Saturday, April 7, 2012

Thirteen point One

I started running in September of 2010 with a Couch to 5K program through my employer. To say I got hooked on running is an understatement. I've run 11 races since then (mostly 5Ks, a couple 4-4.5 milers). For the last year (plus) I've been training toward running a half marathon, and today I completed it! It was originally scheduled for last July; however, an IT Band injury prevented me from completing that race.
I run and train with an amazing bunch of people from Kennebec Valley Coaching (under the watchful eye of our Coach Amy Lawson). Joining this group has been a game changer. I've made new friends that share a passion for running but don't take themselves too seriously as to not have a blast while doing it. We had 10+ runners at today's race. Most ran the 5K, for a couple of them it was their first 5K, and several more set PRs. We support each other and run together, get each other out of our heads when we start to obsess, and most of all cheer each other on and celebrate successes together.

A quick recap of my race. I've been nervous (read "terrified") for days now. I know in my head that I've done the training and am physically ready for this distance, but as distance runners will tell you... running is 90% mental. Last night I worked off some nervous energy by helping Amy out with the new C25K group (all 70 of them!!!). It was a great idea too, it allowed me to loosen up my legs and have fun (not to mention it was a great reminder of where I was not too long ago). I started a mini carb load the day before and capped off the evening with a nice pasta dinner. My gear bag was packed (and checked and repacked several times), I had my clothes laid out, and my Garmin charged. On race day morning I woke refreshed, banana toast and almond milk for breakfast and some Nuun electrolyte in my water. I was still a bundle of nerves once I arrived. It was such a relief to see all my KVC pals when I got to our table though! Lots of chitter chatter and support and jokes to help ease our nerves.

Once the race started (late) I set out at a comfortable pace (I had decided to go tech-naked... no Garmin or anything). I wanted to just run and complete it, not obsess over pace and time. I would pace myself by listening to my body. I tend to be a super consistent runner (pace-wise), I pretty much start and end at the same pace (except the very end, I always like to push it as much as I can and empty the tank at the very end). I noticed at about mile 7 I was starting to get a blister on the arch of my left foot. I'd brought other shoes but opted for these ones because they were newer and I'd "retired" the ones I'd run my 11 mile training runs in. In retrospect, I should have worn those ones, I had them in my gear bag. I was happy to see a friendly face at about mile 9.5. My fellow KVCer Sue was there to cheer me one and see how I was feeling. That kind of support put a little extra pep in my step. At mile 10 I was pleasantly surprised to see my time (1:53:10). I was right on pace to meet my goal time of sub 2:30. Unfortunately, mile 11 came and I hit a wall. The wind became very strong and remained so for the remainder of the race. Those last 2.1 miles were BRUTAL for me. I had to take a couple short walk breaks which is really unusual for me. The race is at an old Naval Air Station so the last mile literally goes down a runway. The wind was so intense I felt like I was going backwards! With about .75 miles to go, another friendly face was there to greet me, Karen! She paced me until I only had .1 to go. The last .2 miles I was able to really pick up my pace and finish strong with my coach Amy running along side me and my KVC buddies cheering me on. I was so excited to see that finish line and get that medal. I was actually a bit overcome by the whole thing.

I never would have imagined I'd run a half marathon (and love it)! Running is a funny sport; anyone can do it and your successes are unique to you. I am registered for a 15K and 2 more half marathons this summer. My ultimate goal is to complete a marathon and I'm eying the Maine Marathon at the end of Sept. Completing my first half marathon was a huge confidence builder and brings me one step closer to my dream.

If you have ever even considered running (even just a little) I highly suggest you do it. The C25K program is free on Coolrunning.com and is a great way to ease into the sport. If you are in the Greater Augusta area then come check out Kennebec Valley Coaching, we're a fun bunch and we run with all levels and abilities!