Two years ago, just before I turned 26, I decided I wanted to run my first official 5k race before I turned 27. The weekend before my birthday, I found the Pumpkin Run in Yarmouth and rocked it (although I remember saying to someone near the end "why am I doing this?!"). Less than one year later, I wanted to step it up and run my first 10k race before I turned 28. About a week before my birthday, I found the Great Osprey 10k race in Freeport. This one was beautiful and took me through Wolfe's Neck farm. This year, instead of finding a 15k race somewhere, I decided to go all out and find a half marathon. I settled on one in New Hampshire in October because it's boasted as the "flattest and prettiest course in New England." Sold.
But then my friend Shannon signed up for the Old Port Half on July 13th. I ran six miles of this course with my friend Maggie last year and it was HOT! But coincidentally, this is the day I realized I could run a 10K race, no problem...So Shannon signed up and I was on the tail end of my triathlon training. October was a long time away and I was ever so slightly nervous I would chicken out, so I signed up for the Old Port Half.
I took one month to train, which my friends thought was a little absurd. But with proper eating, hot yoga (thank you free pass) as cross-training and running here and there, I finished the half marathon race in
2 hours, 26 minutes and 52 seconds! And that included walking a bit at water stops and for a couple minutes in one or two places. The only goals I had set for myself were to finish it and to attempt to finish in under two hours and thirty minutes. Mission accomplished!
My dad is my biggest supporter and sent me a mantra the day before the race: "Pain is temporary. Accomplishment is forever." This, along with YWNBDTF ("you will not be doing this forever" see past posts for elaboration), powered me through the 13.1 miles of beauty and slight discomfort. On the large hills, I chose to look down instead of ahead so I wouldn't get discouraged by how much I still had left to climb and every time I passed someone, I felt a surge of excitement, and every time I was passed by someone faster, I told myself I was doing this for myself, not to be the fastest racer out there.
The night before the race, I ate a healthy meal with protein and carbohydrates. To be truthful, I had no idea how to eat for this race and I didn't follow a training plan of any kind. I just went for it like I go for everything I want in life! I went to bed at 9pm to prepare for my 5am wakeup alarm. I woke up rested and ready to go as I ate breakfast, packed my sunscreen, hat and other extra items and rode my bike down to the start area. I met up with Shannon, had some nervous pee occurrences and lined up to start around the 10:18 per mile pace group. I had an odd taste in my mouth and finally pinned it down. "Toothpaste mixed with fear" I told Shannon. Luckily, she gave me a swig of her watered down Gatorade and it subsided.
We set off at a slow and easy pace just after 7am. The weather was perfect and breezy but a little humid. Within two miles, my shirt was off and tucked into the Spi Belt my friend Zack lent me. It was perfect for holding my music and electrolyte jelly blocks. Zack is an incredible runner and recommended keeping my music under wraps until I was hurting a bit and really needed it. This was genius. I ran my first 6.5 miles without music and only brought it out when I lost Shannon on a hill and needed a little extra push. Thank you Spotify for my free mix! Surprisingly, the Back Bay was a pretty easy section. I was thinking it would be mentally tough as it's a good distance all on its own and seems vast just by looking at it. But I powered through with Rhianna, MGMT, Wynter Fordon, Britney Spears (don't you judge me) and more.
The last couple miles were incredibly beautiful and quite difficult at the same time. I knew I was near the end and with the help of a good song, I pushed through thinking, "I'm almost there!" Once I reached the 13 mile mark, with .1 miles to go, people were lined up along the chute cheering. Had they been lined up the entire mile before the finish, I would have run just as fast. I can't mentally thank them enough for their support of a random stranger.
After I crossed the finish line, my brain said "sit the F down." I found a curb in the shade to recover and within 5 minutes, I was up and in line for pizza and went to find Shannon after she finished. I came away from the race with one small blister and some pretty sore legs. Fact: even though cycling socks with Texas flags are great for representing my family and birthplace, they are not the right item to wear on ones feet in a long running race. And it only took two days and two hot yoga sessions to work my legs out so that I could descend stairs without wincing.
All in all, it was an incredible morning (followed by four hours at work, a nap and yin yoga that evening) and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I will probably complete the Smuttynose Half Marathon on October 5th (who's with me!?). But the question is, what will I challenge myself with next year, before I turn 30??? I would like to say that a full marathon isn't in the cards for me but as Chris can tell you, I'm full of pooh.
Far East boxed couscous
Sauteed turkey cutlet in olive oil with salt and pepper
Sauteed kale, onions, carrots, bell peppers