Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Half Marathon Race report

This is long - very long - grab a glass of water, put your feet up and come along on a run with me!

Race report- rock and Roll Half Marathon

Seattle – June 26, 2010

It all started 3 or so months ago. My son, out of boredom, went for a run. Athletic booger that he is, ran about 6 miles in under an hour “just for fun”. He came home and asked if he could do a half marathon and invited me along. Foolishly, I agreed. I went online, found a summer half marathon, and signed us both up. Then I went searching for training plans. I found plenty of couch to 5K programs – but I needed MORE! I needed a couch to half marathon and I had 15 weeks to train.

I found something that would work – it was intervals, walking/running. Seemed doable. I downloaded it, made a calendar with training runs on it – amped it up just a little (3 days a week of running wasn’t going to cut it for me – I wanted 6), and set my mind to run.

March 22, 2010 - The first training run was 2 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking – for 2 miles. I struggled. And the voices in my head filled me with self doubt. I could barely do 2 minutes of running. The 1 minute of walking wasn’t an issue – but I would dread when the running interval came around again. I think I finished 2 miles in about 26 minutes or so. And was happy with that. Not thrilled. But training had begun.

I continued training for the next 15 weeks – intervals went to 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking and my times were still around 13-15 minute miles depending on the day. Not fast. But I was doing longer and longer distances and we beginning to lose the self doubt and believe that completing the half marathon was an achievable goal.

Somewhere along the line in my training, I began to skip the walking intervals on the shorter runs – just to test myself and see what I could do. I found I was able to run longer distances, still slowly, but run without walking which felt amazing. I remember one run at Greenlake – the training plan was for 11 miles – so I did the first lap with 3/1 intervals and then just started running. I ran 3 more laps without walking. I was elated!!

Fast forward to race day. My son – who roped me into all of this – didn’t train one bit. At first it was just simple procrastination and at some point it became stubbornness. So race morning, after we helped my husband with setting up for a car show, we headed to the start line. On the way there my nervous son delivered such gems as “why don’t I break your leg so we can both go home!” and “I’m going to go find the Quitter Bus and just get on.” He kept me entertained while we paced around, trying to stay warm. Yes, even June in Seattle is chilly in the morning. I had a sweatshirt one that I planned to donate at the start – but my son was in t-shirt and shorts.

We found our corrals easily – the area was very well laid out and makers were easily visible, and we meandered our way through the crowd of 27,000 runners. We used the port-a-potties a few times, I was spotted by a co-worker, and generally I giggled at my son’s nervousness. I was eerily calm, even excited for the race. I had trained. I could run. I felt prepared. These were all new feelings for me. The fact that I’m still a 200+ pound woman with teenage children and more than my fair share of self-doubt – none of that mattered. This morning, I was a RUNNER. I felt like I belonged and even deserved my place in that crowd. I’m still proud today.

Start time rolled around and my son and I separated – he was in corral 23 and I was in 37. I stood in the corral checking out my fellow runners – wondering how many had run this race before, how many were planning on walking, and comparing my size to theirs. It’s just how my brain works, I make no apologies. I was among a group a athletes that I fit into – none of us looked elite but we all looked capable. Most people were in at least pairs. I was, at least as far as I could tell, one of the only ones running solo. It’s actually how I prefer it. At some point, I discarded my sweatshirt for the donation folks to collect and goose bumps stood up on my arms. Cold or excitement – no way to know!

They started releasing the corrals – about one every 1.5 minutes or so. The commentator was cracking jokes, asking questions, having a great time. There were runners as far as the eye could see. And I was still calm. We rounded the final corner and the start line was in view. The commentator had given up on formal starting by this point, we were an hour into the race already, and we all just pushed forward until we crossed the magic timing mat. Then I started running.

I made my way through the crowd of walkers – trying to stay to the left but having to zig zag pretty heartily to navigate the massive amount of people. Many walked or jogged in their groups, 2-6 people wide making progress a little tricky. But I managed. And there were discarded donation clothes along the route to avoid as well – tripping and falling down was NOT part of the plan.

The first couple miles were marked with several bands. I was listening to my headphones but could still hear the bands over my own music. It was fun to watch the runners briefly stop to dance in front of each stage – everyone was certainly having fun. I kept an eye on my watch as each mile marker came into view – my goal was to finish in 3:15:00. My dream was to finish in 3:00:00. I would do the math as I passed each marker, trying to predict my time to get to the next one. Keeping my brain occupied with numbers and goals made it impossible for the usual white noise that running brings with it for me.

I’m talking about the white noise of self doubt – negative self talk – and downright defeating soundtrack. I still struggle with low self esteem and it really rears it’s head when I’m running. I don’t feel like a runner, I don’t look like a runner, I don’t eat like a runner. I struggle with all of it. The eating, the training, the running. I doubt myself and those thoughts come flooding in when I’m running and not distracted by a million other things.

But for this race, I blocked them all out. Not one minute of brain power was spent on negative thoughts. That’s my biggest success – above the race, the time, my goals – was the fact that I was able to tell those nay saying voices to Shut The Hell Up!

I put the miles behind me – passing more magic timing mats that I knew were sending text messages to my husband at the car show. My 5k time was 40:26, my 10k time was 1:22:55, I hit mile 9 at 2:01:38. And each of those times represented me finishing within my time goal of 3:15:00 – and it was looking hopeful for my dream goal of 3:00:00. I was still feeling pretty good too – running the entire time!! I had set the goal of walking to mile 10 at least and then assessing how I felt. At mile 10, I had decided that I was going to run the entire race – I was forming headlines in my mind, composing blogs about running every step, mentally thanking all my followers who believe in me – that helped with the voices I was avoiding.

To everyone – thank you. Blog followers, family, friends – you were all with me on this race. I don’t have words to express just how pivotal everyone was in my success. You were all by my side as I rounded the last bend and saw the finish line. I felt wrung out. My legs were on fire, my thighs hard as rocks. I hit the wall and had a mile to go. But I had done 12 miles, certainly I could do Just. One. More. I had 15 minutes to do it in to reach my dream goal. And I was determined. As I came down the ramp off of the viaduct and onto the side streets again, I began to visualize finishing, I began to acknowledge what I was about to accomplish, I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I could!

The homestretch was hard. I kept looking at my watch, looking up at the finish line down the block, and trying to do the math. How far was it – how long would it take me – how close to 3:00:00 would I be – could I DO it? I began to cry as I ran – I was tired, hurting, and overwhelmed with all the feelings. I talked to myself – telling myself “come on Laura – you can DO this Laura – you’re almost there – keep going – come ON!!” And it was my outside voice, just loud enough for me. My watch was ticking away time, my feet were pounding away, my tears were still flowing and I finally crossed the final magic timing mat. I stopped my watch as I crossed. Peeking, not daring to believe my eyes. As I moved out of the finisher chute and scanned the crowd for my son, I kept looking at my watch and crying harder. I wanted to call my husband and ask about the final text message – confirm that I wasn’t hallucinating.


I did it. I ran a half marathon in under 3 hours. 15 weeks of training. Countless hours of running and preparation. Goal setting and achieving. Setting time aside, finding new and interesting routes, making it all come together. I did it. With support from everyone around me – virtually or otherwise. And I can’t think of a thank you that expresses just HOW thankful I am. So I’ll try with this:

If I can do this – then you can too. What’s your goal? What’s your plan? And how can I help? It doesn’t have to be a half marathon; it can be to lose 10 pounds, to stop being so self critical, to walk 1 mile without stopping. Dare to dream – believe in yourself – and know that other people believe in you too!


Googie said...

I cried while reading this whole post!! You did it girl and we are all so proud of you!! I have a 5k on Sunday and I really, really, really needed to read this to get me excited about it. If you can do it, so can I!! Thanks so much!!

LauraLynne said...

so excited to hear the results - you can TOTALLY do this 5k this weekend - I'll be cheering you on!!

DeDe said...

I don't know how I found your blog, but your story is so similar to mine! I signed up in January, trained with C25K, set a goal to finish under 3 hours and Saturday crossed the finish line at 2:47! I didn't run the whole thing, that is my goal for the next half! Great job making your goal Laura, that is awesome! Are you going to sign up for the 2011 RnR?? I AM! =)

Kerri said...

WOW! Amazing! I hope to someday be able to run a marathon. I walked my first 5k 2 weeks ago and that felt great. I can only imagine how you must have felt. Thank you for sharing!!!

Amy said...

I am speachless. That is inspiring. I made my hubby stop watching TV to tell him the story. Amazing.

LauraLynne said...

Dede - that's AWESOME!!!
and I haven't decided if I'm doing this same one next year - probably, hopefully...more than likely.

Bringing Pretty Back said...


Ali said...

Hi Lynne,
I ama new follower andam so glad I found your blog. What an inspiration you are and I have to say I was on the edge of my seat through that post. You are Incredible! What an achievement!