Tuesday, April 28th: 30 minutes on exercise bike.
Wednesday, April 29th: 4.5 miles at the track. We did speed work that night: a warm-up mile, then a fast lap, followed by an easier lap, followed by a fast lap, etc. I was able to see the gradual progress I'm making by the fact that I was able to keep up with speed demon Elizabeth for two of our four fast laps. I think she said the two laps I stayed with her were 1 minute 26 seconds around. Only a few chunky burps.
Thursday, April 30th: 20 minutes on exercise bike.
Friday, May 1st: Rest / carbo-load. The term "carbo load" is often used by runners to stock up on carbs the day or two before a bigger race. I just looked at it like a good excuse to eat lots of food.
Saturday, May 2nd: HURRICANE HALF MARATHON!!
2 hours & 3 minutes
I could not sleep the night before the Half. I kept thinking about how absolutely crazy it is that a grown adult would pay $30 to run 13 miles, and be so excited about it that he couldn't sleep.
The bus ride to the start of the race was, well, intimidating. Everyone looked so experienced and fit. I felt like a 7th grader sitting in a college class. I sat next to a guy named Brian, who had never run a marathon before, because he usually does 50 mile ultra marathons. I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into.
My body wasn't feeling it the first few miles. I had a hard time getting into the groove. Then we passed an ostrich farm and these beasts were running all over the place. Those animals can book it! I was wishing I was an ostrich.
Around 2.5 miles in I caught up to my friend and neighbor, Mel. We seemed to get a good pace going on and I got into the swing of things. I had a stretch where my back really tightened up and hurt. But it eased up. I had another stretch later where this little cartilage bump on my knee felt like it was going to pop out. But that eased up too.
I remember most of the run, but there were a few stretches where it was like I was in a trance. I wasn't thinking, or paying attention to what was in front of me or on the sides of the road. I was just going.
Mel and I ran all the way to mile 11 together and I really, really valued having that running partner with me. It helped a lot. For some reason I caught a second wind at mile 11. I told Mel I was going to go ahead a little and would meet her at the finish. We were at a decent hill coming in to Hurricane. By this point people were hurting and I passed a lot of people between mile 11 and 12.
By mile 12 I had finished the hills and then started to feel tired again. I managed to keep my pace though and finished well. I was surprised at how good I felt afterward. Granted, I was sore and tired, and my knees really ache. But, I felt good. The sense of accomplishment is definitely worth some soreness. It felt so good to see my family waiting at the finish line. I felt energized again.
We took some pictures with our running group and neighbors before heading out. When we were driving home we saw people still running the race. One lady really sticks out in my mind. She was limping and crying, but she was still jogging. It was humbling and inspiring.
I was so impressed with the people who ran the race. There were no slackers. Every person I saw put their whole heart and soul into the race. I truly think the people who finished in 3.5 hours worked just as hard as the people who finished in 1.5 hours.
The race was fun, painful, hard, challenging, excruciating, invigorating, and amazing. I feel like after finishing a half marathon, I can now officially call myself a runner.
To the Dansie's: Thanks for the training, encouragement, and scrumptious carbs!
To the Santiago's: Muchos gracias for the post-race breakfast.
To the lady who pushed a stroller the whole way: Um, you made the rest of us non-stroller-pushers look like weaklings.
To Mel Cowden: I loved running with you. Can't wait for you to do the St. George Marathon with me!
To Mrs. McCombs: You're amazing. I hope I can do what you do in 20 years.
To the 11 year old who darted past me at the finish line: Dude, not cool. What, your parents never taught you to respect your elders? If I'd known you were behind me I can assure you your time wouldn't be .03 seconds faster than me.
To God: You could not have picked better weather. Seriously. It was perfect. I'm thankful for my body that carried me 13 miles.
To Mel and the kids: Thank you for your patience, love, and support. I love you!