Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2nd Half Marathon is in the Books...Ready for my 3rd!



Hello Beautiful People,

As many of you know, I have been ITCHING for a Rock'n'Roll Marathon ever since I was a cheerleader for cousin Randy at his first Half in DC back in March. If you are looking for a good time these are the races to do.  Music to pump you up. Cheerleaders along the course. Fun! Fun! Fun! I'm telling you right now, I will NOT miss that DC one next year.

So my alarm went off at 4:45am and I shot out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning.  GOOD MORNING WORLD!

Started with some morning prayers, a quick shower, and then it was time to get ready. Got dressed, had some breakfast (bagel with peanut butter and a banana), and drank a bunch of water. Let's GO!

I started to get a little emotional on the way in. SURPRISE. This was it. This is the race that started it all.  It was one year ago that I shared my secret desire to complete a Half Marathon.  I went from being a dreamer to a doer. It's been an awesome year!  I still want that Full Marathon under my belt, but I shall hold off until next year for that...maybe I can train with some clients once I'm certified.  There are many times that I feel the Former Fat Girl trying to come back, but this weekend I could feel her admiration.  I made her dream come true....again.

The ride in was nice and smooth.We hit no traffic and the sunrise over the city was gorgeous.  Luckily I found a great place to park the day before (thank you Wil!) and zipped right in.  We were just a few blocks from the starting area and only $5 a day...woo woo!  On Saturday we parked street level, but on Sunday we ended up on the 5th level of the parking garage...and all I kept thinking was "oh crap I'm going to have to walk up 5 levels after this is over".

Walking to the starting area was relatively relaxing. We met so many people. Lots of them were from out of town. Welcome to Philly!

It was soon obvious that I needed to do something that I really didn't want to do...damn water...so I found a short line and used a porta potty.  Ick.  I didn't get to look for any of my friends that were also racing.  That sucked, but time flew by once we got there. And it's okay. I made new friends. Hi Liz and Julia!

On our way there we passed so many of the race photographers. Your bib number had to be showing for them to take your picture. I was a little disappointed after my first Half that I was not in any of the official pictures. Not this time baby. I had over a dozen. Woo woo!  A little expensive, but I may order one or two. Although let me just say, I do not run pretty.

We found our way towards the Museum steps which is where the finish line is.  Sadly, it's also where my corral was located. Yep, I was starting at the finish line. But, no time to think about that because my peeps were awesome. We were having so much fun back there dancing and getting ready.  My new race peeps were Liz and Julia from New York. We called ourselves Highlighters and a Sharpie (We've already emailed about meeting up next year and moving up a corral or two).  Liz and I both had on neon yellow and Julia was all black.  We were dancing and grooving all of the way to the start line.  But, I kept looking back a the car and sag wagon behind us.  At one point we were the very last people in front of the cars.  Luckily we put some distance in there right before the start.

When it was time for our corral to go we started jogging.  We quickly put hundreds of people behind us.  Sweet!  I should have checked with them about their pace before I started with them.  My plan was to walk then run.  They wanted to run then walk. After the first mile my calves were so tight I had to drop back. I can't just start running. I know this.  My legs are not good if I don't get in a good mile of walking first.  It sucks too because my first mile pace was great.  I'm glad I went back to a walk.  I had wanted to walk the streets of Philly and enjoy that anyway. I figured I would be taking some pictures.  It was a beautiful day. And and I found a bunch of pace people.  There were about 50 of us that kept up with each other taking turns in the lead. I loved all of the matching shirts on people who were walking for a loved one.

So after two miles two things happened. First, I had to pee again.  Second, my foot started to hurt. That blister that I got last weekend reminded me that it hadn't actually gone away.  Plus my stress fracture hasn't completely healed and was making it's presence well known.  I would deal with that after I handled the first issue. I had just passed the porta pottys when I realized that I had to go and I was not turning around.  This would also keep me from running so it was a good thing.

At one point on mile 2 the sag wagon passed us on the side and we had a slight panic.  What the hell?  We were way ahead of the pace it was set for.  So we think it was just heading to a designated spot. 

One of the bands on mile 3 was the Eagles band. They were all wearing Eagles jerseys and singing the fight songs. Very cool.  But even cooler, there were porta pottys right after them.  The first one I went in made me want to vomit. I came running out screaming.  There was crap all over the seat. Literally CRAP.  And i'm not kidding about that. I was ready to go home. I jumped into the next one and it was crap free so I was good. Sorry, but it happened and just added to my extreme dislike of having to use them.  ICK.

So mile 4 had us heading back towards the museum.  It's very depressing to see the winners walking around with their medals on knowing that I still have 9 miles to go. But, that's not the point. The point is to have a great time and finish.  I had picked up my pace and was walking and jogging every mile.  More accurately: walking, taking pictures, then running to make up the time it took to take the picture.

On mile 5 the cheerleaders were the Pink Ladies. I even pulled over and took my picture with them. It took everything I had not to stay and do Grease Lightning with them.  haha. But, I got back on the road and jogged back up to my group.

I was having a hard time deciding when to run. I would be ready to go and then I would get a dry spot on my throat. Saturday's hydration, or lack thereof, was coming back to bite me big time. I couldn't run when I had that spot.  Then there were times that I would be ready to go, but then I would be coming up on a water station. The ground was wet and there were discarded cups everywhere.  Couldn't run til I passed them. So I got in the rhythm of running after each water station.

I loved the signs along the way:"Worst Parade Ever!", "Those shorts make your ass look fast!", "Justin (Bieber) wants you to keep running", "You're still faster than me sitting here", "Only 4.4 miles til Beer time".

So in addition to the dry spot, I has having other dehydration issues. I wasn't pumping my hands as much as I should and they were swelling. I had man hands.  So I would shake them out and walk with them over my head to let the blood flow out of them.

I was keeping my mile pace and getting pretty excited. I was going to finish with a better time than my first one. And I was being good about keeping that pace for the whole race.  I wasn't super fast in the beginning and super slow at the end. I was consistent with my times.  That's what I wanted. I hadn't gotten my full training in and I was worried that I would drop off after mile 8.  I credit my pace to my playlist.  I had fine tuned it over the past two weeks. I took the best songs from each sub list and created a masterpiece. These songs had the fastest beats and each one picked me up.

As I was getting closer to the turn around point at mile 9 I was conflicted. I was happy to turn back and head towards the finish line, but I was also sad. I was enjoying myself and could go all day.  Well except for the blister that was screaming at me all day.

A few things happened on mile 9.  First, my left foot slipped on a discarded up at the water station.  I didn't fall, but it threw me off. Second, Chariots of Fire came on my playlist.  I had added it since cousin Randy had asked if I had it at my first race. Running across that bridge with that song playing was pretty freakin sweet.  Third, I somehow passed my entire group and I was now in with a whole new crowd of people.

From what I gathered, many of these new people had run first and then walked.  This is one of the reasons why I didn't want to do that. My pace drops below my average when I do that. I was passing more people.  I found a few people that seemed to have my pace and we pushed each other.

When I passed the mile 10 marker I started to run.  My plan was to run the last 3 miles if I was feeling up to it. Even with the blister I was ready.  Then something happened.  I had never felt this before. I pulled my achilles tendon. I think it happened when I slipped on the cup. I don't know how to describe it.  Several people asked if I heard a pop.  I had my headphones on so I heard nothing.

This put me back to walking. If it went away I would try running the last mile. On mile 11 there was a shirtless drummer playing for us.  I went over and took his picture.  *raise your hand if you doubted I would*.

So mile 12 comes and you could see everyone start to shift. People were pulling over to stretch for the for the final stretch. Come on kids!  Let's get ready!  We totally picked up the pace and then with hit the final water stop.  That was a mess. And these kids were having too much fun.  They were pouring water all over each other.  The ground was so wet and messy.  But then right past it that road tilting. It wasn't a hill.  It was a tilt. no matter where you were your right foot was lower than your left. My blister was flipping out on me. FLIPPING out. I could feel it pulling and getting bigger every second.

My achilles felt better though so I decided to run after I took a picture of Boat House row...and then the Museum.  I had never been so happy to see it before. I took my pictures and took off. I saw the sign that my friend had made at the expo that was posted on the course close to the finish line *Thank you Danielle*.  And I saw the lady in a wheel chair in the middle of the course.  She was there at mile 4 with her sign "I am a stranger to you, but I'm so proud of you".  She made me cry both times. Thank you!  I passed her and rounded the corner. And up the hill. Who the hell thought it would be funny to include that?  Ha...I didn't stop me!

I see the finish line!  And I see two women carrying their friend across the line. I started to cry watching that. That's what the day is about. All of the love and support is incredible. I bolted across that line and was ready to collapse. My feet were killing me. Blister and stress fracture on the right and pulled achilles on the left.

The good news is that I finished 15 minutes faster than my first Half Marathon. And that was with the injuries, the picture taking, and the traumatic potty break. I am fairly confident that I could knock another 15 off for my next one. 

I put my medal on and went over for some food.  But first I stopped for my finishing picture. I held up my medal, stuck out my tongue, and made my Rock On gesture. The photographer said I was the best all day. Come on people!  ROCK ON!

I got my food and limped over to our appointed meeting area.  I'm happy to report that I was even able to catch the end of the Headliner concert. She was really good.  But, I could not find Danielle. Then I saw my text.  She was handing out medals at the finish line. LOL.  After the race started she volunteered and was handing out medals all day.  Sadly, she somehow missed me crossing the finish line.

I took off my sneakers immediately and surveyed the damage.  It was not good. The blister is at the base of my toe on the bottom of my foot.  It also spread to in between my toes. It's basically the size of my big toe. I waited for Danielle patiently.  Once the sneakers were off they were not going back on and she had my Nike slides to change in to.

It was worth the wait though, because as a volunteer she had access to real food (not just pretzels and fruit). She brought me a chicken taco and a big hug....and a second gatorade. While I was eating, the shirtless drummer came walking by with his dog.  His name is Mike and numbers were exchanged. lol. There were some texts later in the day.  That was a nice bonus.

After a little while we headed towards the car. I contemplated stopping at the medical tent, but I really just wanted to get to the car and head home. I had ice there for my knees (which were the least of my concerns funnily enough).  It was a long long walk (much shorter on the way in haha).

No surprise, we took the elevator up to the car. Before we got on the road we got out the ice and my frozen bottle of gatorade. I iced up and relaxed.  And that's when my achilles started to feel pulled again. Argh. I should have gone to the medical tent just to check it out.

After I iced we got on the road.  I was HUNGRY.  I wanted a Cheeseburger so bad.  Plus, I had gotten the text from cousin Randy to go get one (it's what we did after the first one). The problem is that I didn't feel that I would be up to going back out once I got home and I just felt dirty and wanted a shower. So we decided on stopping at the Five Guys in the parking lot of my gym.  Danielle would go in and get it while I waited in the car.

I practically flew into the shower and then I sat down to eat. It was a damn fine burger!

The next step: feet up! 

It was a great day!  It was fantastic!  I want to thank everyone for all of their support and love.  The texts, facebook messages, emails, and phone calls were awesome.  A special shout out to the Deer Park Elementary fan club haha.

I love how many of you want to do a Half now.  I'm so here for you!  I will do it with you if you want. Just say when! You can do this! In fact, I have 3 people signed up for next year with me. I'm happy to pace them and keep them dancing.

Have a blessed night my friends...

PS-Check out my Facebook page (website below) for pictures

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Check out my Facebook Page for Confessions (there are before and work-in-progress pictures):

http://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsOfAFormerFatGir

yeah, sorry, I messed up and the "l" is missing....I need an assistant :-)

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @hugsnsmile

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