As I already mentioned, I made the goal to train for and run another half marathon back when I was 9 months pregnant. I knew that running would get my baby weight off and help me get back to my pre baby body that I was missing very much at that point in my pregnancy as you can imagine.
Once I was cleared 5 weeks after having the baby I was scared. I had been looking forward to being able to run and be active again, but I knew how very hard it was going to be. My body was floppy, my muscles and lungs were weak. I think I put off going for my first run for another week maybe... but then on September 1st that was it. I went out with Brad and the baby and pushed out 3 miles. I felt amazing. Sure, I was slow. It wasn't pretty. But, I had to start somewhere and I had to make the start back to where I wanted to be physically.
Brad and I signed up for a 5k and I worked towards that. We did some more 5k's and eventually did a 8k cross country run through the sand and both Brand and I got 2nd place in our age group. I ran long runs every weekend. Along the way I got stronger. Running got a little easier. And I started to really love it again.
On Saturday I was nervous. For 6 months I had worked so very hard to get to this point and I didn't want to disappoint myself. Based on my long runs I planned to run about a 9 minute mile and planned to just stay right around there the whole race. Nice and steady.
Brad's friend Michael is a bit of a local running celebrity and also plays with a band regularly on the weekends. He was invited to play the national anthem at the start of the race and asked Brad to do it with him. They worked up an awesome rock n roll version of the anthem while still keeping it traditional enough. They rocked it out and the crowd cheered so loud! I was so proud of them. Right after they played we had to rush to throw the gear in our car and race over to the starting line. It was a close call, but we made it and were ready to run off with the rest of the crowd.
The race was hard. But at the same time I felt so good! My legs were strong, my body was an incredible machine and my mind repeated my mantras like "do yourself justice," "you are powerful" and "2 hours. You can do anything for only 2 hours." Brad and I ran together the first 8 miles and then Brad was having a lot of pain in his foot and dropped back. I held my pace and just kept going. Mile 9 was awesome running through the crowd cheering us on with signs and high fives! Then it sucked. The crowd was gone and there were hills. Hills the last 3 miles. I wanted to die. Mostly I wanted to walk, but I dug in. Found strength I didn't know I had and powered through. Mile 11 was not pretty. I'm pretty sure I had the death face on. And it felt like the longest mile of my LIFE. I kept thinking "how in the world to marathon runners do this? I can't imagine being less than half way done." But then I got to that 12 mile marker and knew I had to finish strong. I sprinted the last 1/4 mile and crossed that finish line at EXACTLY 2 hours on the dot with a big, giant smile on my face.
I cried. I cried last time I finished the other half too. It's just so emotional to realize that your body and mind are so powerful. I felt strong and best of all I felt amazing for meeting my goal of not only finishing the half, but for getting a time I was proud of. I stuck to my pace. I slowed down a bit on those hills the last few miles, so my over all pace was 9:10.
Since Brad and I were separated and I didn't have my phone or any way to know if he was ok, hurt or sick I downed some orange slices, met Michael as he came through the finish and then made my way to the car to get my phone. I got my phone and then happened to see Brad running by on the course! I didn't know I had anything left in my legs, but when I saw him I sprinted across the lawn and ran to catch up to him. I ran with him to right before the finish and then cheered him on as he crossed the finish line to complete his first half. I am so glad I happened to see him! I would have hated to miss seeing him finish. Even with the intense pain in his foot he powered through and still finished with a great time of 2 hours 20 min.
We made our way over to check out the bands, got a well deserved beer and relaxed on the seawall for a while. It was such a fun race! I'm relieved it's over. I can't wait to do another one.