Um. Y’all? As of late Sunday morning, I became a half marathoner, thanks to The Louisiana Marathon (The Half)!
I’m sure many of you knew just how nervous I was about this race. My last run was terrible…..9.4 miles and my pace was embarrassing. I thought for sure I’d get swept. For sure.
I had various dreams the week of the race, proving how random and crazy my subconscious is. Here’s two that I can still remember:
- One was about how they closed the course for 2 hours to allow Mike the Tiger (LSU’s mascot) to go for his morning walk on the campus streets. I remember being at mile 9 and feeling great…then we got a text 2 hours later that we had 30 minutes left to finish the race or you’d get no medal.
- Another was about how I ended up waking up on time, but I just couldn’t get moving (hate those dreams). By the time I started to leave the house, it was 6:50 and the race was going to start at 7!
Crazy, stupid dreams. None of them ended with me in a medal. :-\ It was really messing with me, mentally.
Also, at the expo on Friday, I wore BOOTS. Stupid stupid stupid. I ended up with some blisters on my feet, and I texted my friend hoping that it wasn’t a bad sign. Don’t wear boots (no matter how comfy you think they are) to an expo. ::sigh::
Saturday night, I laid out everything that I would need on race day, so I could just wake up, eat my banana with PB, get dressed and be done. It’s a tip that I’ve read on blogs, and I’m so glad I did. One less thing to worry about!
On Sunday, my husband and I went downtown, found a great parking spot, and I slowly worked my way to the starting line with him. My husband was SO awesome for going with me at 5:30am. I saw a few friends who were also doing the half, and before we all knew it, it was time to line up for the start. My old college roommate, Sarah, generously offered to run the whole race with me. She wasn’t looking to PR (thank goodness), and since this was her 10th half marathon, I was relieved to have someone with me who has done this rodeo before.
The half marathon basically went from downtown Baton Rouge, to LSU campus and back. At least that’s what I told myself to make 13.1 miles seem less daunting.
I’m going to admit right now that mile 1 was terrible. TERRIBLE. I think that mile 1 for me is one of the hardest miles to run in any training run/race. Everything is screaming at me to stop now, and my pace was looking terrible. I seriously thought…well, that’s it. I’m gonna end up swept after mile 1. That smile below is relief…SWEET relief. I hate mile 1 forever and ever. (Trust me, I’m not alone…google it. Mile 1 stinks.)
Mile 2 wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the darn overpass that we had to run on. That bridge killed me for the 5K last year, so I was ready for it. My strategy was to walk the up and run the down. It worked out OK for me, since I didn’t feel too too bad afterwards. Just in case, though, I ended up eating a couple of Gu Chomps, and downing some Powerade at the water station (I did this every 2 miles).
Once mile 3 hit, I was sort of in the zone. I was making great time (for me, that is), and my muscles were no longer in pain. Look at that cheesy ol’ grin! 5k down, 10 to go! I also saw a good friend in college who made a sign for me! Definitely a pepper upper!
I felt like this until about mile 7.
At mile 7, my left ankle was super sore. I have ankle issues from an old injury in high school, so I have to wear shoes with more support. They usually do the trick, but I think running the roads with those potholes in the Garden District finally caught up to me. Thankfully, my best friend came to see me at this point, and we talked a good bit, while walking of course.
At mile 8, my feet started to rub. Even though I used Body Glide, and tied my shoes on tightly, I felt the pain in my heels. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when those shoes came off.
As you can see here, I’m running in place for the mile 9 marker. I reached a point where if I stopped, I had a feeling things were going to cramp. So, no stopping!
Mile 9 & 10 were pretty rough, but what kept me going is that after mile 10, we were going to meet up with the marathoners, which was SO inspiring. Also, after mile 10, like my friend Sarah said, would be the longest distance I’ve ever done! Just after mile 10, I saw my college friend again who made another sign for me! I mean c’mon…the support was AWESOME.
At mile 11, I saw my best friend one last time for a quick high five and hug (sorry it was probably so sweaty!). Right after, I used the last burst of energy I had before facing the same overpass. Once the bridge came, I was really dragging. It burnt out my muscles, and I didn’t think I had anything left in me.
Thankfully, at that point, the marathon and half marathon course merged until the finish, so I ended up running near some of the faster marathoners. I thought they would give me funny looks since I was really hobbling the next couple of miles, but quite a few of them slowed down to pat me on the back, told me I was doing a great job and encouraged me to keep going. (I definitely told them great job as well….because 26.2 miles…holy moly!)
At mile 12, I was still a tired, limpy mess. Right after the bridge, there were some ladies with coke & king cake for the runners. I didn’t think much of it, but my friend Sarah insisted that a tiny bit of coke would give me a quick jolt to finish.
Oh man, my left ankle was sore again, and my feet were on fire. At one point, my foot started feeling like pins and needles (which I kind of appreciated). It was the LONGEST MILE EVER. I guess this was my wall. Sarah kept encouraging me (thank goodness) and we joked with a few cops to just drop us off at the finish festival haha! There were also a ton of race finishers walking to their cars who were so encouraging! I also saw another friend and her husband who had finished the half earlier but stuck around to cheer on friends who were still doing the half/full, and they gave me a quick high five before I turned that last corner to the finish.
We turned the last corner to where I could see the finish line before mile 13, and my friend Sarah said I HAD to run in for the finish. So, I sprinted (at least in my head I sprinted haha). NO IDEA where that came from….maybe the coke did the trick? LOL! Seriously….but I ran as hard and as fast as I could for the finish line!
I just teared up and smiled. (hopefully there’s no picture of that ugly mess haha) I was in disbelief. I took a water, banana and chocolate milk and thanked Sarah for being there for me that day. I really didn’t think I had 13 in me after mile 1. She reminded me that I needed to go get my medal (oops!), so we picked up our medals and took our pictures.
Here’s the Garmin break-down of things. You can definitely see that mile 12-13 was the worst. :-\ Also, for 13 til the finish, I forgot to turn off my Garmin at first, so the time isn’t super accurate. My official chip time was 3:39.
Here’s my new medal next to the 5K medal that I earned last year in the same race series. It’s a reminder that the human body is an amazing thing. Truly amazing. Back when I weighed 298 lbs., I had no idea my body was capable of a half marathon. No idea.
Now, the big question. Will I do it again? I think I want to, but it would definitely have to be at a lighter weight. I really loved how the half marathon varied from a 5K. At random points, we’d all talk to one another about our running journeys, and there was a small group of us who sort of stuck together. It felt like a small community that morning. I really liked it!
I will also admit that this race was perfectly organized. I loved how gorgeous the race course is, and everything in my experience went off without a hitch. Thanks to the organizers and the multiple volunteers who made The Louisiana Marathon possible!
Also, a huge thanks to:
- my husband Joey, who sent me encouraging texts every mile and dealt with my complaints during training
- my family for their supportive calls/texts
- my friend Sarah, for running the entire half with me and dealing with my weak points…there were a lot of them
- my friend Jenna for being there during those tough mile points and just being the most amazing best friend a gal could ever ask for!
- my friend Melanie, who constantly dealt with my half marathon questions and doubts haha!
- other friends who made signs or gave me a high five during the race
- my food blogger friends, especially Kristen, Katrina & Sarah for their guidance, texts, FB messages, etc.
- you guys!! Oh man….your comments/tweets/emails have been amazing! Y’all are just so kind!
- and…..last but not least, those random strangers who had no idea who I was, but knew I needed a pat on the back or a “You Can Do It!” after mile 11.
(I hope I didn’t forget anyone…)
I will never forget this race. Ever.
DISCLAIMER: Now, of course before you start any type of workout program, it’s best to check with your doctor. I’m not a doctor…just some random blogger. Seriously, check with your doctor before taking on a workout program, especially if you have had injuries or you’re overweight. Running can be hard on your body, so you want to make sure you don’t make anything worse or hurt yourself…period!