The best way I can describe my experience with this Half Marathon is through a movie scene.
In When Harry Met Sally, after Harry & Sally finally sleep together, Harry leaves after an uncomfortable early morning with Sally, & they both call Jess & Marie to confess that "they did it." Marie & Jess ask "how was it?" Harry & Sally say "the during part was good, but then I guess it wasn't."
That was my run on Saturday.
Everything leading up to the race was great. I had a nice drive up, listening to a book on tape. The weather was cooperative--no rain to drive through. The traffic was non eventful. I got to the hotel in downtown Indianapolis with no problems.
My niece in law Kate & her two friends met me around 5:00 p.m. EST, & we did the Expo to pick up our packets and race loot. Then we were off to a window booth seat at Buca di Beppo. Dinner was delicious. We were plenty carbed up & ready for bed at 10 p.m.
I slept fitfully, but that's pretty typical for me before a race. I was up at 5:30 a.m. (4:30 my time), but didn't feel overly tired. We all got ready & headed down to the corrals just past 7 a.m.
The weather was perfect. Could not have been more perfect. It had rained the night before, but by morning the clouds were nothing more than sunblock. It was in the upper 40s/low 50s to start the race. The sun didn't come out until my last mile, so it never got hot. And there was no wind. Perfect running weather.
I ran the first 4 miles with Kate's friend Jen, who's pace is evenly matched to mine (even though she finished 13 minutes before I did). They were probably the best 4 miles I've ever run. Relaxed, cheerful, determined, & with a comrade.
At mile 4 I needed a Gu & an inhaler hit. Jen was feeling strong so she kept going. I sprinted to catch up to her after I finished my walk break, & I did catch her but at the expense of 3-4 minutes of 8/8:30 miles, which just about killed me. I had to walk again after that, & then I just resigned myself that I wasn't going to get to run with her any longer since she was pretty far ahead of me. I put on my iPod & put my head down & ran a steady pace.
The Indy 500 race track is where it started to get tough. By the time you are done with the track it's between mile 8 and 9. I was starting to have trouble breathing, & had to do a Gu also, so I walked after the track for a few minutes. The inhaler & Gu helped get some energy back, & I did well through mile 10.
It's not a coincidence that things started to get really rough at mile 10. 10 miles was my longest training run for this race. Any time you run a distance past your training mileage (in my experience anyway), the extra distance is extra tough. I did run a better 10 miles during this race than my training run--the race results show me at 1:52:46, and my training run was around 2 hours & 10 minutes.
It took me almost 38 minutes to run the last 3.1 miles. My official race time was 2:30:02.
I sprinted at the finish line, & when I did the asthma gripped my lungs tightly & said "no way, uh uh, you aren't getting away with that one." I immediately started wheezing & struggling to breathe, & for the first time actually felt pain in my lungs when I tried to breathe (thank goodness the inhaler brought quick relief). This, mingled with the achyness in my legs & feet and the overwhelming sense a person gets after running a long distance, brought me to tears.
It's a long walk from the finish line through all the post-race stations: medals, water, cookies, fruits, chips, pictures. And I had time to pull myself together before I met the other three girls. I called Mark to let him know I'd finished (he wasn't home, though, so I left a message) and called my mom to make sure the kids were okay (they were, but she was up to her eyeballs in kids so she didn't really have time to talk).
After hanging out & comparing our dissatisfaction with our finishing times (seriously? are runners ever happy with how they finish a race?), we all headed back to the Westin to shower & go home to our respective families. I was the last to shower since I was driving home & didn't have anyone to meet me right away.
And this, dear friends, who have stuck with me through this indulgent whine fest, is where I lose it.
I didn't have anyone to meet me right away.
While I was waiting for my turn to shower, Mark called me back; he'd been at the gym working out that morning. I'm sure he congratulated me enthusiastically, but honestly, I was so tired & my brain wasn't fully functioning yet, I barely remember our conversation.
What I do remember is how Kate had 4 congratulatory phone conversations with her family members while in the hotel room. And how Jen's family saw her cross the finish line and were in the hotel afterwards taking pictures of her. And Mary's husband and kids were driving the car around to the front of the hotel to pick her up. They were all off to Derby parties that afternoon.
I was off to the mall to have a solitary lunch & a 4 hour drive home. By myself.
And here's the rub.
I told Jill how excited I was to be able to do something BY MYSELF. Running affords me the pleasure of ME TIME, it's true. I love being able to get away from it all & do something just for me. Getting out of town & not having anyone slow me down was a big deal (my husband is notorious for not leaving on time). I loved the girls' night we had on Friday before the race.
But I learned a huge lesson with this race. After you do something you've spent months planning for & training for & thinking about & dreaming about, you want the people you love with you to celebrate your accomplishments. You want to be hugged, congratulated, made to glow with their approval & awe. And you want this to happen soon after the accomplishment. Not hours & hours later after a painful drive home of 5 hours instead of 4 hours because you had to stop so many times just to keep yourself awake & from cramping up too badly.
By the time I was home & my mom brought the kids home, my run was old news. It was on to the kids' needs, the hubs' needs, the house's needs. Life, it seems, moves on even when you run 13.1 miles in 2 and a half hours.
Sunday I posted my results on Facebook & got an immediate hit of WE LOVE YOU & ARE PROUD OF YOU. Several times, actually. I love the love from Facebook. I didn't have it in me to post this yesterday--I was exhausted & didn't even get a shower on Sunday--but I know you guys will show me the love, too.
I know all this. I know I'm lucky beyond measure & I need to get over myself. And I have.
The during part was awesome. But then it wasn't.
When Harry Met Sally has a happy ending, of course, & I've got a happy ending too. I feel good about finishing my third half. Yes, it was my slowest half of the three, but I'm (almost) over it. I know the why's of the pace. I can work to improve. That's what runners do, after all.
And more than anything, I'm thankful I learned this lesson now, instead of next year when I try to run a full marathon. I may have to drag all of you with me to Nashville next April and we can have a big party afterwards so I don't have to check into the mental ward from marathon let down.
Yep, Nashville. Country Music Marathon. April 2010. A runner's gotta have a goal. Nashville's mine.