Run a half-marathon...check

Well, for 10 years, I have been saying that I'm going to run the Lincoln Half-Marathon.  I've had so many excuses...pretty legitimate ones, but this year I decided no more excuses.  I submitted my registration and upped my "training" regimen to include 30+ miles a week.  I found that I'm quite challenged to run more than 3 miles at a time on my own.  I finally enlisted the help of many of my friends and tagged along with them on their runs.  This will certainly not stop now that the "big" race is over, because I've totally become addicted to the desire to run, and run with them! 

In all, I think I actually trained for 6-7 weeks, and my longest run was a week ago...10 miles at a 9:40 pace.  I went through three different pair of shoes in 5 weeks trying to find a pair that would eliminate the unrelenting pain in my feet and knees after long runs, and after this "10", I had a hard time walking by the time I got home.  It was enough to make me really nervous to run 13.1, considering I was dying at 9 miles, and by 10 had no desire to run another inch!  I maintained that nervous energy all week.  It was enough to make me pay close attention to my sleep, diet and running schedule the rest of week.  I even went to bed in the midst of hosting our cousin get-together on Saturday night...5 am would come rather early the next day. 

On Saturday after Jakob's track meet, I remembered how I felt during track meets.  Nervous the entire time.  There is something about a performance being all you.  While in track, others depend on you to contribute to the team, there is still so much individual effort.  I felt the same way about this race.  Why?  I have no idea...it's not like I was going to run to try to win it!  I guess I was just nervous about the unknown.  How hard would it be?  How tired would I be?  Would I be able to finish without stopping?  These things were still unknown as we lined up to start. 

The atmosphere at 6 am on a crisp, sunny Lincoln morning on campus is amazing on this race day.  There were 8,000 runners in addition to all the spectators and staff working the event.  Participants that looked like die-hard runners all the way to those who looked like they had never exercised a day in their life and were now lined up to complete 13.1 miles!  Judge no one...many of the people who finished ahead of me were not those that I would at first glance think could run even one mile!  The youngest runner was 9 and the oldest 68.  The marathon winner crossed the finish line around the same time I did.  That is insane!!  They ran twice as far in the same time. 

It took 15 minutes from the official start for us (I ran with Tim Brox and Kimberly Harper) to cross the starting line, and at that point we took off right into the sun behind probably four to five thousand other people.  We were in a group of runners that anticipated running between 10 and 11 minute miles.  Mile 1 and then 2 and then 3 seemed to come quickly and fairly easily.  I was eager to reach mile four because I knew Tim and the kids and Julia were going to try to be near there.  We continued to weave in and out of runners to find an open spot to run, and run together.  There were people lining the streets cheering, waving, ringing cowbells, holding signs to encourage specific runners and some to encourage any runners.  Every few miles there were water stations and thousands of cups littered the street.  Porta-potties were available and there seemed to always be a line of runners waiting to use them.  I don't think I would have wanted to stop to do that!

My family was waiting, all bundled in their blankets and cheering on Sheridan Blvd. around mile 4 which meant they had to get up and be out of the house shortly after 7 am.  It was so great to see them and provided a little pep to my step a third of the way through the race.  Along the way, I saw many people that I knew out cheering.  What fun to be on the receiving end of such encouragement!  It truly was amazing! 

As we continued on, I realized that we really weren't even engaged in much conversation which is one of the biggest things that typically makes a run much more tolerable!  Just the sheer number of people cheering and the constant scene of moving feet in front of me made it seem much more bearable...easier really!  It is hard for me to run on someone's heels, so there was always someone to get around and ahead of.  I missed some friends who were cheering, and others I saw and they didn't see me.  Fun just knowing they were there though!!  Orange slices and jelly beans at around mile 9.  Hmm...don't think I could really even enjoy jelly bellies while running.  At every mile, we checked our time and always seemed to be doing well.  At the 10K mark we were right at one hour, so still maintaining just under 10 minute miles.  Tim and Julia and the kids were at another spot near mile 11ish.  The three oldest ran along side me on the sidewalk for about 100 yards or so.  Fun.  I thought about what kind of example this would create for them.  I'm glad that they were there. 

The finish was fun...the 50 yard line inside Memorial Stadium.  Enough energy left to sprint the last 100 yards and hit the chip mat at 2 hours, 9 minutes.  At 9:52 pace.  I felt good...great actually.  I don't remember a time that I wanted to stop and walk.  I can't say at the final turn I felt like I had any desire to run another 13 and go the path of the full marathon, but overall, I felt pretty good.  I placed in the first 3000 runners.  Like 2777 or something like that.  The kids asked me what place I got.  Funny.  It was truly an experience.  At the start of the morning, I really didn't think I would want to do this again, but I'm looking forward to next year, and thinking that I'd like to have at least a 9:00 pace!  I'm currently icing my feet and Tim generously massaged them, but I won't be running for several days this week until they feel like they can be walked on without limping!  I feel a sense of accomplishment, but also a beginning chapter in finally getting this running thing going again.  I figure at this point, the 5 mile run I did three years ago in Gering will feel like a piece of cake this year, and I'm hoping that minus the weekly long runs, I will continue to run consistantly, although it's really more about the company than the running at this point!  :)

Thanks Tim for giving me the opportunity to get all those runs in during training.  Thanks Julia for getting up early to come cheer me on!  Thanks kids for being excited about this race for me!  Thanks Kristi for running in the dark mornings with me.  Thanks Mary and Laurie for modifying your schedule to accomodate an occasional run with me.  Thanks Lisa for pushing me a little harder and holding back to run with me.  Thanks Tim and Kim for enduring those not so fun long runs and running 13.1 beside me!!  I love my running friends and family!!!

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