October 22, 2013

The Story of the Day I Finished a Half Marathon

Yes, that's right. I did it!


The girl who has never liked to run. The girl who thinks if you look up 'crazy' in the dictionary, you will find a picture of people running. THAT girl finished a half marathon! And she is just a little bit proud of herself.

This is probably going to be a pretty long post but I want to use it as a 'journal' of sorts about my experience so I want to record all the details. So hopefully you enjoy it and it's not long and boring.

Just a little family genealogy so you know who the people are that I refer to: Kurt's sister, April, is married to Rick and they have a son, Kaulana, who married Michelle, and therefore, is my niece. And another of Kurt's sisters, Margo, is married to Greg and they have a daughter Brittany, another of my nieces.

Our story actually begins back at the beginning of the year. A friend of mine, Nikki, started up her running group again. I had tried to join her group in 2011, just after T was born but that ended up being a bad idea but I was determined to join it this time. I didn't have the new baby excuse anymore. Nikki lives in Woodland, which is about 45 minutes from our house, and she had a meeting one morning to kick-off the group. Since Michelle lives in Woodland I called her up to see if she wanted to join me and she did so off to Nikki's we went. The group was going to be training for a half marathon in October and I said "no way" but Nikki has her ways of convincing you to do things. Driving home from Nikki's that morning, Michelle and I were discussing the half and we both concluded that "if you do it, I'll do it" and so we did it. We registered. Yikes!

But have no fear! We had until October to train. This would be a piece of cake, right?

My training started off really good but after about 4 weeks, it died. It was the "off" week of training (the take a break week) and it was enough to break my routine and training. It just took a back seat to all the summer activities and distractions like: kids, playing, family visiting, T's broken arm, traveling, etc. Then all of the sudden, about 6 weeks before the half marathon, I realized "I only have 6 weeks until the half marathon!" Duh!

Now, have you ever noticed that when you want to do something that there tends to be an "Opposing Force"? Something that just causes trouble along the way? Let's call it "OF". Well, looking back I see that this is OF's first attempt to derail my goal. "Ha, I'll get her so busy this summer she won't be able to train and then she will quit! Ha ha ha!" (said with an evil laugh). I am sure that is what OF was thinking and it almost worked!

But 6 weeks before the half, I started training again. It is not easy to do while pushing a stroller but I persevered and continued on. Then OF got crafty. Oh, yes.

After about 3 weeks of training I heard about a girl who was abducted from a bike trail (not in our area). Now, it would not take a big man to take me down and carry me off and here I was out on bike trails with just me and little T. Doubt started creeping in but not enough to make me stop, just enough to make me much more vigilant while I was out.

So OF had to step it up. Next there was ANOTHER bear sighting in our area. Are you kidding me? Seriously? Ok, that was it. I wasn't going to go out and have to watch out for bad guys AND a bear. I stopped training. OF won that battle, but hadn't won the war.

As those last 3 weeks passed, the stress and pressure and doubt about what I was going to have to do (go 13.1 miles) started to seriously increase. I didn't even want to think about the half. I refused to acknowledge it was getting closer. OF was gaining some serious ground but I still wasn't willing to quit and back out. Michelle was doing this with me and I couldn't bail on her. That was what kept me in - not bailing on Michelle.

The week before the half, my kids asked me
"Mom, aren't you going to start training again?"
"Nope, if I go out now I will be really sore and I don't want to start off sore. I will just do my best and do what I can do.  I plan on not being able to walk the week after the race."

That was my plan. Go in totally unprepared and hope for the best. Not necessarily the best plan but it was what I had.

Well, Tuesday turned into Wednesday and Wednesday turned into Thursday and then all of the sudden it was Friday, the day before the half. I was scared. I was nervous. I was trying to think of ways to bail without being a quitter - there aren't any ways to do that, by the way. But there was this part of me, way deep down inside of me, that wouldn't let me quit. Every time OF convinced me to drop out, that part of me yelled "NO! I am going to do this!" and so I carried on as if I would go to the race.

Well, OF panicked and got really, really crafty. Friday afternoon I was driving to Folsom to pick up our race packets and I got a text from Michelle. She was dropping out. My heart sank. She had broken a toe a few weeks before and was hoping that it would heal in time but she had done a trial run the night before and was worried about what 13.1 miles would do to her toe. I totally understood but was devastated. I went to get our packets and picked up Michelle's too so that she would at least get her t-shirt.

Then I had the thought "oh, I can totally back out now because I won't be bailing on Michelle. Woo Hoo!" I was actually excited about that for a few seconds until . . .

"NOOOOOO!" came this voice from not so far deep down. Oh that stinkin' OF, he is so crafty! He almost had me but I was determined to do this! Ok, so Michelle won't be there with me but I can come up with plan B. So my next plan was to buy 2 talks on CD from a church speaker that I really, really enjoy and had just discovered on Tuesday. His name is Hank Smith and he is amazing! "I will get the next 2 talks that I want and download them onto my phone and listen to those as I go," I thought. Perfect.

I didn't have time to run to the church store in Roseville so I found the store in Folsom and ran in there. Wouldn't you know it - they only had 1 of the talks in stock. Really? Ok, not too big of a deal. I will have one talk and I will download some more music. No problem.

(Just a little side note: Kurt was up with the boy scouts who were camping for the night. Kurt wasn't staying the night because of the race in the morning but he went up to spend the evening with them.)

I rush back to Roseville, picked up the kids from the party they were at, took Hailey to another party, took Evan to soccer practice (which had been cancelled and I didn't know) and then took Kayla, Evan, and T out to dinner. At dinner I had a great idea - I was going to get one of those arm bands to put your phone in so that you don't have to hold it. Great idea! Except that I was exhausted and wanted to get to bed on time and didn't want to take all the kids shopping but I came up with a plan. I picked Hailey up from her party, took all the kids home and then ran to the mall by myself to get the band. I walked into the crowded Apple Store and straight to the wall of gadgets. Searching . . . searching . . . searching. . .

They didn't have it. They didn't have the one that fit MY phone. They had a bazillion other ones but not the one that I wanted. Man, you little OF. You are so tricky!

Honestly, at this point I was pretty deflated. I was exhausted, plan after plan seemed to be failing, Kurt wasn't there to encourage me to continue. It was hard. So I went home to download my new CD and music onto my phone only to find out (and remember when I couldn't find my computer) that Kurt had taken my computer up with him so the boys could listen to the first CD we had purchased. Now I couldn't even download things onto my phone. I was beat up.

I wrestled all the kids into bed by myself and went to bed at 9. My mind was racing. How was I going to be able to do this? I have no buddy to go with me. I have no talk to listen to. My mind just wouldn't stop with all the thinking so I decided to read because that always distracts me and helps me sleep. Since I had to get up at 5:30, I REALLY wanted a good nights sleep. Well, by 9:30 my eye lids were so heavy I turned off the light and went to sleep pretty quickly.

I was jolted awake at 10 by the phone ringing. Kurt was traveling from about an hour away and he doesn't drive good at night so it always makes me nervous when he travels by himself at night and this night he was pulling a trailer so I immediately thought "something has happened" and grabbed the phone.

"Hello," I say half asleep.
"Hey Jenn. It's Rick. What'cha doing?"
"Oh, sorry. Is Kurt asleep too?"
"No, he is up with the boy scouts."
"Oh, that's right. I forgot. Sorry to wake you."
"No problem." I was so relieved that Kurt was ok.
"So you and Michelle are going to do the race tomorrow, uh?"
"No, Michelle backed out because of her toe."

Then he said the BEST words that I will NEVER forget:

"She changed her mind. She is going to do it with you."
"She changed her mind. She is going to do the race with you."

I was soooooo happy! Apparently she had tried to text me but I had left my phone downstairs so after we got off the phone I ran downstairs and grabbed my phone and immediately text her back saying how happy I was that she was going to do this with me. We text back and forth until about 10:30 about how nervous we were, how excited we were and what our plan was going to be. Our plan was this: have fun and finish before they closed the course. That was it. They were giving us 3 hours 30 minutes to finish and then they close the course. We weren't sure what that meant but we didn't want to find out.

Now I should say that Michelle is an avid workout girl. She works out every day and is in great shape. With her hurt toe (and my lack of training) we decided to walk the half and run if we felt like it. I figured her hurt toe was the only way that I would be able to keep up with her.

So I settled back down around 10:45 and tried to go back to sleep.

Kurt got home at 11. I had not fallen asleep yet so I waited for him to come in. By the time he got everything unloaded and put away, it was 11:30. I told him all about my night and how Michelle was back in and he told me about his night and how the boys loved the talk. By the time we resettled back down it was midnight. Kurt was out as soon as we stopped talking. Me? My brain was still thinking. Then it thought "where's my computer? Did he leave it in his truck? Is his truck locked?" so I got up and locked his truck and went back to bed. Then I thought "did I put the bagels (that I had purchased from Noah's) in baggies so they don't dry out?" I didn't think I had so I got up and bagged up the bagels and went back to bed. Then I thought "did we set the house alarm?" We hadn't so I got back up and set the alarm. I finally settle back down at 12:30.

Remember the 5:30 wake up time? Ya, well OF wasn't done with me yet.

Since T potty trained 3 weeks ago, he has only had 1 night time accident. This, of course, was night #2. At 1:30 Trevor wakes up crying. I go in and he had wet his bed. So at 1:30 I am changing sheets. I kid you not! I was actually laughing as this point and thinking "Go ahead OF. Bring it on. I AM DOING THIS RACE TOMORROW!" So after I changed T, changed the bed and got him settled, it was almost 2 am. Awesome!

I woke up at 5:30 excited, although nervous, and ate breakfast. Michelle came over and then Kurt dropped us off for the race. Here we are pre-race:

We had no idea what time to get there. It started at 8 and we ended up being there at 7:15 so we had time to chat. We both talked about how running just wasn't our thing and we both agreed that our bodies just didn't like to run. We chatted about Brittany and how much she loves it! Brittany has run several FULL marathons and has told us that it is addicting. She is amazing. We thought maybe this might be what it would take to get us addicted to it but we seriously doubted it.

It was finally time. They were counting down: 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1 BOOM! The {fake} gun goes off and we were off!

Now let me tell you on how this half started. I am not sure how others go but this is what happened here: they group you by your estimated finish time. We went straight to the slowest group - Corral 5. The 1's (the super fast people) are right at the starting line, the 2's behind them and so on. We were waaaay in the back. Now you have to all file thought the starting area which was more narrow than the bridge we were on so it took just a little time for us 5's to get there but here's the thing - when every one reaches the starting line, they take off running. It's kind of like a stampeding herd. They just all start running so we had to run or risk getting run over so off we ran. We actually ran for a little bit but not too far and then we started walking. Now, I have to give us credit, we were fast walking. No leasurely pace. We were moving.

Mile 1 - we missed the mile marker. No idea where it was. We were too busy chit-chatting.

Mile 2 - we got on the bike path. Still chit-chatting.

Mile 3 - our first aid station. Water and gatorade and cheering people. Love them! (You never skip an aid station!) More chit-chatting.

Miles 4, 5, 6, 7 - chit-chatted the whole way.

Mile 7.5 - Kaulana called to see how we were doing. It was 10 am. We tried to do some mental math and realized that we were going to be cutting it close to finish before the 3:30 time limit. We realized we couldn't let our pace slip even a little bit.

Mile 8 - started to feel some pain. Random pain. "Oh, my hip hurts." "Oh, my knee hurts." "Now, my ankle." Just random pains.

Mile 9 - ok, let me just say that we were told that it was mostly down hill with a little uphill at the end. Mile 9 started with hills. This was not the end! This was still the middle! Anyways, we started to feel the pain. Things were hurting but still, we didn't slow our pace. Also at mile 9 we realized that from 9 to 13 sounded really far but saying only 4 miles left sounded a lot better so we started saying 4 miles. Only 4 more miles. We got this. 4 miles.

Mile 10 - more pain but still we were tough. And we were in the double digits! Only 3 miles to go. We decided that we couldn't wait to see the mile marker #12 . "Just think about it - only 1 mile left is going to sound so heavenly!" 3 miles. Only 3 miles to go. We got this!

Mile 11 - at this point the pain was no longer pinpointable. Everything from our hips down hurt. We couldn't WAIT to see mile marker #12. Only 2 miles left. 2 miles. We totally got this! We walked and walked and walked and finally decided that they must have forgotten to put out mile marker #12 because we had gone so far with no mile marker. Even another lady that we passed made a comment about the missing mile marker #12 so we started looking for mile marker #13. The path was curvy with up hills and down hills so you couldn't see too far ahead. We came around the corner and up ahead there was the next mile marker.

Mile 12 - You've got to be kidding us! We are only at 12? We totally thought 13 was right here. We were discouraged. Oh man, were we discouraged. These were some of the things we said: "This was the worst idea we have ever had." "Brittany is crazy to enjoy this." "We are never doing this again." "We just need to finish this and get it over with." But then I said "Remember we were going to be excited about 12? Remember how saying "only 1 mile" was going to sound heavenly?" So we changed our attitudes. Only 1.1 miles left. We got this. Now let me tell you something else I learned doing this. Miles at the end are twice as long as the miles at the beginning. I don't know how that happens but it does. Miles 11 and 12 were soooo much longer than any of the other miles. They felt like they went on forever!

Mile 13 - we were hurting. And then we saw it: the last marker:

Only 1 mile to go. It did sound good but it also sounded really far knowing how long miles 11 and 12 were. Our calves were SOOOOO tight. It seriously felt like the muscle was going to jump off our legs. I think I actually said to Michelle "I think my calves are going to just detach from my legs any second." In our attempt to not feel pain in our calves, we discovered that running actually released the pressure in our calves and felt good. Yes, I just said that, running felt good. And so we would run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a little. We started to see people who had finished and had turned around and were going back down the path. They would say "Good job." "Keep going." "You're almost there!" We would ask "but how close is 'almost'?" Here is something else I learned: when Michelle is tired and hurting, she goes faster! Yes, faster. She just wants to get it over with and so she pushes harder to get it done. My approach is usually the opposite but I hung tough and kept up with her (mostly). I think we chanted "Only 1 mile. We got this. We totally got this. One. More. Mile." the whole last mile.

And then we heard it. The sounds of people. The announcer on the microphone. WE. WERE. SO. CLOSE! We ran, not fast but we ran. Around the hair-pin right hand turn and there it was. The finish line. Up a hill of course but there it was. We ran and ran and crossed the line! We did it!


We were so excited and relieved and tired! We finished in 3 hours 21 minutes and 4 seconds. 9 minutes to spare, baby! They handed us our medals and congratulated us.

We were official half marathon runners. We were so proud of ourselves. It was an incredible feeling. It was hard but we had done it. And now I get to get what I was after all along. I get to get one of those stickers for the back of the car that says 13.1. Oh, ya! Can't wait to get that!

I don't know what I would have done without Michelle. It was great having her with me and we were able to encourage each other when we each needed it. We had a great time chatting, having girl time and pushing ourselves and each other. I couldn't have done it without her.

I was sore that afternoon and on Sunday. Monday morning seemed to be the worst but by Monday afternoon it seemed like a switch was turned off and the soreness was almost completely gone.

Here is something else: Saturday night I had a thought. A crazy, crazy thought.

"I think I might want to do that again."

Crazy, right? Sunday morning I felt it even more and it changed to "I want to do that again." Then I got a text from Michelle Sunday afternoon. She said: "Even though it was hard I kinda want to do it again." I responded: "I want to do it again too! Kinda crazy. Maybe we did get addicted."

Sunday night we went to friend's house for dinner. This friend, Christine, is an avid FULL marathon runner. She runs every day of the week except Sundays and will run half marathons on Saturday mornings just for the fun of it (this coming Saturday she is running 20 miles, you know, just because). She told me of a marathon she is doing in December and that they have a half option. I text Michelle and told her about it. "You in?" I asked. "Yep" she responded. And just like that we are doing another one. We started training today. This time I will not back out of my training (thanks to the gym which doesn't have bears but does have daycare). OF will not discourage me this time.

Here we go again . . .

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