Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I finally feel like a real runner!

"We don't know who we are until we see what we can do"
**Martha Grimes**

Wow! What a great time! When I signed up for the Shamrock half marathon I didn't realize just how big it would be. There were over 6,200 finishers in the half alone and over 20,000 registered for the full and half combined.

We managed to get down to the area plenty early and found a great parking spot so we were in our coral about 30 minutes early despite running the kids through the restrooms and sending them off with Mr. Dave to watch movies in the van. The first 4 miles were great. We picked a nice cruising speed and ran past the first water stop and a few porta-potties. After about an hour of running we decided to stop at the next potty stop, but the line was really long and not moving at all. We continued on for another half mile and decided to sneak off into the woods rather than stand in line later. I think there were more people running in and out of the woods than there were in the lines!

The temps were good. It was pretty frosty at the start, so I had on my usual "around freezing" layers, which served me well for the entire run, even though it got up to nearly 50 by the end. I drenched in sweat, but never felt over heated and the frequent water and Gatorade stops kept us well hydrated (it will be a while before I can stomach lime Gatorade again). I really felt good the whole way, but running with Amy probably kept me from seriously overdoing it. We took a lot of walking breaks and near the end we were down to "walk to the next street sign, run to the next two." I kept grunting encouraging words, but it was getting harder and harder to get her to keep up with me. When we were about to turn the last corner I pointed out the camera man and told her we had to be running when we passed him! We passed the camera man and the finish line was in sight. Somewhere in the crowd we passed our kids, but we didn't see them. Holding our hands high over our heads we passed under the big balloon arch and over the finish line and heard the announcer call our names over the loud speaker, SO COOL!!!! The volunteers at the end were so great. By then they had been handing out medals, wraps, hats and goody bags for close to 2 hours, yet they all smiled and congratulated us like we were in the first group to pass through.

I'm more amazed now than ever at the people that can give a detailed description of each mile of a race, or even comment every few miles. The whole thing was kind of a big blur. There was the nice part through the woods, the part alone the beach, and the part down the main street that veered onto the boardwalk to the finish line. In the trees I felt great. Along the beach I was slowing but still feeling really prepared. By the street I was numb and focused on keeping my buddy going. Crossing the finish line I cried. I suppose if I had run alone I would have spent more time thinking about each mile and what I thought about it, but it wouldn't have been as fun.

As a runner with RA I felt like it gave me both a distinct advantage and disadvantage. The advantage was that I can totally tune out discomfort for a couple of hours and push myself to limits I would have never though possible. This is also the disadvantage. As I sit here feeling every inch of my body seethe at me for punishing it, I think I may have pushed too hard. I know if I had run alone I would have pushed harder and be worse off now and that scares me a little. I'm not sure I know when to slow down or quit.

Now I'm even more excited about the Outer Banks HM in November! I know I can do better and the 7+ months that I have to train will go fast. I want to run a race every month that my husband is deployed to Afghanistan, mostly 5K and 10K races, but I know I will need the distraction and shorter term goals to keep me from dwelling on his home coming date.

I finally really feel like a true runner!


Sarah said...

Hey there! Congrats again!!! YOu are definitely a real runner. :) I am similar to you...races end up a bit of a blur for me. Sounds like you had a great finish!

Clare said...

nice! yeah, i can never do detailed race reports either...ummm, it was long nad painful? enough said! but you definitely get to call yourself a runner now so BELIEVE IT! i truly believe exercise (vigourous, like what you're doing) is the BEST thing for RA. do you have an alternative (swimming, cycling) for days when the feet are too sore?

Sherri said...

wahoo!! Good for you! that's terrific. I only had mile by mile because of my garmin. I remember bits and pieces. It was such a rush.