Sunday, September 25, 2011 marked 7 years of Big A & myself. It also marked our second round of the Omaha half marathon (last year's recap here and here)! The morning was chilly but seemingly warmer than last year. I was still pretty jazzed from my Biggest Loser experience, so I was feeling really good.
Tired though...here's that back story. On Saturday, Big A & I took the boys up to my sister's dorm room in a nearby town. She had agreed to watch the boys for us. We were almost there and Squirt threw up. Great. Big A decided to take the boys home and I would stay to run. So my sister went with me to the spaghetti supper (yeah, Big A missed the BLs) and during the supper, Big A called: "hey do you think Pookie (my lil sis) would mind coming down here [2 hours away] to watch the boys? Squirt has been fine since we left." So after a semi-quick Walmart stop (to pick up birthday gifts for my nieces & nephew), Pookie & I went back down to Kansas. Then Big A & I traveled back up to a town nearby Omaha where we stayed at our friends' house. Lots of hours in a car made my legs crampy.
Anyway, Sunday morning my tired legs were forgotten as I wrapped myself in a blanket to wait in line for the port-a-potties. Then we got ready to start. Another friend found us (this was her first half marathon!) and we decided to run awhile together (saying up front that if either of us needed to get going, we would). As we ... walked to the start line (always such congestion), I got really excited. I quickly realized I wouldn't be able to listen to my book (Matt Long's book, The Long Run - so good!) because I would lose it by all the music on-course and would miss out on talking to people. So I turned on my music (first song? Mandisa's Good Morning - so good!).
I didn't stay with my friend for long (sorry Apryl) but I just felt good. We both realized that we had forgotten (in our talking) to start our watches, so I was running free. I passed Danny from Biggest Loser and said good morning. Then I caught up to my husband...and passed him. I just felt good! The Lord really must have massaged my legs the night before! LOL The first 5 miles I was mostly oblivious to our distance traveled (I realized we must be past 2 and 4 miles because we'd passed 2 water stations, but I never saw mile markers). I finally saw mile marker 5 - I wish I hadn't. It was blissful to be oblivious. About then I took my Clif Shot...should have eaten my Clif Bar though (hindsight is 20/20).
I ran with the 4:30 marathon pace group for awhile. Not sure when I started running with them but I ended around mile 9 or 10. I felt awesome until mile 8. I was talking with a lady from Pennsylvania who was running a marathon in the 50 states. She'd been running since the 70s when she lived around Eugene, Oregon - a running mecca, especially back in the 70s when running really took off! She was so nice and we just talked and talked. Then we hit The Hill. I don't know the grade of this hill but it's awful. I thought I'd trained on hills enough...and I mostly did. I was just running out of fuel (see? Clif Bar would have been good here). So I made it up the large part of it, said good-bye to my PA friend, then walked the plateau, then jogged up the rest of the hill (like 1/2 a block). Then we turned the corner...to another hill. For real? Disliked that. Neither Big A nor I remember that from last year. Ugh. Then the downhill came on bricks - really hurts my knees.
After that, I did ok. I walked when I needed to (tried not to too much though). I was really dead around mile 11...when I saw an unopened Gu on the ground. And, yes, I picked it up and gulped it down. LOL Big A was really surprised at that - it's not like it was open! I could have picked up 3-4 packs of Gu on the course (unopened). That actually helped me very little (but made me really hyper after I was done running...). Then it was just mental, pushing myself along.
There was a man with a purple tank top and a mullet running in front of me. I made up my mind to pass him - it took me awhile, but I caught him. And then I passed him when he spit right in front of me. Now, I snot rocket and spit like a mad woman when I run...but I feel I'm really polite about it (well, as polite as that is). I look to make sure no one is around. I go to the side of the road, even when that means weaving my way to the side when I'm in the middle. Ugh. Anyway, I passed him and kept focusing on people in front of me to pass. I passed them all.
The last mile was HARD. A guy came up beside me and he looked strong, athletic. So I determined to stay with him to the end, push myself. I mostly did. He got a little ahead of me probably the last 1/4 mile. Then I saw this shadow come up behind me fast and I was NOT going to get passed again. So I sprinted all that I had to the end. I beat her, too. I thanked her for pushing me to the end - and she said I pushed her. I know I'll never WIN a half marathon but I have to compete in some fashion.
A nice U.S. Marine placed my medal around my neck and congratulated me. He asked how it was...I told him it was finished. The clock said 2:18 but I saw the official results later and I finished in 2:14!! I'm really proud of that! This hill was much hillier than our Kearney race (where I ran 2:11) so I think that's awesome.
Then I staggered my way through the bagels, oranges, bananas, and water. I found the chocolate milk and realized I had no way of knowing if Big A was done. Shoot. He could have passed me without me knowing! So I got my bearings (sort of) and made my way to the finish line. Seriously just in time to see him coming in! Big A finished in 2:21. I am so proud of him. He's decided to not run this distance anymore; it's just not as much fun for him. He'll run more 5Ks and 10Ks and train for basketball season. I'm so thankful we had this last half together.