Monday, October 20, 2014

I am a half-marathoner!

Yesterday, October 19, 2014, I became a half marathoner. After months of training, weeks of worrying, hours of doubt and anxiety, I crossed the start line AND the finish line.

In late 2013, I decided I wanted to do a half marathon and in January 2014, I signed up for the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon. I struggled with training, quit a plan, stopped running almost completely, and than somehow finished a second plan and made it to the starting line.

On Saturday, October 18th, I headed downtown (Detroit) with my fiance to head to the Expo and pick up my packet. The minute I walked into the Expo, everything started feeling real. I wouldn't call it nerves, but I wouldn't NOT call it nerves either. It was a strange mix of excitement, nerves, anxiety, and everything else you could possibly feel.

After the expo, we went to our hotel and relaxed for awhile before going and getting something to eat. I decided on a hamburger and fries for dinner, because it never usually upsets my stomach (more on that later!)

I ended up falling asleep super early, around 8:30, which was great, because I worried I would be to nervous to sleep. Before sleep, I made sure I had everything I needed for the morning laid out and ready to go.

Morning of, I woke up at around 4:30, a half hour before my alarm was going to go off. I laid in bed for a bit than got up and started getting ready. I was strangely calm, the nerves seemed to go away, I knew there was NOTHING I could do at this point to further myself or get myself more ready, at this point, it was what it was. I had some breakfast, got dressed slowly, and put on more Body Glide than I think I have used my entire training time, and got ready to leave the room, but not before some selfies...

Our hotel was about a mile away from the starting line so my boyfriend and I headed down there, and it.was.cold!!! Starting time temps were around 33ยบ, far colder than I had originally thought. Thank goodness for my fiance, who suggested, at the last minute before we left the house, to grab another long sleeve shirt. I ended up keeping that shirt, the jacket in the photo, and a tank on for nearly half the race, the long sleep shirt came off around mile 5 or 6.

Getting corraled up was such a exciting experience. There was so much excitement and the energy was awesome! My fiance gave me a big hug and looked me right in the eyes before getting behind the fence and told me I was going to do great. That was when the water works started. I was finally here. Finally going to do this. There was not more preparing, there was no more training, it was here.

One of the main reasons I wanted to do THIS race is that it has some special aspects to it, including an international half/full marathon, meaning you get to run both in the US and Canada, crossing the Ambassador Bridge and than coming back through the Tunnel, which is UNDERWATER. This race has international border crossing AND an underwater mile, how cool is that?! 

There is no feeling quite like running up a HUGE freaking hill, that leads you to the Ambassador Bridge, knowing that so few people ever get that experience. There isn't anything like looking out and seeing Canada and the US from the bridge, as the sun is rising. It took my breath away, and I'm fairly certain that wasn't JUST because of the HUGE freaking hill........did I mention the hill? Holy hell, the hill!

The first 5 miles of my race, which are usually my most difficult, were my easiest this time. The energy of the crowd got me going. But as time went on, I wasn't as much a part of the crowd, since I was further back, and I started to lag a bit. My worst mile was mile 8-9ish, which was the underwater mile. I walked the majority of it, was starting to have a lot of pain, and the worst thing happened.......I had to poop. As I was half way through the tunnel, the pain in my belly couldn't be ignored, so as soon as I got out of the tunnel, I bolted to the porta-potty. The LAST thing I wanted to do during my race was poop, but it happened. and it couldn't be stopped. But I did my business, pulled up my big girl panties (literally) and got back on the road! But after that stop, I slowed down a lot. I was still in a bit of pain in my stomach and I was just plain getting tired.

The last 3 miles seemed to go by pretty quick, but I had to continually remind myself not to stop MOVING. Over and over again I had to keep saying "Keep moving, keep moving, don't stop, keep moving, keep moving, if you keep moving, you will be there sooner, keep moving"

And than suddenly, the final stretch was within sight, I could SEE the finish line. There it was. Throughout my race, my fiance, best friends and parents let me know they were standing on the right side, near corral C, to look for them. As I got closer, the water works started again. I couldn't wait to see there faces, it'd been over 3 hours since I saw my fiance. And than suddenly, a neon green and neon yellow sign popped up, that said "GO ABBY" and there, behind the signs, were the most important faces I could see. And I started crying, tears streaming, paired with the biggest smile I could muster. I ran by them and onto the finish. I was running so fast, I was so happy to be done, I was so proud of what I had accomplished. I crossed that line, and got that medal, and wanted to collapse! 

So it's over. After months and months of training, it's over. And I've never had such a feeling of pride. This is something that not EVERYONE has the guts to do, it's something that not everyone CAN do. and I both had the guts did it. The time didn't matter, it didn't matter I walked a lot, it didn't matter that I was in the second to slowest corral. It all didn't matter. What mattered was I finished, I accomplished what I set out to to do.

Now, I will continue repeating to myself that someday I will want to run again. That the pain will go away.