Thursday, June 27, 2013

...The Brink of Retirement

Is that redundant?  Being on the edge of the brink?  Regardless.  It is what it is.  And this is going to be long.  Brace yourself.

One month ago (sheesh), in the thick of the training for my first half marathon, I ran the Soldier Field 10 Miler with Anne. And it felt AMAZING!  The best run of my career!

Before the race with Team Awesome:
Anne, Me and Amee
Anne and I started out together, at right around a 12:00min/mile pace.  And it felt good.  I had been training a little faster than that, but Anne was constantly preaching me the importance of negative splits so as not to tire too early in the run.  So it was good.  Around mile 4, or a little before, I lost Anne.  Like legit turned around and she was gone.  And so I was on my own.  As much as I LOVE running with a partner, I was ready to push myself.  I had run 10 miles before, and was ready to see what I could do.  And so I did, and finished in 1:55:32.  At the end, as I saw myself on the jumbotron crossing the finish on the 50 yard line, I wanted to cry but knew it would be an ugly cry, and there I was on the jumbotron, and obviously hundreds of people were focusing on just me on that jumbotron, but didn't.

Obviously not hating seeing myself on the Jumbotron

Finishing!


I looked up into the stands, and of course didn't recognize anyone.  I just walked off the field.  I was high on my accomplishment, and bummed to have reached it alone.  Sure, Anne would be there in a few minutes, and her husband finished long before us, and our friend Amee was there somewhere, too, but in the moment, I was alone.  A soldier named Sherman put my medal around my neck, I jammed out with a 312 to some Soul Asylum, and headed home - feeling pretty good.

With my first real medal


My half marathon was a mere two weeks away.  So I did what every good runner slacker/busy mom/teacher at the end of the school year would do:  I quit running.  Like not a mile.  Not an inch.  Until June 6th, 2 days before the half marathon.  Wearing new clothes on race day isn't recommended, so I convinced Anne to do a quick 3 miles with me to break in the adorable matching shirts I got for Natalie and I to wear.  And it felt good.  And I wondered why I quit running for 2 weeks.

Fast forward to race day.  Natalie and her husband showed up bright and early, and B drove us down to the South Shore Cultural Center.  The weather was PERFECT - partly cloudy, a little cool (like mid 50s - only reaching about 65 by the end of the race).  Gorgeous.  B had NEVER come and supported me at a race, so I was beyond thrilled to have him there.

With the sign H made for me

I don't set goals, well, other than to not finish last, but Nat and I both said that our only goal was to finish without walking, and I secretly had the time of 2 hours and 30 minutes in my head as a not-really-a-goal-but-it-would-be-nice.  We corralled up (is that a word?) and the race began.
Might I note that race photographers love matching outfits

Pre-Start Selfie

We were quick.  Really quick.  Natalie and I were talking and enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery.  Our first 4 or 5 miles were each between 9:30 and 10:30.  Looking back, I know it was TOO FAST.  I could hear Anne's voice in my ears talking about negative splits, but instead I was just enjoying the time with my best friend of 27 years.

Hmmm...only one of us looks like we're enjoying this


Enjoying.  I just said I was enjoying it.  I NEVER thought I'd ever say this about running - let alone running 13.1 miles.  And then mile 9 passed.  And we both decided that we'd do better if we'd stop and use the bathroom.  So we did.  And I really think this is where I just completely lost my momentum.  We continued running.  Then mile 11 hit - right around an overpass that felt like a mountain.  And it was hard.  I told Natalie I was going to walk and she told me I was going to do no such thing - that we'd just slow down.  But the mind games I was playing with myself began to take over.  I didn't want to quit or anything, but I was hurting.  Badly.  My legs were cashed.  So I sent her off, promising that I wasn't done running, but I just needed a short walk break.  I walked off and on from mile 11 to mile 12.  And it was HARD.  I felt defeated.  I was mad at myself for walking.  I was mad at myself for sending her ahead.  I wanted to be at the finish line together.  And then I saw the chute.  Had I been paying attention to anything other than my own survival (alright, that's more than a little dramatic), I'd have realized that we still had like a half a mile to go.  But that chute did it for me.  I started RUNNING.  And RUNNING.  Some guy held out his medal to me and said, "You've got this Melanie!  You're almost to your medal!"  And I started to ugly cry.  But stopped.  There were going to be cameras at the finish, duh.  And B.  And Natalie and her husband.  And darn it, I was too mad at myself and too proud of myself to cry.
Finally crossing the finish line

I finished, running as hard as I could in that moment.  My official time 2:37:21.  Only 7 minutes from my not-really-a-goal, and it included a bathroom break and some walking.  Nothing to sneeze at, really.  All along I said it was my first and last half marathon.  But now, looking back, I don't know.  While I've never been prouder of myself for accomplishing something so great, I also know in my heart of hearts that I didn't train as well as I could have, and I know I could have pushed myself past the mental bullshit, but I didn't.  So maybe it won't be my last.  Who knows?  There's this half in Ft. Wayne in September that I'm kind of keeping my eye on.  A hometown race might be kind of fun...

And we're done












8 comments:

  1. I wish the Anne voice in your head (boooooooring) had mentioned that there's absolutely nothing wrong with walking! Especially at your first half, and your first run over 12 miles! I think you did great, but I definitely get the feeling of maybe wanting to do it again to see what would happen. My first thought after mine was definitely "how would I have done if...."

    I love you stopping your ugly cry because there would be cameras, because that's just so you.

    I have the Grand Rapids half on October 20th in mind for my next time. The course is super flat, and the hottest it should be then is 60. You could do that one :) Either way, we could train kind of together again.

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  2. Oh, October is soon. We shall see.

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  3. What??!! I thought I was the only one of us thinking, "yeah, I'll probably do another one" I'm totally up for a Sept re-do! We must talk! You did amazing, and the only reason I look like I'm enjoying it is because I saw the cameras long before you did. Although I "ran" the whole thing the last 2 miles were hunched over and my toes dragged with every step, probably could have walked faster. So glad we did this together!!

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    1. We'll talk. It is in Fort Wayne after all. But we'll talk. It makes me shake just thinking of it.

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  4. What??!! I thought I was the only one of us thinking, "yeah, I'll probably do another one" I'm totally up for a Sept re-do! We must talk! You did amazing, and the only reason I look like I'm enjoying it is because I saw the cameras long before you did. Although I "ran" the whole thing the last 2 miles were hunched over and my toes dragged with every step, probably could have walked faster. So glad we did this together!!

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  5. What??!! I thought I was the only one of us thinking, "yeah, I'll probably do another one" I'm totally up for a Sept re-do! We must talk! You did amazing, and the only reason I look like I'm enjoying it is because I saw the cameras long before you did. Although I "ran" the whole thing the last 2 miles were hunched over and my toes dragged with every step, probably could have walked faster. So glad we did this together!!

    ReplyDelete