Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Race, Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon!

Even though this race was a few weekends ago, I wanted to wait until I received my race photos before I posted about my first race!

This was right after crossing the finish line, I was very sweaty as you can see!

It has been on my "bucket list" to run a half marathon. After meeting all of my health and fitness goals last deployment, I decided to attempt my first race during this deployment. I wanted to run a 5k during the summer, but instead I pulled my quad a week before the race so needless to say I didn't run that one. 

After getting back into my workout routine after Hubs went back on deployment after his emergency leave, I saw a flyer at my gym for the Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach and I knew I wanted to run it. I had 10 weeks and even though I hadn't been running, I was doing alot of cardio already so I hoped endurance wouldn't be an issue. I talked to my marathon-pro buddy and she suggested I find a routine online for my running. Sure enough, I found one that suited my needs: running 4 days a week, only 2 days consecutively and gradually building up mileage every week. 

At the beginning of my training, I did really well. I still managed to do a few of my other classes at the gym as well. But as I added more mileage, my body wasn't too happy with me so I stopped doing the gym classes and concentrated just on running. I also went to a running shoe store in town and they were AMAZING! I felt like Cinderella, I must have tried on and jogged in a dozen different shoes before I found the perfect pair. Apparently, I run funny and need high stability shoes. The guy at the shoe store asks me, "Do you notice your knees occasionally colliding while you run?". My response is typical me, "Yah, but I figured its because I am a complete klutz and I was distracted by the TVs while I was on the treadmill." So it turns out I'm not a complete klutz, I just run funny (great excuse, right?). 

I would like to say I stuck to the running training schedule. Well if you have been a follower of my blog, you noticed that my life has been anything but predictable lately. In the middle of training, I began dealing with the problems concerning my niece and her custody situation. That took about 2 weeks out of my training. I was tempted to quit after that setback to my running, but I decided to go through with the race because I had already spent almost $100 on the registration for it (money is a good motivator, isn't it?). 

I did 90% of my training on the treadmill and while I was home visiting my family in Louisiana, I ran outside. 

The day before the race, I met up with 2 of my race experienced friends who held my hand and showed me what to do. We had the race expo to pick up our race packet and number. It was quite the experience and we picked up lots of free goodies. The race shirt was pretty awesome this year too!

The night before the race, I left Little Miss with a friend overnight because I had to be up at 4:30am! I met up with my friends and we took a shuttle to the start of the race. There were these very peppy racers next to us on the bus taking photos and stuff before 6am while I am still trying to figure out what in the world possessed me to think that running half marathon was a good idea...

The first pointer I got was to use the port-o-potty as soon as we got off the bus before the wait was bad. Then we walked around, dropped of my bag, and ate a hot banana. Yup, a hot banana. Apparently your body uses less calories digesting the banana when it is hot. Makes sense. But it also makes the banana taste like crap. After another trip to the port-o-potty, it was time to get into our corral!

The start of the race is pretty exciting, you see the first group of people start as they race in wheelchairs then the "professional" runners take off. Each corral starts cheering as we edge closer to the starting line, then we are off!

The first 4 miles, I had to keep reminding myself to slow down! Looking at my time, I can see I was really pushing myself the first part of the race. I just had so much adrenaline going, there were crowds gathered at the beginning of the race holding up signs and cheering!

On the advice from my friend, I stopped at the water/gatorade stations and drank only half of what was in the cups. The rest of the water I would splash on myself. It was over 80 degrees with high humidity during the race. I was so afraid of getting dehydrated I drank too much because I definitely had to stop at the halfway point to use the port-o-potty! I also had some energy jelly beans that I snacked on throughout the race to make sure my electrolytes weren't getting low or anything. They gave out the energy gels or goos along the race, but my friend told me how they felt in your mouth and she compared it to something that most women don't find appealing so it kind of scared me from using those...

I am very happy to say I ran most of the race. I only walked 3 times, the first time was at mile 7. I only walked about a half mile that time, then started running again. I stopped again to pee between miles 8-9. Then I walked again at mile 11, only for a quarter of a mile though. It was a nice race though, my favorite part was the people that had homes along the race path had their sprinklers set so they could spray us as we ran by. That was very very VERY nice of them :)

Almost finished!

By the end of the race, I was exhausted. As soon as you cross the finish line, I felt like I was on the red carpet or something because there are photogs EVERYWHERE. They hand you your race medal, then you take a photo with a backdrop, then you collect your goodies: sponges sitting in ice water, bottled water, chocolate milk, bananas, snickers energy bars, and popsicles! You could also get a free Michelob Ultra if you were 21, but that was the last thing I wanted after that race. My marathon pro friend finished about 10 minutes before me and my other friend wasn't too far behind me. 

The race ended at the oceanfront, and that is where we stayed for almost an hour after the race just relaxing. There were parts of my body that hurt that I didn't know could hurt! My lower back in particular, that hurt for a few days afterward too. After finally getting back home, I instantly regretted renting a 2 story townhome. Stairs are evil. 

The race was on a Sunday so on Tuesday I was back at the gym, but I only walked for a few miles on the treadmill. By the end of the week, I was surprised that I was back to normal and could work out like I did before the race. I cannot describe how sore I was after running 13.1 miles. 

Now that my first race is out of the way, I want to run another! I registered for a shorter race, the Wicked 10k, at the end of October. It is only 6 miles so that will be much easier than the half marathon I just ran. I am still running 3-4 days a week but I am working back in my gym classes.

Quite a few people have told me that they could never run a half marathon, but I beg to differ! With the proper training and the right mindset, you can do anything especially a race. Okay so maybe you aren't as crazy as me and don't want your first race to be a half-marathon. I don't blame you, that was kind of insane on my part. So start small, do a 5k. Just search online for free training programs for running a 5k and find one that works for you. Who knows, you may even start to like running! I know I sure do, its one of the only ways I can clear my head and just reset. I tend to let my mind go crazy and over-think situations, over-analyze everything. When I run, I just forget about all that stuff. 

I am so excited about the Wicked 10k! I am hoping I can get another friend to run with me, it will be her first race :)

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