Debi and I began running together about 7 months ago and decided early on that we wanted to complete a half marathon together. A little before Christmas, we decided on the Nashville Rock & Roll Half Marathon...I'm not sure why? Maybe because it's close. All I know, is that we sure picked a tough course for Debi's first Half and only my second!
We left out early Friday morning in a thunderstorm. We were both ok with this, because in our minds, we're thinking it'll blow on over and race day will be great! After dropping her kids off with their dad, we headed for the Expo. Who needs lunch!? We were too excited to get this party started.
We made it!!! And we found "free" parking...sort of (that story is coming later on)
We picked up our bibs and got our official picture made. We checked out the Brooks store and resisted the urge to buy the really cute jackets. I wanted one soooooo bad, but I just couldn't make myself spend that kind of money. We sampled the various vendor snacks and waited on the guys to arrive.
They got there around 4:30 and we helped Blake get his bib and shirt. We looked around the Expo a little bit longer and bought a few shirts before heading out for dinner. Margaritaville was a few blocks away, so we walked there and carb loaded!
We wanted to get in bed by 9pm, so we would be fresh for the race, and headed back to the parking lot where we left our vehicles. This is where it got interesting. Our cars were gone! In fact, there wasn't a car in the parking lot. Apparently, we missed the sign that said No Parking and our "what-we-thought-was-free" parking ended up costing us both a hefty tow bill!! AND, my first cab ride experience ever (unless you count Nicaragua).
Finally, we get to our hotel and get checked in. It's after 9pm. We lay out our gear for the morning and finally fall in bed around 10:30pm.
We had a 3:45am wake up call and a 5am shuttle to the race start line. It looks like the rain is going to hold off and we're just excited to be here at our first big race! We start working on our nutrition....and then.....
....the rain came! Big drops. Huge drops. We were getting soaked, but trying to stay positive.
The race was delayed by about 45 minutes, which meant we stood for about 4 hours before it was time for our corral to take off. There was a ton of people, and by ton, I mean approximately 46,000 runners! There was so much energy and excitement. Finally, we took off!
Mile 1: Felt great with one of my longest runs without a walk break EVER. We ran almost the entire first mile, only walking to get up a hill. This was our fastest mile (I know...it shouldn't be) at 13'46"
Mile 2: Still feeling strong! Keeping to our run/walk pattern and staying on pace at 14'54"
Mile 3: We seen our guys for the first time....cheering us on! We are both feeling really good. I take some Gatorade at this stop. 15'21"
Mile 4: I'm kinda dumbfounded that we're still maintaining our pace and feeling so good. It's a little hillier than I anticipated, but we're able to walk up the hills (we even ran up and over one) without losing our pace. 14'57"
Mile 5: I need to pee! I start to stop at a porta-potty but there's a line and I don't want to lose too much time, so I keep going 15'12"
Mile 6: I have to stop at the porta-potty. I know I can't continue to run with a full bladder. Luckily, there's one with a short line and I make a bee line for it. This hurts our pace and I can tell I'm starting to get sore 17'27"
(side note: it was at this point that I met up with another runner with a baby in a harness....a 6 week old baby! Ok, if she can run, I can run, right?!)
Mile 7: I'm starting to struggle. My feet feel like hot pokers are stabbing them. I try to just push through and ignore it, but it's slowing me down and I'm taking more walk breaks. I take Glukos at this stop and pray it helps my body recover some. 16'45"
Mile 8: I'm pushing through, but starting to doubt that I can make it to the finish. I try to convince Debi to go on without me. I fully believe she can make our goal time if she leaves me behind. She won't hear of it and says we are finishing this thing together! 15'15"
Mile 9: Our guys are here cheering us on again :) At this point, I know something isn't right with my feet and I'm just trying to keep pushing. Debi thinks I've hit the proverbial wall and I think I'm dying. 16'27"
Mile 10: I stop at the Med Tent. I just can't keep going. I'm feeling delirious and my feet are in the worst pain I've ever experienced. I finally convince Debi to go on without me (I learn later, that she thought they would cart me to the finish line) The medical volunteers give me some salt and water, apparently I'm dehydrated a bit, and help me stretch out my legs/hips. We decide I can continue, even if I have to walk the remaining 3 miles. I call Quentin to let him know that Debi is finishing without me and to be watching for her. 17'06"
Mile 11: Perhaps the worst mile of the entire race for me. I'm battling my mind. Wondering why I'm putting my body through this and vowing that I will never run again if I ever make it to the end of this torture race. Not only are my feet killing me and I'm convinced my arches have collapsed, but now my hips feel like they're breaking from all the added pressure. I check my phone and am relieved to see messages from my supportive family and friends. I tell Marlena (my unofficial coach) what's going on and we work through it together and she keeps encouraging me. 21'09"
Mile 12: Blake informs me I have one last hill to climb. I don't think I can go any further. He tries to encourage me by telling me it's my last mile, but in my mind, all I can think is that at this pace, it's 20 more minutes of agony and I just want to get my shoes off and lay down and cry. There's a big grassy hill to my right and I contemplate doing just that. 20'06"
Mile 13: I know this is it and I'm going to make it to the finish. I meet other runners that are struggling too and we encourage each other to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I can see the bridge and Titan Field and I'm determined to run the last bit. I finally see the finish line and run the slowest run in history (I swear, a snail could go faster!) 21'36"
Mile 13.1: Debi met me at the Finish Line and was the one to put my medal around my neck. We both just stood there in the middle of the finishers chute, hugging and crying, not believing that we finished. I am so proud of her! She finished in 3:30 and I finished in 3:53 (7 minutes from cutoff)
It wasn't our A goal or even our B goal, but we finished.
This medal is the hardest I've ever worked for one.
I'll be back Nashville...you will not defeat me!
We hobbled to the car and into our hotel. Nate went and picked up McDonalds for me (my post-race meal of choice was a Big Mac, fries, and DP) and we ordered pizza up for Debi and Blake, who by the way, did amazing! He finished in 2:20
The back of our shirts that Marlena made for us...love this saying and it is so true!
I woke up the next morning ready to sign up again. Running is a peculiar thing. No matter how hard it is and how much it hurts, I still want to push again the next day.
I will say...this race had plenty of course support and amazing bands along the route that really helped. Miles 1-8 were pretty close to ideal for me and I'm determined to figure out what went wrong with my hydration and feet and come back and do it better!