Big Race – Part 2

I’m still on a bit of a high after the half marathon.  I still can’t believe it happened.  I still can’t believe how well it went.

Without further ado, here are the rest of my highlights from the half.

I had a great mental race.
Unlike nearly every other race I’ve run (last year’s Great Race is the only other exception), I never had a moment where I absolutely wanted to quit.  Or die.  I felt GOOD for about 98% of the time in this race.  The 2% that bothered me would have been much higher than that, but I was able to shut down the negative feelings in this race.

As an example, the first “bad” moment was somewhere right in the middle of the race.  My right hamstring – the one area that has been routinely squawking at me – started for feel tight.  It didn’t hurt, exactly.  It just started to feel tight and heavy .  On my recent runs, it would just feel increasingly difficult to pick that leg up and turn it over.

Initially I thought, “Oh no!  I can’t run the whole second half of this race with this leg bothering me like this.”  But then, almost immediately, my brain struck back with, “No. No. No!  {EXPLETIVE!}. YOU.  hamstring!  Just keep quiet.  You’re fine.  I’m fine.  I’m focusing on something else.  Just STFU.”  Amazingly, I didn’t notice my hamstring bothering me again, even though I still had 6-7 miles to go – and the second half of the race was a slight incline.

I had a few other moments like that during the race, and each time I was able to divert my attention to something else and to just keep going.

I knew better than to think I had to pee.
And speaking of going….Last September, when I was running my first half, I got the serious need to pee with about three miles to go.  I stopped at a portable toilet for fear that I wouldn’t find another opportunity to go.

But I didn’t have to go.

At all.

One minute, I felt like I was about to pee my pants, and the next, I couldn’t go a bit.  Afterward, I learned that when your body is working that hard, it will shut down energy to less essential parts of your body.  For example: the muscles that are holding up your pelvic floor.  Anyway, lo and behold, right at mile 11, I felt the sudden and urgent need to go to “void.”  I can’t recall for sure, but I think I actually said out loud, “Oh no!  I know better this time!”  And I…uh…gave a squeeze, felt better, and just kept chugging along with no urge to go.

I loved my playlist.
I’m a little weird about the music I listen to while I run.  I like only certain songs while running, and I want them to play in the order that I arranged them.  No shuffling songs for this girl.  I tend to be a creature of habit about my running playlist, but I created a new one for this race, which made me a little nervous.  It was composed mostly of songs I’ve always run to, plus just one or two new songs.  I carefully ordered them.  I counted out the minutes of play time, and strategically placed my “power songs” to begin at times when I thought I’d need a boost.  I was feeling okay, but when “Hollaback Girl” started, I felt a little springier.  And when my original running power song came on about three quarters of the way into the race, I felt a big, old rush of “Yesssss!  I got this.”

Amy screaming for me near the finish.
Amy finished the race way, way before me, but told me to look for her on the final lap at Lynch – that she’d be there cheering for me.  She was standing right near the final turn to the finish chute and screamed for me as I rounded the bend.  She sounded as excited as I was that I was finishing sooner than expected, and I can still hear her, “MELISSAAAA!” ringing in my ears, a whole week later.

My husband, my mom, and my girls at the finish.
The finish line was confusing to me.  Total sensory overload.  Even though I was wearing my Garmin and I knew how long I’d been running, the numbers on the race clock almost didn’t compute.

The clock’s ticking up to 2:16.  Am I really done already?

I hear cheering.  I hear my name.  But where is it coming from?  

And are these guys going to get out of my way, or am I going to have to run over them?

Really, guys?

Really, guys?

I did NOT, in fact, knock them out of my way.  I think I was just too overwhelmed to decide to bowl them over.  I almost caught them, anyhow, but they crossed the mat just fractions of a second ahead of me.  Of course, now I wish I’d plowed through to finish ahead of them.

Photo credit goes to my friend Mike Sexton

Photo credit goes to my friend Mike Sexton – who waited with my friend/his wife, Rebecca, after they ran the 10 and 5Ks, respectively!

When I crossed the finish, some friends were ahead on my right, cheering and taking pictures, and my family was on the left.  I didn’t see my family at first because they were further away – and those guys were blocking my view of them from the finish line.  But there they were!  I’d had a fleeting moment of panic that they wouldn’t be there, as I’d told everyone to arrive by 8:45 because the soonest I’d be done was 8:50, but I did better than my best case scenario.   But my husband, Bob, and my mom were there cheering with my girls.  Having all their proud, smiling faces there to greet me was the icing on the cake!

Bonus: This just hit me!
I did not even think of this until I was typing about my best case scenario above.  This marks the first race where I’ve actually beaten my “A” goal!  Huzzah!

I’ve been on a total runner’s high all week – even contemplating registering for a second fall half marathon.  It was tempting, but I had to put the kibosh on myself.  I had already mapped out my training for the next few months, and I decided that I need to stick with The Plan to get ready for next year instead of revising to prep for another half right now.  For now, the only additional race I have planned for this fall is a 5K on October 5th.  If I can just kick this dang cold that’s sidelined me this week, I’m ready to run some hills to prepare!

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