Two years ago, if you would have told me that one day, I was going to wake up at 4am and run 13.1 miles, I would have bet you one million dollars that I wasn't. I used to despise running (just ask my old soccer and basketball coach) and I never have and never will enjoy waking up early. The morning of May 1st felt different. Even though my alarm went off and it was still the middle of the night/4am, I was actually excited to wake up. All the months of training and pulling out my calculator to figure out what pace I should be at was finally going to pay off. I jumped in the shower, not to get all dolled up, but simply to wake up. I had laid out everything the night before. It basically took up the whole top of our dresser. Shoes, bib, timing chip, chapstick, GU, ipod, garmin, shirt, sports bra, Capri's, visor, directions on where to get dropped off, fave running socks, compression socks and flip flops for after, sweatshirt (in case I am cold after the run) and my sparkle skirt. After my shower, I went down the row of items and started prepping for my big morning. Mark and I left the house by 4:45am. The kids all stayed sleeping and Mark would come back for them after dropping me off. He dropped me off at Fashion Island. There were all kinds of runners, some in costumes, some in sweats, some even with balloons tied to their waist. I started questioning whether or not I was dressed appropriately. My tank top wasn't quite warming me up. Oh well, I'll probably wish I was cold in about an hour. I followed the crowd to the start line. People were holding up signs saying Corral A, Corral B and Corral D. WAIT! I was Corral C! There was no C. Being the smart person I am, I plopped myself in between B and D. All I could smell was sunscreen and Eucalyptus. By the time I got to this point, it was about 5:20. That gave me about 40 minutes to kill. I sat on the curb and people watched for about 10 minutes. Groups of women were laughing. Husband and wives holding each other to keep warm. Groups of friends taking pictures. Then, I saw the sweetest thing ever. An elderly man, maybe in his 60 or early 70's was standing in front of me with his son. The way his son was dressed lead me to believe he wasn't running. The son was helping his dad with his camel back, making sure he had easy access to his water tube and strategically placing his Gu and snacks for during the run. He kept saying "does that feel okay, dad?" The dad would just nod...I never heard words come out of the dad. Makes me wonder how many races they have been doing this for. As the sun started coming up, I figured it was time to stretch. I did some lunges and few other things I don't know the names of, but they felt good. I also spelled out the entire alphabet with each foot in the air, one at a time. I read somewhere that this helps stretch out your shins. Try it...it really does! I started chatting with a couple of ladies who were also there alone. This definitely helped kill time. The anticipation was starting to get to me. Finally...6am! I closed my eyes, bowed my head and asked God for the strength and energy to make it through this. Someone sang the National Anthem (not very well). All of a sudden, the sunscreen and Eucalyptus smell turned into fart smell. I guess everyone was nervous. They did a count down....oh, I was so excited. We started to move, slowly. The we stopped. Then another count down. I am guessing for Corral B. We moved, then stopped. By this time, I had to pee...really bad. Too late now! Finally, a third count down. This had to be me. Yup..it was! I made my way over the start line. I glanced at my garmin and saw 10.25 pace. This is what I was hoping to finish in,so I figured I would just chill at this pace. We made our way to MacArthur and holy ocean view! I probably had a smile on my face for the whole second mile! Where were the photographers then?? it was down hill for awhile, which brought my pace up to 9.30. The rest of my journey went as follows:
Mile 2 - Feeling great, still at a 9.3 pace. Saw two guys coming out of the bushes. Hmmm..
Mile 3 - Found Team Sparkle (Kelly, Elise and Carrie) on Ocean Ave. It was great to see some familiar faces. Still feeling good...still at a 9.3 pace.
Mile 4 - Wondering what I got myself into - In my head I said "I still have 9.1 more miles to go."
Mile 5 - Mile 7 - Felt wonderful. I was enjoying myself and felt no pain. I stopped for some water. At one point I heard "wheelchair coming through". I moved over and saw a team of people pushing a handicapped gentleman in a wheelchair. This would be the only time that day that I cried. I felt so proud of his team members and so thankful that I was healthy enough to run on my own. We just take so many things for granted.
Mile 8 - Just finished going up Dover. That wasn't so bad. Still at a 9.3 pace. Beginning to feel a little pain, but I know that Mark and the kids are right around the corner. So excited to see them and have a quick little break
Mile 8.75 - There they are!!!! I saw Carlie first, then Mark. Brooke was sleeping in her stroller. :( Mark had the Gu ready. I ran up to him...he handed me the Gu and said..."keep going". WHAT??? I was supposed to stop and rest for a few! UGH! So I kept going.
Mile 9 - I starting feeling a little heavy. I needed water to wash down my Gu. It was all stuck to my teeth, so I wiped it off with my shirt. I was also staring to feel really salty. My pace was now at about 9.45
Mile 9.5ish - found water. AWESOME! I've never loved water so much
Mile 10 - saw some guy spraying down people with what looked like a insect repellent sprayer. I ran up to him and said...can you get my hands? He looked at me funny but sprayed my hands. Turns out, it wasn't water...it was some cool and fit crap that made my hands tingle and smell like mint.YUK
Mile 10.5 - Some residents were outside of their homes on their driveways spraying their garden hose water in the air so the runners could run under it. I can finally wash that crap off my hands.
Mile 11ish - Another hill? OUCH! My pace is now about a 10 minute mile. :( However, I am now on borrowed time. I have never ran this far, EVER!
Mile 12 - Saw these girls, which gave me enough laughter to get to mile 13
Mile 13 - I was so excited to see this mile marker. It was almost over and I didn't feel awful. I saw the finish line and was so excited! I DID IT! I ACTUALLY DID IT!! I crossed the finish and within seconds, I saw my mom, dad and sister. They threw water over the fence for me.
I had to double check my time.
YUP! I did it...I made my goal. I wanted between 2:15 and 2:30.
The competitive side of me is wishing they could subtract the extra .12 miles I somehow ran. Oh well..I made my goal for my very first half marathon ever. Mark and the kids were still in the parking lot, trying to park after meeting me at mile 9. It was that crazy out there. He caught up with us within a few minutes. I was so happy and thankful that my whole family was there.
I immediately new I wanted to do it all over again. Not that day, but soon, very very soon.