My first half-marathon experience with 28,000 was quite shocking. It had been fifteen weeks of running with my girlfriends with blissful Saturday runs, sore muscles and yummy lattes. I thought the day of the race would be challenging, but I figured it would be relatively entertaining and a great deal of fun. My nerves were in full throttle at 4:15 am in the morning. I met half of the group with intention to meet the other half at the race. I was very quiet on the ride to the race drop off. The girls mentioned that I was quite the Nervous Nelly.
The truth was that I was quite nervous, but I figured the nerves would disappear once we started the race. When we arrived at the race at 6:15, we hopped into the slowest port-a-potty line known to man. Rule of the Race #1001, if you are attending a race with participants numbering above 500; it would behoove you to stop at a gas station or Starbucks before the start line to use the restroom.
We ended up waiting over an hour and missed starting with the rest of our running crew which included girls that I paced with.. Rule of the Race #1002, always carpool with the person you will be pacing with…there is no guarantee that you will be able to meet in the morning.
The first three miles were very interesting. Weaving through people. Watching all the UPS trucks on the highway below. I actually clapped for the first few bands that I passed by. The light rail flying past and honking. Various people ducking in and out of the bushes to use the restroom.
Miles four to six travelled through neighborhoods. It was eventful with the neighbors eating breakfast and cheering for the runners as we passed by. My favorite was the elderly lady ringing a cow bell and smiling. Then I caught a glimpse of a man racing in his wheelchair. It was pretty spectacular to see him rolling through the crowd.
Miles six to nine outlined by Lake Washington included a line of bikers holding the American flag. It was very moving. I actually was brought to tears quite a few times during the race. Not because of exhaustion, but wrapping my mind around the fact that I actually was running 13 miles.
I remember during this leg of the race that I-90 seemed so far away. But thanks to the cheer squads and signs on the yard I kept pushing through each mile. Nina, a fellow Stroller Strider/Running Coach, said to me, “Once you accomplish a half marathon then you can accomplish anything!” Seriously, this race taught me some serious mental toughness.
Miles nine to twelve featured the hill, the tunnel, the stadium and downtown stretch. The hills were easier than I expected. I powered up them rather than begging them to end. The hill on nine reminded me of the training run to Madison Park and chocolate croissants. Wow, did I need a chocolate croissant to give me the strength to handle the tunnel. Rule of the Race #1003, RUN VERY FAST THROUGH THE TUNNEL! I ran like a race car through that muggy tunnel. I struggled breathing at that point. I kept my eyes on the open end and raced passed the booming band which I could have done without. Towards the end of the tunnel, I glanced over at the stretchers and thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to just lay down?”
Then the fresh air hit me. It was heavenly to feel the wind brush across my face. It was one of the best moments of the race. But my energy level hit an all time low as I saw two of my fellow girls ,Cherie and Lindsey, but I had no energy to take me over to them. I was spent by the tunnel. Searching the crowds for a friendly face was actually comforting to keep my mind off the race. The run downtown was festive and I noted that the port-a-potty lines were non-existent because the end was near.
Mile thirteen point one. This was the PUSH. I was ready to STOP! Each step was an effort. I remember setting visual points to get me to the home stretch. When I reached the last corridor of the race I heard a older man yell, “GO JENNY!” Even though it was not someone I knew. I was so glad to be a JENNIFER at that moment. I was thankful that my parents followed along with all the people in the 1970’s who named their daughter Jennifer. Then I heard Stefanie Ong yell my name and take my picture. It was all I needed to hit the FINISH LINE!
I remember crossing the line and pushing through the crowd. I did not wait to take my picture because I wanted to get to letter V for VICTORY. I grabbed an orange slice, banana and water and headed towards my girls and my family. I was spent. I was happy. I was done.
I mumbled out words. Smiled. I hugged. Posed for pics. I hit high fives.
Isabella was crying when she saw me. She was very upset that I was not there when she showed up at the finish line. She kept yelling “Stop, Mom, Stop” I want you to slow down. But as soon as I gave her my medal then she was happy. I said a quick goodbye to everyone and hit the #554 bus to head back to the park and ride. Rule of the Race #1004, Plan a slow departure from the race… it is better to have time to celebrate than to race to catch a bus.
An hour after the race I was laying on my red chair feeling flu like symptoms which turned out to be dehydration. Rule of the Race #1005, Sip water and consume food even if you don’t feel like it. Once I drank enough water and scarfed down a Chicken Master from Burger Master my energy returned. I was telling my husband Parker that I was DONE! I was never going to run a half marathon again. I did it. End of story.
We planned a nice post race party. A nice taco fiesta. A spectacular dessert bar. A lovely evening during the charming time. Great conversations about all of our running experiences. Then out of the blue I was presented with a lovely gift and card for organizing all the training. I was so touched that tears flowed freely. It was shocking. I was very moved. I felt so loved.
Sunday morning, I was lying in bed thinking about the race and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t done doing half marathons. I realized that I’d like to have a incredible race day to match the fantastic training. So, all that said, I have learned some key race rules for the next half marathon because there will be another. The truth is it is all about the journey not the final destination. You ladies, inspired me and motivated me. Thanks for joining me in this journey!
MOMMY DID A HALF MARATHON!