October 17, 2011

i did it.

As of Saturday at 9:10am I can officially say I've completed a half marathon.  Woot woot!


Friday night I was freaking out.  No joke, my heart was pounding, I was completely anxious and stressed out.  I don't know why I got so worked up.  I kept trying to remind myself that I wasn't in it to win anything, it was just a run.  I've been training for 12 weeks, I would make it to the end.  I could do it.  It took me forever to get to sleep, and I woke up before my 5:30AM alarm still incredibly anxious.

For me there were two tough decisions that morning, what to wear and what to eat.  What to wear was tough, because it was definitely the coldest morning that I had been out for a run (I think it was 48 degrees at the race start time) so I felt like I wanted to wear long sleeves.  But I also didn't want to overheat and regret my decision.  However the hour by hour said it would only be about 54 degrees by 10am so I figured the long sleeves were probably an ok choice.  I got a little warm, but nothing terrible at all.  As far as what to eat, I was worried to have too much in my stomach, but in the end went with what I always eat in the morning, a slice of peanut butter toast.

My parents were at my house by 6am.  My lovely father drew the short stick (ok he is just awesome like that) and accompanied me to the race start.  Traffic was a little rough and we didn't really get there in time for me to use the bathroom.  Thankfully it never ended up being a problem (holy cow the lines for the porta pottys during the race were long!).  I followed the crowd and made my way to the start.  The race started right on time (7:05am) but it took me almost five minutes to actually cross the start line.


I really wanted to follow a pacer because pacing is something I am pretty bad at, but I was too far back when I started.  Thankfully I managed to start off at a decent pace (not too fast, not too slow), and the first two miles FLEW by.  Really, I felt like the mile markers had to be wrong because it went by so quickly.  I wasn't going super fast or anything, there was just enough going on to keep me distracted.  However shortly after the 2 mile mark we hit the hills.  The first set of hills was AWFUL.  I'm pretty sure I wanted to die at mile 3.  It showed in my pace, the first 5K was my slowest portion.

Miles 5-8 were pretty nice, no crazy hills, everything was nice and gradual.  Enough downhill for me to catch my breath and refocus.  Right around mile 7 I was surprised to see Christopher, Ryann and my mom.  We had planned on them being between mile 8&9, but they had made it a bit earlier.  It put a smile on my face to know they were there.  I needed that bit of happiness, because miles 8-10 were a long (relatively gradual) uphill.  It wasn't near as bad as the first, but come on, two miles of hills is a lot when you've already run 8.  I finally saw my dad again around mile 9, and Chris, Ryann and my mom were shortly after him on the other side of the street.  I was at the point where I was kind of wanting to die, but Ryann gave me the biggest smile and a huge high five when I passed her.  It put a little extra juice in my tank.


I walked for about 30 seconds through every aid station, alternating between water and gatorade.  I also walked a bit up the first huge steep hill (again maybe 30 seconds) and a little bit just before mile 10.  At that point I was messing with my freaking music.  When I started my playlist it shuffled a bit, which was incredibly lame because I had planned out when I wanted to hear certain songs.  So I needed some music to pump me up but it wasn't happening.

After the 10th mile it was more or less smooth sailing to the finish in regards to the hills.  The last three miles of the race were downhill or flat, with only a tiny uphill here and there.  I was so excited to make it to that point that I stepped on the gas.  Probably a little too much, because by mile 12 I was wanting to die again.  But I channeled Amy's post, and her advice to just imagine my family at the finish line, and pushed on.  When I finally saw the finish line I used up everything I had left and gunned it to the end.  The announcer said my name over the speaker and I just about cried.  I couldn't believe I did it.  As I crossed under the finish line the clock read 2:04:52.


Before the race started I had a three part goal.  The first was to just finish the race, that in itself is obviously an accomplishment.  The second part was to finish in 2:30.  I was giving myself some leeway for the hills (see the elevation map below, ugh, rough!) and the fact that I had never run 13.1 miles before and didn't know how it would go.  The third part was to finish in 2:15.  Just over a 10 min mile.  I was pretty sure I could do that, but again, I just wanted to finish.  Secretly though?  I wondered if I could finish in 2 hours or less.  I can maintain a 9 minute mile on the treadmill for a decent amount of time, so I thought if I pushed myself I might be able to do it.

Screen shot 2011-10-16 at 9.49.02 PM

I knew that it had taken me a while to cross the start line, but I wasn't sure how long.  So the two hour mark was going to be pretty close.  I didn't look up the results right away, and instead went to breakfast with my family (after I quit feeling like I might die of course :o).  Holy cow breakfast tasted so good.  I ate a huge plate of eggs, bacon and french toast (plus some potatoes from my mom's plate).  I was starving.  My stomach is definitely not used to having that much at once so it was probably a bad choice, but man, it really tasted so good.


We went back home and I jumped in a very hot shower.  That also was amazing.  When I was finally all clean and ready to collapse I got on the computer to check my time.


Obviously I beat my three part goal, and by a good amount.  I was ecstatic about that.  But really?  Only 33 seconds away from being sub 2?  I won't lie.  I am disappointed.  Yes, I am proud that I did the race, my time is great.  Especially for someone who just started running in March.  I know I should be so so happy.  But it just leaves me wondering if I had any left to give.  What if I would have just let my stupid playlist do whatever.  Could I have run any faster?  I'm trying not to dwell on it, and just enjoy what I've accomplished.  But it is just my personality. 

Please nobody take this as me thinking anything over 2 hours or 2.5 hours or 3 hours or whatever isn't good enough.  Running is completely personal and your best is your best and that is amazing.  Running isn't for the faint of heart!  It takes a lot of motivation and dedication and will power to get out there day after day.  If you're putting one foot in front of the other and moving your body, you are doing great!  I'm striving for my personal best and I don't feel as though I've gotten there just yet.

I finished the first 5K in 28:59 (9:21 pace).  The 10K in 56:11 (9:04 pace, that I was DANG proud of :o).  Overall I was the 1694th person to cross the finish line (not sure on the total number of runners).  I was 143/610 of females 25-29.  627/2809 out of all females.  My overall pace was 9:14 per mile.  Yep, not too shabby.

With all that I am definitely determined to run another half, and come in under two hours.  I had a great time, and even though I thought my legs were going to fall off on Saturday, yesterday I felt pretty good.  I might go for a short easy run on Tuesday or Wednesday, but I haven't really decided my plan as far as fitness and running goes from here on out.  I need to get on that, I function much better with a plan.

And something to train for.  Any suggestions for races (5K or 10K) in the KC area in the next couple of months?  Anyone want to be my running buddy?  :o)

Thank you so much for all of the support through out this whole process/experience.  You all have given me tons of motivation and inspiration and I really appreciate it!

In the next coming weeks I want 'Move it Monday' to be what you want to hear about.  So if you have any health/food/fitness/weight loss/running related questions that you want me to answer (that relate to me and my journey, obviously, I am NOT an expert by any means!) please please please ask in the comment section or over on my facebook page.

Got a health or fitness related post?  Link up below!


Krissy said...

Awesome job! Wow- that is a GREAT time for your first half! Congrats!!!

Amy said...

Congratulations!! That time is amazing! This post makes me excited to pop this baby out so I can start training again :)

Kalen - Kentucky Cupcake said...

Congrats! It has been awesome following your running journey so far, and I know it's just beginning.

ashley (redonk runner) said...

You rocked your 1st half!!!! I know it sucks to get sooo close to sub-2, but that just means you will KILL your goal next time! I've loved following as you develop I to a runner! :)

Jennifer said...

great job!! You are speedy!! :)

Kelly said...

Way to rock it girl!! That is an awesome time! I have my eyes on the Georgia Half in March if you're interested in traveling! Too bad we're so far away, I definitely need the motivation!

Meredith said...

Congrats! What an awesome accomplishment!

I need to re-run a 5k. I want to have a happy race experience, lol!

Kelly Janowski said...

Awesome work! My first half is at the end of the month and I'm also hoping for a sub-2 time.

Tysie said...

Congratulations! You are inspiring!!!

EMC said...

Congrats, that is so awesome! I just started running (ok, more like jogging), and reading your posts make me want to try for a 5K. Congrats again, this is a huge accomplishment

Amy said...

Hey thanks for the shout out!! That made me feel so good! I think your time is just totally awesome!! I think I may do Rock the Park half in KC in April, have you heard anything about that one? Congrats again, take it easy this week, my running coach (who just happens to also be my best friend) said it's best to do very moderate exercise the week after a race so you don't injure yourself.

Dawn said...

I'm the same way! Obviously though, I haven't done a 10k or a half, but I know I want to train for those. Maybe you could do a mini triathlon. I miss being out in the midwest because you can run for so much longer, out here in Idaho the stop having racing mid November beacause it snows as much as 4-5 feet! I just told myself that I would need to just get cold weather running gear, ice cleats and just get out there and do it anyways!

Congrats on your half and your time! I'm still wrapping my head around my 5k haha.

Sharstin said...

way to go girly! you achieved your goals--and then some! and i really think that you learn something about yourself as a runner with every race, and the great thing about running is that it is so individual, and it is your pushing yourself, and getting faster. I have some killer speed training, tempo, and hill repeat workouts i will have to send you way--:)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on completing the race-what an inspiration you are!

CoreysGal said...

Awesome job! Man, when you go for something, you go hard! I cannot believe you just took up running 6 months ago. You are definitely a success story for anyone that worries they could never be a runner!

Faith said...

that is so awesome! congrats! you look amazing too! can't believe you did this in the amount of time you have! it is incredible!

Nicole said...

Amazing, Ashley. I've loved following you along the way. I've sucked at blogging myself lately but keep track of your daily. I am running the Rock n' Roll have in Phoenix and have started my training - up to 6.5. It's going to be tough running my long runs in the winter in Missouri! I'm running a 5K in Zona Rosa this summer. Not even sure what it's called- benefiting a food bank. I need all the short races I can get. Again, good job and congrats!

Nicole said...

Not this summer...this Sunday. Geez!

christa said...

Awesome job Ashley!! Wish I lived closer, I'd be your running buddy, I've been lacking motivation!!

Midwest Mrs said...

Yeah girl!!! Nice job!!! What a huge accomplishment! Regardless of the time, you crushed your goal! You are an inspiration!

Carrie said...

congrats and good job!

and being disappointed about being 30 seconds over 2 hours? i know what you mean and i call it the "deal or no deal" syndrome. it's like you've just won $750,000 but you're sad about it because you could have had a million. ;-)

but really, good job on your race! that is seriously amazing!

EmilyE said...

Way to go!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! You should be so proud!

BTW, I totally drove into the marathon area (from out of town) and it was crazy down there. It totally hit me that this is what you have been talking about.