It's been over a week since I actually ran the half-marathon, but I'm finally sitting down to write this!
Let's start at the beginning. A lot of people have asked why did I do this? What made me want to run a half marathon? To be honest, I don't know. I wanted to prove something to myself, I guess. Sometime in December, I thought about getting a team together for the marathon relay, but I knew that wasn't going to be something that would pan out in the end. So I said to myself, "What the heck! Half marathon it is!"
To keep myself accountable, I signed up to run for the Mario Lemieux Foundation and advertised the heck out of it on Facebook. And told my friends and family. The more people who knew, the less chance I had of backing out. I'm the type of person who needs to put pressure on myself to do something.
I started my real training in January on the treadmill, and moved outside in March. I didn't follow a strict plan, but slowly increased my mileage every few weeks. Because I have bad hips and feet (bursitis and collapsed arches), I took a week off in February and a week off at the beginning of April because I was scared of seriously hurting anything and not being able to run. My longest run was 9 miles at the end of March, and I do wish I had been able to do more, but I'm also happy I listened to my body and was well-rested and was able to run almost pain-free on the big day.
I woke up at 4 am after barely sleeping (this always happens when I know I need to wake up early!), downed a huge glass of water, and started taping my right foot and both hips with KT Tape. I'm so glad I'd been practicing with it for the previous week, because I didn't need to follow the videos on the website and knew what I was doing. My clothes were all laid out, bib pinned to my shirt, so I got dressed pretty quickly and was able to have another glass of water, a bagel, and a banana. Next time? I'm taking a protein bar and water with me because nerves=cotton mouth. I was SO thirsty and was kind of counting on finding water there, but at the same time didn't want to drink too much for fear of a side stitch.
We had no problems finding parking (Stanwix Garage) because we mapped our options out ahead of time, and we left at 5 am on the dot. So glad I chose to leave the kids at home with their Gigi! I spent about 20 minutes with Brandon and my dad, talking and stretching, staying warm (it was barely 50 at the start), and chatting, trying not to be nervous. I wasn't there to "race" per se, but the overall enormity of the event was still nerve racking. After a quick hug & kiss to Brandon, and a good luck from my dad, I headed to my corral (E, the last one), trying to take advice from more experienced people and make friends with the people around me. I chatted with a couple ladies in their 50s who were running the marathon, and had done it before, and they were so encouraging. One of them, and myself, both found ourselves having the pee right when it was our turn to walk up to the start. I hoped it was just nerves, but I found some porta potties that didn't have much of a line around the 2 mile mark. Unfortunately the tape rolled off my hips from that break, but I tried to ignore it.
I didn't carry my phone or headphones with me, so I tried to listen to the people around me and keep an eye on the clocks at every mile marker and note that we started 20 minutes after the actual gun, and knew that I was on a 10:00 min pace at the beginning, but I knew that slowed down at the 16th St. bridge, where we ran under the Runners of Steel banner. I actually got teary-eyed running under that banner directly toward the skyline. I heard Brandon yell my name really loud there though, and it was the first time I saw him, so I smiled huge and waved at him and my dad. I only saw them one other time, and Brandon yelled and clapped so loud. It was great to hear him over everyone else in the crowd.
Here's where I get lovey-dovey about Pittsburgh (nothing new, of course): I don't know if everyone in that crowd was watching someone they knew or not. But so many of them were great--lines of people holding out their hands for high fives, reading names off bibs and shouting them for encouragement, hilarious signs that made me laugh when I kind of wanted to cry, the little girl who was probably a kindergartner giving runners high fives, volunteers standing at the top of the last hill shouting to you that it was LITERALLY all downhill from there. They made the experience great. I wish I'd had my camera because there was so much awesome that day. I will definitely be doing it next year, even if I did come home to puke in my flower beds and sleep the entire day.
Thank you for all the twitter messages, facebook posts, and texts of encouragement. I really couldn't have done it without such positive people surrounding me--especially my family. :)
P.S. Take a look at this if you get a chance.