Sweet Success

12 weeks of training…

5 days a week…

Getting up at 5:30 am…

Increased mileage every week…

A freak stint in a neck brace…

Ankle issues…

2 long runs in the rain…

Powerbars, Clif Bars, Tigers Milk…

Gatorade…

Body Glide…

Hills… hills… hills…

It all leads up to my first half marathon. I couldn’t have asked for a better race than the inaugural San Diego Half Marathon. It was a mostly-scenic run (there were some industrial parts) and the event was VERY organized. I organize a lot of fundraising events so I’m a stickler for details. From the online registration, parking info, maps, online tracking, awesome EPIC Stadium finish, all the way to retrieving my bag at the end, it was one of THE BEST executed events that I’ve ever attended.

Back to the running: In high school and part of college, I ran recreationally and enjoyed it a lot. But between then and 2010, I convinced myself that I couldn’t run. I had a bad left ankle sprain in college that was not treated properly and developed into scar tissue. It gave me problems every time I tried some sort of running. In 2010, my friend mentioned that she was going to do a mud run in Del Mar. I’ve always wanted to do a mud run and she invited me to join her team. I had a lot of fun and realized that the whole running—even through mud—wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. From there, we planned to run an Earth Day 10k in Carlsbad on April 2011 and signed up for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in June 2011. I got fitted for proper shoes and then that’s when the training really started. Long story short – my friend had to drop out which left me to train on my own. I ran both the Earth Day and Pendelton Mud Runs. 6.2 miles were tiring to me — I couldn’t imagine doubling the distance.

I ran on and off… mostly aimlessly and without my heart in it. Then I met a few people who have completed many half and full marathons and I thought, “I need to get there… I need a goal and a plan.” A friend posted a link on facebook to the San Diego Half Marathon and I immediately signed up to whip me into shape. I psyched myself up for the training, and vowed to follow Hal Higdon’s half marathon Novice 2 plan. It worked out well with my schedule and to my surprise, my body was responding! I had a goal to run 11:00 min/mi at the half marathon but found myself clocking a faster pace during my long runs.

I learned a lot about myself, about life, about running, nutrition, pain… I get it now.  I get why people do this. It felt good to run. It felt good to reach a destination. It felt good to get somewhere and back by the power of my legs.

Oh and that freak stint in a neck brace… it was my kid’s fault.  I lost a week of training.

My race went well. I finished in 2:20:06 – faster than my initial 11:00 min/mi goal but slower than I anticipated since I clocked a 10:15 min/mi pace on my 12 mile run. A growling stomach before the race should have been a hint of the aftermath. I couldn’t get my spare banana right before the race — I had already checked my bag. So I ran on empty. I drank Ultima replenisher at the aid stations (which left a bad taste in my mouth) then had some GU at mile 8.5 which was gross. Niether of those sat well in my stomach and gave me problems at mile 9 to the end of the race.

The finish line couldn’t have been a more welcome sight. Running into Petco Park was awesome — the crowd cheering, with my family right there cheering me on. I somehow got the energy to sprint to the finish. I think my race photos prove it… they were terrible at the finish line. I nearly fainted going up some stairs and was in bed for the rest of the day. I should have stuck to what I trained with — Gatorade and Powerbars. Lesson learned.

My husband put together a montage of photos of me at the finish, what a sweet guy. See, I finally got my banana.

This is not my last half-marathon. Am I ready to do a full marathon? Maybe I’ll wait until I can dedicate a good block of time for my long runs.

The most inspiring part of the race was the last finisher — Victor Diaz, legally blind and walking with a blind cane, finished the half marathon to a standing ovation. Moral of the story… don’t convince yourself that things are impossible.