It might be a few days before I can run again…or walk correctly.
Despite the soreness and nine, yes nine, painful blisters on my feet and toes, I plan to do another half.
But first, let’s rewind to Saturday night. I wanted to be in bed by 9 in order to be rested before my very first half marathon. But my sister was in labor in California and I was receiving updates via text. At about 9:15, I decided I had to go to bed. I had to because I knew it might take me a long time to fall asleep. The night before my 10K in October, my mind and heart raced for hours while I tossed and turned, willing them to slow down and let me sleep. I did not want a repeat of that.
But I felt my heartbeat quicken as soon as I got under the covers. And my mind jumped from remembering the night I went into labor with T Junior to what the Seattle Half Marathon was going to be like. At least I was prepared this time, though. After 30-45 minutes of this, I realized what was going on and I began a little controlled breathing. In-2-3, then out-2-3. In-2-3, out-2-3. It worked.
Until I woke up at 11:30. (I drank a lot of water yesterday.) But, I was kind of glad to be up because I checked my phone and my sister had delivered her healthy beautiful baby girl not that long before. I called her and she sounded tired. “You just completed your own marathon,” I joked. But, really, all us parents know her marathon is just beginning. I just didn’t want to scare her.
So I was awake again. In-2-3, out-2-3. I fell asleep and did not open my eyes till 3:30. Yes! I still have over an hour of sleep left!
I told my running buddy Heather about this in the car on the way to the race. She said, “You got up at 4:30?!”
Well, it was 4:40 actually because I wanted to have time to do everything. I wanted to drink my coffee, eat my peanut butter toast, check e-mail. I did not want to be late. I wanted to be in Heather’s driveway at 6. In the end, I didn’t get there till 6:08 and that’s only because I kept turning down the wrong roads to get to her house. I’ve never driven there in the dark before and I couldn’t read the signs. I was getting really grumpy that I kept doing this, too. There was a lot of swearing at the windshield in my husband’s sedan.
My mood lightened immediately when Heather got in the car. She was so relaxed and funny, as usual. Not at all jittery or distracted like I was. Thank goodness for her. She also kept me calm while we waited for 15 loooooong minutes in the line to get into the parking garage. I was freaking out a little.
We ended up parking right across the street from the starting line. I decided not check clothes because…get ready for this…
It was 50 degrees! At the end of November, that’s unheard of. It was warmer than normal and not raining. Heather and I walked up a couple flights of stairs in the parking garage and crossed to the starting line, then immediately headed to the line for the Honey Buckets. There were so many potties, so the lines were not long.
We made our way through the thick blanket of people to the 2:45 pace group. I never even saw any of the other pacers. It was so crowded. The Seattle Times says there were 10,751 runners, but I’m not sure how many did the half and how many did the full or the walks.
It was about 7:15 and I was ready to go! I had to do something, so I took some pictures.
Then Heather snapped one of me.
You can’t see it here, but I wore my new iFitness
belt. In it, I stored my Zune (which, by the way, is the original model — it’s huge), my Honey Stinger gels
, which I transferred from their packages to a Ziploc baggie Saturday, and my license and debit card. In the chest pocket of my REI shirt, I stashed my phone/camera and a stick of Burt’s Bees lip moisturizer with an extra ponytail band wrapped around it.
With about 8 minutes to go before the start. I gave Heather an excited hug and thanked her. I wouldn’t be doing this race if it hadn’t been for her. She is the one who suggested it and was totally confident I could do it.
I just wanted to start running. “Let’s goooooo,” I kept whining.
Finally, with 30 seconds before the start, Heather and I adjusted our earbuds and other equipment until…it was time to go! Honestly, I can’t remember if it was a horn, a buzzer or just an excited “GO” from the woman who was doing all the announcing, but it didn’t matter because we weren’t moving. In the end, it took 4 minutes to finally cross the start line and I’m sure I annoyed some people because I stopped to take a picture.
Once we crossed the starting line, it was mass chaos and I didn’t see Heather again. I just wanted to make it through the first few minutes without falling. I was grossed out about breathing in everyone elses smells. We were heading down 5th Avenue with skyscrapers on either side of us. It was hot, the massive amount of body heat stagnant on the city street.
People were running everywhere like rats from a fire. Early morning holiday shoppers, city dwellers and visitors pressed themselves up against buildings as runners flew down the sidewalks to avoid the crowded street. I was right in the middle. Directly under the monorail, which scared me half to death when it thundered over my head.
At least it was pretty. It was still dark enough to enjoy the twinkling white Christmas lights. I took cover behind a lamp post for one picture and a concrete column for another.
After that picture, I thought, Okay, now I need to concentrate on running. I choked up a little a couple of times on this road. I’m not sure why. I was happy, smiling even, and waving at the dazed on-lookers. But I guess I felt a little overwhelmed. I got excited when my first Christmas song came on my Zune. I did not do an entire playlist of holiday tunes, but I did include several in the mix.
We ran down a hill on 5th and at about Mile 2 got to the first real hill. Well, not real. Man made. We had to climb the gradual, curving incline of a freeway on-ramp that goes up and turns into a bridge. I was doing okay going up the hill, but was disappointed that I could feel the blister
on the inside ball of my right foot. Already?
Once we were up on I-90 and it flattened out, I found a nice pace next to a man in a maroon knit hat. He said something to me, but I couldn’t hear him, so I took out one earbud. He used his head to motion to the right and I saw what he was talking about. A bunch of guys had jumped over the side of the freeway and were peeing in the bushes. I started laughing and then let out a “cat call” in order to embarrass them. They were not phased. But, really, you already have to go? It’s not even Mile 3 yet.
I ran with Jerrell (not sure of the spelling) for a little while. Maybe a mile. We chatted. This was his first half, but he’s run four marathons before. And we both ran the 10K at Issaquah Salmon Days. After a bit, I said, “I think you’re pulling ahead a little. Don’t want to hold you back,” and we said goodbye. But I saw him off and on throughout the race — always in front of me. His maroon hat was always a welcome sight. Every time I saw him up ahead, I relaxed and knew I was doing okay. He was my pacer and I wish I could thank him. (I told him about the blog, so Jerrell, if you’re out there: Thank you for keeping me going!)
We parted, I think, just before or around Mile 3. I can’t remember if this was inside or before the I-90 tunnel. I do remember hearing someone yell out a split, but I couldn’t understand what they said. I asked a nearby runner. I think she said the split was 33-something. I felt good about that. But, now, I wonder if I was going too fast. I didn’t realize that it had taken me four minutes to cross the start line, so subtract four from 33 and I was hauling (for me).
Thinking back, I don’t remember hearing the first two split times at all. This is why I need a Garmin. Even a cheap digital watch from Target would’ve been helpful. I had no way of knowing how fast I was going.
I guess this also was the second water stop, but I don’t remember seeing the first one. I slowed to a jog to chew up some gels and had a cup of water.
As we got to the end of the tunnel, it was time to split off from the full marathon route. Full to the left, half to the right. The right was down a steep hill that curved underneath the very bridge we just ran across and down to Lake Washington. I was annoyed on this hill. I wanted to get down it quickly. What good are hills if you can’t use the descent to your advantage? But people were stopping in front of me and walking. DOWN? You’re walking DOWN? I understand walking UP, but walking down and after only 3 miles? I was annoyed. Normally, it would not have bothered me, but I was very emotional on this run. In hindsight, I think they were probably trying not to fall.
Finally, I found a clear spot and let gravity do the work for me. Unfortunately, this forced my feet to the ends of my shoes and I really felt the blister on my right foot. I also felt like I might be getting a matching one on my left foot. And maybe some on the bottoms of my little toes.
At the bottom of the hill, I stopped to take a picture.
We ran pretty flat for a while through a nice neighborhood. Along the way, people cheered. I saw a lot of fathers holding babies next to strollers waiting for their wives to run by and I got emotional. On Friday, I told Mr. T to just stay home. I felt I would be too stressed out worrying about him rushing T Junior through the morning routine to get to the race, then sacrificing his nap later to drive home. All so they could see my .1 mile finish. It seemed pointless. I changed my mind on Saturday. “I want you guys to go.” But then I changed it back Saturday night. I didn’t need the stress. But I hadn’t thought about them parking somewhere along the route to cheer on Mom, and easily departing to go home in time for a nap. I almost texted Mr. T and told him to meet me at the finish, but I reasoned with myself.
Then I saw a man with a boxer.
On Saturday night, I decided to put my boxer pin on my hat. The pin was a gift from one of our dog show friends and it resembles AJ
. I wanted him to “run” with me in the race. I wanted to channel his excitement and child-like enthusiasm.
I saw this man with his dog and I weaved in and out of people to cross to the other side of the street. I stopped. “Can I pet your dog?”
He gave me a strange look, as if to say, “Aren’t you supposed to be running?” but he granted my wish. His boxer looked nothing like my AJ and was totally distracted by all the runners, but he or she wriggled in the bean-like way they do as I rubbed him/her all over. “Thank you,” I called as I ran away, trying not to cry, eyes blurry.
I got to Mile 6 and my blisters were starting to burn. I could feel them all over my toes and on the inside sides of the balls of both feet. Really, the middle part of the run is a blur except
for a few things, like water stations, elbow room and hills.
The water stops were annoying me because people would practically knock each other over for a cup or stop right in front of you or almost trip you. It was difficult to navigate. There were a lot of hills. A lot. And every time I saw one up ahead, I groaned out loud. Some of them were extremely steep.
I believe this was one of those. And, I think this is where I passed by a young woman getting sick on the sidewalk. At the top, there were a group of police officers and a volunteer. I told them about what I’d seen and said I wasn’t sure she was okay. I hope she was.
I don’t know what was worse, going up the hills or down. Going up, my thighs burned and I could barely lift my legs to take a step. Going down, the blisters on my feet raged. I just kept thinking, There’s no way I’m going to stop running and ruin my first half because of some stupid blisters.
I even thought my feet might be bleeding at one point, but I quickly focused on something else. Like this.
The arboretum was so beautiful. I think we entered the area around Mile 10. The route twisted and turned. Then I saw someone wrapped mummy-like with space blankets on the edge of the road. A group of five or six medics and volunteers were crouched around the person. A steep slope covered in mud and yellow leaves fell down behind them. As I passed, I saw light blond hair held back perfectly by a thin white headband. Her eyes were closed and I heard someone say, “I got a pulse that time.”
After I passed the scene, I turned to the woman running next to me. Her eyes were wide, probably as wide as mine. I said, “That was scary,” and she agreed. I really hope that young girl was okay.
At Mile 11, I felt done. I felt like the race was never going to end. I thought about 26.2 miles and wondered if that’s something I want to do. I knew it would not be a good idea to make a decision while I was running, so I will think about it another day.
I ran all 13.1 miles, except for a few steps here and there to eat gels and drink water. I probably could’ve walked faster up some of those hills, though.
Finally, we were back downtown. I never saw mile-markers 12 and 13, so I didn’t know how far I had left. The crowd kept yelling, “You’re almost there!” And, I kept thinking, How far is ALMOST?
I knew we were getting close when I could see some of tops of some of the landmarks from where the race began. We were going downhill toward 4th or 5th Avenue. I was so happy about the downhill even though my toes and feet were in pain. It flattened out for a minute and then…another uphill. I groaned again. The man running next to me said, “Oh, they just had to put ANOTHER hill in at the end.” I giggled to myself because the hill’s been there forever, right?
Every step was painful at this point. My poor toes felt raw. I got encouraging texts from my running/bloggy buddies around this time and it was so awesome. I knew they were done with their…torture.
Then I heard music and we turned toward Memorial Stadium. I ripped my earbuds out to soak in the excitement of the finish. It was loud with cheers and thumping music and cowbells. The next thing I knew, I was running on field turf and trying to sprint to the finish line. I was a few steps away when I remembered to look at the clock. It said 2:29:50 or something close to that. I picked up the pace and ran in at 2:29:56, beating 2:30, which had sort of been my secret goal. (My official chip time was 2:25:30 — remember those four minutes it took to cross the start line?)
I stopped running and was handed my medal. It was hard to walk because there were so many people. I saw a photographer taking a picture of someone and asked him to take my picture, too. I posed. Someone took off my chip. Then, I didn’t know where to go. I wanted a space blanket. I felt wobbly. I couldn’t find the damn space blankets. I wanted one immediately because I had to pee. I grabbed a bottle of water and drank half of it.
I finally had to ask about the space blankets and was told they were up ahead. I muscled my way forward, my legs aching, and grabbed one. I tied it around my neck and searched for the potties. I must be honest. I was grumpy. There were too many people around me. I needed some space. I’d been running with these people FOREVER and they were still in my way. I needed a Honey Bucket. Right. Now!
When I found them, I almost exposed someone who hadn’t closed their door correctly. Then I had to wait, which made me even grumpier. I felt a little better afterward, though.
The plan was to meet Amanda from 5 Miles 2 Empty
and Zoë from Run, Zoë, Run
somewhere in the Recovery Area. I texted Amanda and then headed inside the stadium’s exhibition hall. It was really warm with too many bodies in the small hall. I got dizzy and felt like I might pass out. I controlled my breathing, but considered walking over to the medic area. I remembered what Amanda told me about getting some chocolate milk and I tried to find some. The line…giant mass of people…was ridiculous. I saw a man lean over and grab carton out of a crate and I did the same. I needed it right then. I could not shuffle along and wait or I’d be on the floor.
Thank goodness for the chocolate milk. I immediately felt better and happier. I felt a little let down at the finish line. Not because I didn’t have anyone to meet me, but because I’d imagined it would be this magical moment. I’d run through the finish line tape, my arms in the air showing victory! Then cry tears of joy. But that didn’t happen. I was just another person who finished running and needed to pee.
(That feeling didn’t last, though, thank goodness. Once, I was home and could relax, I felt great about the race.)
Back in the Recovery Area, I was jostled through the lines to get a banana, some rice crisp things, pretzels, fruit. There was a whole bunch of stuff. I just wanted the banana and pretzels. Then, I looked for Amanda and Zoë. I couldn’t find them. Everyone looked the same. Everyone had someone with them. I felt lonely. I almost cried and I wanted to go home. I knew I was just tired and, besides, I really wanted to meet Amanda and see Zoë. I hung out in there for a while hoping to see Heather, too, but I didn’t. I knew she was okay, thoug
h, because her husband and son were going to meet her at the finish.
I texted Amanda and Zoë again. Zoë’s in-laws surprised her (read her recap here
) and had to leave. I was excited for her. How cool! Amanda said they’d had to escape the building and were out by the Seattle Center fountain. It was so nice to meet Amanda (read her recap here
). I felt much happier when I saw her. I met her adorbale son, who was just running and running and running around with all his 4-year-old energy. I also met her really nice friend, who took some pictures of us.
We hugged and said goodbye and I headed in the direction of the parking garage. Going down the stairs was a challenge. Another woman was behind me and we laughed about it in between yelps of pain.
Getting out of the city was horrible. It took forever and I was again getting really upset, almost crying because I was just sitting in traffic. My legs hurt because I hadn’t stretched a lot and I just wanted to get home to my family, a hot shower and my bed.
About an hour later, I pulled into the driveway, gathered my things and went inside to get a hug from Mr. T, who then took my picture (T Junior was napping). I started to feel something. Pride?
I went upstairs, took a shower, stretched and crawled under the flannel sheets. I couldn’t sleep, but it didn’t matter because T Junior woke up 20 minutes later. Back downstairs, I was able to check my e-mail and Facebook. I’d been updating my status throughout the race and I had so many nice messages from my friends and family. I felt something again. Yep, it was pride.
I did it!
PS: Sorry this is up so late. I had an impromptu Mom’s Night Out last night and this post took me a loooong time to write. Hope everyone has a wonderful week in running! And, I can’t wait to read all the recaps!