Welp, it’s been over a month since my last entry. So y’all know I ran/walked the Flying Pig Half Marathon earlier this month. WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!!! I am now hooked and will be running the Columbus Half Marathon in October.  Honestly, until today, I have totally slacked on my cardio.  So I registered for 3 races:  a 5K on June 9th, a 10K on July 4th and another 10K on July 27th.  I’m trying to run these in their entirety. I just need to find races in August, September, and the beginning of October so I can be ready to run the entire half marathon on October 21st.  So since I’m talking about running, I guess I can tell y’all about the race. I already typed it up weeks ago. 🙂

I am SO elated about my accomplishment!!!! I still can’t really believe it. Where do I begin? Friday night (5/4/12). I go out Friday night because I knew I couldn’t go out Saturday for Cinco de Mayo, I’d had a stressful week, and I needed a drink. Now, I knew this was not the best idea two days before race day, but I needed to release some stress. I’d already gone to the gym for my usual torture session with Captain T. I went out and had a few drinks. Afterward, we went to a Cincinnati chili joint and I, behaving like the old me thinking that running 13.1 miles meant I could eat what I want, ordered a double cheeseburger and fries. And I kept eating AFTER I was full. Stuffed myself and felt miserable. At 6am, I wake up with my insides coming out of both ends! It was HORRIBLE! I knew it wasn’t the liquor because alcohol never comes out of my ass! NOT EVER! I only threw up that one time, but I had the runs almost all day. I didn’t get out of the bed until 1PM and that was only because I knew I needed to go pick up my race packet. I live downtown and the packet pick-up was happening at a health expo at the Duke Energy Center. Now, remember, I’ve never done anything like this before, so I have no idea what’s in store for me. I walk about a mile and a half down there with my best friend, Clarence. We get there, and I have to ask at the information desk where to go pick up my packet. They point right inside the door to the expo, on the right. I’m worried I’ve been away from the bathroom for too long, I feel queasy, and I wanna go home. Normally, I’m all about a free expo, but that was just not the day for all that. I’m thinking I’d roll in there, grab my shit, and roll out. Yeah, no. I get to my table, where there is only one person ahead of me, and wait to get my packet. The dude at the next table over asks me, “K or L?” I’m thinking to myself, obviously not K, since I’m in the L-M line, but instead I say, “L,” thinking he will come over to the box and get my packet. He smiles and says, “Sorry, can’t help you,” then chats me up as we wait and asks me what finish time I’m shooting for. I explain that I had no clue, I was a first-timer and really just wanted to finish. Now, the truth is, I wanted to finish in three hours or less. I felt like three hours was about the limit I was willing to be out there pounding the pavement. I would prove to be right. Dude wishes me good luck as I get to the L-M box and chick in charge of said box. She pulls out a 5×8 sized envelope, shows me my bib before putting it in the envelope, puts 4 safety-pins in the envelope, then gives me some instructions and says, “Walk through the maze to get your t-shirt.” I look over and think, no problem. Mind you, when we entered this place, I had about 3300 steps. Keep that in mind. We walk and walk and walk. AND WALK. We end up having to walk through the ENTIRE expo. And while at first I was annoyed cuz I didn’t feel well, in the end, I’m glad we had to do it. As a newbie, I was intrigued at all the shit that was available for purchase. You name something you need to run a race, someone had a booth selling it: tennis shoes, shorts, skirts, tank tops, t-shirts, Flying Pig paraphernalia, socks, fancy fanny packs, energy bars, gel, gu, energy gummy candy looking stuff (Clarence tried it, I steered clear, it had funny flavors), magnets and keychains (I bought a PINK 13.1 decal for my car and a PINK keychain that says RUNNER GIRL), coffee mugs and travel mugs, and a whole host of other over-priced shit. Then of course there were other booths with health stuff, upcoming races, and who knows what else. We finally get to the end and I get my t-shirt, gym bag, and poster. Clarence kept the poster as a keepsake (I probably woulda thrown it away; wtf would I do with a poster???) and I was simply ecstatic about my gym bag! It was totally unexpected! I was happy because I needed a gym bag. So that was cool. When we left the expo there was a Flying Pig in the lobby area, so I took a picture with the pig and we walked back home. But before we left, I checked my pedometer: over 6500 steps! We walked over a mile in that expo! Whoever thought that up was genius. Every race participant had to go through that entire expo to get to the end, get all the rest of your stuff, and get your bib/timing chip scanned in to make sure your name matched your bib matched your timing chip (I assume that’s why they did it, I really have no idea). I give mad props to the person who made it through there without buying anything. In addition to my decal and keychain, I also bought energy bars. I saw tons of stuff I liked but refused to buy, but I mean, my goodness gracious, there was money made up in there that day. At any rate, home we went so I could rest, potty, then head out for dinner and last minute race item shopping. I still needed a belt thingie to hold my crap and my water.

I still had fairly loose stools (sorry for the TMI) and I tried to let it run its course, but I knew I had to run the next day, so I started drinking Gatorade and taking Pepto-bismol. We had Olive Garden for dinner (only ate about a third of my meal, but I ate more before I went to sleep); I had to carb up as best I could. I watched a movie with my friends, Clarence and Carlotta, who were coming to cheer me on the next day, then went to sleep.

Race day. My alarm was set for 4AM, but I was up by 3:30, a bundle of nerves. Before I went to sleep, I had laid everything out that I needed: t-shirt with bib already attached; packed my belt with my race registration, driver’s license, phone w/ ear buds, energy bars, extra ponytail holder, lip balm, and empty water bottle; running capris, sports bra, socks, tennis shoes, and a wash cloth. When I woke up all I had to do was dress and eat breakfast. I got a free sample of Cascadian Farm organic granola cereal at the expo and decided to have that for breakfast with some almond milk. I carried a banana with me to eat an hour before the race started. I left my apartment at 4:50AM and made my way downtown. Halfway there, I start to see other race participants walking in the same direction. The closer we got to the starting line, the more people I saw. I was glad because I wasn’t completely sure where I was supposed to be going. So I get down there and I start to look for my coworker, Meg. That was almost impossible; there were so many people! There was a live band playing and the news on a huge tv screen. It was hard to believe it was barely 5:30 in the morning because it was LOUD AS HELL. I finally find Meg and she give me the last skinny on the race. I sit down and eat my banana and wonder what this is going to be like. Then she tells me we need to get in line to use the bathroom. Wait, what? There are lines for the port-a-potties? Yes, and they are long! So we get in line and get to the front only for the soldier (yes, they had soldiers at all of the corrals, or Pig Pens) to tell us we had to go to our own corrals to use the bathroom? Oh just GTFOOH! Yes! That’s when me and Meg noticed we were in different corrals. And that’s when I got nervous. Now I had to separate from the person who knew what was about to happen. I realize it’s not rocket science, but she was my comfort in this whole thing. She was in corral E and I was in F. As we were walking to our corrals, I mentioned to her that my trainer would be running, too, but how I doubted that I’d see him among all the people. No lie, not five minutes later I see him sitting on the ground in his corral (D, I think). Wild, huh? We get to corral E and I part ways with Meg. I get to my corral, get in line for the bathroom, and think about how to pace myself. I hear someone say my name and at the same time recognize my friend and old roommate from City Year/AmeriCorps, Tam! She was in the same corral as I was! I hadn’t seen her since 1998 (other than on FB), so to say it was a joyous occasion is an understatement. First off, since I am rarely on FB, I wasn’t sure she was still coming (but I should have known since this was all her idea). She saw me as I was waiting in line at my corral! Amazing how things work out!!! It was so good to see her! We probably hugged five times, lol! There are very few people in the world who are genuine from the first time you meet them and forever after. Tam is one of those people, a purely good soul. Seeing and talking to her helped me get my mind off of how to pace myself.

Since before the race, I had been wondering how to pace myself. It’s so easy on the treadmill; you set the speed and run. But I knew when I ran outside that I ran faster than I did on the treadmill because I got tired faster and covered more distance in shorter amounts of time. But I didn’t know how to slow down and stay steady. Now I was wondering should I run at pace with the women I decided to do the race with? What if they ran faster than me and I couldn’t keep up? What if I ran faster than them? Welp, didn’t matter with my coworker, Meg, since she was placed in a different corral. Meg is a marathon runner, so I figured I wouldn’t see her until the end since I didn’t think I’d ever catch up with her. But once the race started, and I was asking myself, what have I gotten myself into as me and Tam started running, it dawned on me how very personal this was. I, and only I, could get myself across that finish line. I knew I had to run at my own pace. I couldn’t worry about catching up with Meg, and I couldn’t worry about keeping pace with Tam. I had to run at my own pace and see if my training (or lack thereof since I hadn’t really done any long runs) had prepared me for this.

At 6:30AM I hear the gun sound, but there are so many people that at first we walk, then run, then start walking again. Finally there is ample room and we are able to actually run. I crossed the START line at approximately 6:40AM. As the there is more room, we all fall into our respective paces, and I leave Tam behind. I decide to do what Capt. T always said to do and that was to run as long as I could then walk to recover and start over. I knew that since I wasn’t 100% there was no way I would be able to run for as long as I usually do, and I was right. I ran for ten minutes then walked for 5 pretty much the whole race. Some time after mile 3 I ran for 23 minutes, but that was the longest stretch. The rest were 10-minute intervals. It was around this time that I saw my favorite t-shirt of the day. There was a short, older man in front of me. The back of his shirt had bullet points that said, 50, Fat, Diabetic, Ahead of you. I laughed out loud when I read it! I was not able to pass this man!!! I was behind him the entire race! How about that! LOL!

The hills were harder than I thought. Miles 5 through 8 were a gradual uphill climb through Eden Park that was no where near as gradual as the elevation picture led me to believe. I had to walk up a lot of that part. But this stretch of the race held my favorite part and that was the view from Eden Park over the Ohio River and into Kentucky. It was GORGEOUS!!! I wish I had been walking through that part to enjoy it more, but it was fairly flat, so I was running (I drove back up later that day to show Clarence). I was passing the mile markers at a fairly steady pace. At mile 6 I stopped to walk so I could eat an energy bar. I think it was a peanut butter Balance Bar. It was good! I had filled my water bottle in my belt with Gatorade, so I washed it down with that. Which, since I’m talking about it, was heavy to have in the belt. I ended up running with it in my hand after this point. Not sure I’ll carry that next time. It was cumbersome.

I thought when I got to mile 8 that I would run the last five miles and be done in an hour. Yeah, no. When I got to mile 8, I was not tired. I had the energy and lung capacity to run the last five miles. My knees and hips, on the other hand, did not have five miles of continuous running in them. It was disconcerting, to say the least. My mind kept saying to push through the pain, but I was like, WTF for? Just get across the finish line so you can go home! So I kept to the 10/5 split of running and walking. I got to mile 10, my hips were screaming and my big toes hurt! I made a mental note for the next race to remember to clip my toenails. I just kept hoping both of my toenails were still attached to my big toes. [SIDEBAR: Had I done a long run of any kind, I may have seen this coming. This whole exercise thing is not conducive to nails of any kind, obviously. I notice in my strength training workouts that I need to clip my fingernails. Should’ve done long runs, clipped my nails, and so far I’ve neglected to do so because I’m vain and look what it got me, sore toes. END OF SIDEBAR]

At mile 11 I felt like the mile markers were way further apart than they were in the beginning. I was tired and just pushing myself to keep running as much as possible. The more I ran, the faster I’d be done with this torturous ass undertaking. So I would run for five minutes before I was in so much pain I felt like I had to stop, but stopping to walk hurt , too. So I’d only walk for a minute or so before I had to start running again to alleviate the pain of walking. I overheard two girls discussing their pains in their right toes. Then I overheard two different women wondering if it would hurt less overall to just keep running and not stop to walk at all anymore. Their conversations were the same as the ones I was having with myself. Funny how by then everyone is thinking the exact same things. I had to keep talking myself out of walking the rest of the way. I saw the marker for mile 12 on the other side of the street. After the turnaround, I’d only be a mile away from the end! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I go around the turnaround and I swear that mile 12 marker moved further down the street! ARGH!!!!! I walk until I get to the mile marker, and I smell what? CANNABIS! It smelled wonderful! So anyway, I start running again. I can only go about three minutes at a time at this point. I don’t feel bad, either, because there is a dude who looks fairly fit next to me doing the same thing. The closer we get to the finish line, the more people there are along the side lines.  I’m pretty sure this was the longest mile I’ve ever run in my life. With about half a mile left, I decide I’m not walking anymore. I’m pain and I just want to be done with this and go home and lay down. Then I see the FINISH line. I WAS ALMOST DONE!!!!! I think I even picked up a little speed.  To my right, there was a dude handing out cups of BEER! And people were stopping to take it! And then it happened:  I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE! ME! The girl who used to be fat and NEVER ran! ME!!! I cheered and pumped my fist in the air. And I kept running. I had to make myself stop so I could get my medal. How about that? I finished in 2:53:33!!! Under 3 hours!!! WootWoot!!!

Then there was the Trough or refueling station. Y’all, I expected bagels and bananas. There was a FEAST! There were oranges, apples, bananas, fruit cups, Go-gurt, Doritos, DONUTS, and some other stuff. DONUTS, though? I’m like, I’m not eatin’ that shit.  Yeah, I was all elitist that day, but two weeks later was stuffing my face with all manner of shit, including donuts. But I digress. The point is they had healthy stuff and unhealthy stuff.  I grabbed stuff for me and for my fans waiting at the end.  They didn’t get anything unhealthy either. It was good to see Reuben at the end of it all, but you know what he said to me? He said, “Hi, Mommy! Can we leave now?” Yeah, he wasn’t impressed, but I thought of him a lot during the race to help me get to the finish line. So even if he didn’t grasp how grand an event it was for Mommy, I was glad he was there. We started eating, and I had my son’s father hold my hand to help me lower to the ground. Yeah, trying to sit on my own was way too painful. Every joint from my waist down was INFLAMED. I sat down, ate my fruit, then was ready to make our way to the car. My goodness gracious, it was a country mile! There was another lady who said they need to make it 15.1 miles to include walking back to the car. Totally agreed! All I could think of was how I couldn’t wait to put my PINK 13.1 magnet on my car when I got home. That and an Epsom salt bath. Could not WAIT for the Epsom salt bath.

I talk to Meg the next day so we could share our experiences, aches, and pains, she said to me, “You know why I had to fall back? Girl, you were running at a 9.5 minute mile!” I was like, “Meg, no way! How do you know that?!” She has a GPS watch that give her the pace at which she’s running. When I caught up to her, and she ran with me, the watch gave her the pace. I was amazed! I will look into that and Nike chips if they work with Android phones.

So that’s my half marathon story.  Looking forward to my next one in Columbus.  Today Captain T mentioned that he got bored and burned out on running so since the half marathon, he’s been riding his bike more. I have been thinking about buying a bike when I buy Reuben a new bike so we can ride together. Still just thinking about it. This time around I am going to try Spinning as a part of my cross training. But for real, I love walking and running. I hate the elliptical and I never even get on the bike.  I will do the stairmaster, but that’s only really because I want to try one of those skyscraper climbs next year. I think I’ll look into climbing the Carew Tower here in Cincinnati. I’ll keep y’all posted on that.

Hopefully it won’t be another month before I update again. 🙂 Have a great week!