Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Run

There was a guy holding a sign that said, "Jesus Loves You." I started to tear up. I'm not one to cry over "Jesus Loves You" signs, but this one was on the first mile of my first half marathon as I was running beside one of my dearest friends, next to the Pacific Ocean, with the Golden Gate Bridge in my site and two years of changing my entire life behind me. Let's just say... emotions were high. It was Jesus' love for me that had gotten me to take that first step and it would be His love for me that would guide my next.

Now, there were some funny signs too.
"You can't quit, you're not the pope."
"Shoe Sale Ahead"
"I like your stamina. Call me."

I'm not what one would call a "natural" runner. Let's just say I'm built more like a Clydesdale than a Mustang. But who cares?! Clydesdales can still run! So, there I was in San Francisco running the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon with four fantastic friends and a great view. With our training behind us, our custom matching shirts on and pre-race photos taken we were ready to rock n' roll.

Miles 1-3 were definitely the most enjoyable for me. This is probably because the rest of the journey would literally be an "up hill" battle. Ha! I was totally taking in the views and just trying to soak the whole experience up. Also, Lauren and I ran side-by-side through miles 1-3 so it was nice having her there and we'd point out different sites to each other.

This was about where mile 3 ended... I think. In good spirits and thinking sticking out my tongue would be a good look for me... ugh? :)

Then as we literally turned the corner to mile 4 and the San Francisco hills began. 4-5 were up, up, up. Moments like that I was thankful for every hill I trained on and all the time spent on the stair-master. Buns of steel! I did find that I passed more people on the hills than anywhere else but with that said there is no doubt those hills slowed my final pace.

5-6 brought us up and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, that's a view for your morning run! At this point I'm feeling pretty good and ready to kick it in as I approached that halfway mark. I knew my pace was coming in slower than I had wanted given the hills and the fact that I may have been enjoying the views a bit too much in those first miles. After crossing the bridge one way they then had us go off road to a dirt path that went down and under the bridge and then to start off mile 7 it was a LONG... STEEP hill back up to cross the bridge back. Yikes! Lordy, Lordy, I felt that.

Coming up on mile 6 (ish)

I hit mile 8 almost exactly halfway across the bridge on the return over. I knew I had a little downhill coming to me and I was ready to stick it to the last 5. And that's when the side cramp from Hades set in. Yeah, awesome!

I prayed for it to go away. I could have cried. In another circumstance I would have stopped, but that wasn't even an option. After a little while I started to feel the pain fade a bit and as I fostered some hope the pain jumped to the other side. It hurt most going down any hill. (I know!) Somewhere between miles 8-10 I just accepted it and found a pace to work with it. It was also on mile 10 that I distinctly remember answering a question I had asked myself during training... "Do I want to run a full marathon?" My reply at mile 10 of my half, "Hell no!"

Just out for a stroll. 

Mile 10: 3 more left. 3 miles... That number seemed so small and yet so big in that moment. 3 miles, I run that ALL the time. Just knock it out, day in and day out. 3 miles, that's home base. 3 miles after 10... Ugh.... To be honest, I was done soaking in the view. Screw the view. I wanted the fast forward button to the finish line where I could soak in being done. Yay, celebrate. Nope. Not yet.

The last two miles were right next to the water, practically on the beach. It really was beautiful and here I had that mix of trying to make sure I took it all in and at the same time... I was ready to be done.

Clearly a very attractive runner. ;)
By looking at these pics I realized how much I stare at the ground in front of me when I run... don't know if that's a bad thing or not?

Man, when that last mile came, it was like... here we go... let's do the dang thang. Two things. One I ran with my Nike+ app which is synced to a chip in my shoe to track my distance and pace throughout the run. And as with every run, what you run is always actually a bit different than the official race length. My chip is pretty accurate and it had my distance at 13.55 compared to the official 13.1. Not bad... but trust me... that additional .45 mile... it was felt. No doubt. Second, there was a nice little hill right there at the end that if I were to run up it any other day it may seem like nothing, but on that day, at that time... I kind of hated it. 

So right after that little hill we came over a bend and started to enter the official race gates. So, I'm thinking the finish is just after this bend in the path because my app is telling me I am almost to 13.1 and now I'm in these gate things... so I click on the turbo boosters with just a tad bit of juice saved for the finish... and when I come around that bend I see that I still have about... .45 of a mile to go... eek. Didn't have that much turbo juice in the pack. But, I tell ya what, you get 400 meters out from that glorious finish line and excuse my french... "it's balls to the wall" (what does that even mean?) And so I sprinted to that dang finish line.
The Finish

Get medal.

Take official picture.

Grab food.

Grab drink.

It's a crowded hot mess.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

Find friends.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

And then your body is like, "Oh hey, you suck."

Exhausted and sore and yet, amped up all at the same time.

It's time for everyone to share their story of the half.

My results via my Nike+ app: Distance- 13.55 miles, Time- 1:56:53, Pace- 8'37" per mile.

Official Run Results: Time- 1:56:51, Overall: 945 out of 5803, Division: 88 out of 702, Gender: 334 out of 3604, Pace- 8'55" per mile


Can I be honest with you? 
Right after the run... I was pissed. I was so upset with my time. It just ate at me. 
It's not that it was a bad time, it just was not the time I had wanted. 
I had an expectation of myself, while I may not have verbalized it with the world, I had an inner expectation of myself to have a faster pace. I was frustrated that I had gotten the stomach cramp. I was angry with myself for not pushing harder at the beginning. etc....

And that is just crazy!!! Now that I am training for my second half marathon I have even more appreciation for what I accomplished in training and completing my first half. Here's the thing, train all you want, but come race day you have to know that every run is different. I have run three miles and it felt like human torture and I have run nine miles and it felt beautiful. You just never know and the fact that my pace was like... 20sec slower than I wanted... I'll survive. 

No, I did not run in those fabulous earrings. Ha! But yes, we did rock some crazy makeup/face paint. After the run we went and changed out of our soaking wet clothes and then went back to walk around and I bought these earrings from a street vendor that was set up and then along the way one of the race photographers got a pic of us together.

The other day I was talking with a friend who has done a half before and I hadn't shared with her yet my experience. She said, "It sucked didn't it?" and I was like... "Yup." I mean there were parts of it that were good but 13.1 miles is not to be underestimated and I think I had. In my training I had started to devalue just how far 13.1 miles was, mainly to make it an obtainable goal, but what it also did was make me underestimate the fuel I needed to complete the task. This next time around I plan on having more fuel in me for the run and possibly running with something to eat part way through.

While there were some rough parts of the run, it was a great experience that I am happy to have. I mean, I ran a half marathon in San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge and I got to do it with some really cool people. It's just exciting living a life of adventure. Say yes. Challenge yourself. Be okay with failing. Keep going. But most importantly, put your trust in God and just see where He will take you.

I'll have to post more pics later... cuz I have A LOT!

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