Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Half-Marathon I Almost Ran

Back in January my friend/neighbor, Angela, asked me if I wanted to start running with her a few times a week to exercise. I quickly let her know that I was not a runner, but I would do my best to keep up. She assured me that at the end of the program Couch to 10K she was going to use,  I would love running. I definitely doubted her, but just a few days after that put my running shoes on and exercised for the first time ever. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. I've always been small, but I've learned that small does not mean healthy! I was a small and very unhealthy person. We committed to running 3-4 times a week and followed the program outlined on the app. I started to look forward to my runs with Angela, probably more so for the company, but the benefits of exercising were not lost on me. Inches and pounds had already started to fall off me and I just felt better. I had always had a fast heart rate, but after just a few months of running, my heart rate dropped from about 85 bpm to about 65 bpm. I was amazed!

Around March/April, Josh mentioned that Angela and I should set a goal to run the St. Jude half-marathon in December. We both thought he was completely crazy, but we did exactly as he said and started training. By May, we had worked ourselves up to being able to run 3-4 miles comfortably without stopping. I was thrilled! I knew that summer was going to be ridiculously hot and we wouldn't want to do any long distance runs in the heat, so we decided to just keep up our 3-4 miles until fall arrived. In June, we made our goal official and registered for the St. Jude half-marathon in December. Now we were fully committed to our goal! 
When fall arrived, we knew it was time to step up our training. We found a half-marathon training schedule from running guru, Hal Higdon, and started training. Throughout the week, we'd run 3-4 miles about three times a week and then every weekend we did a long distance run. I went from not being able to run at all to being able to run 5, 6, 7, and 8 miles! I couldn't believe it (and neither could Josh!). He was equally surprised and proud of me. He knew better than anyone how I had never exercised so he couldn't believe the transformation that was taking place. Josh had also signed up for the half-marathon so he was training for the 13.1 mile run as well. One Sunday afternoon, Josh and I ran together on a road that is known for its hills. (The course we were going to run in Memphis was kind of hilly, so this was a good training route for us.) The goal for me was to run 9 miles, but I ended up running 10 miles that day. This was me at the end of my run. I couldn't believe that I was still alive and in one piece! 

After this 10 mile run, I felt great. I was still very nervous about having to run 3.1 more miles, but everyone assured me that if I could run 10, I could run 13.1. We were going to find out. Around this point, we still had 3 weeks before our run the first weekend in December. Angela, Josh, and I ran 10 miles 2 more times after this and then we all called it quits until race day. Poor Angela hurt her knee and foot pretty badly and was having to run through pain every single time. She wasn't giving up though and even bursitis, patella tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis weren't going to keep her from running her half-marathon. 

The Thursday before our race we heard on the news about a major ice storm making it way through Mississippi and Tennessee. We knew it was going to be EXTREMELY COLD but we had trained too long and too hard to let a little thing like being cold stop us. We packed up our gear and made sure we had extra clothes to keep us warm and headed to Memphis. When we got about 15 miles outside of Memphis we noticed that ALL of the trees were covered in ice. Not a good sign, but we were told that no decisions would be made until 5 AM race day. We kept our hopes up and headed to the race expo to get our race bibs, bags, and do our final registration. Everyone there was hopeful that the race was going to continue despite the ice and cold. I was a mix of emotions-excited about running, nervous about not doing well, worried about being too cold, and much more. We got our bibs and packets and headed back to the hotel. We had several friends from college running this same race, so we all made plans to carb load at a local pizzeria that night.

All the trees were covered in ice!

I bought my 13.1 sticker so I could put it on my car as soon as I finished my race :)

While I was getting ready for dinner with our friends, Angela called me and said that she and Doug, her husband, had just seen an announcement on the news saying that the St. Jude race had been canceled. I didn't believe it at first and kept telling her that it had to be false because the race officials had said that no decision would be made until 5:00 am the next morning. I really, really didn't want it to be canceled! Josh pulled up St. Jude's homepage on his phone and sure enough it really was canceled! You don't have any idea how bummed we were. To work towards this goal ALL YEAR long and to not be able to see it to fruition was so disappointing…and let's just be honest, I really was looking forward to taking a break from all my training. 

We didn't know what to do for a few minutes, but then decided to just go ahead and meet our friends anyway. Our weekend certainly didn't go like we planned, but we decided to make the best of it and have a fun weekend getaway. First up was eating pizza like we planned! Yummy! Later that night, we went down to Beale Street in Memphis and found a really cool street musician that was playing and listened to him for about an hour. We ended our night at B.B. Kings listening to more incredible music. Our unplanned Memphis mini-vacation was getting off to a great start! 

They say every cloud has a silver lining and here's ours…through this fundraiser campaign St. Jude was able to raise over 8 million dollars for cancer research! That makes me so happy and proud of all the people who worked hard to support St. Jude and their mission that no family should EVER have to pay for their child to receive treatment. I'm bummed that I didn't get to race, but I'm happy that the little bit of money that we raised and gave to St. Jude is going to help a family in need. Another plus, St. Jude race officials gave every single registrant the option to transfer their registration fee to another St. Jude race later this year. So, that means that my goal to run a half-marathon will be completed in February rather than December like I originally planned. Angela, Josh, and I have already signed up for the Rock-n-Roll marathon in New Orleans. I can't wait to finally be able to put my 13.1 sticker on my car! Fingers crossed that I get to run this one :)

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