It was a pretty uneventful weekend…
OH WAIT THAT’S RIGHT–
I ran a half-marathon!!
After 77 days and 11 weeks of preparation, lots of running and tough motivation, some silly blogging, I’ve finally accomplished my goal.
I woke up yesterday morning with butterflies in my stomach. Saturday night found very little sleep, as I’d somewhat expected. My training plan explained that it’s more important that you get sleep *2* nights before the race because really, everyone’s nervous the night before the race and will inevitably be tossing and turning. I just couldn’t stop thinking: “I *know* I’ve prepared the best I could, but I just cannot fathom DOING this!”
But I woke up at 5:45 yesterday morning, turned on some JT to wake up my family and get myself pumped, made some coffee, drank my chia fresca that I’d made the night before, ate my bagel with almond butter and an apple, then headed off to the race.
Word for the wise: if you’re going to a race with 5,000 runners, there WILL be traffic, no matter how early you think you’ll be.
Fairfield had a sweet set up where you could park at the train station and shuttles would bring runners and spectators over to the beach. Oh yeah, the race started and ended on the beach. Thank God, too, because that 84 degree heat would have been unforgivable without the Long Island Sound breeze.
I made my way over on the shuttle, picked up my number (2453!!! my new lucky number), checked my bag, scrambled to find an open port-o-potty, and made it to the starting line with about 3 minutes to spare. But who’s counting?
It’s hard to describe how I was feeling when the announcer said “We are 30 seconds from starting, folks!” Somewhere between excitement, nerves, fear, and yet a sense of calm– I was ready to do this.
And off we went! I kept reminding myself during that first bit not to let my adrenaline get the best of me and to keep my pace– even if I felt unstoppable. That’s one thing that NMA always stresses to be aware of because you’ll be sorry for it 10 miles later. So I jaunted along that first mile, smiling at the spectators and their awesome signs (my favorite of which was a little girl holding a sign that said “Worst Parade EVER” lolz). I finished mile 1 in a little over 11 mintes: exactly on track. I wasn’t very thirsty but heard the voice in my head reminding me that the ideal is 1 cup of water every 15 minutes. In this heat, even with as much shade as there was, I knew it would be essential. You know what’s ridiculously hard? Drinking out of a paper cup while running. I’m putting it on my top 5 most challenging things list.
I had overheard someone saying at the starting line that there were 2 big hills at the beginning, so as I was running my second mile, I kept an eye out. Then there it was– a total monster. But whatever, I’ve climbed some huge hills in my town training, so I just went into it with a positive attitude. And then it was done!
I kept about the same pace and when I hit mile 7, I started to get excited. Over halfway there!!! AMAZING! Holy crap I’m half way to becoming a half-marathoner. But that means there’s still 6 to go… To keep my head in a positive place, I turned that around by saying yeah, then at the end of this mile it’ll only be 5, and then when I finish 9, just 4, then after that I’ll have done 10 which I’ve killed before, and it’ll be less than a 5k left!!
At mile 9, I remembered that I had gotten my period the day before. Oh yeah, I’d almost forgotten because in terms of my reproductive system, I felt physically awesome. Next port-o-potty I came upon, I stopped, took care of business (thank God for my waist pack and the room I had to bring stuff) and made my way. I hated to stop to waste probably 30 seconds of my time. But oh well!
The last 3 miles (or no man’s land, since never before had I run more than 10 miles), I started to feel like I really was about to finish a half-marathon. Except then every mile felt like they were taking forever. I kept thinking I’d be coming up on mile 11 when in reality it was probably only 10.3. But it really started to feel real when the spectators started saying things like, “this is the last corner!” “You have less than 2 miles!” “you’re about to do what you came here for!” And I was READY.
Suddenly I turn the corner and see the huge crowds. I can’t see the finish line though.
Embarrassing Caitlin moment: I saw the huge banner that was the starting line and in my moment of adrenaline thought that was the finish line. So I get that “sprint this last bit and give it all you got because it’s all you need!!!” run going and people are cheering, and then I pass through it, and everyone around me is still shuffling along. That’s when I see the huge firetruck ahead with the American flag and hear the announcer up *there*. Oh. Guess I need to find another energy store!
I did when at that moment I saw my mom and my sister cheering me on. I booked it until I crossed the line and then that was it. I DID IT!
Holy crap. I just ran a half-marathon. I actually started crying a little. Then I started to feel the muscles in my legs in a way that I never knew was possible. But then I realized that my mouth was crazy dry and my shorts were a mess, so I limped to the water station and the bathroom then reunited with my family. They were so proud of me and frankly, I was crazy proud of myself. I still am. I ran a half-marathon. WHOA!!!!
The saint that she is, my sister had my Vega bar waiting for me and I demolished it, as well as a banana and some “orange drink” that they had. I wish I had seen the baguettes they were giving out.
On our way back home, we grabbed smoothies at a cafe I had wanted to try called “Catch a Healthy Habit.” RIf you’re ever in Fairfield, GO THERE. I had a minty-chip smoothie with added avocado and protein. Deeeelish.
The rest of my day entailed a 3 hour car trip, bringing my sister to the doctor, and overall eating everything in sight. I literally could not be satiated. I can’t even begin to explain how much I ate. It got to the point where I was distressed at 10 last night because I just wanted to stop eating.I guess that’s what happens when you run for 2:27:58
After I watched Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon (arguably the most stressful event of my short life) I slept like I’d had anesthesia.
Things I’m really happy about re: the race:
1. I don’t think I could have been better nutritionally prepared. I didn’t feel any hunger or energy fatigue once throughout the race. Afterward, my stomach wasn’t the slightest bit upset (other than being completely ravenous all day) and there was no indigestion.
2. I never stopped jogging except for my 1 bathroom break and to actually get a sip of water without spilling it all over myself. Throughout the race, most people I saw stopped to walk parts of it. I’m sure their times weren’t any better or worse because of it since they were probably able to run faster when they were running, but my goal was endurance. I kept telling myself “I didn’t come to walk a half-marathon, I came to run it.”
3. I kept a positive attitude the whole time. At mile 2, I overheard a spectator saying “They look a lot different when they come around the second time,” meaning that when runners passed by his house again around mile 11, there was a lot less cheer. I told myself that I would look just as happy as I did the next time around, and that’s the attitude that fueled me throughout the race. I started with a smile and I finished with one too! And frankly I think it’s the only thing that pushed me to the end. I know that as soon as I would have told myself it was too hard or that I can stop if I want to, my body would have physically tired. Telling myself I could do it was what made it true.
4. My muscle soreness is almost entirely gone. My glutes and my quads are a little spicy, and my left knee is feeling slightly weak. But other than that, I’m sure I could do a full workout today (even though I’m not because hey my body deserves a break… it earned it!!) And I owe my body’s recovery 100% to my veganism and my training.
5. 3 months ago, I set a goal that seemed so far off and impossible. Running 4 miles was a stretch. But I did it! It’s proven to me that anyone can become a runner, or accomplish any goal they set– truly. I can remember 8th grade gym class, when we had to do “The Mile.” It was a treacherous day that I struggled to overcome and felt terrible after. But here I am, a half-marathoner!
Now I have to figure out what to accomplish next!
My half-marathon blogging is over, but I may just continue sharing my health and fitness stories on here. But we’ll see.
Because now, I’m taking a movie day. Brave? Good Will Hunting? This is the End? All of the above?
thanks for reading and letting me be weird and sweaty,