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This past weekend, I did something I never imagined I would or could do in my whole life: run a half marathon.

It all started near the end of last year, when I was looking towards the year ahead and wondering what goals and resolutions I would create for myself.  With Dan starting his MBA, I thought it would be wise to come up with some projects/hobbies for myself.  I also felt a void from the intensity of life events last year: finding a new job, buying a home, and getting married, so I knew I needed some new goals to keep me busy for 2011.  I enlisted my bridesman (EW), selected a small, unknown race so no one could witness it, and we set off to train for a solid 3 months.

I’ve also always been able to challenge myself mentally, but never physically.  So many of my girlfriends and people I knew were running; I thought, could this be something I could do?  I am in the best shape of my life so I knew that it was pretty much now or never. So to check it off my life list and to be able to tell my children that their mom once long time ago, ran a race, I set out and started training.

Let me start off with some humble observations from a novice runner and to debunk some myths at least that I’d heard:

  • Runner’s High: oh, you elluded me so.  It never happened for me.  Quite possibly, because I’m not a runner.  I dreaded all the training runs, so much so that it would ruin the Friday nights before the Sat mornings I did my long runs, and I thought if I had to train for any longer, I might just get clinically depressed.
  • Getting “in the zone”:  Again, no zone-age happening here.  I wasn’t able to ever free my mind, nothing about running relaxed me, and I never got “lost” in the music or thoughts or the weather or any kind of BS like that.
  • “If you can run 6, you can run 12” (for example) or “whatever you can run you can just double it”:  Not true.  Every mile was incrementally more difficult than the first.  8 miles hurt more than 6, 10 more than 8, and 12 more than 10.

Now, to race day.

Here’s me praying before the race.  One of my top concerns was having to go to tbe bathroom during the race (which didn’t happen, thank goodness), but which did happen once during a training run- thank goodness for the random porta potty out by a trail.

The other concern which did indeed take place came in Mile 2.  After an adrenaline-filled start, I knew I was going much faster than I should have and there you have it- Mile 2, I got a sideache.  It hurt like a mofo every time I exhaled, and I cursed multiple times. Mile 2, seriously? I clenched my side and slowed down immensely to try to control my breathing so I didn’t have to walk.  I refused to give in.  From Miles 2-4, I suffered through it.

Luckily, the pain subsided and Miles 4-9 went pretty solidly. The turnaround happened around 9 (I was confused at 6 as to why the turnaround wasn’t coming up- should have studied the map better!) but finally it happened and I had renewed strength at mile 10 as I knew I was close to the end.

Between Miles 10 and 11, I had a short-lived burst of energy.  I started giving myself 3209358 pep talks: Great job,  I can do this, You worked so hard for this, Finish strong, etc.  But when Mile 11 hit, my body started feeling the pain everywhere: knees, ankles, feet, thighs, butt, even back and shoulders.  I tried to tell myself It’s all mental, it’s all in your head but was immediately overtaken with my voice of reason Of course it’s not mental- this is PHYSICAL and it hurts.

So 11-13 I really just wanted to finish without walking and not go insane.  My goals changed from finishing strong to just finishing.  I started going through scenarios- if I knew that I would get promoted if I could speed up a little, could I do it?  What if my family was being held hostage on the other side?  I know, I’m crazy.

Finally, I see the high school where we get to finish on their track:

If you look closely, I’m holding up a #1 so I could show my future children. They handed out gold medals (I felt like I had received one for the special olympics) and finally, I was done with a much better than expected time, and the relief that I could check it off my life list and go back to not closely monitoring my wine intake on Friday nights.  Dan’s whole family showed up surprising me at the finish line.

Moral of the story?  I mean, it really sucked. I got nauseous after the race and tried to throw up at the restaurant where we went to celebrate aftewards.  I’m limping around at work and I’m sorry to say I now know what underwear chafing feels like.  I confirmed what I already knew; I am not or will never be a runner, but I’m glad to have been able to challenge myself physically and I do have a bit of pride from doing it on my own.

Fun Facts:

  • I finished 143/289 with a time of 2:07, an average pace of 9:42/mile (training runs were about 10/mile so this was a nice surprise)
  • Dan informed me that the visibly pregnant woman that we saw checking in, beat me horribly by at least 5-10 minutes.

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