Sunday, May 6, 2012

Today I Ran My First Half Marathon

The day started at 5AM sharp. I got out of bed feeling excited and actually refreshed (since I went to bed around 9:30PM last night), ready to tackle the run! This is the earliest race I have participated in, but it was nice being up early, because that meant I would be finished early. Well, finished early if I ran fast!

I ended up starting five minutes or so after 7. 1:57:48 was my official chip time (we had a chip that zap-strapped onto our shoe), which wasn't far off from my Garmin time (which was a mere second behind).

During miles 1-3 I ran without music. I had the headphones in my ear and my iPod shuffle ready to go, but I was too busy looking at the view running towards the Cambie St. bridge (we started at Queen Elizabeth Park, just after King Edward for all of you Vancouver-familiar folk!). I kept thinking about how warm I was getting with my jacket, but I flicked on my music at the 5K mark to try to distract those thoughts.

Finally, at mile 6 I took my jacket off. By this time I was in the zone! Not wanting to slow down my pace, I literally put my iPod in my mouth as I struggled to take off my jacket. Now, running with a small iPod shuffle in your mouth is hard work considering every time you take a step your teeth subtly bite down. This meant I was playing and pausing my music via my teeth while I was taking off my jacket. I think this lasted for only a minute, but it felt like forever.

Before the 6 mile mark I also broke into my first Clif gel. I only had one during the half (I brought two), and I felt that gave me the burst of sugar that I needed. Before I left the house I had my usual pre-race breakfast (two slices of whole wheat toast with natural PB & a banana sliced on top) for some protein + carbs to give me energy, then about three hours later had my gel.

I must say that this was an absolutely beautiful course. We ran down Cambie Street, through China Town, Yaletown, English Bay, Stanley Park, and Coal Harbour to name a few areas. I had seen parts of Vancouver I never have before, so it was really cool to experience that all on foot.

I struggled, too. I'm not going to say it was easy, because it was pretty hard at times! There were moments when I thought, "Maybe I should walk." However, I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to walk no matter what. I ran through four water stations (gotta love when they fill it up all the way & it splashes all over your face and you get it up your nose. Yummy), two of which were Gatorade stations. It was nice to have a little burst of electrolytes in the system while I was powering through mile 11!

Once mile 12 clicked on my watch, I got excited. 1.1 miles to go and I will be finished my first half marathon. I kept repeating encouraging mantras in my head. I can do it, I can do it. I got this. I'm almost finished. I was absolutely thrilled when I saw 12.6 miles. Okay, that's a little less than one four minute song until I'm finished.

I kept my eyes open for Burrard St. once we were on the final stretch. I saw the crowd begin to turn down the slight incline towards W. Hastings St. where the finish line was there waiting for us. I admit, there were a couple overwhelming moments where I thought, "Holy shit. I am running a half marathon." To be honest, I never thought I would do this considering I wasn't in good shape throughout high school & I didn't set goals for myself. IT IS SO WORTH IT. If you want to do something, do it now. Don't wait, because you might not get the chance!!!

Anyway. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. The best part? The medal. My sister said, "You aren't excited to actually run. I think you're more excited for the medal!" Or something along those lines. What, do you mean searching Google for whether or not we got medals at the end isn't normal? Weird. Upon finishing, I collected my medal and got a couple "finisher pictures" taken. Photographers were set up along the course snapping photos (casual wave and smile as I ran by, just in case they caught me), and they were there at the end with backdrops and all that. I don't know how to explain it any better, but I'll show you the pictures (after I approve of them first, HA). Then I made my way to the food tent (aw, yeah, refuel time), and then met up with my mom & sister. I'm still so happy!

I have now officially accomplished one of my goals that seemed so far away up until last night when I looked at my sister and said, "Oh my god. I can't believe the half marathon is tomorrow." The entry was actually one of my Christmas gifts during the Holidays from my family. Now, on December 25th, a race date of May 6th seemed so far away - not anymore!

Note: Taking pictures of yourself post-race (and pre-lunch) and stretching in spandex whilst in Chapters is totally normal. You do that, right?

Lunch today was Cactus Club! We (mom & Sarah) walked around for a couple hours looking in shops and whatnot before we finally settled on something to eat. At first we were thinking about White Spot, but apparently the location we had in mind has been demolished. Like the whole building it was in, gone. Oh well! I had the Raincoast greens (sans le poulet) and it was delicious. Also, the food provided after the race was good, too! We got water, a juice box, a bagel, cookies, chips, a fruit bar & a banana. I had everything except the bagel & chips (still have them for future snacking!). However, after running 13.1 miles and burning 1520 calories (thank you, Daily Mile for calculating things for my non-math brain), my appetite was out of control. Understandable, I think!!

So, naturally on the way home we had to stop for froyo. When the belly calls, I tell ya...

iPhone photo - more delicious than it looks (even though I'm hungry again (no surprise) just looking at it). I loaded up my raspberry (and a dollop of pistachio) yogurt with mango, m&ms, cheesecake bits, kiwi, blueberries, and Gummy bears. You know, because you couldn't tell what was in it just by looking at it.

Today was the best race ever. I don't know if it's because it was a new distance or what, but it was an amazing day. The cherry on top was finishing under my goal time of 2 hours without the pacer bunnies ;) Sorry, the run 10 walk 1 method doesn't work for me when I'm in the runnin' zone!

I'm off to bed now. I am tired! And sore, but it was all worth it. I'm proud of myself!

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