Well it’s day 2, post ½ marathon and my quads have yet to forgive me. Walking up and down the stairs has been quite the endeavor and particularly hysterical for anyone watching. It’s time to put into words the toughest ,non-child birthing experience to date for myself.
Sunday, June 13th was a day that snuck up on me like a cat on a clueless bird. I had run my longest run of 10 miles over a week before and a few really short runs and then BAM, it was 5:00 a.m. race day. I had received lots and lots of Face Book posts encouraging me and now it was time to make good on my statement that I was going to participate in my first ½ marathon. The entire week before the run, I sat with tears in my eyes as I saw the forecast for Sunday. It was going to be 90 degrees or monsoon like. Miraculously the weather maker smiled down on us once again and we had absolutely perfect running weather. It was cool, foggy and slightly drizzly. I said a quick prayer of thanks for the weather and said a reeeally long prayer for an injury free run. I met my fellow Team 40/10 members Julie , Colleen and Marcia at a bench not too far from the starting line. Marcia and Jim volunteered to be our official sherpas and photogs by schlepping our crap and snapping pics of us throughout the event.
Julie’s husband Tom made his way toward the front of the corral while the rest of us were more than happy to start behind the other eager beavers. Julie, Colleen and I stepped under the starting line banner together and jockeyed for position for about 2 miles. Mile 3 came and Colleen was off to the races. Julie and I stayed together til mile 4. Up to this point we were feeling pretty good, but I kept telling Jules we were about 1 minute ahead of our usual pace. Julie and I commented as we passed the 5K marker that not too long ago we were sweating about completing that distance. We came upon our first water/Gatorade station. Julie had a GUpacket which I have deemed as gross as the name sounds, and I had some Cliff Shot blocks. Jules dropped her second GU packet in the frenzy to get the first one out. I think that saved her from having to ingest another gross GU packet, but I know she really wanted it for later in the race.
It was soon after that when Julie began to leave me in the dust. That pace was just not working for me anymore. Most of the run is a blurry combination of my heart rate popping really high as I encountered slight hill after slight hill, a myriad of gorgeous houses with a “for sale” sign in front of every other one, and mile after mile after mile that seemed to go on and on forever. I survived the killer hill at mile 7 by walking up it like every person around me. I had visions of being the sole walker up the hill, but we were all hurting as we dragged ourselves upward. I was a bit hopeful when I caught a glimpse of Tom coming back after he hit a turn- around point only to be devastated by the realization that the turn- around was miles and miles ahead. I couldn’t believe that I was approaching the 10 mile marker 4 minutes ahead of when I had previously covered that distance. I was really hurting but I was bursting with pride. I couldn’t believe I could still push on. I was with it enough to notice a number of shirts like “13.1 is half of nothing”, “embrace the cheese”, “team ____” and a few shirts from previous races. I was particularly irritated with Mr. “13.1 is half of nothing” until I saw him stretching out what looked to be a wicked leg cramp at mile 12. Apparently ½ of nothing was a whole lot of something he couldn’t handle. Now I’m being petty so I’ll stop . Along the way I high fived some adorable kids, waved at Jim and Marcia, and tried to look like I wasn’t dying as I passed about 17 official race photographers.
Finally I heard cries that promised that the finish line was “just around the corner/over the hill/almost there”. Amazingly I finally saw the finish line and I could hear the rest of Team 40/10 screaming for me as I approached. They had all finished well ahead of me, but I was ecstatic all the same to see them. The finish times were as follows….Colleen 2:18:52 (10:36 pace),Julie 2:24:46 (11:03 pace),Toni 2:35:12 (11:51 pace), and of course Tom, who smoked us all: Tom 2:04:47 (9:32 pace). I’m glad to report we all finished injury free and thankful for another exhilarating experience together. I totally can’t imagine tacking on another 13.1 miles to that 13.1 miles, but it wasn’t long ago that I couldn’t imagine running more than a mile for any other reason than running from a large animal.
Until next time…Live Well, Toni Kuhel (1/2 marathon finisher!!!)