Sunday, March 30, 2014

#RNRUSA Part 2 - Race Time

Hello my Lovelies and Gents,

Okay I have been working on this post for a little while now. I'm going to try and finish it before Grey's Anatomy comes on...but if you are reading this on Friday I didn't make it. haha. *Clearly I didn't make it since it's Sunday*

So back to race morning. 4am came and I was up. I can generally hit snooze once and then I am good. Into the shower I go. I made the call to not wear my long sleeve shirt under the sleeveless running jersey. I would still be wearing the leggings and didn't want to overheat. When Aunt Kathy saw me, the first thing she said was "Look how fit you are!" Okay, I'm good.

The night before I got my sneakers ready. One of my Christmas presents from Nephew was a pair of wings for my sneakers. That way he would be with me for my races. Awwww.

While everyone was getting ready I ate my banana and made everyone some mini bagels with peanut butter (and made some for post race). It's a difficult choice considering I limit my water intake race I still refuse to use a porta potty. I bring a bottle of water and run with it hydrating along the way.

Soon we were ready and on our way to the Metro. It was still dark out and so very early, but the train was full of people in spandex. Seriously, this will never get old for me. It makes me giggle every time.

I was lucky to get the seat to myself for the whole ride. I can put my feet up and rest the knee. I also made sure to get the obligatory shoe and race tag photo. I made the girls behind us get in for it too. 

We arrived at the start line with a few minutes to spare. We took a few photos and got ready for the National Anthem. I love this part. The start line is right by the Washington Monument. It's possibly the best place in the world for that to happen.

Okay so I didn't want to start in the corral they registered me for. It's faster than my pace. We decided to wait at the start and jump in when later. Mom was by herself, but would be meeting up with a friend after the start of the race. I wanted to stay with her. Plus, I like the energy at the start line. The problem is that I get a little bit of a warm up during the walk up to the start line.

My head said "wait for a later corral", but legs said "I want to start now!". No let's wait. No let's start now!  My body was ready and took total control. So we took off our throw away shirts, hugged mom, and got in line.   The last thing I saw before crossing the start line was Mom waving her cowbell proudly.

During the race last year I totally forgot to look to the right and see the White House. So I was determined to see it this time. I sort of forgot how far back it was from Constitution Ave. It made it a little difficult to take a decent picture with my phone while moving.

Okay before the race I told Aunt Kathy not to stay with me. She has a faster pace. If she wanted to stay she could, but I wasn't going to try and outpace myself with her. I lost her right before mile 2. Truthfully, I breathed a little easier. I was really worried that I would try to keep up with her and then end up hurt. I was already apprehensive since I didn't get all of my training in. I wanted a good finish time, but more importantly, I wanted to walk away uninjured. I wasn't the only one. People were dropping like flies later. And everyone I spoke with says they didn't get to train as much as they had hoped.

Okay so on mile 3 we are crossing the Potomac River and running over to Arlington and back again. I saw Aunt Kathy passing me in the other direction. She was about 3/10s of a mile ahead of me. She looped back and ran the circle with me. Just as we were starting the circle a guy in a full gorilla suit went running past us...haha. I don't even want to know what he smelled like at the end.

On my way back over the bridge I saw the juggler. I've seen him a couple of times juggling apples. This time he was jugging bowling pins and was wearing a clear mask.  Clearly this is more difficult, but it made me nervous for when he would pass me. That's a little a little too dangerous. If he's looking at the pins, what if he misses a pothole?

So my first 5 miles were pretty good. I was on a pace that I was extremely happy with. I was feeling good. I was faster than I anticipated. We hit the pretty stretch along Rock Creek Parkway, which is really the only section that I didn't see that many spectators. There were some on overpass and some along the intersection areas, but for most of the stretch there is a creek on each side of the road. Pretty.  That is when I came across a run buddy. We never introduced ourselves, but we pushed each other for about 4 miles. The gentleman was a double amputee.I got choked up as people would run by and ask to shake his hand. It was a wonderful reminder of just how capable our bodies are.

After a mile I realized what was coming up. THE HILL. C-R-A-P!

I slowed down a little before it. I didn't want my momentum to come to a halt so I slowed to a speed walk. It was probably my best idea. I still hated the hill. I still had big four letter words running through my head. It wasn't pretty.  The Hill sucks. It feels like it's never going to end. It's steep and long. It hurts my knees. I hurts my hamstrings. It hurts my calves. It hurts my pride.

The Hill is at the halfway mark. It's kind of cruel. There should be relief when it's over. But, it takes my legs/knee a couple of miles to recover. Not to mention that right after it is a concrete bridge. My number one rule: NEVER run on concrete. It's the worst surface for your knees. 

I still had my water bottle in my hand, but every water stop I took at least 2 cups. Sometimes it was: water, gatorade, and water again.  I was definitely staying hydrated. And I needed it.

My plan was to walk the hills to save my knee. I sort of forgot that the majority of the second half of the race was full of hills. I relished downhills. Unfortunately, they usually resulted in an immediate up hill.  grrr.  I was getting frustrated. My time was decreasing. My knee hurt. I didn't want to do it any more. And then "The Eye of the Tiger" came on...Okay, let's do this!

During one of the hills I ran into a problem. I couldn't breathe. I sill had 5 miles until I reached my inhaler...this isn't good.  I pulled off to the side and slowed it down to super uber slow pace.  I recovered quickly, but it was tough.

Around mile  9 we hit the stretch running through the residential areas. They are always fun. There are people camped out on their front steps drinking and cheering you on. Some even put their out beer tables for you. I don't drink beer, but I will take a cup on long runs. I spilled a little on my shirt that I smelled for the rest of the day. Right after it I saw a margarita stop on the other side of the street. I didn't think I could handle that. Besides, the 9 mile water stop and gel stop was right around the corner. And yes, I grabbed extra gel packs and shoved them down my sports bra.

Soon we were approaching the Capital. I wish we got closer, but it's pretty cool to head towards it for a while. I did pull over and take a photo.

I especially loved seeing it because we were now on the home stretch. I wasn't going to have the finish time that I wanted, but I could still finish ahead of last year. And then it happened. My calf got tight and seemed to pull up my big toe. WHAT?  My body does freaky things during races sometimes.  Basically, out of 7 half marathons my body has been good for 2. Of course they are the ones that I trained the most for.

I loved all of the signs that I saw people holding. I saw several signs that said "At Least It's Not Snowing!" Amen to that!  We got lucky with the weather. The sun came out around mile 9 and it started to get very warm.  My favorite sign made me pull over to take a picture.

I cannot stress how much the support along the course meant so much. This was a mentally exhausting race for me. When little kids are standing there offering high fives well I'm going to take them up on it. I high fived every kid I saw.

The finish line moved this year. It was still in the general area except that instead of hanging a right at RFK stadium we hang a left. I could see the finish line and I was elated. I had done it. I turned the corner and searched for mom. I saw her. I waved and waved and she waved back. I crossed the finish line and just about passed out. I needed that inhaler something bad. I got my medal and waiting right there for me was Aunt Kathy with my race wrap to keep my body from cooling too fast. I needed to get to mom for that inhaler fast, but Aunt Kathy had me do some controlled breathing while we stocked up on chocolate milk, gatorade, power bars, and pretzels. I can't remember the numbers but I breathed in to a certain count, held it for a certain count, and exhaled for a certain count. It seemed to work.

When we exited the refreshment area mom was right there. Hugs all around.  To celebrate I went to the merchandise tent and got the grey shirt that I wanted at the expo. I also got a free t-shirt. Since the race is on St. Patrick's Day weekend I got the "Run til you're Green" shirt. I got a large since the ladies run small, but when I got home I realized that I must have gotten a Men's Large. So it's a nice night shirt now. haha.

We walked over to Charity Village to find my Run for Autism tent, but we couldn't find them. Bummer. So we headed towards the Metro. We decided to go to the Old Post Office Pavilian for lunch like we did last year. We made it through security and went inside to find it closed for renovations. DOH...but we used the bathrooms so that made it worth it.  We got back on the metro and headed back out to Virginia. I wanted my post race Cheeseburger and I was going to get it!

I got my cheeseburger and we made a stop to visit Mom-Mom and show her our medals. She was proud. Before every race she tells me that she hopes I win and after she asks if I won. She's so cute.

After that visit it was time to go home and shower...and ice my knee.  This one took it's toll on my knee. Spoiler: it's been two weeks and it's still sore when I run.

After some rest we got dressed and went out to dinner with Aunt Carol and cousin Randy. We went to a Mediterranean Bistro. I got two small dishes. One was like a spanikopita (spinach pastry) and one was a stuffed eggplant. I also got dessert. It was vanilla ice cream with berries on top. Yum.

On the second half of the race when I was having such a hard time wanting to ever do this course again. Maybe I could make this my last one. And then I thought, no!  I love this race. That was the Former Fat Girl talking. It is tough for me. It is a challenge. It would be so easy to say I'm done. I'm not going to do that though. It's a good race to get me through the winter. It's a good challenge. If I only improve my time by 5 minutes every time then I shall call it a victory!  I'm not going to let it beat me!

Have a Blessed Night

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