I did it! I actually friggin did it. I ran the half-marathon, the whole thing, all by my lonesome self (and 30,000 or so other people) in 2 hours and 21 minutes. Not too shabby since I was hoping for two and a half hours.
Don’t get me wrong though, that shit ain’t easy. Those last two miles are a doozy and even though reaching Camden yards seems like it’s over, it’s really just a teaser. You still have to run past the stadium until you hit the M&T Bank Stadium parking lot. But the middle was good.
I say the middle was good because the beginning was a bit of a rough go. Let’s start with the fact that I was in the first wave. The wave of the fastest runners, the wave of people who ran past me at lightning speed making me feel like I was doing something wrong. Matt and I were running at my usual slow pace (or what I thought was slow), but slow enough that Matt was able to pick up a dollar off of the ground without missing a beat. (I took that dollar though as a good luck totem and put in my sports bra.) I saw Elizabeth early on and that was a nice boost, but as soon as we turned down Broadway I got a side stitch so painful I could barely run. I wasn’t sure where it came from and when I say painful, I mean agonizing. (Matt noticed I was actually running faster than normal but decided not to tell me). The side stitch didn’t start to dissipate though until I turned up Pratt Street. Thank God it went away because I really thought I was done for right then and there.
Matt left me once we turned down Patterson Park Avenue and from there I was on my own. I was lucky enough to see Matt leaving Lake Montabello when I was entering it, but for the most part it was just me. And truth be told I thought I’d be my own worst enemy, but I surprisingly did well. In fact, I was quite the little trooper. The moments when I started to fade, or felt out of breath, or my hip flexor began to hurt, it seemed to be the same moment that happened to other people, because just when I needed a pep talk I could hear one happening behind me or beside me or in front. And the signs helped for sure. “Your feet hurt from kicking so much ass.” Why yes they do, thank you for reminding me. “Pain is temporary, Pride is forever.” Ok, good to know, though how temporary is the pain because it’s a day later and I still hurt.
All in all, my training, research and badgering of other runners paid off. I took all of that advice and I think did everything right yesterday. I had my GU gels at the 5 and 10 mile mark. I squeezed my water cup as I grabbed it so it was easier to drink while running, and I smiled when I felt too tired to perk myself back up. I had only two real snags: one where some asshat was trying to pass me and came up on my back so fast he almost tripped me, and at the Mile 10 water station where people decided to just stop right then and there and I had to yell at them at to move. Other than that I don’t know what else I could have done to have a better race.
I say everything was fine for the most part until those last two miles. That was when the push really came. That was when I barely could breathe, when my legs didn’t feel like they could do much more, and where I saw more people stop than the whole race. That was when I must have looked so tired and someone yelled, “Come on children’s heart program, not much more from here.” And when I got to the Hilton Hotel and must have made some noise or something because another runner came up my side and told me to keep my legs moving that I had it. And you know what, I had it. I did it. Sure, I yelled, “Fuck!!!!!!” once I crossed the finish line (to many a puzzled stare) but I did it.
I wouldn’t have done it without the help of everyone over these past 6 months. Thanks to Dan and Eddie and Elizabeth and Katherine and Stacy at Caribou and Nice Matt and Mean Matt and everyone else I came across that had something to say. Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog and giving me the strength to pull this off. This was no easy feat. I also hope you continue to follow me because this isn’t the end. I need to take on something else next, and I want to continue to talk about the rough road of exercise. Any suggestions?