My first half marathon, a second birthday, and three days in Savannah…

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Picking up where I left off on Sunday…

I left for Savannah immediately from work Thursday afternoon.  I was driving solo because Tyler was on a work trip and couldn’t meet me there until Friday night.  So I reverted back to my college days and sang every Dixie Chicks song I owned at the top of my lungs. I got in at about 11:30, snagged the room with the coveted king bed before my sister got there, and let my mom spoil me with wine and treats that she always has waiting.

Friday was Halley’s big birthday celebration—she turned 2 a few weeks ago {yes, this little munchkin} and my sister decided to throw the party in Savannah this weekend since so many friends and family would be in town for the big race.  The day was full of errands and party preparations—I bought a new running top, picked up my bib and running info {probably the only poor experience from the race—deciding to hold the running expo on an ISLAND and asking 23,000 people to come individually to pick up their bib. Traffic was insane.}, and came home to help decorate cupcakes.

photo 4 (3){A little hard to tell when they’re all grouped together, but they’re owl cupcakes.  Cute right??}

The party that night was great—we had a pasta party so everyone could carb load, adult drinks, and cupcakes; the grown-ups all chatted and the kids ran around entertaining each other.  Halley had a ball until we started singing to her and she realized this whole thing was about her!

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She quickly forgot all about it and had no time conquering the cupcakes!

 photo 3 photo 1 (4)   photo 5  photo 4

Just a few pictures I snagged of little miss reading some of her birthday gifts with mom and dad.  I know they can’t believe their itty bitty baby is TWO!

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Friday night I didn’t get to bed as early as I’d hoped and I had trouble falling asleep in general. I’d gone through several emotions regarding the race—I really hadn’t done much running since the 10 miler and was feeling a little apathetic.  Then I went to the expo and got excited.  And then intimidated by the lack of overweight people who were clearly in over their head.  “Crap. These people are all legit.”  And the next morning after I woke up at 5:15 and put on all of my gear, I was just tired.  I kept thinking “What if I don’t finish? What if something happens and I just shut down?”  I just didn’t know what to expect.

But by race time, after navigating the crowds of people in downtown Savannah {it was freezing, by the way. Very cold, dark, and windy—not what I expected in my perpetually warm hometown!}, I started to get excited.  I was with my brother-in-law who runs these things all the time and ran a half marathon up. a. MOUNTAIN in August, so I knew we weren’t running together!  I was also with my friends Sarah and Vic but they were doing a walk-run, so I knew I was doing this thing on my own.

photo_4Me and Sarah

The race started in front of City Hall and people filled the steps and sidewalks, TVs were on in all of the surrounding businesses and we could see the live broadcast of us running by.  I suddenly grew very excited and took off on my own, eager to set my own pace and see what I could do. I was a little emotional early on, I think because I was feeling proud of myself, but everything was making me emotional—the people out cheering, the woman I passed running on her prosthetic leg, the people handing out water....

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The beauty of riverfront Bay Street quickly faded as we ran into west side Savannah.  A lot of people grumbled about the first five or six miles that truly did take us through the hood {I saw many parts of Savannah for the very first time}—but the people were so sweet!  Little old church ladies were out in their coats and hats at 8 am, “Good mornin’ baby!” “Keep running now!” “Y’all doin’ good!” Little kids stood on the porch in their PJs unsure what on earth was happening outside.  Six or seven garbage men and women in the neighborhood, whose routes were obviously suspended, lined up their trucks and were out dancing and cheering and laughing and having the best time.  Not a great neighborhood, no, but the people were so cheerful and happy to have us.

Anyway, after six miles or so, we were back in downtown where the people were lined three or four deep cheering us on.  There were funny signs, runners were finding people in the crowd, there was cheering and jumping—it was so fun and it helped give me a boost since miles 3, 4, and 5 were relatively quiet. 

I analyzed in my mind which was psychologically worse—having run three miles and knowing there were ten ahead of you?  Or having run eight and knowing there five still left?  I never figured out the answer but when I reached mile 10, I saw that I was a minute and a half ahead of my 10 Miler time so I was feeling good.  I only had three miles left and three miles I could do.

But then I started to feel hungry.  Like, truly hungry.  I wouldn’t say I was faint, but I was definitely feeling my hunger and not sure what to do about it.  I hadn’t trained with gel packs or energy shots and was too nervous to try the ones they were handing out at mile 9.  I said a little prayer that God would show me if I really needed to stop and kept going.  It was around 11.5 miles that the marathoners branched from the half-marathoners and everything in me affirmed that there is no way I could run a marathon. No. way.  That’s all I kept thinking, “Nothing in me wants to run a marathon.  FIFTEEN more miles??  After this?  No way.”  I have an insane amount of respect for people that can because I just can’t fathom it!

I knew I’d slowed down during miles 10 and 11 but mile 12, I picked things up to get this thing done.  The only time I walked was through the mile 12 water station where I drank 3 cups of Cyclomax to fill me up a little and stave off my hunger.  I was so excited because I knew I’d finish and finish strong!  It was at this point that the first place marathoner passed me.  26.2 miles in the same time I ran 13.1.  It was amazing to see.image

{I yoinked this offline}

I crossed the finished with a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 32 seconds.  I didn’t realize that I’d made a goal for myself to keep my pace under 11 minutes, but I felt so relieved to see my pace was 10:57—just by the skin of my teeth!

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{Me and Randy, my brother in law}

Mom, Rick, Tyler, Becky, Randy, and Halley were all waiting at the finish for me.  I grabbed some fruits, picked up my finisher’s medal, got my finisher photo and that was that!  It was still windy and cold and since we had a two year old in our party, we didn’t stay in the park for the Carolina Liar concert.  I was a little bit disappointed but just as happy to go home and watch football on the sofa for the rest of the day.

And that’s just what we did!  We watched South Carolina fall to Arkansas and the much anticipated LSU/Alabama game.  Today I am happy to report Georgia is #1 in the East and I can walk down stairs without a railing again!  The soreness keeps diminishing but man, nine hours in the car on Sunday is not what my stiff muscles needed!

All in all, the race was AMAZING-- I can’t wait to do another one!  It was exhilarating and challenging and I’m proud of myself for doing it.  It might seem like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but y’all—I am not an athlete!  My parents will attest.  The only thing I ever half-way succeeded at was running on the cross country team in high school {Most Improved freshmen year, baby!  Just call me Sue Heck.} and until the last month, I’d only run a handful of 5ks over the last ten years.  I think I can officially call myself a runner now!  This just goes to show that you really, truly can do anything you try at… {And I crossed off #6!}

{For a marathon recap by a REAL runner—go to my friend Ashley’s blog.  She is amazing and finished the New York City marathon for the second year in a row on Sunday—her recaps are so inspiring and I think they’re always her best writing.}

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway—just a few more days left!!  Happy Wednesday and happy running!

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