Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I did it! I ran a Half Marathon!

Those three simple words say it all. Nine months ago, I set my mind to running a half marathon and on Sunday, October 14, I ran a friggin’ Half Marathon in 2 hours and 31 minutes.

So, here's the good, the bad and the finish of my Half Marathon journey.

So, the day starts with a bad. As Ryan and I drove downtown at 7:30, it was pouring. As we walked from where we parked the car to the starting line, it was pouring. As I huddled under a garbage bag (because they're disposable, and perfect for keeping dry before a race) feeling nervous about what was about to start, it was pouring.

And then, miraculously, less than 5 minutes before starting time, the pouring turned to a drizzle and about 5 minutes after starting time, the drizzle stopped. And it never rained another drop again.

Now, on to the good. Well, as I just mentioned, it stopped raining right after the run began. The first 5 kilometres were hard. And I know it's because I was nervous. I still had my brain wrapped around the 'Holy crap, I'm actually doing this' thought and all that negative energy in my head was making my legs feel tight and tired. Ryan yelling at me that I could do this at the 1K marker didn't help me feel better. 

But as I got close to the 5K marker -- having already run around Queen's Park, across Wellesley to Church and across Bloor to Bathurst, I started to feel better. Ryan was there yelling words of encouragement at me again, I was feeling the running rhythm and feeling confident.
Out on Lakeshore (I think)

Before I go on past 5K, did I mention that Ryan – the most amazing husband in the world – stalked me by bike for the entire 21.1 kilometres. Sometimes he'd stay nearby for short spurts; other times I wouldn't see him for kilometres as he biked ahead to catch me at a later point. (And apparently, I ran by him once while he was on a Starbucks run).

So Ryan was there at 5K when I was starting to feel good. And he was there just before 10K when I was still feeling great. And I hit the 10K checkpoint at 1:09:27, which (if this had been a 10K race) was a personal best time for me. At the time, I didn’t realize that – I was just thrilled that I was still on pace while still feeling good.

It was just past this point, as I turned out onto the long, lonely stretch of the there and back on Lakeshore that a random spectator holding a sign caught my eye. This is the most amazing thing about doing a city race (vs the Zoo races I've done). Some people come out to support their friends or family and hold signs for those people, and other people just come out to cheer or make generic cheering signs. Sometimes they're witty (one person on Bathurst was holding a sign that said "You're still going faster than the King Streetcar), sometimes they're inspirational. And at the not quite halfway point of my half marathon, inspirational was wonderful. 

This person was holding a sign that said "One day you will not be able to do this. Today is not that day."

It may sound cheesy, but I held on to those words, and several kilometres down the road – as I was getting close enough to the finish to feel it, but not close enough – I found myself repeating those words over and over. Because at that point, it was taking everything I had to get there. 

But back to the 10K marker. Once you pass that, the run takes you down a long lonely stretch of Lakeshore – from Bathurst to Parkside and back to Bay Street. And Ryan was there all the way. Until about 16K or so, I'd smile or wave at him as he yelled at me. At one point, I even took my headphones out and talked to him for a few seconds as I ran. 

In case you can't find me, I'm the one with the blue shirt and pink hat in the middle.
At another point, two girls running near me commented that I appeared to have a stalker. He was always there, yelling encouragement at me and keeping me going. I can't thank him enough for motivating me like he did.

Because by 18K, I was struggling. I stopped to walk for a minute, choked down another gel pack and hoped that that would give me the strength to soldier on. But my body wanted to quit and I resorted to playing mind games with myself – willing my body to feel as relaxed as it does at the beginning of a 3K run.

Between that, and telling myself that today I could do this, somehow, my aching legs kept moving forward. 

Turning up Bay Street (from Lakeshore) towards the finish there’s a tunnel. It was dark in there – in fact it almost felt too dark. And then suddenly, you’re on the other side and people are lined up along both sides of the street cheering as you run your final 1K. People were yelling and music was blaring. One person was holding a sign that said "Holy crap, you just ran a friggin' Half Marathon!'. 

It was exciting and suddenly I found the strength I'd been having trouble finding for the last few kilometres. As I got closer to the finish line, the crowds increased, as did the noise. And yet I still heard Ryan's voice yelling at me from the crowd. Austin and Alex were yelling at me from somewhere along the last 400 metres. They saw me. I didn't see them. I will never tell them that.

I was so focused on getting there that I barely remember those last 400 metres. I just know that I finished it.
My cheering squad made signs for me (Alex's is a picture of me running with headphones on and Austin's is me crossing the finish line)
Back in January, I decided to target a 21/2 hour finish time. A month ago, after repeated slow long, runs; I acknowledged to myself that I wouldn't be able to finish in that time and decided I would be happy with a 2:45 finish.

Sunday’s finishing time: 2:31:45.

Holy crap. I really did it. I ran a friggin' Half Marathon. 

(As a side note: Sunday's great feat was to run a Half Marathon; Monday's great feat on the other hand was managing to climb a flight of stairs.)


Alison said...

I love this post! And I'm so proud of you!

Nancy Downard said...

You are both amazing! Deb, YOU DID IT!! (I always knew that you could). Ryan you're not only Dab's amazing husband, but my amazing son!!

Carole said...

Fantasic description of the day, Deb! Congratulations to you and Ryan!

Linda said...

Congrats Deb...knew you could do. And Ryan - thanks for helping her along..you are both amazing.

Anonymous said...

amazing, and very proud of you for everything you do in life