Gasparilla Half Marathon

It’s official! I am a half-marathoner!

(Please excuse the iPhone screen image–I’m too cheap to actually purchase the proof and not a computer tech, so I have no clue how to capture a screen image on my computer :))

I did it!  I ran my first half-marathon.  I can now say that I was able to push myself to run 13.1 miles without stopping. Wow.

Since this was my first, and I am still in disbelief, here’s my recap:

Wake up: 4:15AM. Wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  I think I was already so excited to get running and endorphins pumping!  Ate my breakfast of Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bar and banana and got dressed.  I had my clothes laid out the night before so I wouldn’t forget anything and I could just wake up and roll.  My sis even did well to get dressed and ready to walk out the hotel by 5:15.

Ten minutes into our drive downtown and the heavens decided to open up.  I’m talking palm tree bending, sideways rain downpour!  I had to slow down to 35mph on the interstate to be able to see!   My first thought was, “Mother Nature really does hate me! Please don’t do this to me on my first half!”

So we get downtown and park, and thank goodness by the time I walk out of the parking garage around 5:35, the downpour had subsided and it was merely sprinkling.  However, the wind gusts were still quite strong and brutal.  But I figured I can handle wind over rain-bring it on!  My nerves (or liter of water in my bladder) were starting to work on me so, still having time to make my way to the starting line I stop first at the line of porta potties to relieve myself.

There wasn’t much direction on where the separation of the two waves were (red=sub 2 hr, blue=2 hrs+) so I just made my selection by checking out other runners and comparing them to myself 🙂  Plus, I was a little scared to get up too close and get run over by all the sub 2 hour runners!  I was shooting for 2:20, or at worst 2:30.  Being my first half, I was mainly just running to finish but had to have a reasonable goal to shoot for.

I never heard any gunshot or an actual “go” but the crowd of people in front of me eventually started to move so I guess we were off!  There were so many people in front of me that it took me 8 whole minutes to reach the starting line!

The first mile was major cramped and we had to do a sharp turn not too far down so that slowed me up to a brisk mall-walker pace for a short bit.  Clicking through my Garmin afterwards I was able to see that my first mile took 11 minutes due to being on top of one another.  But I wasn’t going to let that get me down!

People thinned out and I remember passing the 2:30 pacer, and then the 2:20 pacer.  I thought to myself, “Okay, 2:20 is what you were aiming for so from here on out is just above my goal!”  Before I knew it, we were already 3 miles in and I was at 30 minutes.  Not my best, but I was feeling great!

We were running through a neighborhood though and not much scenery, but there were so many people in front of me and keeping me alert that the bland scenery didn’t really bother me.  Made it to 10K in 1:01:01 (my personal best!) and still felt unstoppable! Sucked down my Lemon GU and grabbed a cup of water to wash it down.

Coming up on mile 8 was a different story.  Nothing was hurting, cramping, or even struggling to breathe, but I was just getting bored I think.  Started to question whether or not I could make 13.1 miles non-stop, or if I even wanted to.  *Incoming call from Carl*  I debated on whether or not to answer, but I figure he is calling to give encouragement so I slid the answer call button over on my armband and managed a whispered “Hello?”  He asked me how it was going, and told him I just crossed into mile 8.  He told me to keep kickin’ ass and give it all I got!  “You’re doing great!” he said.  Just the pick me up I needed.

I told myself that I was not going to stop for water until mile 10.  Only 2 miles till then.  I got this.  I pushed an managed to keep a 9:30-10 minute pace, and bam-there was the 10mile marker in  sight.  I made it this far, only 5k to go!  Grabbed a cup of water from an awesome volunteer, chugged it and I was off again.

10 miles was the furthest I had trained up until this point-and that was only once-3 weeks ago.  But there was no doubt in my mind or stopping me now.  I’ve just ran 10 miles nonstop, what’s another 3.1?!?

Coming up on mile 11, my hamstrings started getting tight but totally manageable.  I was just happy my knees or hips weren’t aching like they had during my training run of 10 miles.  I just told myself that to keep pushing, no matter what. I could see the 12 mile marker in the distance, and the hammies were getting tighter.  This was the point in the race where I had to get in my own head and push myself.  I thought of all the reasons I wanted to do this.  Why I had to finish.

I thought about my family first.  My grandparents, who no longer have the ability to run.  My sister for being here to support me.  My little brother, who is not physically active whatsoever! My parents who were the backbone to me for my 24 years of life.

  My mom especially, who was with me at my first 5K two years ago and supported me for every race since then.  I told her I wanted to run a 5K back then and I received nothing but positive reinforcement and support from her.  I told her I wanted to run a 10K–a 6.2 mile course on an island with the finish line beneath a lighthouse (her fave).  Again, words of encouragement and even making the trip to the race even though she was in the hospital a mere 48 hours prior.  I told her I was going to do a half-marathon in 2012 this past Christmas, even though I hadn’t ran in 6 months AND that I was going to do it by March 4th!  She responded with a smile and a “I know you can do it!” Even throughout my training she would congratulate me on a new distance achieved like I had just won gold in the Olympics 🙂  I knew she wouldn’t be standing at the finish line when I got there today, but she was definitely there with me.  Encouraging, strengthening, and pushing me towards my goal.

(I could seriously say to her that I want to find the cure the cancer.  Tomorrow.  And she would give me no grief.  Just an “atta’ girl” and an “I know you can do it!”)

Almost thereI’ve got this.  1.1 miles to go.  1.1 miles until I can say I ran a half-marathon.  1.1 miles until I can stop1.1 miles until I get to bask in the glory of crossing my first half-marathon finish line. Push!

Then I thought of all the people who can’t run.  Who physically cannot feel this amazing rush you get from simply running.  To step one foot in front of another, over and over again-something most of us probably take for granted.  I have to finish for these people.

The volunteers!  I have to finish for the volunteers who woke up before dawn to help us out.  To hand out water as we run.  To direct the mass amount of people without anarchy.

The spectators!  For all those who stood out on their patios/street curbs to offer words of encouragement (or to just gawk at a bunch of people thinking we are crazy for running 13 miles!) to complete strangers.  For those kids who wanted nothing more than a high five as you passed them by to make their day.  They are here for us runners, we have to finish for them.

Oh my God! Where is this friggin’ finish line?!? Hasn’t it been like, 2 miles already!?!  Come on!!

Just when I could see the start line up ahead and assumed it was where we would finish, the finish line (assuming it was the last .1 of the race) was past the start, still further up ahead in the distance.  Seriously?!?

I check my Garmin and my time is just over 2:18.  I got this.  I’m going to beat my goal.  I could see the red lights of the clock ticking on and I got so excited, the very last second.  There it was.  What I trained so hard for the past 8 weeks.  What I wanted to achieve.  What I never in a million years thought I could achieve.  There it was.

I crossed that glorious finish line and was overcome with that feeling of accomplishment I had been striving for.  I did it.  I could say those three little words now, with such pride.  I made it.

Even though my face looks like I hated every second of it, I promise you that was not the case!  I lose control of my expressions when I run I guess.  Plus I just realized I run really ugly! Gotta work on my stride-I look like I’m doing the old man shuffle! Sheesh!

You best believe this is hanging on my bulletin board in my office!!

The only casualty from running 13.1 miles….

Dead toe!

Gross, I know.  But I didn’t feel any pain while running, so when I took my shoe off about to hop in the shower and saw this, my first thoughts were: “I am such a badass.”  It’s not really painful tho, just uncomfortable and apparently pretty common among distance runners when I Googled “black toenail.”  Just happens from pressure under the nail from your foot striking the ground repetitively. But I had it looked at by one of the athletic trainers here at school and he drained it by using a scalpel to cut the dead tissue at the top of the nail and pressing the blood out from under the nail.  Didn’t feel a thing either! <–even more bragging rights.  So now it just needs to heal, but my toenail is definitely going to fall off.  I’m cool with that though.  It used to every soccer season in high school, but I just thought that was from it getting crushed by cleats.

And now I get to cuddle with this as my reward while dead toe heals!

Best co-pilot ever.

Sarah Meade #25011

Age: 24 Gender: F

Distance HALF MAR
Clock Time 02:26:17
Chip Time 02:18:24
Overall Place 2984 / 4760
Gender Place 1274 / 2487
Division Place 100 / 170

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