Jeans are fitting better...I noticed today when I look down, I see my boobs, not my stomach. My stomach is still there, heh, don't get me wrong, but now its not sticking out farther then my boobs (when I sit down). If you've seen my boobs, you know that NOTHING should stick out farther then those things. Anyway...I have been wanting to share the story of my first 1/2 marathon. It was without a doubt, one of the most mentally challenging things I've done since graduating college.
Even in my times of denial about the health of my body I had good intentions. I was frequently signing myself up for 5K runs and events that would hopefully be incentive enough for me to get my shit together. After signing up for and running (sort of) a few 5K's, I realized I wasn't getting the results I was hoping for, and overweight as I was, I could still run 3.1 miles. Not fast, but I could do it. Perhaps I needed more of a challenge...like being on a team for the Hood to Coast (HTC) race. Thank god our application did not get chosen.
Perhaps I was weak from being depressed about our team not getting chosen for the HTC race, or maybe I honestly thought that signing up for a 1/2 marathon would be different then signing up for a 5K? Either way, the next thing I knew, I had agreed to run a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) with my friend C-hella. It was November. The 1/2 marathon was in June. I had plenty of time.
March came around faster then ever, and it was time to actually register for the Seattle Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. I became a fan of them on Facebook. I bought some running magazines that featured plans for 1/2 marathon training. Seemed easy enough. I had 15 weeks...Meanwhile C-hella was unstoppable. She was adding about a mile a week to her runs (which is perfect) and would even have time to taper before the race. Me? I was just hoping to get up to running 10 miles before the race. I was currently at...um....well...three.
I wanted to run in the race. I wanted it to be nice and enjoyable for me. I could picture myself gliding with ease with all the other runners. I just couldn't get myself out the door everyday for training. Stubborn, lazy, call it what you will. The 15 weeks flew by (of course) and I think the longest run I had managed was 5 miles. Nothing to sneeze at, but I was facing 13.1 miles in a week. I began to panic. I tried to get out of running in the race by sending a e-mail to C-hella explaining my circumstances. She would not hear any of it. She was flying all the way up to Seattle from San Francisco, and I was running with her. At least, I was meeting her at the starting line and starting the race with her. Fuck.
Race day. I have participated in enough competitive events in my life to not get nervous for events like this. I just needed a plan. My boyfriend was driving me to the start line, where I would meet C. I would be running with my cell phone in case of emergency, and to locate everyone after the race. As we drove south on I-5, I looked at my boyfriend and said "this is the dumbest thing I've ever done." He looked back and said "yup." So we came up with a plan. I said to him, I'll make it to the half-way point at Seward Park. You come pick me up there, and then we'll drive to the finish line to meet C. He said "don't worry about making it to a certain point, you just call me when you've had enough, and I'll come get you." I felt much better. I would not inform C of my plan.
The start line was madness like I never could have imagined! There were SO many people (19,000) to be exact, this race set a record for participation in Washington State. C and I found a friend of ours Ryan, at the medical tent, where I obtained the sunscreen I forgot to apply in the morning. It was a rare sunny day. Ryan, being a doctor and all, I decided I should maybe get some last minute tips from him. All he said was "you'll finish." For some reason, even though I didn't believe it myself, I believed him.
The race queue's had begun to form. C and I were packed in like sardines. Lines for the 1,000 porta-potties were still 10 minutes long. It was like burning man, except everyone was in spandex. Slowly moving forward...start line was visible now...and we were off! The coolest thing about this particular marathon is that there are bands every mile (hence Rock n' Roll). The route was also guaranteed to be scenic, as it wound through some of Seattle's nicest areas. Finish line was in downtown Seattle. Seward Park, my bail out point was 6 miles away. Six miles was sounding so much better then 13.1.
C and I ran about the 1st mile together. We were keeping pace with the 12 minute mile group, and she really wanted to stick with them. I fell behind, but continued to run till I reached the first 5K (3.1 miles). I walked for a mile. I ran the next two miles, most of which were downhill. I came up on Seward Park at mile 6, immediately saw my boyfriend and dog in the crowd and jogged over to the side. I felt great! "I'm going-I'm going all the way!" I managed to breathe out as my boyfriend snapped some photos. He smiled and said "ok, call me."
Miles 7-9 were run/walk but generally went by pretty quick. I could feel a huge blister forming on my heel, but couldn't focus on it. My calves began occasionally cramping. As I approached the I-90 tunnel and was looking for mile 10, I was strictly walking. Every time I felt I could run, I would begin, only to get the twinges of charlie horses. I began to frequently stop and stretch. It was awesome, just about every time I would stop and stretch, someone would cheer me on, or offer so sort of words of support for me. I wanted to bail out, but since I was on a closed road, there was no way my boyfriend could get to me. I had no choice but to keep going till I got downtown. When I reached downtown, I saw the mile 12 sign. One more mile? I could do that. I was in excruciating pain. I was stopping quite frequently to stretch. I just pressed on.
I somehow made it to the finish line. All I could think about was eating a banana and stopping. I got my medal, got my photo taken, and found the nearest curb. I couldn't even think of trying to find C or my boyfriend just yet. I needed to rest. I ate 2 bananas to hopefully stop myself from cramping up. I was in complete disbelief that I finished, but SO happy I did. My time? 3h 26m 19s. C finished at like 2h 21m or something like that.
Being able to finish was 100% mental. I honestly believe if you are stubborn and just put your mind to something, you can do it. I didn't let myself out of it. I didn't let myself give up. Now, as I go through this process of trying to get myself healthier, one of the long term (6 months or so) goals I have is to compete in another 1/2 marathon, and shed at least 30 minutes off my previous time. After all, if I was able to finish a half-marathon at my heaviest weight, it can only get better for me.