Since being sidelines from distance running, I have been dreaming of running another 1/2 marathon PR. I have been planning on how I would reach a new PR. I have been envisioning what the race would look like. I have been dreaming about crossing that finish line knowing that I had just made my goal.
When I first heard the beginning plans of the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, I was sitting in a work meeting. I knew then, that if I didn’t have to “work” Gazelle Girl Half it was going to be my “come back” race. I then sat down at my computer and began writing my “Come Bake Half Marathon Plan”. The excitement began to rise, not only within myself and the thought of running another 1/2, but in the running community as women began coming together- supporting, encouraging and training together.
As my training got harder, nerves started to grow. Thankfully I have a large support group of fellow runners that listened to my running sagas and helped me get over the hurdles of doubt, fear and were also there for me when I had a great run. At the beginning of every speed workout I would have butterflies in my stomach- would I be able to actually run that fast? As I prepared for every long run by myself- was I mentally strong enough to run 10, 11, 12, 13 miles by myself on a treadmill? But one thing never left my heart- the goal of running a PR at Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.
As I trained over 14 weeks the thoughts of being injured always lingered. I hated that I have such a fear of being injured again, but more than that I loved that I learned how to listen to my body and knew when to rest, when to spend extra time foam rolling, that taking epsom salt baths really do make me feel better and that running makes me a better version of myself.
When race week arrived, I didn’t think I would survive taper week. Surprise, I did survive taper week. Why is it that the one week you get the least amount of exercise, you are the most hungry And why are you always the most tired on taper week? These things will remain a mystery to me, but I am happy that I made it successfully through another taper week.
Race weekend began!
We then gorged ourselves in Olive Garden. Including but not limited to lots of bread sticks dipped in Alfredo sauce, pizza, lots of salad and pasta. Lessons Learned for the future- Don’t go 5-6 hours without eating and then look at an Olive Garden menu, everything will sound delicious. Don’t order 2 meals because you can’t decide what sounds better to eat. Order the lunch portion of the pasta dish.
I was fortunate to sleep in on Saturday morning and got to walk to the start of the race to meet my fellow Gazelle Girls.
I lined up at the start line with 1999 other female runners. I put in my head phones, turned on my Gazelle Girl playlist and got into my running zone. I honestly didn’t notice too much during the race except the amazing spectators, my music and my damn watch that kept telling me that I was on pace.
I felt really, really good till about mile 11.5. It was then that I got a stinkn’ side stitch and my legs felt like lead. I saw my father for the first time right around mile 11.5 and he was able to get my coat and gloves that I had been carrying since mile 1.5. I thought I would want my coat because of the rain/snow mix, but I got way too warm.
Even at mile 11.5 I knew that I was pushing it close to my goal time. I turned the second to last corner on the course and knew that I had less than 2 minutes to make it to the finish line. I took off sprinting. I prayed that I would not throw up, because that is all I wanted to do at that point. I didn’t even have the energy to smile and raise my arms as I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch immediately and knew then that I had made my goal by at least 25 seconds! I have never been so happy to finish a race and to know that dreams do come true when you train your butt off!
We celebrated the race with drinks, food, and friends.