Monday, May 24, 2010


The finishing medal for the handed out at the Fargo half marathon on May 22nd has a wonderful quote on the back which states: "Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
For me, running 13.1 miles really doesn't take talent or skill, but it does take perseverance. I knew last year when I finished my first half marathon that I could have done better and it nagged me, taunted me, and made me feel less than. I am pretty sure that I decided within a day of completing my first half marathon, that I would have to run it again. I knew I hadn't done my best and I wouldn't be satisfied until I could prove to MIC (My Inner Critic) that I had could do better.

I followed the same training plan that I had followed last year, Hal Higdon's HM for Novice, but this time I added more to the distance and worked on some speed intervals. I also joined an internet community team called 13.1 which has over 2000 members with varied experience levels. Perfect for asking any question and getting advice from. I will have to say, the spring in MN was late in coming so all of my long runs were in weather which was below 50 degrees.

I added a few things to my gear... I got a running hat (Nike), hydration belt (Helium 2 bottle belt), dri fit shorts and shirt (Nike). {With all the Nike gear, maybe I could take over for Tiger and be their new spokes person?} Basically all warm weather gear because the HM was going to be held later in May.

My training runs went really well and I set a goal of 1:50 for finish time (my finish time last year was 2:01:17). I felt prepared to met this goal until about a week before the race actually started. This is when some much warmer weather and higher humidity moved into MN. The week of the race I did 2 shorter (4 mile) runs and they were so stinkin' hard. My breathing was off and my confidence plummeted. I was plagued with doubt thinking, "If 4 miles is hard, how in the heck am I going to run 13.1 miles?" The closer to race day, the more I scoped the weather forecast. The winds were expected to be 23 MPH with high humidity. YIKES! The only thing that could possibly be worse would be high temperatures. I literally can't run in hot weather - I don't sweat enough. My face always gets beet red, but I just can't cool off (I'm blaming genetics on that one.)

Self doubt is so darn debilitating. Luckily, my family and friends are good at giving me the perspective I need. And when all else fails, my favorite coping skills are denial
& avoidance. Thankfully, I could throw myself into cheering on two of my most favorite peeps as they prepared to participate in the Fargo 5K on Friday evening, the night before the HM.
Lori's daughter, her daughter's BFF and my daughter, Abby, were holding onto signs waiting for the race to begin. My tummy felt about as nervous as could be just waiting for the start gun to go off.
It was exhilarating watching Lori and Heather cross the finish line along with 5197 other individuals. So proud of them and their hard work!

And these same gals, got up at 5:00 AM the next morning to drive me to the Dome for my race. I cannot express how much it meant to me to have them with me to distract, encourage and support me. The traffic was BAD and although we gave ourselves plenty of extra time, we got there just in time for one potty break before I had to find my way through the 5300+ people to get in line. Did I mention that the weather man totally tanked on the 30% chance of rain? It was 100% raining and 60 degrees just before 7:30 AM when the race started.

It is so hard to describe the 10 minutes before the gun goes off. I positioned myself just in front of the 1:50/8:24 MPH pacer. I figured I would stick with the pacer as close as I could to try to make my goal. I tried to think about the here and now and not about the 13.1 miles ahead of me. I checked out the runners around me and what kind of gear they had. I noticed the people who were wearing hefty bags with just their heads sticking out trying to stay dry before the start. I noticed the people with matching shirts who were obviously running together. I watched a lot of people jumping up and down to warm up. I turned my ipod on, but kept the volume low so I could still hear what was going on around me. I thought, "What am I going to remember about this journey?" I will always remember the drive from FF to Fargo with Heather & Lori and their support and total faith in me. I'll remember the way the weather went from sprinkling during the Invocation to solid, hard rain, right after we collectively said "AMEN!" I'll remember how the tears running down my checks during the Invocation and National Anthem were completely camouflaged by the rain, which was pretty handy. I'll remember how it feels to be poised, ready to begin the race but thinking of the relief and joy of crossing the finish line. I worried that there wouldn't be much crowd support with the crummy weather.

BANG! The gun goes off, but it takes some time before we actually begin to shuffle forward. It took a little over a minute before I crossed the start line and could actually begin running. Suddenly, my ipod fell out of my case and was dangling just by the jack in front of me. I grabbed it and realized that my idea of putting my arm case upside-down to protect it from the rain was a big FAIL. I fumbled around with it, heard Heather & Lori cheering for me looked up and gave them a wave and a smile and continued to work to get my ipod in the case and back on my arm. I prayed that I hadn't ruined it because it had gotten plenty wet during the process.

We were suddenly at the first turn and I felt like I could finally start to breath. Lots of puddles, splashing, dodging and weaving.... and yet there were tons of people clapping, yelling, cheering, ringing bells & offering encouragement. I felt my spirit lift. Thank you crowd!! I didn't think ahead, I just kept thinking of where I was at. My first mile was 7:30 MPH and just as I passed the marker, I saw my friend Denise with her son (my godson), Brac crouched in the rain watching the runners go by. I pointed and waved at her and saw the surprise on her face. I thought maybe Steve and the girls would be with her, but then realized they must have decided to go to another spot. Since I didn't know where they may wait for me, I kept scanning the crowd for them. The race route turned and weaved a lot and there were plenty of water filled pot holes to try to leap over. By mile 4 I finally felt like I had gotten my pace down. I misfired on my first water station and choked while trying to drink and run. I coughed off and on over the next mile. After that I always stopped and drank my water and then started running again. Things went smoothly though the 10K point. At mile 7, my left hip had a sharp pain. At the time, I was running right beside the 1:50 pacer, but had to slow down a little due to discomfort. That is when I had my first real twinge of doubt. As I watched the pacers sign bob a little further in front of me, it was like watching my goal float away. I started to feel defeat. Just a few minutes later, at mile 8, I heard a constant, almost annoying, shrill whistle. I knew right away it had to be Kippy! She didn't see me, but I could hear her and as luck would have it, I was running on the left side of the street near where she was standing. I yelled out to her and put out my hand for a high 5. I also gave Steve a high 5, but couldn't quite reach Abby. I heard their cheers and I felt lifted. I didn't run any faster, but I realized they didn't think of me as a failure, so I needed to kick my negative inner critic to the curb. By the time I reached mile 11, I noticed I could no longer see the 1:50 pacer sign anymore. It hit me.... I was going to be disappointed with my finish time again! Ugggg!!! I comforted myself by rationalizing I could just run the race again next year. Just before mile 12, I stopped and walked for about 10-15 seconds. I had to dig deep to get through to the end of the race. As I entered the Dome, I thought I saw the finish time displaying 1:49, but without my glasses I figured I didn't see it right. I still had a little sprint left in me and I used it all up just to get across the line.

It took me another 10 seconds or so to remember to turn off my stop watch. I looked at my time on my watch and it said 1:49:09. Could that possibly be right??? I know the 1:50 pacer guy was ahead of me, so how could this be? I accepted my finishing medal and a bottle of water, still wondering if I may have actually reached my goal.

Meeting up with my entourage turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined. It was 20 minutes before Heather and Lori could reach me.
Then using cellphones/texts we were able to guide the rest of the crew to us. Steve, the girls and also my mom, who had drove up from the farm to watch.

The hugs were so amazing and my jello legs appreciated being able to lean on my peeps to stay standing.
I slipped on the t-shirt that Abby had made me over my already rain and sweat soaked shirt. I love the saying on the back. I called my dad as soon as I could and asked him to check what my time was on the computer. Dad asked me what I thought my time was going to be. I told him my watch showed 1:49:09 and that seemed close to what the finishing clock was showing when I crossed the finish-line. I so wanted it to be true! When we got to Lance & Denise's house, I got a call back from Dad and he confirmed that my finish time was 1:48:55. A little over a minute under my 1:50 goal!! The rush I felt knowing I had OFFICIALLY beat my goal is indescribable. It was the icing on the cake, that is for sure.

These shoes are only two weeks old, but they served me well. I get to keep my FarGo time chip along with my finishing metal and the memories of this race forever. I really feel like I poured everything I had into the race this time. I am satisfied! I don't NEED to run a HM again... Maybe I'll WANT to do it, but I don't NEED to do it. Two days later, I still have sore quads, but the soreness just reminds me of what I accomplished. I feel like I did my best and that is really all I wanted. So take that MIC!

The people I really admire are those who tackled the Marathon. 26.2 miles have been described as "Hell and Back". Our good friend, Lance (running in all black), was one of those very brave individuals. Marathon runners are in a class all to themselves. It gave me the chills just to watch them on their journey.
Congratulations to all of the race participants! Fargo had over 17,000 runners in their GoFar events May 20-22. So much inspiration packed in those few days.


Lori said...

You are even more amazing than I thought. I love how you kept going even though your IC was telling you that you couldn't. Thanks for showing me that if you do your really is all you can do and is good enough. You definitely left it all on the track. You did your best and I couldn't have been more happy for you!

Charlene said...

You did awesome!! What a great accomplishment both out on the road and with MIC! You are a great example to those around you!!

Mikey said...

You are a superstar!!... I am not a runner. But, I loved reading your story.... great job cuz.

Kathy said...

I just cried and cried reading your message....................................still crying.

Barb said...

CONGRATULATIONS on a spectacular Half Marathon run!! You are awesome!! Thank you so much for attaching your blog post; I enjoyed reading every word of it. You are quite the wordsmith – I had tears in my eyes several times, with joy and anticipation for you and your quest. I really applaud you for going through with it under such crappy conditions. These days, I’m a fair weather runner – if I don’t think I’m going to enjoy most of it, I don’t even bother! How bad is that?!?!?