June 29, 2010

A lot can change in 6 months


I completed my first ½ marathon. My first race.

Sunday morning, 4:30am the alarm went off and though my body definitely felt like it could crawl right back into bed, I was way too excited to want to sleep anymore.  I got on all my gear – black shorts, new pink tank, polar HRM, watch, put the chip tag on my shoes and was out the door with my good friend Stacy to take me to the venue. 

Technically the 13.1Boston wasn’t in Boston.  It was in Canton, about 20 minutes from our house.  While this bummed out A LOT of destination runners that thought they would be able to walk downtown after the race, it was perfect for my fam since Stacy dropped me, then went back to scoop up David and the kids to arrive much later than the 6:13 start time.

I hung around the field feeling like I arrived way to early, not knowing what the protocol was for getting ready for my first race.  Freezing cold, I kept my long sleeve FCS beloved shirt on for quite awhile also hoping that maybe Meredith would see it and find me.  Luckily we did find one another …a couple times...more on that later. 

Anyway, I am sure that I looked like a total noob.  But I am sure everyone was in their own zone.  So I discretely tried to apply my body glide, then gave up and headed for the long line of portajohns. 

Having done all the prep work to prevent chaffage, peeage I said a little prayer that no one would steal my bag since I made the other noob mistake and kept my phone with me rather than leave it with Stacy and checked it in at the bag check, which was essentially a table in front of an open field, dividing columns marked with yellow string grouped by bib number.  At least I wasn’t on the end.  Worrying about these little things took my mind off the race.

And then in a sea of orange Team Challenge jerseys, I see Meredith!  4000 runners and their families and I found her!  She took me to her team, and she shared how very real this race was for her, even passing the hospital where she was admitted, the VERY reason she started running.  Goosebumps.  

So 6:00 rolls around and it is already 70 degrees. I was grateful for the early start! 

I debated where to line up.  They had markers for 6 min, 7 min, 8 min milers.  Nope not me.  I wanted to be by the back – I didn’t know what my pace would be and I knew I wanted to take it slow to start.  The longest I ran was 12 miles and my pace was 10:54, but that was pushing Isabella.  My short runs are usually under 10, but I knew this was a hilly course.  Rolling hills, my ass.  I decided to go with a space in middle of the PACKED 10 minute mile group. 

And we were off.

It took me 2 minutes to get to the starting line.  Having never run with anyone this was a really odd feeling. 

Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe!

Mile 1 I could see all the bobbing heads starting up the first slight incline, what a sight! Runners everywhere...lots of ages, sizes, colors, it was breath taking. And the trees, the hills, the reservoir.  Here we are, when most people are still in bed, working these muscles, beating our feet to the rhythm, running for our friends, for those with Chrohns disease, for ourselves, for many many reasons. Prayerful reasons. Powerful reasons. Powerful. Really powerful.

And the course, it was gorgeous!  The trees, the sun coming up.  I was so happy that I could just run and enjoy it. 

Mile 1 marker hit and it was already at 12:something.  I was kinda bummed.  I wasn’t trying for a PR, I just wanted to finish, but my *secret* time was under 2:30. I think I also forgot that it took me 2 minutes to get to the start.  Plus I tried to arrange my music to hit the hills with the really upbeat stuff.  What if it didn’t time out?  Oh well.  I kept going.  I also was trying to maneuver around people.  I think throughout the race (another rookie mistake) I weaved so much from one side of the road to another, around people I think I wasted a lot of time/distance moving back and forth. 

Mile 3, I hear this voice behind me “How are you doing?”  It was Meredith! She had dropped back from her friends to stop at one of the portajohns and then caught up with me.  My first time running with someone.  Good timing too, we chatted, about work, running, training, foam rollers, and clearly the time went fast because we saw mile marker 4 then 6 and completely missed 5 along the way.  We were pushing hard, because we caught up with her team mates and then ran past them.  We ran past the beautiful reservoir.  And we ran the first of the big hills together.  (Meredith, hopefully I wasn’t too distracting!)  I remember saying "almost" like 6 times! Everytime we thought we got to the top, there was a bend and more hills came. 

Just before mile 7 Meredith said if I wanted to go on, to go ahead, I think she was going to run with her teammates again too.  Just as I was picking up the pace, I saw her folks cheering her on at mile 7.  Way cool!

Mile 8. Gu.  Love it! Chocolatly goodness.

Mile 9. Don’t really remember. In the zone.

Mile 10. I know there is a hill coming up.  All that is left is a 5k.  I can run 5k. Easy peasy.

Mile 11.  There is the hill.  And more hill. And more hill. Holy *%$* there is still more hill. 

Shockingly, I was feeling so good, I was passing people.  Up the hill.  Thank you Arnold Arboretum.  You and that mother bleepin' Peter’s Hill got me to run up this thing.  If it wasn’t for you, I would have walked.  All those days I cursed you! I was thanking you now.

One of the cool things about mile 10 & 11…there were people at the ends of their driveways watching, waving cheering us on.  I think I smiled at everyone that came out.  They didn’t have to be there, I was so happy to be running and to see people, it was exciting to be a part of it.

Mile 12.  MILE 12 Holy crap! Only one more to go and I am at 2:08.

And there are people walking back to cheer on their friends…so close. 

And then. Guess what.

The last 3 minutes of the race.  I.could.not.believe.it.  Guess what pops up on my Zune.

I Run for Life by Melissa Etheridge. 

Smiling with tears glossing over my vision I run strong to the finish, through all the cheering people, beaming! (That is my head over the couple in the red. Not 90 seconds earlier, David had a perfect shot from the wall he was perched on before the cops requested all the onlookers to get down.) 

I found my family.

I found my Simon.

I give him a big hug and a kiss.


We hang around and let the endorphin high wash over me and let my trainer stretch out all those muscles. 

Here is the thing. I just realized this today. I started running on December 27, 2009 with the c25k program. I couldn’t run more than 3 minutes without getting winded. I couldn't make it through a single song. Exactly 6 months to the DAY(!!!) I ran my first race, a ½ marathon in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 24 seconds without stopping. 

Yeah, I’m pretty proud. 

I can’t wait to do it again. 


Meredith said...

WOW - great description of the course. I just relived the whole thing while reading this. I wish I'd seen you back at the park and am so proud of you for your amazing time! Aren't you glad I warned you about the hills? ;-) XO, -Meredith

Christy Z said...

We were trying to find you too! We searched around for you at the finish, it was quite crowed and then looked in the sea of orange. I didn't think to check the kiddy pool. :P And yes, I am SO glad you warned me about the hills. So what's next? Salem half?

Delane said...

awesome awesome awesome!!! I love it! Congrats.

Tom Scholfield said...

Congrats Christy I love your story and I love all the details about the race in this post. You just might have inspired me enough to try one of these things.

Not promising anything, but I have already been out running twice this week!

Tammy said...

Congratulations on a fantastic first race!!
You rock!

Dawn said...

You make me want to do another half! I'm super proud of you! Thanks for sharing this experience so eloquently!

Christy Z said...

Thanks Tammy & D.

Tom, you Rock! Keep at it! Loved your video-blog before/after your run the other day. Awesome.

Dawn, I bet we could get a destination one for all the c25k grads.

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Just found your blog. What an inspiring race report. The half is my favorite distance.

Christy Z. said...

Thanks, Kim! Wow! Looks like you got the 1/2 bug too! It really is a great distance.