I woke up at 5:45 a.m. to turn the coffee pot on and headed back to bed for a few more minutes of sleep. I don't do well eating a lot before running but not eating anything before running for over two hours doesn't work either. So breakfast consisted of half a luna bar, half a cup of coffee, half a banana. I attached my racing chip and waited for my parents to arrive - my dad also ran his first half.
I was way nervous on the way to the race and almost cried when I left Shea and then when my dad started choking up, but when I got to my pace group and began chatting with the other runners I forgot I was terrified. I was planning to line up with the 2:20 pace group but couldn't push through the crowds and stayed with the 2:25 group. I really loved running with the pace team - Mary and Wally - who coached us the whole way on our form when running up the GIANT hill at mile 3 or backed us off when our pace got too fast. Or the cheers that kept the running fun - "big hill, little butt!"
I ran this route frequently in my training. I saw my mom and Shea right before conquering the first hill.The plan was to throw my jacket to Shea but they were on the other side of the road so I just kept going. The Kessler Road hill is brutal and I rarely ever make it up without walking but with the coaching from the pacers, I made it! "Lean forward, shorten your stride." And this was the view. How could you not love Kansas City?!
Stayed with my pace group. My favorite sign was "Sue Says, Run Fatties Run" at Westport Road. My group walked through the aid stations, which I stuck with water the whole way except one when I went for some nasty-tasting warm Gatorade. Grateful that I had several sticks of gum with me to keep my mouth from going dry. I chatted with a couple as I ran through the Plaza and was amazed I could easily talk as I ran. Turns out, pacing is effective.
Started to get knee pain and got increasingly worse. The bottoms of my feet started aching. Saw my mom, preggo friend Edie who came from Dallas to cheer me on, and Shea at mile 8 where I was able to finally shed my now sweaty jacket. Shea ran a little with me, and I refreshed with orange slices from a wonderful volunteer.
Though this section was mostly barren and spectator-less, it ran through rougher neighborhoods resulting in the most interesting cheers. I got ahead of my pace group at this point and found running alone was pretty darn lonely. Favorite spectator chant: "Don't look so miserable. Remember, this was your choice!"
I swear the mile markers were farther apart during this stretch. My knee pain got bad. If I kept running it was tolerable but when I walked for an aid station or to catch my breath, it was borderline excruciating when I started running again. Between 11 and 12 my stomach started cramping up. As we rounded the curve to head to the finish line chute, a volunteer shouted out: "Keep going, you're about to finish a half marathon!" And I choked up and got blurry eyed.
The long finishing chute was AWESOME and horrible at the same time. I finally saw Shea but was battling knee pain and fierce stomach cramps. I zeroed in on the finish line clock and finished at 2:24:44. My goal was to not start out too fast, and I succeeded with negative splits (second half faster than first). Did I mention that most importantly, I finished?
I'll post pictures soon of my super supporters who were waiting for me at the finish line.
The finish line food consisted of a banana, yogurt and M&Ms. I totally could have used some chocolate milk. I've iced and heated my knee and took the most remarkable hot shower. We had Ingredient for lunch (turkey avocado wrap and salad).
Then I proceeded to have stomach cramping all afternoon. Got some girl time with Edie and drank a huge bottle of Powerade and many glasses of water. I did not pee until midnight despite the fact I have probably drank my weight in liquid. I took a nap on the couch with my feet resting on Shea's lap - apparently doing a running motion for the entire hour-long nap.
Despite the burning knee and hips, I think I'm hooked. I've run over 270 miles since July. I never thought I could run more than five miles on a treadmill, let alone finish a half marathon in hilly Kansas City. It ranks as one of my greatest physical and mental challenges.
Next up? Nurse my IT band and pick my next goal. Another half? Maybe a full? A big ol' training break? Stay tuned!