My Second Half!

My team mate and friend Ali suggested we all sign up for this half marathon in the beginning of September.  She said it would be fun and perfectly timed in our training.  I signed up, and then all the way up to the marathon I cursed her, but it actually was a great time and the sort of boost I needed in my training!

We did the “Run the Reservoir” Half Marathon in Westwood, New Jersey.  It was a smaller race but well supported, and sponsored by United Water.  It started and finished in the parking lot of Hackensack University Medical Center, which made me feel better in case I needed to be admitted.  Instead of a medal or a tee shirt, we got fleeces!  They are amazing and worth the entry fee and maybe part of the run!

How strange is it that in March, we geared up for our first half and it couldn’t have been more different?  When I prepared for Philly Half, I completely freaked out and spent the whole week gearing up.  The night before I barely slept, and I felt sick as a dog before and after.  I worked myself up.  For this half, we threw Harry’s birthday party the day before (which I will blog about tomorrow) and I obviously ate and drank.  I didn’t go nuts, and I stopped eating and drinking earlier than I wanted, but I still enjoyed myself.  People even came over after to play Cards Against Humanity!  I think I went to bed at midnight and got up at 6am, as the marathon was a bit of a drive from us.

In the morning I went to Ali’s and she drove us to the marathon.  It was nice to sit in the car and talk to her – I never get enough time to just chat with my friends, particularly her.  We were meeting her parents there, who are also team mates and friends.  We got a little lost on the way up but ended up early.  After getting our swag and bibs, changing, and heading over to the start line, we decided it was time to use the potties.  “Decided it was time” is actually lightly putting it.  I caught view of the potties and nearly sprinted to what ended up being a quarter of a mile long line.  I began to panic – I didn’t have 20 minutes to wait to use the bathroom!  My friends effortlessly distracted me, and I made it.  Poor, poor, potty.

The race itself:

Miles 1-6 I was f’ing SUPERMAN.  I felt like I could fly.  I was hitting right around 10 minutes a mile without doing much, enjoying the scenery, no pains or aches to complain about, and I didn’t even have to open my mouth to breathe!  There were hills, but nothing major and I felt like it was helping the time go by.

Miles 7 & 8 were markedly harder, but I still felt great.  I just was noticing the time a little more, my muscles were a little sore, and the terrain was varied.  The hills started to become a little more noticeable.

Mile 9 I started to whine.  I didn’t like running.  There were hills.  Big hills.

Mile 10 F EVERYTHING I HATE RUNNING SO MUCH WHY DID I DO THIS.  This mile was a friggin LOOP out in the sun up a HILL with no water and on concrete.  Death.  I walked a big portion.

Mile 11 I began walking more.  I was done.  Once I start walking, it’s hard to get going again. I was hot, I was tired, I hated running.

Mile 12 was mildly better, but only because the hills were MASSIVE and that gave me an excuse to walk.

Mile 13 was the worst.  About halfway through, we basically scaled Mt. Everest.  Some tiny woman whizzed by me and cheerfully tried to lift my spirits. “Almost there!!” she said with a huge smile.  FUCK YOU.  (That’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t)  You are almost there, am not.  Sometimes I like strangers’ cheerleading, sometimes I want to throw them in a river.

Mile 0.1 deserves to be mentioned.  As I was getting ready to round the last corner, I saw Ali.  Bless her heart, I needed her cheering.  Just as I got a surge from her smile and encouragement, I saw a man in his 50s on the side of the road, hands on his knees, audibly struggling.  I went over to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and asked if he was okay.  He looked at me, and I knew he needed help but couldn’t talk.  I said, “Come with me.  The finish line is right there, we will do this together.”  So he nodded, and began to follow me.  A couple of steps later, he stopped again and told me that he was cramping and couldn’t finish.  I said, “You see my shirt?  This is my son, Harry.  He can’t walk, and right now I barely can too.  I know you feel the same way, but we’re going to do this together.”  Suddenly, he began to cry.  He told me his mother was dying, today, and started to say something else but couldn’t.  I needed him at that moment just as much as he needed me.  I told him we needed to keep going, he shook his head.  I got aggressive.  “Come on!!  We NEED to do this.  We all run for something, you go finish that for her and I’ll finish for my son.”  And so he did.  I actually shoved him, pushing him toward the finish line, where we both finished and were swallowed by the crowd.

Immediately after the race I was absolutely delirious.  I was dehydrated, and I didn’t fuel well enough before the race or during.  I have been experiencing such bad GI problems that I was afraid to eat, so I did plain bread before the race and nothing during.  The lack of fuel during the race made me completely bonk at 10, so I’ve lived and learned.  I didn’t feel better until about an hour after the race when I was actually able to keep down gatorade and a banana.  On the ride home Ali and I hit Ben & Jerry’s and I felt great, but it really has taken me until now (a day and a half later) to feel normal.  I just did a kickboxing class, which was a half-bad idea, but at least the movement made me feel a little less sore.

My finish line friend found me in the parking lot and told me I was his angel.  He explained that his mom had been dying for some time, and he backed off his training to take care of her.  He said I swooped in and saved him, but he really saved me because I could barely finish.  I was able to focus on helping him, and that helped me.  We hugged and parted ways.

All in all, it was a great race.  My friends all finished well and we had a really great time.  As terrible as we all felt, soon after we had a sense of accomplishment and the bad feelings went away.  It was a good day!

So what’s next?  This week I have an 18 miler and I’m so, so scared.  I feel half better about the marathon after this run, and half worse.  I did do a 15 miler in Michigan, and I didn’t die after it, so that’s good.  I just feel like I used EVERY ounce to get this 13.1 done, and I’ll have to do that twice.  That scares the ever living shit out of me.  I don’t have that much longer to train!  Ugh.  Onward we must press.

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2 thoughts on “My Second Half!

  1. I love that you helped that gentleman and what you had to say to him. Sure it wasn’t your best or strongest run, but considering how far you have come since your first that is some incredible progress. Did you ever imagine a time when you would so casually approach a half marathon? Or that you would be the one helping someone to cross the finish line. You are amazing!

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