Okay, So here's the recap of how today went.
I got woken up bright and early this morning, like 3:00 old time, by a drunk marine who was running around the hotel on our floor pounding on doors, apparently confused. His eyes looked wild, and he was looking around a lot. After the 2nd time he did it, I called the desk and asked them to send security up to deal with it. He did it a third time and I said, "Dude, stop, wrong room!"
Then, at 4:00 new time my wake up call came in, a full hour early, even though I clarified, "5:00 new time" so I set the alarm on my phone for 5:00 and went back to sleep, then slept through it, and didn't wake up until 5:39. Jumped into a quick shower, got dressed and ready and headed out to the race. I got there and checked in, picked up my race number put my race shirt in the car w/Barney. I stopped at the porta pottie and headed to the start line, which wasn't very well marked AT ALL. At 3 minutes before the walker start myself and 3 other girls just started walking to the start line since no one had announced we should, and we wanted to be ready to go. We got race instructions, including "Stay to the right", "Move out of the way for the runners", "Don't turn unless you see a volunteer telling you to". These made me wonder how well the race was marked and I quickly found out exactly what the issue was.
So they sounded the Starting Air Horn, and we all took off. I jogged for a while, then started walking, and maintained that for quite a while. In the first 3 miles you go up and over 2 bridges. I came up and over the first bridge and when I got to the bottom on the other side, I saw a 1 mile sign, which seemed pretty far, but about 100 yards further down saw a mile 2 sign, and a water stop. All of the race information indicated water stops every 2 miles, so I thought, "Wow, I'm really moving out." I even asked the folks working at the water stop and they said, "Yep, mile 2". Looked at my watch, saw 20:22 and thought, "is that even possible? Two 10 minute miles right out of the gate?!?! The resounding answer I figured out later on was NO!!!! As the second bridge comes to an end, the traffic needs to be able to exit to the right, and racers are going straight. NOT GOOD. I was so nervous about someone coming speeding along and taking out some runners. I heard the air horn to start the runners when I was between miles 3 and 4 and knew they were coming. After mile 3, we hit the cobblestone roads along the water front in Wilmington....not a good thing when you have notoriously bad ankles. I made it through unscathed and continued on. I got water at mile 4 and pushed on. Between miles 4 and 5 The runners caught me. They were CRUISING!!! I spent miles 5-9 saying consistent "thank you"s to runners who came by, gave me thumbs up, congratulations, encouragement, way to go's, etc. I was humbled by the number of them that took the time to encourage me. None of them HAD to do it, but maybe 50-100 did. It really did make me very proud.
Now, if you have never run the Battleship half, let me say that Greenfield lake, which you run around, is apparently 4-1/2 miles, but when you're doing it, it feels more like it's big enough to qualify as a great lake. I also figured out somewhere between miles 7 and 10 that people were weaving back and forth across the road to find shadows because it was so freaking HOT! I got some sun on my face. At mile 10 I was feeling really rough, my hamstrings had tightened up pretty bad, I was hot, and thirsty, and contemplating packing it in. As luck would have it, the water at mile 10 was being handed out by employees of Try Sports. A very nice guy named Adam asked me how I was doing, and when I told him my Hamstrings were so tight, he showed me how to stretch them out. He also walked with me for a while since he was on his way to his car. He told me to keep putting 1 foot in front of the other and I was going to finish. I was with him on that until about 10.75 miles, when I didn't think I'd do it. I found a piece of grass, in the shade, and I sat down and stretched. I called my mom, and she told me how proud she was of me. I could see the mile 11 sign, but I wasn't quite there. Then I realized, I could have been the last person on the course, and there was no one to take me in. So I stretched out, got up, and kept on moving. I passed mile 11, and I could see the entrance ramp for the last bridge I would have to cross. At the bottom of the entrance ramp were 2 cops. I got my mile 12 water, and the 1 officer told me that they were about to open the bridge, and one would be in front of me, and he would be following me. I told him that was fine, but to keep his gun away from me, because I just might shoot myself. He said, "no, ma'am, you're doing great!" I went on up and the DOT workers told me they were taking the cones up and I needed to be careful, because there would be cars in the lane I was walking in. The officers didn't allow that to happen, but they did remind me that the grates on the bridge would be slick. Now, what they don't tell you is that the grates have nubbs sticking up, and at mile 12 of a half marathon, with massive blisters on the bottoms of your feet, it feels like you might as well be walking on glass with bare feet. As I came down the other side of the bridge, I stopped to stretch and the same officer that had told me he was going to follow me put his car in park, and came to talk to me. He asked if I was ok, and offered assistance, and I told him I was OK, just stretching. I started moving again, and he ended up in front of me. This time when I stopped to stretch, he got out of his squad car and brought me a bottle of water. I kept moving and as I got to the bottom of the bridge/exit ramp, I passed some really smelly road kill. I felt like the world was spinning around me. I asked the other officer how much I had left and he said, "About a mile to a mile and a half." I knew with how I was feeling, if I tried to make it another mile and a half, I would face plant for sure. So I climbed in the squad car and immediately started crying. He offered to let me back out, and I declined. Then he drove me to the end of the race, and sent me to the medical tent. They got me some ice packs, more water and a banana. Barney caught the river taxi back over to get our car so he could drive over and get me, since I wasn't so sure about riding on the water with my head already spinning. As I was sitting there, the race director came over to talk to me. He asked how I was feeling, whether I was OK, etc. Another volunteer asked how I did and I told her I had had to quit. I told her where, and she said, you made it 12-1/2 miles, we're giving you a medal, we have plenty left over. At the Princess I didn't feel like I deserved my medal, but by God, only .6 miles from the finish, I wasn't going to argue. I couldn't be more proud of myself and what I accomplished today. I wasn't sure if I had really made it 12-1/2 miles, so Barney and I clocked it when we left the race and he was exactly right. I just sat in the car and cried. .6 miles, 6 tenths of a freaking mile, and I couldn't finish?!?! If the cop had told me that, I'd have pushed forward and made it to the end.
I honestly feel pretty good physically, but the entire balls of my feet are covered in blisters. I also have some pretty bad chaffing under my left arm and on my left side from my sports bra, and after the 2+ hour ride home, I am pretty sore from the waist down. My right hip is sore, and my knees hurt a bit. My ankles hurt a bit too, but in the grand scheme of things I feel good. Once they got the ice packs on my neck (jugular vein) and my blood and skin started to cool down, I felt good. We went back to the hotel so I could shower, then headed to IHOP for a meal and home. My eyes were clearly bigger than my stomach, because all I could handle was 2 scrambled eggs and a chocolate milk. No meat, no hash browns, no pancakes. Well, that and 3 glasses of water.
Here is what I know for sure:
1--I can do anything I set my mind to.
2--I do far better with music to listen to. (Left the ear buds in the hotel room.)
3--I don't NEED anyone to do it with me. I am capable of encouraging and being my own cheerleader.
4--I have a lot of training left to do before the Princess, which is in just under 4 months.
5--The Running Mom's Mafia is invaluable to me. They were texting me, facebooking me and messaging me throughout the race. These women are Ironman finishers, sub-4:00 marathon runners, Cancer survivors, and they took time to encourage me all day. They are what true friends look like, and though I've not met many of them in person, I know that they have my back when I need them.
Finally, I am a person who has struggled with self-worth and knowing what I was capable of accomplishing my entire life. I am not someone who has ever been truly proud of myself. Today, that all changed. I LOVE that I did this today. I love that I can say I am truly and genuinely proud of what I did. My life is full of gratitude today. Come February 24, I WILL be finishing the Princess Half Marathon. I WILL be ready to do it in under 3:30, I WILL have another princess medal around my neck in February!
It feels so good to be proud and not defeated. It's unfamiliar territory, but I really like it. I also need to send a big shout out to my husband. Running isn't his thing really, but he was there for me. He took me to the race at the butt-crack of dawn. He came back to get me after the race was over. He was there at the finish line if I had been able to finish. His pride in me and support of me is unmatched, and I truly appreciate every second of it! I love you baby!