It's hard to believe this half marathon came and went so quickly. You spend all this time talking about it, preparing for it, stressing about it and then BAM! It's over.
But I will say that we all made the most of our half marathon weekend. For starters, we decided at the last minute to book a hotel room and stay in the city the night before the race. We already had to drive up Saturday to attend the Expo and pick up our race packets and bibs...so we thought why not just STAY downtown, have a nice meal and wake up within walking distance of the starting line.
So on Saturday afternoon, Nana stopped by and picked up both kiddies AND Howie for their sleepover. We were free!! And we made it downtown just in time to get to the Expo. Here were are showing off our bibs :-)
After the Expo and a little R&R in our swank hotel room, we all headed to Stetson's Chop House for a DELICIOUS meal. All of our food was fantastic, but what really made this place awesome was the complimentary bowl of chocolate covered strawberries they serve you over dry ice.
We couldn't finish all of our treats at the table, so Dana and I kinda sorta wrapped them up and put them in our purse. Ha! Such losers.
After dinner, the guys decided they didn't want to waste a kid-free night in the city so they headed out for a few cocktails, while Dana and Joe and I all retired to our rooms to get some rest. Dana, Eric and Kevin and I decided to share a room and it turned out to be the best idea ever. It was like a girls sleepover!!! Dana and I haven't had one of these since junior high :-)
So first we laid out all of our race clothes for the morning...
And then we did what most girls do at a sleepover.
I wish I could say I got a great nights sleep, but between my nerves, our husbands coming in at 2:00am (ahem) and being in a bed that wasn't my own...I tossed and turned all night.
And word on the street is that this guy was up all night with nerves too!!
I was SO happy to have Dad there to watch us. Seeing him first thing in the morning brought a little tear to my eye.
So here we are!!! Getting ready to ROCK this half marathon.
Our corral for the race was waaaaaaaaay back from the starting line so we had some time to hang out and take pictures before the gun went off.
But when it did, Dad and Eric and Kevin were ready with the cameras. Here is the race just about to start...
And like 30 seconds later, it was nothing but craziness. Thousands of runners, some dressed in costumes, or carrying dragons...
And then there was us!!
The three of us made a deal to do our best to stick together through this race, especially since we've all done pretty well keeping pace throughout our training. But when the gun went off, and our minds were all racing with where to go, how to dodge a thousand other people, where to look for our fan club (a.k.a. Eric, Kevin and my Dad) we were suddenly a man down. We couldn't find Joe anywhere.
I figured at some point, we would all catch back up. And so we ran...for a solid 6.5 miles. We passed the 5K mark with ease and then the 10K mark (the first time I have ever seen that distance in a race!) and then as we were starting our 7th mile...I hit a wall.
A MAJOR, it's-too-damn-hot-for-this-shit wall. And I'd be lying if I didn't say that the next 6 miles were pure hell. I lived for two things during the next hour and forty minutes...water stops and ice stops. I made sure to slow down and walk while I drank, throw some ice down my shirt, rub it all over my forehead and then keep going.
I tried to just slow my pace and push through the hard spots. I Just kept thinking of Eric and my Dad waiting at the finish line, my mom and the kiddies back home and all my other amazing friends and family who had taken the time to wish me luck over the last few days. I NEEDED to suck it up and finish this race. And luckily...my sis was there to push me when I didn't have any juice left.
And let me just tell you friends...Dana is seriously AMAZING when it comes to race day. The girl is like freaking Sea Biscuit. 75% of the people around her were ready to die, and she would rock out and sing to EVERY band along the course. And even though she could have finished this race like 15-20 minutes faster than she did...she stuck with me. She knew I needed her to make it through those last few miles and sacrificed her own awesome time to run across that finish line with me :-)
And here we are...coming into the home stretch...
Let me just tell you...crossing that finish line was one of the most AMAZING feelings ever. And putting that medal around our necks was just the icing on the cake :-)
And wouldn't you know...Joe was only 3 minutes behind us the WHOLE time!!!
Man it felt SO GOOD to be done. I kissed Daddy-O and thanked him for being my #1 fan.
And then I hugged and kissed Eric too and thanked him for being there for me. I have a picture of this moment too...but it's floating around on someone else's camera :-)
After all the excitement wore off and we were in the car driving home, I started feeling a little sad. I knew this race was not my best. I knew I was capable of a better time and I had never run at such a slow pace in any of my other 5Ks OR on any of our practice long runs. I started feeling bad for losing Joe in the shuffle and holding Dana back from what could have been an impressive time.
This is just what I do friends. I beat the crap out of a wonderful situation with all the what-ifs. What if it hadn't been so miserably hot? What if I had trained longer? What if I'd waited to do a Fall race instead of a July race? What if...what if...what if.
But then I started reading all the wonderful texts on my phone and all the congratulatory messages on Facebook and Twitter and I realized just how STUPID I was being!!! I was forgetting the most important thing, which was that...
I FINISHED A HALF MARATHON!!!
I set an incredible goal for myself. One that I never in a MILLION years dreamed that I would do. After running all of my 5Ks I thought maybe I'll try a 10K or a 15K next. And then in January, I just decided to skip all that and register for a half marathon.
Go big or go home, right?
And we did go big and FINISHED big. That is all that matters :-)
I was already starting to feel so much better by the time we pulled into our neighborhood and I couldn't wait to run in and hug my mom and the kids and show them my metal. And just as we rounded the corner, I could see my little fan club waiting for me...
Apparently my mom and my friend Barb had been conspiring for a week to set this whole thing up. My mom helped the kids each make their own sign...
And Barb made me this AWESOME banner...
And this cute little sign for my door :-)
Of course I cried. Again. But how could you not? I have the best family and friends in the WORLD!!!
Tonight, while I was on the phone with my girl Tara, she asked me if I ever wanted to do another half marathon. If she had asked me this question at miles 8-13 today...I would have said, "HELL NO!!! ARE YOU F-ING CRAZY? NEVER!!!!"
But now that I've had time to let everything sink in, and I feel proud and accomplished about the day, I think I would like to run another half (in the fall or spring of course).
"So it's like having a baby then?" she said.
Absolutely. You spend all this time planning and dreaming about what that day will be like, but then when it comes and things hurt like hell and don't go as planned, you say you are NEVER doing this again. But then when you hold that baby in your arms and all the pain is long behind you, you think...I want another one right now.
So yes...some day I would love to be able to run another half and Tara...it would be awesome if you ran one too (hint hint).
But Barb...you can go ahead and replace that ? by 26.2 because this girl just ain't built for that.
Or at least I don't think so...
So, before I end this INSANELY long post, I just want to say Thank You once again to everyone that took the time to wish me luck or offer up a congratulations when the race was over. All that love and support made this day completely worth it and I will never forget it as long as I live.
Now bring on some 5Ks! Mama needs a rest :-)