After three months of training the big day was here at last. I wasn’t as excited as I would’ve been if I wasn’t having trouble with my knee. I was still very excited but I just wasn’t sure how far I’d make it. I was hoping to make it all the way but I was prepared to cut it short if I had pain. The good news is that my chiropractor had a tent at the finish line so they would be able to care for me if I had pain. I also had an appointment set up for the very next day.
The night before I packed what I would need for the morning. I had to wake up very early to get into the park before the road closures took place. I packed my breakfast, my hydropack, my protein powder, and a bottle of water for after the race. I have a soft cooler bag with a hard removable liner. I put everything in the liner then put it in the fridge to be more efficient.
I woke up bright and early as planned. I made coffee while I got ready. I pulled the liner out of the fridge and placed it in the cooler bag. I brought the coffee with me in my thermos. I went out to the car in the pouring rain. I had forgotten something n went back inside to retrieve it. I had everything I needed and made my way to the park. The road closures were ready to take effect. In about two hours I’d be running my very first half marathon!
I chose a parking spot closest to the parking lot’s exit but furthest from the restroom. I knew that strategy would pay off later. I sat in my car and located my friend. She pulled into the spot next to me. I chatted with her as well as another friend on the phone while I ate my breakfast and drank my coffee.
My friend on the phone informed me that hydropacks weren’t allowed at the race. I checked the website and she was right. It wasn’t on the main page, it was on the nutritional information page. Luckily I had a water bottle with a hand strap and extra drink mix with me. I made the necessary adjustments, pinned my number on my leg, used the restroom, and we made our way to the starting line.
The excitement set in and I almost cried. I was really going to do this! I stood amongst the crowd in the rain awaiting the start of the race. The thing I dislike most is the countdown. It makes me nervous. I knew I wasn’t racing and just doing a long run but I still got nervous. I always get pre race jitters.
The race started. We walked to the starting line and started running shortly before. I started my tracking app and my watch. I made sure to start super slow. I was slowed down by the crowd going around a puddle and stayed at that slower pace. I kept my heart rate in the lower zones.
I got into a rhythm easily. A friend of mine told me that what makes this event special was the energy of the crowd. She was right. As yucky out as it was, a lot of people came out to cheer us on. I must’ve hi-fived at least a dozen people throughout the race. I cheered on the wheelchair race as they passed. There was a lot of excitement.
I ran comfortably, at tempo, gradually picking up the pace with each passing mile. I was cheered on by my friends through the RaceJoy app. Originally my husband was going to hang out at the park while I ran but it was so nasty out that we decided it was best that he didn’t. He said he would try to get to a spot that he could cheer me as I passed but we weren’t sure where because of all of the road closures.
It was exhilarating to run on the recently paved highway that was closed to cars. Never did I imagine that I’d be able to run on an actual highway. I glanced at the course before the event but I didn’t really examine it. The exit on the highway that we would get off was my exit. I was hoping to see my husband there.
I made my way to the offramp. As I came around the turn I saw spectators awaiting their loved ones. Among those spectators were my husband and stepson under my big umbrella. I was extremely happy to see them! I waved, giggled, and blew them a kiss as I passed. That filled me with new energy. It was mile 10, I was heading into the final 5k of the race. I picked up the pace. I was running considerably faster but sustainable for a few miles. I was passing a lot more people than I had been throughout the race. I took that as a sign that they had used up their energy whereas I had saved mine.
In the final mile I picked up the pace again into my race pace. My knee had been bothering me since around mile 5 but it wasn’t horrible. It was a pain I could run through. Little did I know the finish line was about 2 tenths of a mile further than it was supposed to be. It took everything I had but I kept the pace all the way to the finish but I did not do a finishing sprint. Seconds before I reached the timing mat they announced my name as a finisher. I had completed something that I had wanted to do for some time. I faced a challenge that once seemed impossible. I crossed something off of my bucket list. Most importantly, I completed something that I began!
Am I happy about my accomplishment? yes, I am. I overcame a physical challenge complete with an obstacle. Have I accomplished enough? no, I only completed half a marathon. Am I thinking about the next challenge? yes! I’m getting the care I need for my knee. Once my knee pain has been resolved, I’ll resume endurance run training. I have my eyes set on a marathon that takes place at the end of the season. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it but I won’t do it unless I can do it without pain. I’ll keep you posted……
Congratulations to all of the participants of the Long Island Marathon Weekend, Ironman Virginia, AquaBike Worlds, GFNY, as well as all the participants of the several bike races that took place in the tri state area. Be proud and happy of all that you had accomplished and don’t be afraid of new challenges!