1/2 Marathon and Guest Post

This was my first half-marathon in FOUR AND A HALF years, well and only my second, but it was amazing. I was really nervous about running this, but I took it and went with it. My friend, Sarah, will explain later in this post how it came about that we ran this 1/2. We were certainly not planning to do it. We did it the day after the Mud Run, remember? That night when we got home I remember thinking so much.. "Why on earth would I do this"... and I barely slept. Waking up I was a nervous wreck. 
The picture on the left is of me the morning of our 1/2 marathon... I look ready to go, Don't I?
The picture on the right is me about to come through the finish line over four years ago... 

All I could think about was how nervous I was for the first 1/2 marathon in Little Rock-- the Rock and Roll. I have been so hesitant to do another unless it was BIG like that one, because I really felt that the reason I did so well was because of how huge it was.. and how amazing it was. I had not ran more than 5 miles nonstop this time around yet.. Though last time I had not done more than a 10K. I was super nervous that I had just gotten myself into some serious trouble and I was going to really let Sarah down. I was doing this for her... and I just wanted to be that running partner that she needed... I was super scared.  
Because of the hectic morning and barely getting their on time, we do not have a single picture of us at the start. Because of how the end turned out, which you can read below, we don't have a single picture of us at the end. The picture on the left is after we arrived home and I put my boy to sleep.. I went out to mow my yard! :) When I came back in I was super sweaty, so I went for an after shot! :) Haha. The picture on the right is before my 1/2 in Little Rock with my running girl, Jill. 
Our bling! 

Below, Sarah is going to tell you about the race from her point of view. I am so glad she decided to share. I will add in a few little things, in red, so make sure you read it. The fourth mile of this run was the hardest for me. At that time we ended up on a rocky peninsula and my foot was throbbing. I just told myself to push through it.. seriously, we were only on mile 4 of 13. Once we got through the massive hill that Sarah tells you about, I had forgotten all about it! After that... I had it. I am not sure WHERE on earth my mojo came from... why I was running so well... why I had plenty of air... and why I was so happy. I am thinking maybe I felt wonderful and that I was doing so well because I normally run with a jogging stroller and toddler.. perhaps I felt free? It was such a great run. I spent a good portion of it talking to Sarah trying to keep her motivated... and encourage her while she was wanting to knock me down, lol. It felt great... From here, I want to share Sarah's point of view. I will finish the blog off.. 
Great expectations
I told my friend, Big Sis, that I would write about the half marathon from my perspective, which is rather hard for me as I'm not one who can just "write." (actually she wrote me this morning and said she couldn't do it... I am so thankful she did) I need rules and goals for pretty much anythings, such as writing papers and improving running. I figured that by giving myself a goal of running a half marathon, I would give myself the motivation to get out and run on days that I didn't especially feel like running and to give my runs purpose. Per the suggestion of Big Sis I found a race I wanted to run, and figured out a loose training schedule. I chose one in October, figuring that I would give myself about a four month time schedule moving up in three mile increments per month and then a month of speed training. Well... turns out October is going to a strangely busy month and the day before the race I chose we're going to be at a wedding. Not that I couldn't do it, but I'd like to enjoy myself at the wedding. (Which I am so thankful it did not work out for her because we were going to do it together, but it didn't work for me either) After more searching for another, before the original race I chose, I couldn't find anything but this race. It was one week away, I hadn't run more than 6 miles at once. This was not fitting into my training schedule. You may be thinking, well thats silly, why not find one after the original date? well...I'm slightly neurotic (word!!) and felt that if I put off the race till after the original date that I would be failing at the task that I was trying to do. Yes, I realize that this makes no sense, but it does to me, in the importance of me wanting to make my goals I locked my brain into a weird time schedule. (remember that whole thing of really liking rules and goals? yeah, I'm a freak, its cool though I make awesome cupcakes.)

Bis Sis and I did one of the most awesome mud runs ever (um.. yes, remember I posted about it the other day?) with a gigantic water slide that we had to do twice because it was just that awesome, and on that day I talked to her about this race that I had stuck in my head for a week, the only race I felt I would be able to do before my imaginary date of failure.There were some hurdles in our way, kids being a huge one. Big Sis, being the awesome and logistically minded person she is (well, thank you), got on it, and decided to run it. She is one of the most supportive people I know and just crazy enough to decide to run 13.1 miles on less than 24 hours notice. (Crazy, indeed... not sure WHY we decided to do that so quickly.) Miraculously we found a babysitter, on our way home from the mud run still digging dirt out of our ears, we signed up and retrieved our packets. (to what I assured big Sis was going to be a fairly flat race.) (riiiiight... never trust someone that colors their hair purple, lol)

We barely made it to the race on time, which worked because I didn't have too much time to think about what we were about to do. I couldn't eat beforehand: I was too nervous, my mouth was dry and I was so excited. Like bouncing off the walls too much sugar excited. We met up with a friend, who had planned to run the race, chatted a bit then we were off.

If your thinking "wow, thats fast, so much exposition and then BAM! they're running a half" well thats kinda how it felt.

I had done the 10k version of this race the year before, pushing my kids in a double stroller, from what I remembered of it, it was relatively flat with a couple little hills but nothing too bad and with really pretty scenery, it had all been on a running path and was lovely. I found out that day that apparently I remember things through rose colored glasses (I would say so.. this whole race was hill after hill) and have unrealistic expectation of the difference between a 10k and a half marathon.

Lets just say there were more hills than expected.

By about mile 3, I was already dying, my foot hurt, (I had just gotten new shoes, did I mention how woefully unprepared I was for this.) and I was running on pretty much nothing. Turns out you can go along way on nothing. Big sis was cheering me on, and I was trying to zone out, ignore my foot and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other at a generally upbeat pace. After mile 4 I started feeling great, running was good, its always fun to run with Big Sis, we had a good pace, people were friendly, endorphins were flowing, and I had my awesome back. Then we hit this fun looking hill, that we had to run down, then run on a gravel path, then run back up the fun hill of doom, Even that ended

up going great, got through the unexpected trail portion and up the hill of doom without stopping. It was awesome, we did great up what was a really hard hill, Both big sis and I were elated! we had conquered the mountain! (This is the one I was talking about above) and we had omgosh around 8 miles left to run. Sometimes it better not to look at how far you have to go.

So we kept running, I was starting to really slow down on the hills, just focusing on one foot in front of the other and my feet were really starting to bother me, I knew from experience, if my feet bug me while running, I cannot stop or the pain all comes flooding in and I won't be able to start running again. So I couldn't stop. Big sis was turning around to catch up to my slow butt at that point, she'd power up the hills then slow down for me, I felt like I was holding her back, but was so grateful she was there to push me on. (I would just like to add.. She isn't very nice when she is stressed out...lol )

We made it past my goal for the month, which had been 9 miles, yay! and made it all the way to a little past 11 miles, making it out of the trails of doom and back up on the road before I finally stopped.

I wanted so badly to finish without stopping, We were so close to the end, after running 11 and something miles another 2 seemed like nothing, we could do, I could just run through the pain and I would be able to sit when we go to the end, and then something just kinda broke in my head and the pain got to be too much and I started crying and I had to stop, my feet were killing me.
Stopping when we were so close was so incredibly disappointing, I felt like I let myself down, like I let big sis down, and I had just gone through all that work, all those darn hills for nothing. My usually upbeat attitude failed me, and I just wallowed in being despondent.

Ugg, it was terrible, and embarrassing because I knew that I was freaking out next to Big sis who had stopped with me and was probably very confused. (I think we were both a little confused.. we are so much alike where we don't show emotions, that I think it was truly a little awkward for both of us..)

I cried, with no tears might I add because I think I was super dehydrated, but I felt like such a failure. (She was NOT a failure, please remind her of this.. she did FREAKING 11 miles)

We walked through the last bit of the race, right before the finish line I kinda came to my senses, I had started out saying we were starting the race awesome we would finish it awesome, so we had maybe .1 miles left to go we started running again and finished the race in 2 hours and 55 mins.
It felt great to finish! Despite my rather large freakout, finishing just brought back all the reasons why I LOVE running, and finishing with Big sis was so great, I felt like I had gotten my awesome back.
I ripped off my shoes and limped over to some water, our friend was waiting for us, we all chatted and felt fantastic.

The rest of the day was kinda werid, turns out I sprained my toe somewhere during the race, my son smashed his finger, so the rest of the day ended up going to see some very nice docters, but at the end of it I am so very happy we did it.

Thank you Big Sis for running this with me, cheering me on and stopping with me when it just got to be too much. (Oh, stop!! I would not have had it any other way)

Next time I will finish those last two miles, because there will be a next time. For Now I'm not putting a time limit on that though.


Let me add that when she stopped... my heart broke. I was so sad, so so so sad. I tried so hard not to let on how heartbroken I was... but I was. I wanted to finish this race and I needed to... but like I kept telling her, "WE STARTED THIS RACE TOGETHER AND WE WILL FINISH THIS RACE TOGETHER!" I am so thankful today that I did stop and I did not finish. I could have finished, as I felt awesome. But that was not what that race was for. That race was for us. I signed up with Sarah on that race and I would finish it... even if it took us 3 hours. The last two miles walking did take a very long time... and it was a very difficult walk- I think for both of us. Sarah showed me a weaker side of her, meaning tears, and I am so thankful she did. She always seems so stinking tough and it is nice to see that side of people every now and again. 
I don't think I ever fully got over my feelings of not finishing and being upset until we got to Starbucks. :) I struggled from that 11 mile mark when we stopped until I got my drink at Starbucks NOT.TO.CRY. We were so close. The best thing I can say is I know I can do it.. I would have done it.. but I did the right thing by being there for my friend. THAT, is what it is about.. doing it together, being friends.. motivation. I am so thankful that we crossed that finish line together. I have no doubt the next one we do together (because there better be a next one).. we will cross that line so happy.. together!
 I am SO freaking proud of her. This is something she has wanted so bad. I am soooo proud of her. She did so good. 11 miles is amazing. We all know that. Sarah is the reason I am running again. From the moment I met her at my front door and she told me she was doing a run with her two kids... she changed me. I always said I would never run another 1/2 marathon... but she helped me get that desire going on. On top of that spur of the moment one... I have 3 more by the end of February! All because of her. I am thankful for the friend in her... And when we leave here, rather soon, she will be one of the few things that I do miss! :(
-Big Sis