Goal Set, Goal Achieved–My First Half Marathon

I still can’t believe that what I was training for the last 12 weeks has come and gone already!  This past Sunday I ran in my first Half Marathon–Water to Wine, 13.1 miles from lake Sonoma to Alderbrook Winery.  My goal, half jokingly and half serious, was to cross the finish line with out passing out or puking.  I’m happy to report that I did neither of those.  Additionally, after checking the weather report that day, another goal was to finish in under three hours.  I knew, because of the area, that I’d have cooler/overcast weather for the first part of the race but it would burn off and the sun would come out in full force–especially in the month of August!  Again, happy to report, that I completed my race in 2 hours 36 mins!

How’d I get to this point, you may ask?  Well, if you want the whole story there was an article recently published (or you can read my blog) to get the history.  But I also had some heart-to-heart conversations with some people in my life.  The first being my boyfriend.  He’s been there from the start with me on my journey, I value his opinion.  The next being my friend/classmate who ran her first half in May of this year.  She encouraged and inspired me to go out of my comfort zone of 5Ks and run further–she saw my potential before I did!  The third person being my friend/trainer–I wanted a “professional” opinion on my physical ability and he was it.  But the decision still came down to me.  They could advise all they wanted but I had to be the one to make the decision, put in the dedication/time to train, and run the race.  I did all of the above!

It wasn’t easy but at the same time, it wasn’t hard; and when I say that, I’m referring to ALL of it!  I had less then the recommended time for training for a half marathon–minimum is 13 weeks and I had 10.  Then I got sick for two of the weeks during my training–one put me in the hospital twice!  But I refused to give up, even after the second time of getting sick.  I had the end of my Masters program to contend with my time as well as work and keeping up with my training.  While I continued to increase my PR for total miles run at one time, it really didn’t hit me that I COULD do this until the week before.  I was packed and ready to head up to Northern California for my Master’s Program final retreat to complete our program.  Before I could get in the car and go though, I had to get my last long run in before my race day.  I had to run 10 miles–double digits!  It was early, I was tired, I had plenty of things running through my mind, but I knew I had to get this run under my belt!  I just concentrated on one mile at a time, before I knew it I was half way done and heading back towards home.  It was a Sunday morning and early enough that the streets weren’t crowded yet with cars or people.  It was quite nice actually, and relaxing.  I had to coach myself through the end though.  The last miles–9 and 10–were hard, I’d never run that far before.  But I was so happy when I did! Somehow hitting double digits convinced me that I could do 13.1!

I was up early–4am–the morning of the race.  I got up, ate breakfast, turned on the news/Olympics and the men’s full marathon was on, how appropriate and inspiring!  I had set out my clothes the night before and packed my post-race bag.  I had no jitters, I was quite Zen to be honest.  My friend may say otherwise b/c I was probably chatty when we were riding out to the start.  Still though, no nerves.  One last “pit stop” before we started, a pre race pic, and then warm up (looking around I noticed that these were some serious runners, they were there for business…not a lot of first timers from what I could see).  Before I knew it, the announcer was counting down for the start!  Off we went!  It was a BEAUTIFUL course/route!  One of the first places we came up on was Ferrari Winery which had not only a gorgeous landscape full of vineyards but an AMAZING home in the middle of it all!  Some people stopped to take pictures, but not me, that wasn’t my purpose or goal of running this.  I had to remind myself all along to keep to MY pace and not get caught up by the runners around me–easier said then done, I’d been pacing at just over a 12 min/mile in training.  I had a lot of time to myself along the 13.1 mile route to the finish.  I prayed–I’m very grateful for all that I’d not only survived but thrived thus far.  I met some inspiring people along the way and a few who like my CamelBak which I had decorated with some running inspiration for the few people who may be behind me 🙂  I heard my Mom’s voice around mile 12 to encourage me to keep going and how proud she was of me.  I heard my friend/trainer’s voice through the rolling hills of miles 4-10.  I saw my friend/classmate run up next to me and check in, then continue at her pace and run ahead of me (another point where I had to remind myself that I had to keep to MY pace).  Somewhere along that point I got a little choked up, but when I realized that it threw off my breathing I quickly got myself together…crying wasn’t going to take me out of this race!  Then at mile 13, when my song list ran out (how ironic/appropriate, huh?) I ran it out to the sound of feet hitting the pavement/dirt and voices cheering at the finish area up ahead.  Just as I turned the last corner towards the finish I saw my friend/classmate on my left–she said she found my friend who drove up the morning of the race to come cheer me on (I asked her to be my race day ‘maid of honor’, and lucky me she accepted!).  Then my friend/classmate’s mom came up on my right encouraging and cheering me on.  As I looked up I could hear my friend who I had asked to come, she’s little in stature but big in presence!  I could hear her cheering and see the sign(s) she made for me!  It was a perfect end to my 13 mile journey!  She got me, I started to cry…it all hit me, but then I saw the actual finish, pulled myself together and gave whatever sprint I had left in me!

The short finish line had me almost run into the gate b/c I felt like I couldn’t stop myself.  But I got my medal and continued out.  First thing, I wanted ICE!  My hip flexers ached from all those hills!  Then I wanted water, I needed to cool down and that was going to do it!  I got my post race goodies and sat down the first place I could find!  My friends found me and sat with me.  I realized that I needed to get some food at that point so I ached my way up to find the food, then back down once I was done.  I was still on such a ‘high’ through out the rest of that day.  I did eventually lay down that afternoon with IcyHot patches on my knees.  But it never really emotionally hit me until today when I went out for a walk.  All of a sudden with music playing in my ears, walking down my hill, I lost it…tears just began to fall.  I had DONE IT!  Not only that, I didn’t pass out or puke at the finish (even went out to lunch after) and I finished in well under the three hours that I set as my goal–2 hour 36 min w/an 11:55 min.mile pace, better then my PR!  I let them fall.  I’ve shared my successes and stories with people b/c I want to share that feeling with those who helped get me to those points!  The feeling is WONDERFUL!!  It doesn’t matter if how I got there was good, bad, ugly, etc.! Each person and experienced happened and helped me to achieve what I set out to do.  The messy or hard ones only made me a stronger and more determined person.  The ‘good’ ones helped carry me through the hard times when I felt down on myself.  I wouldn’t have accomplished what I set out to do if it hadn’t been for those “smaller” experiences along the way!

So my posts or sharing of said accomplishments is my way of saying THANK YOU and SHARING in the spirit and excitement of the feeling in accomplishing my goal(s)!

THANK YOU for helping take this girl from taking one step after another by walking to a woman who has run a half marathon!

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