Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hartford Half Marathon

Well I did it. I ran a half marathon today :) I am wicked proud of myself and despite the fact that I am so sore right now, I am incredibly happy with how everything went... so here is a mile by mile recap...

I woke up around 5:30 and made oatmeal with hot soy milk and a banana. About a half hour later I had an orange. And while I was walking around before the race I had half a power bar. During the morning I had gatorade and water mixed to stay hydrated. I was getting SO nervous while I was walking around Bushnell Park before the race, but I was really trying to take it all in. I met SO many wonderful people who had great stories. One woman had a shirt on that said "This 26.2 is for all the girl who were picked last in gym class". I love that!

So around 7:30 AM we lined up at the starting line. Below you can see the arches that are in Bushnell Park. The finish line was at the arches, and the starting line was right beside them. The marathon and half marathon lined up at the same spot, and we split after the first 4.5 miles or so.

I felt great through the first 5 miles. I was staying hydrated, was motivated, and everything was working as it should. Every mile or so there was even a band to keep people moving and motivated. At the 2nd mile there was a band playing marching band music! I was thrilled! It reminded me of high school cheerleading and cheering at varsity football games. The band was playing "The Hey Song", which of course, we had a fantastic cheerleading dance to go along with. Thinking about old cheers (omg I know, please dont judge me) and dances to marching band music actually got me through the next few miles. This marching band music also made me think of one of my best best best friends, Katie. She LOVES marching band music and she was one of my best friends in college (and still today! even though she lives so far away :( ) Thinking about all the fun times we had in college, dancing in frat basements, drinking champagne on saturday afternoons, also helped me through those next few miles.

Around mile 5 I looked at my heart rate monitor and realized I was paced at about an 8 minute mile, which is WAY too fast for me. I knew I needed to slow it way down in order to make it to the end. I slowed to about an 11 minute mile pace which felt much better. I concentrated on my breathing and made sure I was sipping the half gatorade half water in my bottle I was carrying. I started thinking about college again and all the amazing memories. I started to sign certain songs to myself; bleeding love, santa clause is coming to town (inside joke, haha), the theme song to "rock of love". Then I started to think about the times in college when I was dating my husband. Back when things like lost jobs, and lost apartments werent even a thought in our mind. We were just two people who were young, so much in love, thinking about our future. I thought about how far we had come in our relationship and marriage. We have been through so much in the last year and a half, and our marriage is so strong because of it. I started singing songs to myself like "you lost that loving feeling" (the song that was played when Stephen gave me his fraternity pin), and "piano man".

Before I knew it I was at the half way point and was along the Connecticut River. It was SO beautiful. Running through the woods in the GORGEOUS autumn weather. It is no secret that I am in LOVE with fall in New England. The colors, the weather, the water, it was all amazing! I was really enjoying myself. I was keeping an 11- 11:30 minute per mile pace and really felt good. I had gone through two packs of fruit snacks and was staying really hydrated. Unfortunately after running by the river, we started to run through a pretty bad area of Hartford. I was snapped out of my "perfect new england life" that included an old, big house with 2 kids and 2 dogs and brought back to the reality that I was closing in on 10 miles and was being yelled at by several drunk men on the streets of Hartford (aka: new englands rising star. hm. the jury is still out). There was clearly security (thank god) but I sped up just to get the hell outta there.

Then around mile 11.5 I hit a major wall. There was only a mile and a half left! That mile and a half turned into the longest of my life. I was out of fruit snack, and there wasnt another water station til mile 12. The ankle/leg I broke in high school was killing me, and my quads were screaming for relief. I wanted to stop and stretch but I was afraid I wouldnt be able to start again. The last mile and a half turned into the most difficult mental test of my life. I took it 100 steps at a time. "Ok, get through these 100 steps. Its only 100 steps. Anyone can run 100 steps."

Needless to say, I made it through. The last 100 yards were approaching and as a rounded the bend to go into the final shoot to the finish line I saw my hubby :) He had a big smile on his face and was cheering me on :) taking lots of pictures, and looking so proud. I happened to be finishing at the same time as the woman who came in first for the marathon (yes, she ran TWICE as fast as me. omg.) and lots of people were cheering. Even though I knew the cheers were not for me, those cheers are still what got me over the finish line :)

Overall, amazing experience and I think I am hooked. It was incredible and I loved it. Yes, the last 1.5 miles were incredibly hard but if it wasnt hard it wouldnt be worth it right? It was amazing to really see what my body and mind were capable of. I am so thankful that I am healthy and young and able to compete at this level.

So there it is! My first half marathon :)

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