So among all the heartache and grief and foggy feelings we're experiencing right now, I'm attempting to put to words one of my proudest physical achievements to date! Just a warning, this last week of training and the Half Marathon all happened at the same time as Ben's Mom's passing....so this might not be the most chipper update/recap, but I'll do my best at recapping all the feelings with the training/race.
My thoughts on this week's training:
Grief aside, this week's training plan was really nice. It allowed my body the ability to still move, but also rest at the same time. I enjoyed the easy training runs and it was all perfect given the madness that became our life/schedule this week. It was so nice that the runs were short and sweet. I didn't push myself, and just went at the pace that felt good to me. I also tried my best to stretch and roll and take baths as often as I could. My hip flexors felt really tight and I tried to pay more attention to them, but once things went downhill on Monday night with Ben's Mom, that was all pushed to the back of my mind. I still did my runs, but I just wasn't able to stretch and baby my body like it needed. It wasn't really until Thursday that I really started to think about prepping for the race (food, stretching, etc.) and even then I was with family all day on Thursday. Then, Nan (my Mother-in-Law) passed away early Friday morning so I spent all day Friday until about 2:30 with Ben, his sister and Dad helping make arrangements for the services.
My STATS for this week's training:
(All runs on interval: run 14 min/walk 1 min)
30 min / 2.89 miles / 10:23 AP
35 min / 3.36 miles / 10:26 AP
20 min / 1.92 miles / 10:26 AP
What was hard this week?
Everything. This week was one of the hardest of my life. I will talk about this more in the race recap, but it was incredibly difficult to wrap my head around running the race after all that happened on Friday. Ben and I had many conversations about what-ifs when we weren't sure what was going to happen, and I had accepted that Ben probably wouldn't make it to the race. Even after Friday, we still talked at length about me doing the race, him going, etc.
What was easy this week?
Nothing was easy. But the training runs were "easy" when it came to a training run.
Any aches or pains?
None really, just some tightness in my hips.
Nan passed away early Friday morning and I spent the entire day with Ben, his sister, and his Dad helping make arrangements for the Services that were Sunday and Monday. To say that I was an emotional mess would be an understatement. I'll probably share more on this later, because God did some really cool things in the midst of the sadness and loss, but we found out Monday night that what we thought was simply chemo side effects (Ben's Mom had been receiving chemo since early Summer), turned into kidney failure with home hospice care and no more than 32 hours later, Nan was in Heaven. We were shocked, heartbroken, and just at a loss for what had occurred in the last 4 days.
Ben and I discussed it and he reassured me it was ok to run my race on Saturday morning. Several of his family had talked to me about it, encouraged me to run, and were excited for me. In fact, his Uncle even came to cheer me on. I got up about 2 hours before the race start time to give myself enough time to stretch some, wake up, eat my trail mix bar, and get the nerves out of me the best I could. I arrived to the race about 45 minutes before start time. I had a cry session in the car before I got out because I felt guilty for being there, for Ben having to fight crowds and traffic with the kids (even though he chose to do so), and just overall sadness that everybody around me was happy and my family was so heartbroken. I felt stupid for being there. I gave myself a pep talk, talked to the Lord, and got out of the car.
I hit up the porta potty and ran into a girl from my run group. She hugged me, asked me how I was, and I bawled my eyes out to her. Then the local girls in my Shape Her Online Run Group (who also happen to be some of my sweetest friends) gave me a purple ribbon to wear on our shirts in Nan's memory (her favorite color was purple), they prayed over me --- and I cried some more, and then we took a group picture. At this point, it was about 15 till start time, so I stretched and we started walking over to the start line. I got in my pace group, which was also the pace group for one of my small group girls and her hubby. Once we joined the crowd at the start line, I finally got excited. I was actually giddy at this point. I couldn't believe I was actually about to run a half marathon. A goal I NEVER thought I'd be strong enough to train for, let alone run. And after the week we'd had, and the 24 hours I'd experienced, the fact that there were points in the week I didn't even think I'd run the race, I was so excited to be at that start line and to CONQUER this race, no matter what. I felt very empowered and covered in prayer and strong in the Lord's power....not mine.
I got so many texts and messages from friends and family that morning and even during the race. I could 100% feel the prayers.
As for the race itself, I loved every minute of it. The environment was awesome. The crowd support, the runners, all of it was so fun. Some of my small group girls were stationed at mile 1 and mile 6 (plus the finish line) and I LOVED seeing them yelling and holding their signs. My sweet parents came to watch and help Ben with the kids, as did Ben's Uncle Don. Don was a cross country coach years ago, so he loved every minute of it. Ben later told me it was a nice way for him to focus on something else and kind of get out of his head for a bit. He said he loved watching the runners, encouraging me, and was so proud of me for doing it. (He's a keeper, that one)
I had made a pact with myself that I would start out without my earbuds in. I knew there would be a lot of crowd support so I wanted to soak it in and use it to distract me too. I had this hope that the first 6 miles would be "easy" and then after that, if I needed the headphones, I could put them in. I kept to my pact and right at mile 6, I put my buds in and started my playlist. (Thank you Sam Hunt and Justin Timberlake for getting me through miles 6-8) Around mile 8 my hips started hurting a little. I took more frequent and longer walk breaks and even stopped a few times to try to stretch it out. My family was around mile 10 and they picked the best spot because they were at a place in the route where it was an up and back, so I got to see them twice. Sidenote: that spot also had orange slices that they handed out. Oh my word, that orange slice was Heaven. I didn't really eat it, just sucked on the juice for a bit. Man, it tasted so good. I loved seeing the kids twice and them holding their signs and smiling and cheering. It made me teary eyed. Once I passed them, as I headed into mile 11 things got really bad with my hips. They were hurting quite a bit and I really had to slow down and do a lot more walking than I wanted to. It was tough because my heart and mind wanted to run and keep going, but my hips weren't having it. I tried my best to tell myself "just keep running, it'll be over quicker" but walking was a must. That part of the course was also hot and straight and boring. I started taking 2 cups of water at the water stations and drinking one and dumping the other on my head. I did that 2-3 times I think.
I also met a sweet girl named Laura. We were both hurting (hers was her hamstring) and doing lots of running and walking back and forth. We kept passing each other. Finally she came up to me and we shared our running stories. It was her 16th half marathon and she'd just had her 2nd baby 6 months prior. We ran together for a few minutes before she had to stop and walk again. The end of the course led you into a track at the University. I rounded the corner and could hear the announcer and the cheers and got a burst of "I'm almost done. I'm about to do this!" I ran from that point on, picked up my pace, heard my name announced on the intercom and passed Laura with a clap and a "Come on, we've got this girl" cheer. I lifted my arms in the air, tears in my eyes, and pain ALL OVER, in 2 hours and 30 minutes.
I ran into some girls from my Saturday morning run group and they were all "how was it?" "how did you do?" "will you do it again?" and all I could think of was how bad my hips hurt. I need to apologize for any ugly looks or conversation I had to them. LOL I remember finishing and walking to find my family (after getting my free popsicle of course...SO GOOD) and thinking "I can't believe I just did that. We lost Nan 24 hours ago and I just ran a half marathon. I am a half marathoner!!!!" It was one of the most empowering feelings I've had.
I was a very tangible example of 2 Corinthians 12:9. In that verse, Paul talks about how God is made perfect in his weakness and that was me 100% during that race. Yes, I'd trained for 3+ months and felt ready physically speaking, but mentally and emotionally I was a mess and so weak. It was only by God's power and strength that I got to the race and finished.
I was a little bummed with my time, but at the same time I wasn't. I had been thinking I'd finish in the 2:15-2:20 time frame, but I knew at mile 11 that wasn't going to happen. I had this secret goal in my mind to finish in or under 2:30, so I'm happy with that. Plus, given all we'd been through that week, I was honestly just happy with anything. :)
In the minutes after the race we took pictures and let the kids play in the bouncy houses. I laid in the grass and moaned and stretched. The walk back to the car was brutal (I felt 80 years old) and then we had a yummy brunch out with my parents and the kids. I INHALED my food.
It was absolutely one of the hardest things I've done, but I will absolutely do it again! :) I'm hooked! That feeling during the race (before pain) and the feeling after, it 100% worth it!!!
Things I want to remember:
- A couple water stations on the course gave Orange Gatorade. The first time I grabbed one it was a nice change. The 2nd time I grabbed it, it didn't sit right. It tasted too sugary on my stomach and reminded me too much of the orange drink I drank when I had my glucose test during the kids' pregnancies. I made a mental note to avoid the Gatorade at that point.
- I ran with my water belt and was so glad I did. It was nice to have in addition to the water stations. The water was positioned about every 1-2 miles, but there were times I needed some and was glad I had my belt.
- I went without any fuel chews or gu. I had a bad experience with the sport beans on my 11 mile training run, so I decided to skip all together. I had my regular trail mix bar before the race (like 30-45 minutes prior) and that orange on the course. Plus, the Gatorade, water, and my electrolyte water mix in my belt.
- There were some great spectator signs. Some of my favorites were little kids holding signs that said "tap here for Super power". One was a "cheetah power" Wild Kratz sign that made me smile because Landon loves Wild Kratz. Another favorite was a young girl holding one that said "If Britney Spears can survive 2007, you can survive this race!" And a girl had one that said "Go Long and Hard" and the guy beside her had one that said "That's what she said". LOL (Ben and I love that's what she said jokes......sorry, not sorry) I tried to read all the signs I could for distraction.
- On the up and backs in the course, so many friends who were ahead of me passed by yelling for me. It made me smile.
- I was SO hungry all day. My Apple Watch said I burned almost 1,000 calories. We had brunch and then about an hour later my stomach was growling again. I feel like I played catch-up through that next day. The afternoon of the race, I was at Ben's Dad's house with his family and I ate 3 Oreos and it was the first time in my life eating 3 Oreos and feeling absolutely ZERO guilt about it. LOL
- Soreness wise, my knees and hips hurt the most that day. I took a nice warm bath (I couldn't wait to do that) and then iced my knees and hips. The day after, my hips were a little tender and my quads were SO SORE. The 3rd day, I was a little tender, but nothing crazy.