Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Smile - Go! St. Louis Half Marathon

On April 10th, 2011 I participated in my first ever half marathon.  For those who aren't aware, a half marathon is 13.1 miles and a full marathon would then be 26.2 miles.

Start of the race..I'm in a pink tank top with black shorts
Yes, I'm a long time runner but I've never ran this kind of distance before.  I was happy with my 3 mile runs.  Then last year I decided that wasn't enough and moved up to 4 miles for my weekday runs and 5-6 for the weekend runs.   Then I decided I might want to do a half marathon.

So the 10th was the day.   I was confident going into the race. I had run 12 miles two weekends before that and it felt great..I was tired and my legs were weak ( I did some major hills)  but I knew I could have run 13.  I set a goal of 2 hours but told myself that the real goal was finishing the race, the time would just be a bonus. Then the day of the race is here.  And we have unseasonably high temps. When the race started at 7am it was already 73 degrees out.  By 9am it was so hot they closed the marathon course where the half and the marathon runners split.  Any marathon runners who came to that point after 9am were forced to continue on the half course and call it a day.   Let me tell you, I felt the heat. I don't run well in the heat and humidity that we get in St. Louis and it showed.  I showed up confident and determined to have a great race, and my race sucked.  My first 6 miles were great and then it went downhill.

Right after mile 6
I felt really good the first couple of miles. I had been having issues with my heal again (the one with the stress fracture) and had been worried about it.  It hurt right from the start but on mile two I felt a sharp pain and then nothing.  I must have eased out whatever was causing it to hurt because it felt awesome after that.  Then on mile 4 I started to feel the heat. I was getting hot.  I told myself to slow down. Mile 5 I'm beginning to have doubts that I could finish the race.  Mile 6 I wanted to walk but knew my Mom, she drove me, was planning to be on the course somewhere in mile 7 so I couldn't walk, I didn't want her to see me.  Miles 7 through 8 were all uphill.  I was feeling horrible.  Mentally I wasn't doing very good.  I was also over-hydrating because of the heat and in desperate need of a bathroom.  I finally started walking after mile 8. I just couldn't do it! I felt miserable, I was hot and my legs were tired.

I started playing games with myself...if I walk to the next light..I have to run to the light after that.  If I walk for .3 miles then I have to run for .3 miles.  The more I had to stop and walk, the worse I got mentally.  I would work back into a run but would find myself tripping on the pavement, a sure sign that my legs were fatigued, so I would walk again.

it's kinda hard to see me..I'm waving at my Mom at the finish
Finally, I hit the 12 mile marker and I was determined to run the last 1.1 miles to the finish.  I did it too.  I felt bad but I pushed through it and I did it.

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to quite. I can't tell you how many times I called myself a failure for having to walk part of the course. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to sit down and cry.  I had worked for this. I had trained for this.  Why couldn't I do it?   Yes, I was having a one woman pity party.

After the race was over I kept it together long enough to get home and then broke down crying in the bathroom as I was getting ready for a shower.  I felt so bad, mentally and physically, that I crawled into bed after the shower were I dozed and just laid there for a couple of hours. I only got out of bed when I did because Husband came in and laid with me and after a couple minutes suggested we go get ice cream.  Does he know me or what?  He offered to take me to my favorite place for some cherry almond ice cream. It's made fresh in the store and it's the only place I know of to get that flavor and it's my absolute favorite.  I then came home and made a cake to take to my Mom's since she was having the family over for dinner.  I had planned to make a celebration cake but, as I told Husband, it turned into a "I walked but I didn't quite" cake.

Crossing the finish line..finally
I was still feeling pretty bad Monday but by Monday night I was doing much better. By Wednesday I was finishing with the pity party.  I belong to a website called DailyMile (you're welcome to be my friend if you belong too!) and I posted my sob story.   The support I received was amazing. I can't even begin to tell you how good it made me feel.

My friends on DM made me realize that while I had to walk, I didn't quite. I did finish the race.  I completed my first ever half marathon! I couldn't do anything about the temperatures and I was smart by listening to my body and walking when I realized I was suffering.  I could, and should, be proud of myself for what I completed.  And you know..they were all right.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should embrace the race.  Realize that I completed it and set my sights on the next one.  I know have a PR (personal record).  I can tell people that I completed a half marathon and I can be proud of that.

Finish..medal around my neck.time to go home
What also helped me realize that I did the right thing was reading news articles and watching news clips on the race, as well as talking to others.  I talked to a couple co-workers who also ran it and they both had to walk. They both mentioned seeing people drop out of the race.  Husband talked to a co-worker of his that runs and that guy said he knew two people running the marathon.  Both he would consider very strong runners, both dropped out. One dropped out at mile 6.   Watching the news report I learned that over 100 people were treated for dehydration, 20 taken to hospitals.  I was not one of them.  I did not drop out of the race. I did not quite.  I walked when I felt my body needed it and I completed it. I'm proud of what I did. It take me some time to be comfortable with this but now I embrace it.

You know, we all have good days and bad.  The 10th was a very bad racing day for me.  However it's not the end. I'll continue to run and I'll continue to work towards the tougher runs.   We have another half in October and while I haven't signed up for it yet, I plan to.  I have a PR, I need to beat it.

For those of you who might be interested in, here are my stats for the race:
Finish time: 2:13:18 
Overall place: 4,217/11,535 
Female place: 1,863/7,086 
splits according to my Garmin: 8:45, 8:27, 9:01, 8:25, 9:01, 9:29, 9:47, 10:10, 11:46, 11:35, 12:19, 11:59, 10:00

Here's a video from a local news channel that covers a part of the race.  The funniest thing is that they interview the men's winner of the half and he said the heat didn't bother him but the wind did.  I can tell you that every time I felt a breeze, I could usually hear several people go "ah..that feels good". haha


Beth F said...

Wow, wow, wow. I'm so impressed!! I'm a walker, not a runner, so I'm totally impressed that you could run that distance, no matter if you had to slow down your pace -- you **finished**!!!!

Leeanna, said...

Congratulations Kris on your first half marathon!!! You should feel very proud of your performance and that you finished even when you so badly wanted to call it quits! Planning on doing the Hard Rock Marathon(formerly known as the Lewis and Clark)?
Great job!!

bermudaonion said...

Of course you finished that race! Kudos to you for finishing and also to your husband for being such a great guy!

Anna said...

Congrats on finishing and not quitting! You did a great job. I'd be lucky to go a mile, if I'm to be honest, especially in the heat. LOL

Kris said...

Thanks Beth! It took a lot, mentally, for me to even start training for a half, but I'm so glad i did.

Leeanna - Thanks! It took talking to a lot of other runners to finally feel proud that I finished. I do plan to do the rock n roll half in October. In fact..we were picking a vacation month and it was between Sept or May and I refused to go in Sept. since I'll be in heavy training in Sept. haha!

Bermudaonion - Love your confidence in me! lol! yup..the husband was a really good guy that day.

Anna - Thanks! I'm going to try and keep up my mileage this's going to be hard in the heat but I hope to do it. The only thing that might change my plans is that I want to train for a sprint tri, so I might have to cut out miles in order to get in the swimming and biking.