great that everyone was cheering me on. I ended up feeling quite emotional as I ran/hobbled over the line. I felt like I was going to cry so started trying to stop myself from crying – which made me sound like I was having trouble breathing. An official said “take a moment to get your breath back as I get your chip” and my friend said “You sounded really out of breath!” but I explained I was feeling emotional and it wasn’t breathing difficulties at all. I stretched a little and grabbed a banana... it was such a good feeling to have finished it! And not be last! I was worried that I wouldn’t finish in 3.5 hours as that’s when I thought they were taking the finish line down, but it was taken down at 4 hours. I was 4th from last and I am happy with my performance considering beforehand the longest I’d run/intervals for was 4 miles on Friday!
After the race we got changed. I put on my surgical support stockings that I was given when my youngest was born. They are super tight fitting and I’d read an article that support stockings are supposed to help with muscle soreness – I think they worked too as my calf muscles were not really sore at all – it’s more my thighs and inner thighs. I had a massage yesterday (but not with the racing therapist as she had the day off too) and went in the hot tub a few times. I’m better today and am hoping it won’t be long before the soreness has gone and I can start training again on my treadmill.
We went to iHOP for brunch. OK so not the healthiest of choices but after 3 hours of racing, it tasted sooooo good. I know treats are really not supposed to be food but well, it's what I wanted, what my friend wanted and it was a one-off... You only complete your first half marathon once in a lifetime!
So, now the countdown begins for the Seattle Half. I hope to train properly for this race as it’s more challenging – it’s got hills. I will be going to Australia for 3 weeks about a month before the race but hopefully I will get a chance to get out and pound the streets of Sydney to keep my training up.
Woo hoo!!!! I must keep thinking about my achievement! A HALF MARATHON! Who’d have thought it! I just checked my C25K app and my first session was at the end of May... 2.5 months ago I started this running business... Not bad progress for an overweight 40 year old with a dodgey knee.