Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jen's First Half

Finish line sprint!
I'll start with - I am a sprinter. I like short, quick running races. Loved racing as a kid and teenager. Never once in my life had I thought, "I want to run a half marathon. That sounds fun." I've never even run an official 5k, unless you count the sprint triathlon I did 2 years ago. I need to do one of those again soon. I loved it.
I was shocked a few months ago when Matt mentioned he was running a half marathon in Afghanistan and wrote about how he'd always wanted to run a marathon. My reaction: wait...what?? I had no idea that was something he was interested in. But running is something he fell in love with while deployed and I have to say I am so glad he caught the bug. He and I now both get antsy if we don't get a good workout in everyday. And I want his heart healthy and beating for a long time. Running is a great way to help that happen.
Went off on a little tangent there. So, I've never had any plan to ever run a race longer than a 5k. I love working out at the gym and while Matt was deployed I trained and certified to teach Body Combat; a mixed martial arts cardio exercise class. It is my favorite! I get in 4 great cardio workouts and 2 strength training workouts every week. I take Sundays off. It is a day of rest after all. 
I do enjoy going out for a run every so often. Sometimes you just need to hit the pavement and move your body, but while Matt was deployed I did not go for a jog once. That's how much I hate pushing the jogging stroller. So when he came home and was running all the time, I got the itch and had to go with him. So fun. I love running with my husband! We busted out about a 4 mile jog and it didn't even phase me. Went out again the next week with him and did a 5 mile. Still felt great. (I may not have gone jogging while he was gone, but combat is high intensity, muscle fatiguing, hour long cardio workout) So about 3 or 4 weeks ago, my friend who is a runner (she's done a dozen half marathon's and 2 full) mentioned there was a half coming up May 19th, do we want to run? I figured it was geared more toward Matt, but it made me think. A 5 mile wasn't too tough for me, could I bust out 13.1? I was already signed up to do the Tough Mudder in the fall and that is a 12 mile obstacle course (anyone want in? Let me know)
Matt started back up to work and I went on 2 more 4.5 mile runs over the next few weeks without committing to the half. Matt was supposed to work and I would have to leave the house at 5am. Not fun finding a babysitter to come at 5 am. A week ago, Matt let me know his shift got switched and he'd be home the day of the race. He was really excited about the idea of me running a half. So I texted my friend and let her know I was in. I can count on one hand how many jogs I've been on and I committed to running 13.1 miles in 1 week. I'm a little crazy. I work out every morning after dropping kids off at school, but this last week I added in a 6am 8 mile run with Kashia, then proceeded to go to Body pump and lift weights for an hour. Ouch! (but I loved it!) The 8 went fine. I was excited to try the half.
Yesterday morning, I woke up at 4:40 and got myself ready and forced myself to eat a clif bar - I hate protein bars, and met up with Kashia to head to the place where the buses would drive us to the start. This race started up at Lake Solano and we would run through the scenic California rolling hills into town and to one of the high school stadiums. The buses dropped us off in a parking lot by a lake and all us runners walked around aimlessly because we didn't see anyone official. After about 10 minutes the officials arrived and got us set up for 7 am start. 
Talk about scenic. The lake was beautiful. There was a bunch of (noisy) peacocks up in the trees and all around. A few dead snakes on the roads as we ran. And one of those happy california cows running on the hill next to us. It was a little mean that the run started right away with a big old uphill. 
The first few miles I had to overcome a stitch in my side. I kept trying to hear my high school track coach tell me to run through it, breath even, nice big breaths. Prayed hard for the cramp to leave. Every breath was painful. By about mile 4 or 5 the pain was finally all gone. But I was proud because I had pushed through and did not stop to walk once. I was so glad I had Kashia to follow. She set a great pace and encouraged me on.
I stayed with her (tried hard to keep up with her) til about mile 10. Then I decided I need to not worry about running as fast as her and run my own race. There was a mile marker snafu. They labeled mile 11 mile 10. That was disheartening and threw me off a little. Those last few miles I had to pep talk myself. A 5k. I can do a 5k. Only 3 miles. That's less than half an hour. You can endure anything for that long, just push through. 
And I did. My only goal going into this was to not stop and walk. Even if I was doing a 15 min pace, as long as I was jogging. Never in a million years did I think I would hold a 9 min mile pace the whole time. My quads and calves and soles of my feet jarred with pain every step those last 2 miles, but the competitive nature in me would not let me slow down or stop. I did it!
The best sight to see was coming into the stadium after being out in the country for so long, and then seeing Matt and my boys on the sidelines cheering me on. I almost started crying. I was so happy to see them and so grateful they were there cheering for me.
I posted these pictures below and a few others on facebook and a friend commented that I should not look that happy after 13.1 miles. I was happy and relieved to see my boys and the race was coming to an end. That would make anyone smile!

Me and Kashia checking out our medals.

Felt so good to stretch after. I put on my body combat cool down and took us through all the stretches.

My official time was 1:58:00. Out of a little over 200 half marathon racers, I finished 81st overall, 24th out of a little over 100 women, and 9th of 34 in my age group. I'm told under 2 hours is a great time, but I really don't know much about these things. I was expecting to be closer to 2 and 1/4 hours, so I'm pleased. Maybe next year I'll train a little more, cuz ouch! It still hurts to walk.
I'm hoping the sunrise website will post some pics from the run and I'll add them here.
The half marathon made me realize - never in a million years will I do a full marathon. I would like to run this race again next year with Kashia, and hopefully Matt will join us.


jbel said...

way to go Jen!

Becky said...

Jen, that really is awesome! Great job. I love it when people are greater than their pain. You look amazing!!

The Kids