Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Drank the Kool-Aid (Okay It Was Gatorade).

So for the maybe 3 of you who aren't Facebook friends with me and thus haven't been subjected to my barrage of gushing endorphin-fueled posts on the subject (or who haven't seen me in person or who weren't the proud recipients of multiple moderately tipsy texts and phone calls on Sunday) I ran my first half marathon on Sunday in my hometown with both of my parents.

It was aaaaaaawesome and I'm totally doing it again as soon as I can move at any level above a zombie shuffle. However, I could write about 300 pages worth of overenthusiastic nonsense that none but the most obsessed of runners would actually take the time to read, so I've condensed my experience into two sections: Amusing Anecdotes/Helpful Tips and Inspirational Bullshit I Can Call To Mind Next Time I'm Trying to Hit an 8-Minute Mile Pace in Pouring Rain and Wondering Why the Hell I Do This to Myself (okay so that title needs some work...).

Amusing Anecdotes/Helpful Tips:

1. If you're running a flat race, train on hills. The Modesto Half course is completely flat with the exception of "Mt. Modesto" (AKA the Briggsmore overpass) and it was, well, extremely validating to blow past all the flatlanders struggling up the great man-made mountain.

2. If you have trained on hills and managed your best 13.1 on hills in 2:14, and you're running a flat course, don't tell your family to expect you around 2:15, because barring injury or unfortunate unanticipated port-a-potty visits, you will come in much, much faster than that (like, say 2:04:46ish) and the only picture of you finishing will look like this:

Hey look, it's my butt! Note to self: lay off the chocolate...

3. If you're a lady, your period will show up a week late just so it can cheer you on while you run your race. Accept this. Pack chocolate.

4. If you're running your first half marathon in your hometown with both of your parents, one of whom had major neck surgery last year, and you never thought you'd be a runner and you've struggled with injury and chronic illness to get to this point, and you're hormonally ridiculous because of aforementioned delayed lady days, for the love of God don't put Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" on your running mix, because "We Used to Wait" will come on at mile 8 and you will start to cry. And then you will start to hyperventilate. And wheeze. And you'll have to walk for a bit while you collect yourself. And you'll keep looking at your watch yelling aloud between sobs, "Stop crying, Megan! You're at a 9 minute mile and you're ruining it!" And then other runners will be afraid.

5. At aid stations, if you have your earbuds in and can't hear what the volunteers are saying, LOOK IN THE CUP before you splash the liquid all over your face. Because it might not be the refreshing cool water you were hoping for but rather some sort of viscous pink energy drink that will dry in a sticky, sugary crust over the salty, sweaty crust all over your face and make you want to claw your skin off.

6. This is more anecdot-y but so, my dad ran a half in 2:05 last year and my previous PR was 2:14, right? So I expected him to be ahead of me. We got parted at the starting line, but I thought I saw him right as we got to "Mt. Modesto". I sprinted ahead of the group I'd been running with, dodging several tutu-clad ladies (Why. Just...why?), turning my ankle in a pot hole and accidentally bumping into this dude who, I swear to God, looked just like a gorilla, only to discover just as I was about to tap my "dad" on the shoulder that my dad was not my dad at all, but rather a tall, thin woman with hair roughly the same length who was wearing a similarly-colored shirt and hat. Whoops.

And now for the Inspirational Bullshit:

1. Watching a chick just a year younger than me beat every dude in the field in the marathon. Bad. Ass. I was standing a few feet from the finish line when she ran in and it was damn impressive. Made me actually consider running a marathon...someday...

Courtesy of Modesto Bee: my new hero

2. Running my first race in front of my baby, who was very patient and excited and said she wants to "run a long way down by the river" now, too. Good. Maybe she won't be 30 when she runs her first half.

That's the face of a warrior right there. Boston Marathon winner 2033, perhaps?

3. My mom. This was her 3rd half marathon and she says it's her last so I was unbelievably grateful to get to run it with her. She has degenerative disc disease and had a bunch of her cervical vertebrae fused together last year and a titanium plate put in. The crazy woman was doing incline walking on the treadmill just a few weeks later. Training for this half did not go as she had hoped. She has another bulging disc in her neck and was plagued by pain, muscle spasms and weakness in her arm so her longest training run was only an 8 miler I think. But this lady does NOT give up.

I finished in 2:04:46, my dad who had a bad day with cramps and other issues (and is also a friggin' inspiration, btw, since he needs knee replacement surgery at some point in the future but keeps on truckin') came in at 2:19. I cooled down a bit, drank some chocolate milk, hugged my baby, watched the badass Anna Bretan win the marathon, and then went back to the 13 mile marker to wait for my mama. She was hoping to finish in 3 hrs. and was expecting to have to walk a lot, so I was surprised to see her rounding the corner around 2:50 at a nice jog. I fell in with her and ran up to the finish. She was focused and determined and a very un-bullshitty version of inspirational. She finished in 2:52 and later revealed she had waited in line for a port-a-potty for 8 minutes around mile 11 (behind some dick spectators who were holding places for other runners, by the way, jerk move, spectators) so if you subtract that time she came in even faster than her last half! Friggin' awesome.

Badass mother runner

All-in-all, it was a great experience. Around mile 10 I felt like I was going to faint, puke, die, or all 3 and I said to myself, "NEVER again"...and now I'm looking up local races in the fall and contemplating the Napa half next spring...I definitely drank the Gatorade.

I think our priorities at this point were (from left to right): Nap. Bath. Mimosas.