Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm a Half-Marathoner! Part TWO

As soon as I crossed the start line and clicked on my Garmin, all my nerves vanished and I was running on pure excitement and adrenaline.  THIS is what I had been training for 3 months for; I was determined to make the most out of every step.

The weather was PERFECT and there was awesome crowd support right off the bat.  Since I knew I wasn't going to see my family again until mile 2ish, I occupied some time by getting artsy with my pictures:

runnin' shadows

We ran by the Susan B. Anthony house and the crowd on the street was decked out in American and historical apparel; Sam Adams even made an appearance

The first two miles flew by and I was feeling great.  We were keeping a little under a 12 minute pace and I was just taking everything in.  I knew my fam was waiting for me shortly after mile two and I couldn't wait to see them.  Sure enough, they were right where I expected them

my cheering crazies!

I gave some high fives and threw my sweaty gloves to my mom.  I purposely wore $1 Target gloves so I could just toss them when I didn't need them, but it was much more fun to ball them up and throw them at mom.  Don't worry Ma, I don't think they came in contact with any snot-rockets.

A block later I saw my sisters.  I hopped up on the sidewalk and gave them a big sweaty group hug and then was on my way


Steph and I stuck together for most of the first half and we were both feeling great.  So great that we took a video to entertain ourselves around mile 5:

About halfway through the course is where it gets difficult.  There's a big incline that leads to hills and more hills and the (dreaded, in my book at least) cemetery.  This is where it started to get tough for me... mile 6ish I think?

i swear this picture does the incline zero justice.

Remember how I mentioned the amazing crowd support?  Well, this stretch definitely had THEE best crowd support.  I snapped a few pics, but Steph was brilliant enough to take a video.  Motion sickness aside, this is how awesome the crowd was:

kids lined up for high fives!

'you can do it!' poster

The energy of the crowd was amazing and is 90% of the reason I made it through that mile stretch.  This was the first (of many!) times where I was just amazed at how supportive and encouraging the people in the crowds are.  You have no idea who I am and you probably only know 1 or a handful of the 2,300+ people running this race, but you are still out here cheering every single person on.  It's such a cool feeling to have a stranger cheering for you, and to realize that they are building your strength to push through.

more hills?!

By mile 7ish I was really starting to struggle.  I knew the cemetery was right around the corner and was arguably the most challenging part of the course.  Since I sucked at giving my family any sort of direction of where to go after mile 2, I figured the next time I would see them would be at the finish line.  But nope.  Leave it to the best cheering section ever to show up at LITERALLY the best time I could have imagined.  As I was cresting a hill I saw a swarm of blue shirts at the bottom.  Talk about a great encouragement when I needed it most!


See those two people right in front of me?  As soon as we ran past my family they both looked at me and said how awesome the cheering was and even though they weren't Molly they felt like they were. Ha.  Way to go, my little cheering crazies :)

Miles 8 through 9/10ish were all throughout the cemetery.  This was hands down my lowest point in the race.  I was tired and I was losing my mental steam.  Before I get into that, let me show you a picture of a bagpiper:

thanks for the jams

I walked a couple of the hills in the cemetery and just tried to get my mental game back on track.  I knew that physically I could run this race, but my mind was starting to waver on me.  

About halfway through the seemingly never-ending cemetery, my music on my phone randomly cut out and it was silent.  In that moment I started to think about why I was running this race in the first place.  For Matty.  How eerily fitting that my 'moment of silence' came while I was alone in the peaceful cemetery.  I started to cry and smiled at the irony.  Thanks Matt for showing up when I needed it and for getting me through the toughest part of the race :)

At the very end of the cemetery, when I literally just wanted to get the eff out, I saw three more crazy cheering fools:

caitlin, kellie and maia! you guys are AWESOME!

Caitlin, Kellie and Maia are friends of Emily's and I've weaseled myself into their little group of friends ;)  Emily was WAY ahead of me so I was so surprised and excited when I saw that the girls were still there with their signs cheering and waiting for me.  Cue tear-jerker #5 of the day.

of course i cut off the best sign that caitlin was holding:
'run your sass off'
get it? I LOVE IT!
I got my second wind around mile 10 and the rest of the race was semi-smooth sailing.  For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to start taking pictures of the mile markers... at mile 11?

2 of 13 mile markers captured. can't win 'em all?

Miles 11-12 were pretty boring and not very exciting.  We were on the canal path and the crowd support was almost non-existent aside from the water stops.  There were two highlights during this time though: 1. cups of BEER were being handed out at the water stop.  We were on the U of R campus and naturally this was my favorite water stop of the race.  That gulp of beer tasted so good and I swear it's what carried me the last 1.5 miles I had left.  Beer = carbs = energy.  Right?

Just past mile 12 there was a middle school band/string instrument group playing some sweet tunes.  

never a dull moment on this course!

See that bridge behind them?  That bridge was the start of the final mile of the race.  

almost there!

Running across the bridge I couldn't believe that I was almost done.  I started to get emotional and couldn't believe that I was about 5 minutes away from finishing my first ever half-marathon.

home stretch to the finish line!!!

As I ran into the chute at the finish I saw Emily and the girls, all my Fleet Feet training girls, Brie and her parents and my family.  The cool thing about being the slowest of all your running friends is that they've already finished by the time you get to the finish line, which makes for more people cheering you on :)

2 hours, 46 minutes and 35 seconds later, I was crossing the finish line of my very first half marathon.  I did it!!!

I got medal'd and it was time for pictures! (Emotions will be saved for race recap part 3... yes there will be a part 3 :)

with my fleet feet training girls!

me and becca!
my life coach for the past 3 months :)

mrs. luce!
she's the reason i bought my first pair of running shoes 7 months ago!

1/2 of the heart and soul of the reason behind this race<3


Next it was time for race results.  I prefer my Garmin time over my official race time, but hey I'm happy with either!

official time

garmin time (i like you better)

And then... TIME TO EAT!  And take more pictures at breakfast.  I'm pretty sure by the end of our meal everyone in the restaurant knew that I had just ran a half marathon.  Sorry I'm not sorry.


post-race hydration, mmm!


Whew!  What a day!  I'm still on cloud nine and riding my runner's high; I can't believe that I did it!  I have LOTS more to say about yesterday and the past three months.  Part 3 will be a mess of emotional reflection on this entire journey.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm a Half-Marathoner! Part 1

It's official: I'm a half-marathoner!  13.1 miles done!  I can't even believe it; it feels so surreal.  It has been an amazing day of family and friends and celebration and I don't even know where to begin to recap!  Be warned: this will be a long, possibly emotional, picture-overloaded post.  Let the journey of race weekend begin...

My family came into town yesterday afternoon and that's when it hit me that this was the real deal.  We've been planning for weeks for them to come up for the race and now here it was.  Ah!  We headed off to Pomodoro for some serious carb-loading.

fam <3

cousin Liz, half of my inspiration for this race :)

we love carbs!

After dinner we drove around some of the course where I had mapped out directions for the fam to follow and meet me at certain points.  Because I'm super awesome at directions, we ended up nowhere near any of the places I had thought I mapped out.  Looks like they were going to have to be creative for race day!

I got home and finished up my race day playlist and laid out all of my gear for the morning:

best playlist EVER: i timed all the songs perfectly
and crossed the finish line to "all i do is win"
now THAT'S a win.

best race shirt ever. definitely a hit with the spectators

gear: check!

I woke up this morning to my very first alarm which I think by now you all know is extremely rare never happens.  All I was imagining was hitting snooze and then my alarm not going off again and me sleeping through the race.  No bueno.  I was suuuper nervous and excited when I woke up and ready to go!

race day here i come!

I got to Blue Cross Arena wicked early which meant 1. more time to freak out and 2. having my running buddies to take pics with:

me and em - twins!

me steph and katie - HFM training girls!

so many people!

By the time we headed outside to the start line I was running on excitement (get it? ha. ha.)  The cool thing about starting in the back of the pack?  Seeing the masses of people participating in the race:

2,300 people!

About 3 minutes before the gun went off I saw these crazy fools cheering their pretty little faces off:

see the blue shirts? best cheerleaders ever!

Because I have the best family ever, they HAD T-SHIRTS MADE that they all wore!  Naturally I almost cried when I saw them (tear-jerker #1 out of 275 on the day).

race pic + my awesome!

blog tagline and the inspiration behind it! <3

And just like that the gun went off and so did we!

bring it on 13.1!

Because I want to savor the memories and give this day all the detail it deserves (and make sure no one falls asleep during my stories), I'm going to make this a multi-part post.  See ya tomorrow for the rest of the recap!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Final Run, Volunteering and OMG IM NERVOUS

It's here!  Race weekend!  I can't even believe it!  It seems so long ago that I started this journey and now here we are, 18 hours away from toeing the start line!

Unfortunately my cold kicked my butt most of the week and 90% of my time was spent sleeping and home-remedying.  I did some yoga on Thursday and counted it as a check in my cross-training column

I even got in the spirit and wore my new race t from packet pickup

sweet t

My cold finally started going in the right direction yesterday and I decided to take advantage and get in one last run before the big day.  I wanted to make sure my legs remembered what it felt like to actually move.

final run? guh?

I did an easy three miles and felt pretty good.  But one thing I did realize.... if you are the queen of snot-rocket fails on a good day, you will give that title a whole new meaning when you are sick.  Let's just say I was really glad that I was running alone and in a place where no one could recognize me pulled over on the sidewalk with a 4 inch snot that didn't quite rocket like it should have.  TMI?  No such thing anymore.

last 3 miles of training!

I didn't realize that I still had my watch on bike mode so rather than tracking my pace it tracked my miles per hour.  4.9mph, what a speed demon.

This morning I was scheduled to volunteer at a triathlon/duathlon event which were the kick-off events to the Flower City Challenge (which will end with the half tomorrow!).  I had to be on-location at the ungodly hour of 5:30am.  Knowing myself and my tendency to oversleep, never be on time, and just generally suck in the early morning, I tried to set myself up for success this morning:

wake up!!!! x4

No matter how hard I try, I just can't wake up or be on time.  I scrambled out the door at 5:20 and ate stale pretzel sticks for breakfast (I won't tell you how long they've been sitting in my car...) We got pretty sweet volunteer t-shirts though, and obviously I made time for a picture before I left:

maybe this is why i'm always late??!

I volunteered with one of the girls from running class so it was nice to know someone there.  Her boyfriend was racing in the du, and a friend of mine was too so we stuck around to watch the race and be cheerleaders after our volunteer duty was up.

I've never seen a duathlon before and it was SO COOL!  So many intense people and athletic ability!

bike transition

Best part was being able to cheer on Becca and play race photog:

hey girl hey!

 It was an awesome experience and really got me pumped up with excitement for tomorrow!  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous......I am kind of FREAKING OUT.  In a nervously-excited way though.  My family is coming up tonight and I can't wait for some fam carb loading later.  See ya on RACE DAY!!!!