One month after my original goal date, but well ahead of my 30th birthday, I ran my first half-marathon. I had been training since late May, I trained all through the brutal summer, having to wake up super-early on run days in order to avoid running in unbearable heat. In the final month, I finally stuck to the strict training diet and went full vegan at last.
My race was scheduled to begin at 7:30 am. As was suggested by my training manual (written by the wonderful No Meat Athlete), I woke up at 5:00 am to prepare and drink a smoothie (made with pineapple, banana, ground flaxseed, spinach, and coconut oil). I took some spirulina and changed into my running clothes. It took Dustin a bit longer to wake up, but he finally did. Off we went.
It was actually pretty cool when we left his place so I had to borrow a hoodie because I’m a weenie about being cold. It only took about twenty minutes to get to the park. The race was starting at the Plano Balloon Festival. Dustin and I made our way around the grounds not knowing where to go exactly, but finally found the runner’s village. As a runner, I was treated to free coffee, which of course, I do not drink. Dustin gladly drank it for me, though. Haha Free coffee for my sleepy fella!
We made our way to the starting line. Music was blasting so we started dancing together. I needed that. It was my warm up. As the countdown to the start ended, I kissed Dustin, told him my estimated finish time (based on my pace during my training runs), handed him my bag, and off I went.
It was so exhilarating to be out there with fellow runners, especially fellow first-timers. There was so much excitement and positivism. During the second mile, we made our way up a hill and were able to see the hot air balloons that had been launched. Unfortunately for those of us at the head of the pack, not all the balloons had been launched when we passed this area and it ended up being the only place along the course with a view of them. Ah, well. On we continued.
I felt pretty good throughout the race up until mile seven or so. At that point, I had to take a break and walk. I also ate a few of my fruit chews and drank up some sports drink that I had in my water bottle. It seemed as though it took forever for me to reach mile eight. By mile nine, I finally felt that I had it in the bag even though fatigue was really starting to hit. After that point, I started stopping at each drink station and downing cups of Powerade. I know my body needed the carbs and I was happy to drink them!
I took a look at my watch once I reached mile ten and it hit me that I could make it to the finish before the time that I had told Dustin. This thrilled me, since he was spending all this time alone at the festival with not much to do other than look at balloons. The run had pretty much become a mind game at this point. I walked every five minutes or so until I reached the last mile. The sun was hitting us hard and I was feeling it. My legs were feeling okay, no worse than they felt during my long training runs. It was my feet and my stomach that were giving me trouble. I started to regret drinking all the Powerade!
I finally reached the last drink station at the 12-mile marker. I drank a cup of water, took a huge breath, and ran, ran, ran! The crowds cheering us on at the sidelines were becoming bigger! That was actually pretty amazing… All along the course, there were people cheering us on, telling us we were amazing, encouraging us to keep going, and even high-fiving us.
My Dad attended the White Rock Marathon every year when I was a kid and it makes me SO damn happy to finally realize that he was one of those guys waking up early to cheer others on. What an awesome guy. As if I didn’t already love him enough!
So, yes, I reached the 12-mile marker and knew that I was almost done. I imagined putting that finishing medal around my neck and finally seeing Dustin and just ran as fast as I could on my tired feet. The large inflated arch that marked the finish line came into view and I got the craziest chills. The crowd was really big at this point! I started smiling like crazy!
With about 10 yards left, I spotted Dustin on the sideline! He was wearing a crazy, pink cowboy hat that I knew he must have bought while wandering around the festival! He looked hilarious in it and I started laughing. As I passed him, he took the hat off and started fanning my feet with it. I laughed even more, but I kept running.
As I was nearing the finish line, I heard someone yell, “Yeah! Go pink hat!” I turned my head, still running, and realized that Dustin was running right behind me! He was running and fanning my feet with the hat again. He was yelling encouraging words and I just started cracking up!
I finally crossed the finish line, with Dustin by my side, and we gave each other the hugest kiss with so many spectators watching us! I think our picture was taken too! It was the perfect finish. So much better than I could have imagined. That moment just reminded me how loved I am and how special Dustin is. I honestly expected him to be bored and sleepy when I finished the race. I expected having to call him to find him. He truly exceeded my expectations and made me such a ridiculously happy gal.
Dustin had told me the day before that he during a meeting at work, he told his co-workers about my race. I feel like he kinda bragged about me and that makes me happy. 🙂
Here’s my picture after the race. I’m showing off my huge medal and wearing the crazy pink hat!
|Plant strong! Woot woot!|
Now, I look forward to continue to run this distance, improve my pace, and run a full marathon in six months to a year. There is no stopping me now! I am addicted to running and cannot wait to run another race!