I did what I said I'd never do.
I cried when I finished.
They handed me my time print out, and it was 23 seconds over my goal. 23 seconds! I wasn't watching my pace, I wasn't watching a fancy GPS watch on my wrist. I just ran.
I wanted to do my first half marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes (or under).
I ended with an official time of 2:30:23.
That's about as close as you can get.
But.....I'm way ahead of myself.
Let me go back a little first.
May, 2010. I was cleared to run outside.
Not on a treadmill!!
For the first time since I started this journey, nearly 2 years before. 3 physical therapists, 2 doctors, and one specialist later...I was finally able to run outside, for real.
After that, I experienced 6 months of 4:45 am mornings, hip pain, foot pain, leg pain, and one nasty pothole incident.
I ran in the dark, I ran in the heat and humidity, I ran when it started to get chilly, I ran when it was the last thing I really wanted to do.
I lost 30 lbs, I lost 3 or more dress sizes...but I gained so much more than that.
And here it was, October, I was standing in the middle of the street, just outside my hotel.....surrounded my other runners....packed in like sardines, using each other for heat to stay warm until the started gun (bell, whistle?) went off.
Wow, I'm getting ahead of myself again.
Let's back up one day.
Saturday, October 16th.
Mot got home from work at 7 am, and we immediately got into my car and headed towards Des Moines.
We arrived at the hotel my aunt and uncle were staying in two hours later.
We chatted for a bit, then the four of us walked downtown to the convention center. Linda (my aunt) and I had signed up to go to one of Jeff Galloway's 3 hour seminars.
It was great! Jeff is a truly wonderful person. Kind, open, honest, full of information, down to earth. His joy of running is apparent in everything he does. And his joy of helping others do what he loves to do is even stronger.
(side note: why is there always one of "those" people in a seminar? You know the one. The one that won't shut up. The one who sits in the front row and comments on everything the speaker says. The one who has done it all bigger, better, and faster than everyone else there. Why, why???? Why are they even there, if they know it all? I sent Mot a text message two hours into the class "bring bail money"...I was ready to take her out!)
After the class was over, we met up with the husbands...and also met up with Linda's close friend and hubby...in the lobby. The six of us walked to lunch (via the most roundabout way possible) to a place called the Court Avenue Brewery (or something like that).
People of Des Moines...you have steps leading into your river. Don't you think this is a little strange?
Thank you Sheila for helping us out, or we might still be wandering around downtown Des Moines. :-)
After lunch, we all headed back to the convention center to check out the fitness expo. I'm not sure how long we were there...an hour or so at the least. Mot got himself a tshirt "Save the Ta-Ta's"...Kent and I got ourselves new coats...and I drooled over a couple of GPS running watches.
From there we went back to their hotel (Mot and I were staying at a different location, but also downtown) to take a peek at our race packets. Mot picked them up for us while we were in the class. Rumor was it, there were so many late entries into the marathon and half marathon that there was going to be a shortage of tech shirts.
And why do we all run in these things?
The medals and the tshirts...of course! :-)
We got to their room, and dug through our loot....then met again back down in the lobby.
Dinner wasn't for an hour or so, so we sat there, talking and laughing, for quite some time. What a fun group to hang out with! We all had a blasts!!!
(Mot helping us set our new run/walk timers.)
After that we split up. Linda and Kent had purchased tickets to the pasta dinner held at the convention center....while Rob, Stacy, Mot and I went downtown to find something to eat.
After a wonderful dinner, we all headed back to our hotels to get ready for the next day. I was in bed by 8:00. I fell asleep about midnight. :-)
The six of had had planned to meet in the lobby of our hotel (it was less than 1/2 a block from the start of the race). We took that time to talk some more, laugh some more, get some pre-race photos...and act like we weren't nervous. :-)
(pace tattoos...on upside down....awesome!!!!) :-)
At 7:45, we left the hotel, and stepped out into the street.
It was chilly, low 40's...and it was crowded.
Earlier in the morning, Mot had gone down to the car...when he came up he said "Oh my gosh Nej, it's completely different out there than it was last night."
He was right.
I volunteer at allot of triathlons, so I've been around pre-race areas.....but nothing seems the same when you're the one getting ready to run.
(See that person on the far right side of this picture....blue-ish green shirt....hair not in ponytail...face cut off? That's me!!!)
(check out the beard)
We didn't stand there long, before the crowd of runners started moving. They'd started the race, but from where we were, we didn't hear it happen. All of a sudden, we were moving, and that was that.
I ran across the start line, and there was no turning back.
(Linda and Stacy, right in the middle of the picture, looking at the camera!)
I did what ever runner does...I took off like a shot. I knew darned good and well that I needed to watch my pace and start slow.....but as I've heard others say time and time again "you get caught up in the moment".
The route took us around down town, then around Gray's Lake and back. It was beautiful!
At about mile 7, I knew I was in trouble.
My 3:1 run/walk ratio started to turn into 2:30/1....then 2:1.
Eventually I switched to what Jeff Galloway called (the day before) my "Nej's run/walk method".
It's much less scientific than his method. And, I'm sure, quite a bit less productive!!! (giggle)
At mile 10 or 11 (they were all running together by then), the first elite marathoner passed me by.
He was a blur.
I know what their times are, I understand how fast they are going in relation to me, I get all that.....but you just don't understand it for real until they go flying by you. You're at mile 10, they're at mile 22 or 23. And they make you feel as though you're running backwards.
Amazing. There's no other word for it.
I saw one of the people that was on the Glacier backpacking trip along the way. I was nearly passing him when I saw him and called out his name. Pretty sure he didn't know who I was at the time.....I waved, said hi, and continued running. But it was AWESOME to see a face I knew along the way!!!!! :-) Small world!
At mile 11 I was done...spent...kaput. If I was a navy seal, and there were a bell to ring, I'd have rung it.
I knew that my fast pace in the beginning was going to kill me...and it did. But that's ok...the finish was soooo close!
After making the last turn of the race....with the finish line in sight.....I picked up the pace. I didn't look at the people along the route. I heard a familiar voice at one time, but didn't look over to confirm it's owner.
I was going to get across that line, and I was going to do it now!!!!!
Getting my picture taken after crossing the finish.
I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!
After I was done running, I met up with Mot and we rushed over to the hotel. We had an hour for me to recover (somewhat), shower, and get checked out.
As soon as we entered our room, and laid down on the floor....and I'd still be laying there were it not for Mot helping me out.
After I'd showered, packed, and gotten us checked out...we walked back over to the race finish to get a print out of my official time.
I'd been telling everyone my goal was 2:30...and I did it.
It was everything I had in me to not cry right there on the spot. :-)
Everything that I'd done.....and it had finished exactly how I'd hoped.
Now, just imagine what I can do when I actually take it easy at the beginning...when I actually add speedwork into my training.
Mot asked me, on our way to the hotel after running, if I was going to do another one...and my answer was "hell to the no."
On the way home he asked again. My answer was a little more positive that time around.
"Another half in the spring, and then maybe....just maybe...a full in the fall."