Thanks to my friend, Valerie, who invited me to train with her, coached me in running, and drove me to the event with her... I finally ran my first half marathon! THANK YOU VALERIE! And we did awesome! :) (Kendra, you were right... half marathons are a blast! :D)
As I ran, I would look at other runners and smile at them. Valerie told me that she smiled the entire run on one of her past events, and of how much it seemed to impact other runners. I was inspired by that and really enjoyed adding my own twist to it. Now and then I would get into a short conversation with one of these marvelous runners who I had never met before. We would cheer each other on, then continue on at our own pace.
I didn't know it at the time, but after the finish I would see some of these people again; and we would have the choice moments of calling out to each other with a warm hello and a hearty "we did it!" Those brief moments in which our eyes and hearts seemed to connect with each other in sincere congratulations would be major highlights of the event. They had run too... they understood.
I didn't start out running with the highest of expectations. I even delayed registering... up until the night before. I walked into late registration the night before mentally dragging my feet, and hoping that I wasn't running too soon after being sick (I was sick for about a week before the run). I didn't expect to run any great time, but I went ahead and registered because for two months... I HAD TRAINED; and I though I was again unsure that I could do decently well so soon after being sick... I knew that if I didn't run, I would ALWAYS wonder if I could have and should have run that race.
So when the race started I had only two goals... 1.) Don't walk (which I had learned to do from training with Valerie). 2.) Finish the race. Oh, and and I really shouldn't leave out... pray that my knee would not become too inflamed. (I had a sample packet of anti-inflammatory gel in my pocket ready to save the day!)
I started out running easy, but gradually, a spirit of competition grew within me - not with others so much - but with myself. I knew I could go much faster than I had been running and wished I had pushed and paced myself from the beginning. I also knew I couldn't go back in time, but that I could look at the remainder of the race and run it they way I wanted to.
So I started to push myself a little more. Finally, rather than being way at the back behind a huge pile of people, I began passing people (who no doubt passed me long before that). The large piles of people who were ahead of me gradually moved behind me. I was moving forward, and it was fun! :D
With about three miles to go (ten miles into the marathon) I did a little math, and though I had ran both slower and faster than a 10 minute mile pace, that was my average. I decided I wanted to finish the race by pacing myself and maintaining that 10 minute-mile average. I figured I could finish the race in about 2 hours and ten minutes from the start of the race if I did this, so that became my new goal - my focus. And I would really need this new focus to get me through some of the mental obstacles in the next three miles ahead of me.
One of the major mental moments came when, after running over 10-11 miles, I saw ahead of me a bridge... on a hill... on the marathon path... and it looked steep (I think I was simply delusional from fatigue :o). This was just at the point at which I ran out of water. I saw some people slowing down to a walk and I understood why. Mentally, it looked really uninviting after having just ran 11 or so miles! I was tempted to walk, too. I even began to slow down BEFORE reaching it; just looking at it was mentally exhausting!
Thankfully, a wonderful little voice spoke loud and clear within my mind... To my surprise, that hill wasn't nearly as steep as it looked. I ran up it just fine, and cringed at the thought that I actually slowed down, simply from anticipating an experience to be awful.
"Corine, do not slow down. Keep running; you can do this!"
Though running up that bridge wasn't the awful experience I anticipated it to be... the last two miles were tough; the last mile was REALLY TOUGH! But I now had a goal, and it wasn't just to finish... I had a time in mind.
I just kept thinking...
"Two hours and ten minutes"...over and over again as I ran.
As I neared the end of the race, those now sought out people who stood on the sides calling out "water" "heed" were no where to be seen. My legs ached, my heart pounded. At this point, my watch beeped incessantly, letting me know I was running without oxygen (as if I need my watch to tell me that! Believe me, when you have no oxygen to burn the glucose in your veins... energy is hard to come by and you know it!)
I realize this may all sound dramatic... after all, I have no astounding time or grave disability to make the run so hard. But this is my story... and though it may sound dramatic - it is real - and it is mine. And I want to remember it, relive in the memory of parts of it, and learn from other parts. And besides... it's much funner to write if you write at least a little dramatically! ;o And so I will continue on with my dramatic story. :D
This was the part of the run (to the top of the hill) when I
But there wasn't any more. And as I repeatedly looked at my watch, noting the time and the pace at which I would have to run to make my goal - I WAS DESPERATE FOR WATER! I had to really push myself to keep going that last mile or two without it.
"Just 10 more minutes and I will be to the finish,"I kept telling myself, while glancing at my watch to see how close I might be to the finish line. Lack of water made it REALLY difficult to run. None the less... I kept running.
"And now we have Corine Moore, from Hayden Idaho!""Was that the finish line?" I wondered. No... there was another strip in the road to cross, the finish line was just a few feet further...
"Keep going!" I told myself, "You're almost there!"I laugh now at how disappointed I was that I had to run a few more feet. LOL ~ I crossed that final line with total relief and stumbled over to the water station I had only dreamed about while running the last mile or two. I WAS DONE! Now I had the sweet opportunity of watching for my friend to cross the finish line, and looking for my daughter who I knew would be close by and looking for me. Those minutes of anticipation for these dear ladies were sweet.
Seeing Valerie cross the finish line was WAY COOL! She did AWESOME! I wished that I had a camera on me so I could have taken a photo of her crossing the finish line. I am so proud of her and so inspired by her!!! Valerie got me running and kept me going when my knee tempted me to slack off; she was my coach who showed me the way. SHE IS A DEAR FRIEND - AND I LOVE HER!
And seeing my daughter running toward me to congratulate me was AMAZING! She had such spark in her eyes, and such joy in her countenance; without even knowing my time, she told me with total sincerity that she was SO PROUD OF ME. That was a big deal to me. I thought it was neat that she was so proud of me ~ just for doing it. I also thought it was cool that she came to see me and cheer me on. :D Her support and love really made my day! ~ I LOVE THAT GIRL!!! :D ~ I am such a blessed mama! :D
And now - I wish to record a few of the things I learned from my first half marathon yesterday...
*Goals - Set them. But careful not to set them low; you may just achieve them no matter what they are - high or low! I found it interesting to note that perhaps I had set my goal too low (perhaps not since I am a first time runner and only trained for two months). I think I finished a minute or so after my goal, or about that time (I will check once the results are posted). But I can't help wondering what I could have done if I had set a time goal BEFORE the race, rather than 10 miles into it. By the way, my friend Valerie finished only a few minutes off from her goal as well. Yeah Valerie! :D
*Listen to the people who have done it before. My husband filled my camel back with water. I had him dump a bunch out... sure I wouldn't need that much. I then dumped some more. Unfortunately I ran out of water, added a little more to it during the race, and ran out again. It would have saved a lot of time, and I would have had a lot more energy at the end of the race... if I had listened to someone who had experience.
On the bright side, I greatly benefited from listening to Valerie's counsel to pace myself and save the sprinting for the end. I didn't always do this... but I know that my efforts to do this really helped me to be able to keep running. :D I didn't walk for a single second of the race (though I did stop to stretch and get water a couple of times). THANK YOU VALERIE! :D
*I was also reminded (as I have been so many times before) that Heavenly Father is watching out for me and that He loves me just as He loves each and every one of us. I know He helped me to prepare for this run in many simple ways. I also had a cool experience after the race in which He blessed me in an obvious way (sorry... I'm not going to tell you the specifics). I feel SO special and loved by the many blessings which He gives to me so regularly, - usually through the power of the Holy Ghost, and through wonderful people who listen and obey. I love it when people are sensitive to the Spirit! :D I realize that most people do not realize how much our Father in Heaven blesses their lives, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have the realization that I have so I can experience the joy of gratitude for my many blessings.
*When you "RACE," (if that is your intention) don't start out it a major pack! For the first few minutes I was in such a think crowd that I could barely move. I wasn't even running for the first minute, in which time I'm sure those who weren't crowded in could gain a great advantage if they wanted to (the race time started individually for each person the moment he/she crossed over the starting line). Those of us who stayed in a pack were only able to run a very slow jog.
*In reference to the above paragraph... I realized I might want to decide before entering another half marathon, if I am doing it for the experience, or to race against the clock; this decision will affect EVERYTHING. I experienced a bit of both - and the experiences I had as my mental mode switched were starkly different from each other.
Being relaxed about the time and outcome... simply enjoying the run... talking to people... encouraging other runners... connecting with them in a way I have never connected with people before was a sweet and amazing experience!
It was also a very cool experience to really get my head into running, pass people (who had before no doubt passed me), think about my heart rated and how much I could push it etc. That wasn't the warm and fuzzy experience I had while simply "enjoying" the run, but it was certainly a big thrill and major learning experience which I am happy to have had (I can draw a great deal of life similes from this experience.)
I think I will do a few more of these runs... perhaps with one goal or the other in mind now and then. I wonder what other experiences and goals for running await me! :D
I know this is long, so I will end this post now.
PS. I will be adding to this post, the photos Mindy took as soon as her camera is developed. I will also be getting a couple of photos from Valerie's phone camera. Stay tuned! :D
PPS. After the race I spent the remainder of the day with my wonderful daughter (all three of my sons and husband could not be there because they had a business event they had to work at all day; I'm so happy that the men in my family could handle the work and let Mindy be there with me). Mindy and I walked around River Front Park to let my body cool down as we took a couple of photos from her little disposable camera (way to go Mindy for bringing the camera!!!). Afterwards we celebrated together by eating out at Top of China. We then went to a women's conference called Heroins in History, talked, enjoyed each others company at home, then cleaned house together. To top it all off, Mindy massaged my legs to work out some of the soreness (isn't she great?). It was an awesome day!
*Shout out - for a fabulous Mothers Day series going on all this month on my friend Laura's blog "Living a Big Story." Laura has invited mothers from all walks of life to share their stories on her blog this month. Click on the link below to check out her blog!