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Race for the Roses... Completed my 1st CRAZY Half-Marathon

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Wow.. Where to start. I have been running regularly 2-3 times a week now for about 9 months. I started with the C25k program and really at first I couldn't run more than 5 minutes at a time. I was a good walker though..no problem walking and I could easily do 5 miles. Put in a jog however and it was a lot tougher. I kept at it and within a month or so I was able to run (slowly) 5k (3 miles) without stopping. I did the C25k training on a treadmill and found out when I took it outside that running on a treadmill is NOT at all like running outside in the real world. Actually propelling your body without a moving conveyor is much tougher. The running surface outside is also more challenging and isn't always smooth. Okay, no more treadmill for me unless the weather outside is uncooperative or I need to run after work and it is dark. I don't want to run close to a road in the dark.. too dangerous. At this point I would say about 50% of my runs are outside.

Most of you know I live in Seaside on the North Oregon Coast. The weather is typically gorgeous Aug-Oct and the rest of the year it is mostly rainy. Also can be quite windy and stormy but usually the temps are moderate in the 45-60 degree range. I have been able to run pretty consistently all Winter by finding little pockets of time when the rain stops. I started taking up my mileage last Fall and was delighted when I was able to do a 10k (6 mile) run without stopping. That got me to thinking (oh oh my husband would say ~ you're thinking again!) I wonder if I could possibly do a Half Marathon? Would I even want to if I could? I like to have fitness goals out there lurking as it helps me keep my focus. I started researching Half Marathon events and decided that The Race for the Roses in Portland would be my first Half. At that point I had almost 5 months to get ready for it so that should be doable. I printed off a training schedule, read a few running books and started taking my mileage up a little at a time to prevent an injury. As I progressed I continued to amaze myself¡K 6 miles, 7 miles, and then one day I hit 9 miles when I thought I had only run 8¡K whoopsie¡K. I zoned out and lost track! Thank goodness for my Garmin Forerunner. It knows where I have been even if I don't. My longest pre-event run about a month ago was just over 12 miles. During these long runs I found that typically about the 8 mile mark I started to fatigue, but I was usually able to power through. I found that all this running time really gave me thinking time too. I recalled how in Jr High School (about 45 years ago!!) I was actually pretty good at endurance runs. I was lousy in PE but for some reason I did have some endurance. At that point however I had zero interest and only ran because I had too. Never did I see running as something someone would actually WANT to do so I never did it again until just last year, and that was so I could burn more calories lol.

I am still really in shock that today I actually FINISHED a freakin Half Marathon! I mean how many people actually do that? Would it be reasonable to think that less than 1% of the population is a distance runner? And how many start running in their 50's? I am going to have to see if there are any statistics on that. Not sure why I have to know but it does make me feel kinda special hee hee. My goal for this first HM was to finish with a smile on my face. That's it.. a smile. I secretly also wanted to finish in less than 3 hours. I know based on my practice runs that I could do that but still you never know what challenges life will throw at you so I told myself not to be disappointed if I was slower. The goal was to finish.. with a smile.. and the rest would take care of itself.

I planned to work on Saturday, the day before the event, so knew I wouldn't make it to the pre-event expo and packet pick-up. The hubbie and I were driving to Portland (about 90 minutes away) after work, would have dinner and then go to the Motel. I took my pillow from home hoping that would help me sleep better. We arrived at the motel which is conveniently about 3 blocks from the convention center where we start. My DH goes to check in and we have NO reservation. WHAT!! I had the confirmation on my computer so I looked it up. OH NO! not a good sign, I made reservations at the WRONG hotel. How in the World did this happen? Arghh.. so stupid. Not a good omen to start this way. My DH said they had a room at the place we wanted so he checked us in. I was seriously PO'd.. at myself and the situation. I called the other place but was too late for cancellation. I politely asked for some consideration on the price and so I hope they will be nice. Let's just say I had trouble relaxing after this fiasco so going to bed right away was out of the question. I set my alarm for 5am so I would have time to eat a bite before walking over to the Center and picking up my packet. Didn't sleep well. Traffic noise, nerves, you name it. I heard that sleep the night before the event wasn't that important so I did the best I could. I was hoping that info was really right.

So here we are.. race day! April 1st.. April Fools Day. Got up at 5am and looked out the window. Pavement was dry.. no rain..yippee. Luck is changing. The forecast was for rain and it had been raining steady for a week. Maybe .. just maybe. Got dressed in my gear and headed to McD's a block away for some oatmeal, fruit and coffee. Oh no.. starting to sprinkle. My luck didn't seem to be holding for long. Everything was quiet on the walk over.. saw a few runners parking cars but that was about it. Got over to the Center at 6:00am and a few people milling around. Found the registration area.. no people in line so no wait! Got my packet, pinned on my number and headed to the bathroom. DH took some photos and we chatted with a few people coming in. Not long and people are starting to stream in and vendors are even opening booths. We are scheduled to start at 7am. I looked at some cute running skirts (reversible.. check them out at www.sweetspotskirts.com) but passed on the $69 price tag. They were all hand made and really cute but I put out some bucks for my Lucy gear so that will have to do for me. Picked up a few freebie jim cracks and enjoyed the moment. I was really going to do this! The announcer was starting to give instructions where to go so people were heading toward the start point. I found "my" group which were people at the 11:30 pace balloon. Kissed my DH goodbye and made plans where to meet afterwards.

And we are off!! I think it actually took about 3 minutes or so before I got to the race starting point which was when I clicked my Garmin to "go¨. I had on a light jacket as well as a baseball cap. The rain had stopped but it was chilly and windy. My hands were like ice cubes. We crossed a bridge early on and my hat blew off. I couldn't believe it when another runner actually stopped, grabbed it and handed it back to me! Classy! Now I'm feeling good, strong and ready. But I do notice that the McD's meal hasn't really settled well. Hope it doesn't give me a problem later on. The course has volunteers posted as well as signs so I felt comfortable with that, lots of water stations and porta potties. Gives me confidence. I enjoy the scenery and found I liked running a new course.. however at about mile 3 it became obvious that we were headed up a long slow incline. That is when the 11:30 balloon girl passed me. .. oh oh. By mile 4 she was at least 100 yards in front and I didn't seem to be gaining.. but the course was leveling off and yippee we were actually now starting a slow decline. Maybe I could catch up. What the??? I think she started going faster because by mile 5 I was losing sight of her. Sigh.. now telling myself I just need to relax and carry on.. finish with a smile.. right? Along the route I really am enjoying myself. I love Portland and here I am running past various landmarks like the Old Train Station, the historic Jantzen Made in Portland Sign, running up Broadway, by the Saturday market, Waterfront Park, etc. I'm debating if I should make a potty stop and decide not to unless I absolutely have to. There are enough porta potties on the course that I pass a bank of them every 15 minutes or so. About mile 8 miles I'm starting to notice a little soreness in my hips.. this is when the going gets tough. I carry on. Oh Oh..What is this ahead? A friggin railroad crossing and a freight train has the road blocked! A few runners are there waiting patiently and I slow to a stop and join them. Now I'm thinking that I wished I had made that potty stop after all. We chat and watch the train which is moving VERY slowly. After about 5 minutes of this the group is becoming larger and then the train actually STOPS. One guy acts like he is going to dart under the train and make a run for it. Brilliant guy NOT. I hold my breath. Another guy tells him to NO WAY go under and he decides not to. Whew. The train finally starts moving again.. a few more minutes pass and it STOPS again. My blood pressure is rising and I'm now feeling every sore muscle in my body. I'm also getting cold again. Someone mentions that they think they can see the end of the train so a group of us decide to hike it an go around the train. I'm hoping now I don't fall and break something.. thankfully I traverse the terrain safely. Okay.. back on course but I feel like I've lost my rhythm and I'm sore. Gotta power through and I tell myself just keep moving. Next thing I realize I'm at Mile 11!! Wow I zoned and even missed Mile 10! I have managed to jog the whole way so far and now with just 2 miles to go I actually think I can do it without walking. Earlier people had mentioned that close to the finish when we go over the Steel Bridge that the approach is very steep. I live on a hill so I am used to having a steep hill at the end of my runs. I'm thinking I'll be okay. When I approach the bridge I find it isn't as steep as my regular home hill and I'm fine. In the distance I can see the spires of the convention center and know that the end is in sight! I come off the bridge thinking I have about a half mile to go and when I turn the corner there is the finish line! What?? I'm mentally not ready for the finish and am overwhelmed that I am about done. I am not typically emotional so I actually find it sort of funny that I feel teary. I hear the announcer say my name and City. The timing chip on my bib number has all your info so they know who you are when you cross the mat.. pretty cool. I look up at the timing clock and even with the slow start and the train wait I'm under 3 hours. I did it!! I see my daughter and her boyfriend waiting for me and get a big hug. My DH was taking photos as I came in and I didn't see him but he is there too. What a great feeling. We all head into the Center and I get my finishers medal and they take photos. I finished my 1st HM.. yes I did. It was challenging.. but for sure I will do another. And last but not least, I didn't get rained on at any time during the run!

PS - Over 13.1miles due to the train hike!

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