Monday, November 15, 2010

One girl running her heart out

Mile 6.75 the cramp started.  Slowly, it progressed up my ribcage.  I fought it.  Breathing deeper, I hoped it would just disappear, but I knew the pain all too well: hunger.  I didn't want to eat too much, as runner's diarrhea is one of the main causes people have to stop racing.  No way in hell was the cramp gonna win... I'd come too far.
Eight weeks before, my training for a half marathon began.  Legs to concrete, feet into my new orange kicks, brain clocked into power mode; all to run 13.1 miles on Oct. 3, 2010.  I trained alone.  I ran anywhere from 35-50 miles a week, with cross-training on the bike and elliptical.  I trained until my body could not train anymore.  It was game time.
At 4:07 a.m., my body got out of bed.  I had programed myself to run this race, and my body took over. The race started at 7 a.m.  I ate at 5 a.m.  Two pieces of bread with peanut butter and one banana.  Water, and Gatorade, all drank on a schedule of 15-minute, sip increments.   Again, runner's diarrhea happens when too much water is consumed before the race.  The body loses control of well, certain bodily functions when running this much.   
I remember nothing until mile 6.75.  I know that my body was moving, carrying me across land.  Gliding me down the road, up and down steep hills, turns and bends.  It was the perfect day at 50 degrees, sunshine and a little breeze.  The perfect morning until 6.75 turned into 6.89, and the cramp progressed to both sides.  I needed food, energy.  I needed some power.

Every mile there was water and Gatorade.  Mile 7 saved my life-- "Hammertime."  Literally, the honey-like, gel energy substance named "Hammertime," that I squeezed out of a green packet saved me.  Instantly, the pain turned into "hammertime."

Mile 8 to 10 blurred in my legs and knees.  I never thought I would see the sign for mile 10.  The most I had trained for at one time was 10 miles.  The miles after 10 were a mystery.

At the mile 10 sign, my body knew what it saw.  Ten miles down with only three to go.  Again, literally-- hammertime.  I heard from another runner that we were at a 8:57 mile pace.

I almost fainted.  I didn't know I could really run that fast.  My goal for the half marathon was 1:57:00.  I had no clue if I could actually make this time.  I had no clue if I could actually run that fast, without stopping, without injury and without stopping from being too afraid of running my little heart out.

But I did just that-- I ran my heart out.  And quickly.

For 13.1 miles, I ran up and down hills, all while carrying the solid pace of 8:57, finishing with a time of 1:56:59.  The last mile was a complete uphill incline.  I sprinted to the finish line.  I groaned and screamed till the very end.
I showed that last, one mile incline who was boss  

and more importantly,

I showed myself on that Sunday morning, that I could do anything I put my mind to.  
I ran and ran and I ran.  Out of 402 people overall, I finished 192nd.  Out of 180 women, I finished 58th. Somehow, I wasn't even sore.  Running has now taken me places I never knew I could go... and to answer the question you're all asking:  "I don't know if I'm running a full marathon anytime soon." ha :-)

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