Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Running an Event Becomes more than just Running

I finished the White Rock Half Marathon

From WhiteRockHalfMarathon

I ran my last half marathon, last running of "any kind" event, last event period for 2009 Sunday and boy did it feel good! So good in fact I was overwhelmed with emotion and started to cry after I crossed. Ok, let's be honest, I wanted to cry about mile 12 when I realized I only had one mile left. One mile to reaching the end of perhaps my greatest athletic achievement-completing 12 running, biking or yoga events in 2009. It was an amazing feeling to know just 5 1/2 months ago a friend of mine and I were sitting around thinking of crazy things to challenge ourselves with and we decided it would be "fun" do complete 12 events this year. That was in August after we finished riding the Hotter N Hell century ride in Witchita Falls. I completed 6 running events and 1 yoga competition since then. A little crazy? yes. Hard as hell? yes. Having the amazing euphoric feeling of completing one of the hardest goals I've set for myself? Priceless.

The day started with a ride on the DART mass transit rail train from White Rock Station to Victory Plaza. For anyone that knows me, mass transit is not my thing. The last time I rode a Greyhound bus a roach crawled on my and I just remember my mother saying I never had to ride the bus again. I think that was in 1990. Of course, I have been ON mass transit since then, I am not a COMPLETE snob. I ride the rail or take cabs in cities where it is easy and used by lots of people and when I don't have a car because I'm on vacation. I don't take mass transit in my own city, I have a car and I only travel a small radius from my house.

But marathon day was different. they expected massive traffic and difficult parking situations; the DART rail was being marketed as the best way to get to the marathon. So I looked up the schedules, decided which trains I needed to take and got myself to the station. I was pleased to see lots of other runners there, at least I knew I was getting on the right train! I transfered from the Blue train to the Green which let us off right at the AA center where the run started. It was actually perfect! And for $ was a steal.

Standing around outside thought before the race was not that great. It was cold and windy and for some reason the event organizers thought loud screaming music was what people needed at 7:30 am. After freezing for a bit it was finally time to get in our corrals. Sorry White Rock event organizers...I cheated ok? I got in corral C when my letter said E. Please don't disqualify my time. :)

I was running the half marathon with my TNT alumni training partner Rhonda and she always puts a faster time down than I do and manages to get in a different corral every time! So I snuck in with her and we waited with everyone else. I start looking around at the buildings, noticing that one had the top floors covered with fog and I start to think how strange that must be to wake up to complete fog when the people on the street can see just fine. Then I move to a different building to see if anyone was on their balcony to watch us take off. And that is where it gets funny. I stare for maybe a good 10 seconds before I said something because I couldn't tell if it was a mannequin or a person. Then I said to Rhonda..."I think that person up there is naked." "What she says? Where?" I said, "up there, where the Christmas tree is. Oh, she's gone. I swear she was naked looking down at us." As we pondered this thought I look up again and then I see the lady AGAIN but this time she has on white pants, no top. "OMG, there she is, with pants on! She WAS naked! Now she has no top on!" This for some reason intrigued me. I suppose people that live high up think people on the street can't see them. But let's be serious. Thousands of people are down on the street getting ready for a marathon and that is the day you decide to stand at your window naked? And then why put on JUST pants?! So weird.

It was a good distraction though, I forgot to be cold and by the time I stopped thinking about the half naked lady we were moving and I was getting ready to press start on my watch. Rhonda and I had decided we would run intervals of 6 minutes running and 1 minute walking but we would just run the first set so that is really 13 minutes running then 1 minute walking to start.

After about 2 minutes and almost stepping in horse poo I was ready to quit. I mean, it was legs were tired....I wanted to be in a warm bed. Ok fine...I ran and we did well. We kept a good pace through about mile 5. There was a water station at mile 6-ish that had a little trouble pouring enough water and Gatorade and that slowed us down. This is where we lost each other. I looked around and didn't see Rhonda so I started running. I looked ahead of me and saw her turning the corner, she was a good 40 seconds to a minute a head of me. I had two choices, sprint and catch her or run my own race and see her at the end. I decided on the latter.

It was a good decision. I am a terrible running partner. I complain a lot and I tend to cuss at just about anything. When I run by myself, I rarely complain, I just chant postive thoughts to myself. It must have been somewhere along mile 10 I was saying to myself, "you can do this" out loud and a lady ran by and said "you CAN do this! You ARE doing this!" It felt so great, I smiled. There are other things I chant, "don't give up", "just keep running", don't stop", "you got this", "left, right, left, right", pretty much whatever gets me to the next point.

There are two things I love to see on the course, water stations and mile markers. When I see one ahead of me I usually try and make myself run to it, then take a break. They are like sweet oasises that provide joy and happiness. Water stations because I get to walk while I drink and take Gu or Shotbloks, mile markers because it means I am one mile closer. And this is how it went from about mile 7 to the end. It was a rough bottom half. I was cold, hot, sweaty, my feet were frozen so they felt hard as bricks and my legs ached as if I was at mile 20 of a marathon. Clearly TRAINING for a half marathon would be a good idea..I might try that for the next one. I've run two now with no real training and I survived but my times reflected my lack of effort before the race.

While I was in the last 5K of the race...all I could think about was the Mayors 5K I had just run the day before and how I was really just doing the same I just kept running along, stopping when I had to and forcing myself to move my legs after brief walks. I rounded the last curve and since I've never run the Katy Trail, I wasn't sure where the end was and the people standing around where not giving off the best energy, very little cheering going on so I kept the same pace I had been running. I wish I had known I was close, I would have sprinted in, I was just afraid I would poop out before I made it to the end. It doesn't matter though, I made it and crossed and I was overwhelmed. I started to cry as I walked away from the finishline but forces myself to hold it together until after I had taken my race photo. Then I fell apart. Not because I hurt but because I was so happy to have finished and completed what was once just a fleeting crazy thought from two girls that never had done more than one or two events a year.

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