What an adventure! My training for the half-marathon began on Jan. 7th with the Marathon Training Class from the Ann Ringlein at the Lincoln Running Company. The first night of class I was completely clueless and had questions like, "Where do I run? How do I know how far I've gone?" Some were very practical ones like, "Where do I put my keys?" After getting a grip on the basics... I was ready to roll with it. My training plan was 17 weeks long and included 82 runs totaling 351 miles. I did every single one of them, with gusto. The result was an overall pace improvement of more than 3 minutes/mile (compared to some paces I ran early on in my training) and a finishing time for the race that made me happy (despite the included time for a bathroom pit-stop.... mother nature cannot be bossed around!). Goal for next year: no bathroom breaks and a further improved pace that reflects that fact. :) Oh yeah, and I lost about 20 lbs!
Race day itself was a ton of fun and went something like this:
6:30 am: Emir drops me off for a meet up with my Marathon Class.
6:40 am: We head to the line-up area.
6:41 am: I realize that I forgot to give my jacket to Emir and spend a ridiculous amount of time/energy trying to decide what to do with it. I didn't bring my race bag to leave on the bag truck so.... I decide to hide it behind a bush and hope it will still be there after the race.
6:50 am: Hmmm... still trying to decide which pace to line-up with. I registered with a pace that I've since greatly improved upon.... but... not sure what to expect from myself when crossing through the starting line and don't want to get run-over or be in other people's way....
6:57 am: I run into a friend (Jennifer!) and chit-chat while the guns go off and we move our way through to the start (I'm still wondering if I lined up in an appropriate spot).
7:17 am: My turn to cross the start line.... Ready, Set, Go!
Mile 1: Wow! I've actually not been run over yet! Even doing quite a bit of passing... and am totally surprised by that. Someone shouts my name from the sea of spectators.... I flash them a smile and a wave. What fun! I see mom and dad along 16th street... This is also their first marathon experience (even as spectators). Glad I spotted them! They seemed to be enjoying watching so far.
Mile 2: We turn onto South Street. Surprised we got there already.... So far, so good!
Mile 3: Water station! We turn onto Sheridan Blvd., one of my favorite streets in the city.
Mile 4: So fun to see all the families with little kids hanging out and watching what must seem like a parade...
Mile 5: Seriously? 48th street already? I convince myself that I must surely be on my way to some sort of world record time.... Boston qualifying perhaps? (Just kidding!) Another beloved water station. I see my friend Michelle's mom and sister... I think I surprised them when I spotted them first. Ha!
Mile 6: We turn onto Hwy 2 and the bike path headed west. It's gorgeous out! I cheer on the people around me while pressing ahead.
Mile 7: I see my old friend Kirk along the side of the path, whom I haven't seen since 'running' into him at the gym the morning Emir and I got engaged over 4 years ago! (Lame pun, cut me some slack, will ya? :)
Mile 8: Water! I see Rena on the route... Is she on a bike? She's cheering me on!
Mile 9: We turn onto 20th street... I spot several groups of friends cheering me on & notice some gorgeous homes I don't remember seeing before... may have to drive this with Emir later...
Mile 10: Finally! A porta-potty without a waiting line... eureeka!
Mile 11: A straight shot ahead is the finish line. I hear my name and turn to see Katie cheering me on!
Mile 12: Last water station... Trying my best to pep up the runners around me... "Hang in!" I tell them... "We're almost there!"
Mile 13: Entering the stadium to finish on the Husker's 50 yard line, I spot my parents again... just inside the entrance. I shout, "Love you!" and barrel full-steam ahead towards the finish!
Emir had told me he wanted to take photos of the race, so I had no clue where or if I would see him along the route.... but knew he'd be at the stadium for my finish. I caught up with him just after I exited and gave him a triumphant hug.
PS: My jacket was still waiting for me behind the bush where I left it. :)
Here are just a small hand-ful of Emir's photos. This is the starting line (obviously).
Emir caught this shot of Sammy Rotich as he finished the half-marathon in first place. His official finishing time was 1:06.32 with a pace of 5:05. Amazing!
All the different athletes have so many stories... to freeze them in an image can say so much in terms of commitment, perseverance and determination. I enjoyed this image Emir caught of Jason Kerkman approaching the finish line.
One of the perks of finishing at Memorial Stadium is the jumbo tron! It featured a split screen... the left showing the finish line, and the right showing runners as they approach the stadium.
Here's yours truly making a bee line to the finish!
After hugging Emir and catching up with my parents... I was anxious to sit with my feet up and stretch a bit. Emir captured the moment when my dad asked to take a photo with me and my medal. :) It's been years since I've participated in a sport where I brought home one of those. (Not since high school) Ok, that makes me feel old... ha!
(If you're wondering about my choice of music, it was an ecclectic mix featuring everything from Michael Jackson, Jason Mraz and Tom Petty to a wide array of international artists. I ran with one ear bud in and the other decidedly not. I loved hearing the other runners and the people cheering along the route... so for me, this was the perfect combo of music and ambient soundtrack.)
So, I think I'm officially addicted. Trying to decide what my next running goal/event will be. I like the idea of using marathons as an excuse to travel.... and Emir has recently started running with me.... so.... looks like the fun will be continuing... and I am pumped!