26 September 2011

[running: My First Half Marathon.]

I learned a lot today.

One of the greatest things I learned, is that there is always someone better - always someone worse - than you.  Than me.  And trust me - this is a scathing reality when you're running with a whack-load of people in a half marathon race.

I use the word "race" loosely, however.

Now - I am not trying to downplay my accomplishment.  I feel REALLY great about completing what I did ... I kept saying to myself, "this is MY race" - and tried to not get distracted by those passing me, or by my passing others.  But I'm bummed that I didn't do it in under my goal of 2:30:00 (even though I hadn't been training the way I should have been).  My pulled glute, shin splints ... 3 weeks off to recoup and then being away in 40+degrees ... then back to school and 4 photoshoots in one week - beh.  Training requires so much time, so much sacrifice.  And I went in spurts about how much I was willing to do ... 

So, I ran my first half marathon in 2:40:36.

And when I got home, I saw on CNN that a 38 year old Kenyan man broke the world record for a FULL marathon in 2:03:38.  Gotta say ... kinda watered down my own little hoopla over my halfer ... *grin*.

Yeah.  I'm THAT competitive.  Yuck.

SO ... this is what happened (again - for my own records, sorry if this is boring for you!).

I had a fantastic sleep ... went to bed just after 10pm last night.  Woke up, filled up my water bottles with 1/2 water, 1/2 Gatorade.  I ate half a banana and headed out the door by 7:45am.  I arrived at the athletic park, got my timer chip and met up with a few familiar faces ... 

I started off in the back of the pack ... not a wise choice, but one that I made none-the-less.    I like to run alone ... being with a swarm of people didn't interest me, so I didn't mind being at the back.

The first 3km were a bit stiff ... I got to the 5km mark and started feeling good.  The group that surrounded me at the start were now a bit ahead of me ... but I was playing the mental game of "slow and steady wins the race" ... 

At the 10km mark, I was feeling good - running in under 7min/km ... but then from 10-14km it was pretty much all uphill and my hips and glute began to ache.  I kept going - pretty much by myself (I could see a few ahead, and a few behind).

Then came the 16km mark.  Yuck.

It was a steady hill ... and as I approached the 17km mark, I chose to speed walk.  I figured it would help stretch my aching hips, cramped glute and tight hammys.  But once I started to walk, everything froze up.  I felt like my quads were in the wringer, my calves were on fire, my abs in a knot.  My hammys felt like they shortened an inch and all I wanted was for someone to stretch me out ... not a good feeling.

I got to the 18km mark, and psychologically I knew I was almost done ... my cardio was fine - I felt like I could go forever (which was a good thing ...) but my legs were SCREAMING.  Again, I hadn't run more than 17km - and that was about 6 weeks ago, before I hurt myself.  I knew that I could finish - but it was the first time in my life that I couldn't control my body.  The muscles were tensing up and I thought, "holy crap.  NOT this.  NOT now ... come ON."

I speed walked.  And my time slowed down.

In fact - I ended up taking off my headphones (which, I might say, I had made the BEST songlist ever.  I loved it ... ).  Why did I take them off?  Because, I knew what the last 5 tunes were, and I didn't want to feel disappointment that I wasn't right on task for the 2:30:00.  Honestly - by 19km my body was so done, I felt like I didn't even care if I finished it.  So - if I was going to finish it,  I was going to without any "theme song" ... 

So ... 19km.  That's when I told myself that THIS was it.  There would never be another "first" halfer.  I had to do it ... I was coming up to the final bit ... and I succumbed to the walking again - hoping for a blast of energy as I reached the finish line.  But no such luck ... 

I gave myself one final, "Tawn.  COME ON.  DO IT."

I had hoped to sprint around the track for the final 500m to the finish line.  HA!  What a joke that was - not going to happen ... I was THRILLED to see my hubby and kids, each with their sign cheering me on.  Mattias asked if he could join me for the final lap, which I was definitely in to ... He was full of life, full of energy, and I found myself asking him how church was this morning *GRIN*.

But when I got to the turn in the track, both of my calves seized.  BOTH. I couldn't take a step.  Literally. I turned to Mattias and told him I had to stop and stretch ... even with the finish line in sight.  My calves weren't working ... it was so, so frustrating.  I've never had calve issues before ... but I had no choice.  I stretched.  But in full truth, only 30 seconds or so were taken up - it may have had me in the 2:30:00's - but I'll never know ... 

SO.  I had hoped to finish in 2:30:00.  But ... when I was at the 17km mark, I realized the magnitude of what I was doing ... and all I wanted to do was FINISH.  And I did ... I finished.  And I have the medal to prove it.

Was it exhilarating?  Was it emotional?  Hmm ... yes and no.  I was SO HAPPY to be DONE. But I felt sick.  My body hurt all over, I was nauseous ... and I could feel my hammys and legs tightening up like a dried up piece of leather.  So, it wasn't the best feeling ever.

Out of 181 half marathoners (of the original 250 runners, there were a whole bunch just doing the 5km - which messed with my brain as they sprinted past during the first 5km of my race), I finished 160.  And I find myself proud and embarrassed all at the same time.  This is what I mean by the opening paragraph - there is always someone so much better than you.  In my case, there were 160 runners better than me.  There were people who haven't been running as long as I have; older people; heavier people.  I obviously don't know all of their stories ... BUT I also recognize that I don't know too many people who have ever finished a 21km run ... and that makes me feel like I did, in fact, accomplish a lot.  Yes.  I am THAT competitive *grin*.

Something else, is that learned was that I was simply carrying too much.  It had been cold, but at about the 3km mark, I had taken off my shell and wrapped it around my waist.  A big pain, especially because it was massively windy and I was fighting with it most of the run.   PLUS I had four water containers around myself - and I noticed that many of the runners didn't have anything because there were 5 water stations throughout the run.  I did use 2 of my waters, but I was carrying an extra couple of pounds between them all ... 

SO ... the big question - will I do it again?  I told a friend that's kinda like asking a woman who just gave birth if she'll have another *grin*.  At this point - I don't think so.  I think I'm happy just doing 10km.  And maybe I'll work on improving those times, trying to beat my own times.  The truth is, I LOVE running.  I just don't like feeling how I did after this one ... really?  I felt ... sick.  Dizzy.  ICKY.

But who knows.  

My first race was the 5km last Hallowe'en - not even a year ago.  My 2nd race was the Revolution Run on January 1st.  So ... in one year I've accomplished a lot.

I'm feeling good now ... my legs didn't cramp up and wake me up in the night.  This morning, I feel ... good.  Surprisingly, it's my lower abs that feel like I've been through a war.  I guess they got a 21km workout too *grin*.

It actually all seems a bit surreal now ...

And I was noticing in these pics ... that I think my legs are looking snazzy.  So, that's a bonus.

Can I say that?


Have a great one!!


Jenn VH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn VH said...

Way to go Tawnia!! You are an inspiration to all us Mommies who wish they liked running even just a little bit :0). You should be so PROUD of yourself--you've accomplished what a majority of the population will NEVER do :0) And your legs do look snazzy :0)

jamiedelaine said...

this is really exciting :)

susan said...

You are amazing! I don't even know you but I know that doing a 1/2 marathon is BIG - not from experience though. *wink*


Janean Bennett said...

Mattias running with you. I am a mess right now. That makes me cry. LOL. You rock lady xo

Tawn said...

thanks, everyone ... I'm KINDA thinking that I want to do this again ... maybe the same one next year? maybe the Victoria one - next October. Maybe one in the spring? I don't know ... but I want to beat my time. And hey - I can't REALLY say that I'm a half-marathoner and only run it once, can I?? :-)