Monday, April 14, 2014

Rock N Roll Raleigh

Yesterday, I ran the Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Marathon.  Wait, I should back up.  Last April, when I found out this event was coming so close, location wise, I was immediately interested.  The Rock N Roll series of half marathons/marathons is popular in the running community.  Popular because of live music at every mile and a fun atmosphere.  I signed up for the full marathon because it was close, and cheap.  And I had a year to train.  No problem for someone who has run many half marathons, right?!?  

So up to the Expo on Friday to pick up my race packet I went.  I really liked this mirror and am thinking about putting these stickers on my bathroom mirror.

Yet, May 1st, 2013 changed the course of events in my life dramatically.  I learned I was pregnant with my handsome little man.  I experienced my worst pregnancy; intense nausea that lasted more than 4 months, braxton hicks by 27 weeks, contractions by 32.  And I was big.  It was hard to run during this pregnancy.  Initially,  I thought I could still train for the full marathon, as I had so much time to prepare.  I could just take it slower than if I weren't pregnant.  But no, most of the time I was so miserable, that the thought of running a few miles didn't get me excited, much less the long distances required for proper marathon training.  So months ago, I made the decision to run the half marathon.  

Then, about two weeks ago, something changed.  I started thinking about the wall that I ALWAYS hit in a half marathon, at mile 11.  I knew that running past the 13.1 half marathon distance point would likely allow me to run through, and past, this difficult point and bring me to a peaceful and happy running place.  This would make running the half distance much easier.  So I began to ponder running the marathon course, for as long as I could, then hitching a ride on one of the "Sag Wagons" when needed, to take me back to the start.  My goal simply was to run 14 miles, maybe more if I felt ok.  David and I had a lengthy conversation the night before.  He told me he felt like I could make it to 18 easily.  And that he thought I could finish the race.  He gave me a ton of advice for the run.  The plan was for me to caravan up with two guys from the church that were also running and for David to stay home with the kiddos.  

We made it to the race corrals with about 30 minutes to spare.  We dropped off our bags at gear check, and headed to our respective corrals.  There were a lot of people, a little more than 12, 500 entries were sold.  We started out and ran up and down the streets of downtown Raleigh.  After about 2 miles, the hills came.  And kept coming for the next 6 miles or so.  The hills were rough.  And I hadn't trained properly, much less in hills, so this part was very tough for me.  I knew once I got past the half marathon and marathon split, it would level off for most of the remaining course.  In between mile 6 and 7, David called to tell me that he'd be waiting for me at the turn around point, mile 15.  I teared up, thinking about him and the kids waiting for me.  At 8.5 miles, I made my right turn that put me on the marathon course and teared up again.  I chugged along, feeling pretty darn good for miles after.  I saw David and the kids at about 12.5, typically a very difficult point for me.  I teared up again.  They were waiting for me as I rounded past the 13 mile marker, sailing past the greatest distance I'd ever run.  The miles kept coming and I felt good.  By mile 15 I was ready for my turn around, which happened at 15.5.  In between 17 and 18, I started feeling rough.  My hip flexors were in pain.  I called David and he calmed me down.  He told me that I was doing awesome.  He asked me if I felt like I couldn't go any farther and I said no.  He encouraged me and told me how proud he was of me and reminded me not to worry about him and the kids.  I decided to chug along, until I couldn't go anymore.  I carried on, walking as little as possible.  I was having a hard time but I kept telling myself "Just make it to the next mile."  That thought took me to mile 21, which is when I really felt pooped.  But I was so close at that point that, for me, there was no other option than to finish.  I didn't care if I walked the remaining 5 miles, I was crossing the finish line.  It was hot, more than 80 degrees, and humid, with 80% humidity.  And at this point I'd been running for about 5 hours.  I talked with a few runners around me.  In between 22 and 24, there was a photographer sitting on the ground, taking photo's, who was yelling nonstop encouragement; "let's go runners, show me what you've got!"  As I ran past, I said thank you and told him he was awesome, he responded with "No, you're awesome, I"m just sitting here."  David and the kids were waiting for me at 24.5.  He told me I had one big hill left, and that it would be brutal but smooth sailing to the finish after that.  He was right.  In between 25 and 26 Wear Blue Run to Remember was standing.  First I ran past many signs, with photo's and stats of fallen soldiers, then I ran past members of the group, holding American flags.  It felt like there was 50 flags draped over the course.  This was so touching, and motivating, at such a rough point in the run.  A point when I was tired and just wanted it to be over but I kept going.  This was so inspiring. And then I was in the final stretch, which was short, thank goodness.  I could see my finish.  I ran past the timing sensor and cried as I took my medal.  I looked right and there were David and the kids, smiling and telling me how proud they were for me.  Hannah was jumping up and down.  I don't care that I didn't run the entire time, I don't care that it took me 5 hours and 46 minutes to complete.  Rather, I'm impressed with my ability to keep moving for that long.  I was carefree, giving high fives to anyone I could, saying thank you to all the volunteers.  And I stopped at every hydration table for water and every medical table for vaseline (to prevent chaffing).  
David has always said, in regards to running, that your brain will quit on you long before you body will.  I've never found this to be truer than I do after yesterdays running.  I wanted to finish, and that's why I did.  It was very difficult.  I was hot and thirsty, I was sunburned.  But I wanted to cross that finish line, which is what I did.       

What I loved: The challenge of it.  The signs; some of my favorites included "Ignore the guy with the sign" "Wave if you're not wearing underwear"  (most long distance runners don't wear underwear because it's one more thing to chaff)  and "I pooped today, did you?" and " I'm very impressed with total strangers."  There was a guy dressed as a banana out and a bride and groom cheering us on.  I loved the lack of shame.  I saw lots of people walking at various points.  There was no shame in walking, it was all about finishing.  

What I didn't love: the pain I feel right now.  It was all  joint pain the day off.  All my joints from the waist down.  My legs refused to work against gravity.  Today, I can feel it everywhere.  My shoulders and upper back.  My hip flexors really ache.  I have too many blisters to count and I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose my right pinkie toenail.  

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