My body was sore and achy after the half marathon on Thanksgiving: bad shoes and lack of training had me limping miserably and popping anti-inflammatories like they were candy. I had a wrap on my left ankle, and was foam rolling my right IT Band. The entire time I was, I kept thinking “This has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever done.”
But since I am a special kind of crazy (and know that if I had been training, this would have been easy peasy) I figured, what the hell.
The awesome medal is a perk.
I had to work my crazy overnight shift on Saturday, so when I got home just after noon I finished packing my last minute items and we waited for Eric to show up so we could get on the road. I planned on sleeping in the back seat for the ride down so I could rest a little bit, then when we got into Titusville, we’d grab our packets. Well, I slept for about an hour, and then was awake. I was excited about the race!
After some crazy traffic, we finally showed up at the Kennedy Space Center for packet pick up. We walked over to the expo, was told we couldn’t come in without a ticket, was sent back to a tent to wait, got a ticket, then walked through again. The security guard barely glanced at the tickets, which made me think that we could have just flashed a credit card and gotten in. And we had to wait because they didn’t print enough tickets. Minor inconvenience in reality, but it still made a lot of us upset about the lack of planning and posting on what we were supposed to do.
Once inside the pick up area, we grabbed our numbers and checked the chips. We then got our long sleeve tech shirts, and wandered around the super small expo. If you wanted to call it that. I ran into friends who were planning on walking the half marathon and we chatted for a little while. Soon we left and went to the hotel, checked in, and got settled. Found a nice little restaurant for dinner and enjoyed some yumminess before heading back to the room to rest, relax and mentally prepare for the adventure that lie ahead.
I brought three pairs of shoes with me to choose from. One was the God awful blue ones with the chunk missing out of one of them, one was an older pair and older version of the same shoes (Mizuno Wave Inspires) and the third were a pair of Adidas that I loved, but had NO support whatsoever. I wear those when I trail run.
“So which ones are you going to wear?” Eric asked me.
“You should wear the Adidas,” Brian said.
“They have no support in them though. I need to have my insoles in there too,” I said.
“Then why did you bring them?” he asked. Eric is laughing at us at this point.
“Because I wanted to have the option I guess. Last ditch decision?” I said. Brian just rolled his eyes and shook his head at me. To be honest, I know what he is thinking. I should have ordered a new pair when I realized the old ones were bad, and just worn those. Eric had said that there was a huge sale going on at Jacksonville Running Company too. But I had Hanukkah presents to buy and those came first.
I ended up deciding on the older Mizunos. I strapped on my D-strap, set out my gear for the next morning (including a tutu of course) and then stretched out some. Eric was stretching and foam rolling too. I was out cold by 9pm and was apparently the only one who really slept at all that night (hey, I had been up since 1:30am, and only had an hour nap. I could have slept through a hurricane.)
The next morning came quickly and early. We each took our turns going to the bathroom and doing our duty, getting ready and headed out the door ready to run. The shuttle was a charter bus that took us to the start line. After confirming what time to be back at the bus so we could get cleaned up and out of the hotel before check out (Noon. They need to make that later since the marathoners run till most 1pm) we headed in the direction of the post race party. The boys got in line for the porta potties, and I was on the hunt for some water so I could take the EnergyBits I had in my hand.
When we met back up, we were standing there waiting. I was texting Marisa, and she found us. Gave us a big hug, and then darted back in line for the potty. We made our way to get water for the guys and then started heading over to line up.
There were A LOT of us there getting in line. The cut off for the half marathon was 3.000 people, and it felt like there was way more than that there. We waited until the gun was about to go off only because it was so crowded. We ran into Paul McRae from PRS Running, and since Eric is already a member of that running club we chatted for a bit. Soon it was time to head over and line up. Eric went toward the front, with a goal time to meet. Brian and I headed toward mid pack, me farther back. I kissed him our usual good luck kiss and I walked back farther to the back.
The start of this race is different. Instead of a gun or a cannon, they show the launch of a shuttle on a giant jumbo tron in front of the start line, and once it takes off, so do we. I love the idea of tying in space to the start of the race. Plus – there were icicle lights all over that looked like steam or shooting stars. It was awesome. And then we were off… a few short turns and darkness. That part sucked. There was no lights on the first few miles and suddenly all those people who had headlamps had it right.
I did the Galloway method, paying attention to my head and my leg. I’d run until I was feeling discomfort, walk until it went away, and started running again. I noticed that I was chasing the 3 hour pace group and tried to catch up to them. Our walk/run times were off so it took almost 6 miles to do so. Once I caught up to them, it was awesome. I really enjoyed running with a group that was doing it for the same reasons I was – to run.
We passed a lot of people on the way, and got passed by more. I saw Charlie and Clayton, the two who were walking the race. I saw Brian when we were going opposite directions. I saw other pace groups, and when we passed them when we were going opposite directions, everyone cheered. I felt good; it felt good to be a part of something that was pushing me as well as having me push them.
When we came up to the finish line, I had to drop back some. I was hurting; out of breath, out of energy, and realizing yet again just how out of shape I had become. But I pushed through and knew I wanted to make it to the finish. I ran the rest of the way in to the race and when I crossed the clock said 3:01. I got a towel wrapped around me, a medal put around my neck and then I heard my name. It was Brian so I went over to him.
We found Eric, got some water, beer and pizza. Brian also grabbed some of the eggs and pancakes. I was talking to one of the race directors from the Jacksonville Running Company with Eric about the race. Eric wanted to try and find Paul, so we wandered in the direction of the finish line… where times were posted. I know it doesn’t matter, I know it shouldn’t have mattered… but I started almost 6 minutes behind the start line. Did I make it under 3?
“I thought it doesn’t matter?” Brian said as he watched me walk back to him with a smile on my face.
“It doesn’t. I just was curious if I made it under three or not,” I said. For the record, I did it in 2:56 which is two minutes faster than my very first half time almost two years ago. For some reason that satisfied me. Knowing we wanted to be heading back to the hotel by 10am so we could get cleaned up and checked out on time, we wandered toward the buses and made our way to the hotel.
At noon, we were packing up and moving out. I checked us out of the hotel, got into the back seat of the car and then we got on the road. I had been texting Marisa to find out how she had done with no response back right away but knew she was okay. When stopped along the way to grab some food, and when we finally got home it was like a relief almost. It had been go go go the entire day, and now we could relax some.
Doing two half marathons and a virtual 5k in four days with little to no training is stupid. It’s not the smartest thing I have ever done. But at the same time, it was one of the best things I have ever done because it proved to myself that there really are no more migraines and that I still had the desire to get out there and go.
Sure, life is crazy right now and I’m desperately trying to get a grip on things. Trying to manage time and emotions, manage work flows and making everything happen strongly is not easy. But these races proved to me that I can do it, and all I need to do is map out a plan and stick to it like glue… and anything is possible.
By this time next year, I just might hit that 2:30 half time, with migraines a distant memory in the past.