Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Half Marathon

Most people first complete a half marathon and then a marathon, but not me!  This last Sunday, June 3rd, four friends and I completed the 21k Coahuila half marathon!  We left Torreon Saturday morning via rental car and drove the three hours to Saltillo.  We checked into our hotel, picked up our race gear, and then relaxed for the remainder of the day.

The next morning I had my alarm set for 5:15am.  I got up, took a shower (I had to take a shower BEFORE the race in order to do my Spice Girl’s do), and then got all of my race gear on.  We started walking to the starting line at about 6:15am. After walking the approximately 12 blocks to the starting line, we were greeted by a sea of bright orange and green shirts.  It’s a good thing we decided to be original and dress up like the Spice Girls.  Marissa was Baby Spice, I was Scary Spice, Carissa was Posh Spice, Kat was Sporty Spice, and Taryn was Ginger Spice.

After a bathroom stop, it was soon time to head to the starting line.   I usually remain calm all the way up until it comes time to get in the line-up.  It is at this point that my heart begins to race and I get that nervous feeling down deep in the pit of my stomach.  Although I normally only stand in line for about 10 minutes (or less), it always feels like so much more! 

Bang!  The gun is shot and we’re off.  Well, we’re not off.  Only the people in the front can start when the gun goes off.  The rest of us are left to be herded like a bunch of cattle across the starting line.  It’s a good thing we wear chips, because if we didn’t our time would have been two minutes slower.  Two minutes was how long it took for our feet to cross the starting line.
It didn’t take long for us to basically get a slap across the face in the form of a monstrous hill that lasted nearly the whole first three miles of the race course.  It was then that I knew I was in for a real treat.

I took advantage of the downhill, leaned back, and allowed gravity to do its job.  Sadly, once again the course flattened and all of the sudden my legs felt like two huge stumps of lead.  It was then that we were cutting through small, narrow, downtown streets lined with supporters hollering, clapping, and shouting, “Vamos Scary Spice.”  I felt a little surge to go faster.

Shortly after the half-way point two women passed me and asked who Scary Spice was.  I answered and heard a laugh behind me.  Much to my surprise I turned around and saw Marissa.  Shocked I asked, “What are you doing here?  I thought I lost you a long time ago.”  Marissa responded that she had been behind me the whole time, lost me for a bit on the downhill, but then caught back up to me.  Her words were something to the effect of, “The course started downhill and all of the sudden you took off!”

Marissa and I continued on together for only a little bit until the urge to go to the bathroom became too much for me to bear.  (Soon after the gun went off I felt the need to go to the bathroom, but I had been hoping that I could make it to the finish line without needing to stop.)  Marissa commented, “Why don’t you just go behind that wall?” as she pointed to the wall along the street.   I notified her that I would have, had this urge to use the bathroom did not require the use of toilet paper.  I spotted a 7-eleven outdoor bathroom and off I went.

Before I knew it I was headed back onto the race course.  (A small part of me hoped that other runners did not look at me and think, “She cheated.”  I hoped that they would just assume that I went off to use the toilet.)  I was hoping to maybe catch back up to Marissa, but sadly this never happened.

With about 3km to go until the finish line, I assumed we were done with hills.  I reasoned, “Surely the race committee would not design the course to include a hill at the end.  Sadly, I was wrong.  Although the last hill was nowhere near as brutal as the first, it was still brutal enough to make me think, “I’m dying!”  

I had told myself that I was going to continue jogging no matter what.  There was a point, however, that I wondered which would have been faster; my snail-like jog or a brisk walk.  Alas, I chose the snail-like jog.  Normally I try to sprint it to the end.  Although I picked up my pace a little, it was nowhere near my usual sprint.  I had nothing more in me.  I had left it all out on the road.

Going into the race I was hoping for a sub 2 hour time.  After seeing the last hill I knew that it was going to be just out of my reach.  I finished with an official chip time of 2:06:27, but since I stopped my Garmin when I went to the bathroom I choose to think of my official time as 2:04:23.  With the higher elevation and the hills to take into consideration, I am satisfied with my time.  Here are everyone’s results:

#2636 Marissa
1307 / 3036
165 / 739
76 / 346

1405 / 3036
179 / 739
82 / 346

1967 / 3036
338 / 739
156 / 346

2246 / 3036
434 / 739
205 / 346

2334 / 3036
470 / 739
222 / 346

(bib #, name, age category, rank among everyone, rank among women, rank among age category, time at 10.5k, and official chip finishing time)

I’m training to run a marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise life-saving funds to help those fighting blood cancers. Please help! You can donate to my event at: 
Don't forget that you may also check out my journey from obese couch potato 
to marathoner by clicking HERE.

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