Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Secret City Half Marathon 11/18/2012 Oak Ridge, TN

Personal best record on today's Secret City Half Marathon in Oak Ridge TN. Time was 1:53!

I didn’t really believe that I could beat my 1:57 time from last year’s half marathon. But I knew I wanted to try. I told Karen my strategy at our traditional pre-race pasta dinner the night before the race. “I’m going to go out fast- between 8:15 – 8:45 miles- and I am going to hold it there as long as I can. And if I slack off because of fatigue, I will hopefully have enough of a lead to see me through.”

It was a cold race. The temp was 30ยบ at the 8:00am start. I broke my rule of “nothing new” and wore gloves for the first half of the race. During the race, my legs were really cold and my toes were numb which made it hard to concentrate on my stride. I just couldn’t feel much. And my adrenaline was racing.

One enjoyable part was speaking with a British guy who kindly asked me the manufacturer of my water belt. He had to ask me 3 times because my music was cranked up so loud and it took a moment for me to comprehend what he was asking. He was very patient and friendly. He told me he hadn’t seen a waterbelt like mine before. I had to turn the belt around to read the name Amphipod. I offered him Gu which he politely refused and then he ran on ahead. I looked at my watch and was surprised and amused that I had held a conversation at an 8:30ish pace.

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This course was a double loop so I got to see my family at the halfway mark. There were no other fans on the course. I’m sure my family was freezing in the cold weather but they were smiling and cheering for me on the sidelines. It was a precious snapshot moment for me to treasure. I smiled and waved at them, so happy to see them. I tossed my gloves to my Dad and kept on running.

Math is not my strong suit when I’m running. Trying to figure out whether I was ahead or behind was making my head swim. I had printed out a 1:55 pace bracelet but had forgotten to put it on. I remember at 1:35, a man was yelling out times to us. He shouted 1:42 to me. I checked my watch and checked it again. I thought he was surely wrong but the fear he was right sent a fresh hit of adrenaline through me. I really wanted to slow down…just a bit…but I decided to push on. “Push on, push on!” I muttered to myself.

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The course had several hills and I was pleased I had done some hill training prior to the race. My “rabbit” was in a pack of runners ahead of me. I had watched as the gap between us kept increasing particularly on the flats. I knew I was doing my best but it was hard to see her slipping away. Between mile 10-11 there was a water station and my rabbit, along with a bunch of runners, stopped to walk though the station. I sprinted on ahead and was thrilled to pass my rabbit. I figured she would pass me again but I stayed ahead of her for the rest of the race.

As I passed mile 12, my mind filled with memories.
The metal stress of February and March as I struggled to decide if I would do a Summer triathlon.
The slacking off in April when I decided not to.
Pushing too far and too fast in May and injuring both feet with plantar fasciitis.
The horrible three weeks in June when I couldn’t run at all due to doctor’s orders.
Those terrible 2-3 mile runs in July when nothing felt right with my feet and legs.
All the stretching. Stretching my hamstrings and calves up to 5 times a day.
Sleeping every night since June 11th with a night brace on my right foot.
All the nights I wanted to rip the damn thing off so I could rest easier.
All the mornings when I was grateful I had once again left it on if it meant I could run.
That incredible 5 miles in July when I felt like myself again and how I kissed everyone for the rest of the day, so great was my relief.
The sacrifices my family has made so that I could have a gym membership, a pool membership and a marathon trainer.
Watching myself grow stronger and faster over the past six months.
And how desperately I wanted to cross the finish line, knowing with no doubts that I had given it my best. My very best.

And when I saw the race clock and knew I had beaten last year’s time. I went from smiling...
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to screaming...
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to crying in mere seconds.
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I crossed the finish line, sat on the road, and had myself a big ole crying jag.
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Karen tells me that my parents looked at me and her as if they were thinking, “Holy Crap. Is she hurt, is she upset?” But Karen knew. She grabbed my face and said, “You did it baby! You did it!”

My family covered me with a blanket and quietly let me have my tears. Karen fixed my recovery drink. And the race was done.
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I composed myself, changed clothes, and posed for pictures.
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There are moments that mark you for the rest of your life. November 18th, 2012 was one of mine.
Time: 1:53:45
Placed 135 out of 495 runners
Finished Fourth in my age group.
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7 comments:

Alison (FreshStart) said...

This is awesome and I am so glad for you! It has been so great to see all your accomplishments these last 2 years with running! GO YOU!! :)

K J and the kids said...

Well done !

JB said...

Holy cow! Nice work speed demon :)

Samantha Nottingham said...

All I can say is WOW. Great work and congratulations on beating your time.

wienerhoneymooners said...

Amazing. I had my jaw open in utter anticipation throughout your story and felt a rush of relief and emotion and teared up as I got to the end. Congratualtions! Well done you

twomomsandajourney said...

Congrats!!! That is so exciting. I am so happy for you. It really is an amazing feeling to cross that finish line.
I did my first half a few weeks ago and I wanted to say you are one of my inspirations. So Thank You!

maria said...

Congratulations! it is really amazing how much you have accomplished