Well, after months of training it's finally over! All of the blood, sweat and tears were put to the test yesterday when I ran the Go! St. Louis 1/2 Marathon. So, where do I start? First of all, running a 1/2 Marathon was the HARDEST thing I've ever done. EVER. Giving birth isn't easy, but at least they give you drugs that take away the pain. Like childbirth, the end result of running a long distance race is worth all of the pain. The feeling I had when I crossed the finish line is indescribable, but it was filled with so much joy, relief and of course a lot of tears. But before the finish, there was a start, and I'll try my best to remember as much as I can from the 13 miles, but I have to admit, much of it is a blur.
The start: absolutely crazy! I couldn't even navigate thru the hoards of people to meet my fellow running friends like we planned. It took me 10 minutes to go about 1/2 block because of all the people participating in the race. So, I started out by myself, which at first I was a little upset about. However, I ran this race for myself, so in the end, it didn't matter if I saw one person that I knew.
The first few miles were easy, but it was warm, and getting warmer by the minute. I did most of my training in the winter, so starting a run at 60 degrees was hard for me. I think I only ran 2 times in temps that were above 45 degrees, and both runs were last week. They were only short runs, too each being 4 and 2 miles respectively. Needless to say, 13.1 miles was going to be difficult based on temps alone. I could tell it was going to effect me before the end of mile 1. I was already thirsty. Usually I don't need any water for the first 3 miles of a run. Not the case this time! I decided to run with my water belt and I am so glad I did, many of the water stations were out when I got to them!
The next few miles are a blur, I can't tell you what songs were playing on my ipod or the thoughts going thru my mind. We ran thru the A-B Brewery, and thru Soulard and then I remember running over this over pass and thinking, "wow, this is really all about the experience." Many people told me to "have fun" and "take it all in." Well, I'm sorry but nothing about running is fun. However, the experience was just awesome, and there were times when I think I actually was having fun!
At about mile 6.5 is when it got hard. I started getting this weird shooting pain in the 3 middle toes of my right foot. It felt like someone was poking my toes with a thousand needles. I tried to run with it as long as I could until I had to stop and take off my shoe. Getting the shoe off helped so much, but obviously I couldn't run like that. So I loosened my laces, re-tied my shoe and continued on. After a couple miles the pain came back. So, I stopped again. I ended up having to do that a total of 3 times throughout the race, and by the time I crossed the finish line my shoe was so loose on my foot that I have no idea how it stayed on. What was so bizarre about it is, I didn't have this throughout the training. It just happened during the race. Believe it or not, my shins didn't bother me at all yesterday, which was such a blessing. I was troubled with shin splint pain all throughout the training, but on the most important day, it was fine! I couldn't be more thrilled about that.
It was quite discouraging to run for 6.5 miles with such pain, but, I did it. The only reason I was able to do it was because I knew that I had so many loved ones cheering me on. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, and I wanted to make all of you proud. Plus, I started to see my girls on the course. Talk about motivation! First at about mile 7 or 8 I saw Mandy, and she was doing awesome which kept me going, then Gina at mile 10 and finally Carrie was right behind her, and she was rockin, too! At one point on the course, there were priests blessing us all with Holy Water when we passed St. Louis University. That was pretty cool, as I really needed it then!
I remember mile 12 being the hardest. The pain was so bad in my foot that I had to walk a lot. I just wanted to stop, but I powered thru. There was an awesome guy on the route who yelled "Come on Trish, you can walk when you're finished!" He was right, so it got me running again.
Once I got up Jefferson and turned the corner on Chestnut, I turned my ipod off. I wanted to take it all in and here all those people cheering. This was the finish I had been working for since January. It's one thing to say "I am going to run a 1/2 marathon, " and quite another to say " I RAN a half marathon." I have to say, the finish was just awesome! The announcer was yelling all of the names of the runners as they crossed the finish and it was so great to hear him yell my name! I'm pretty sure the tears hit as soon as I could see the finish line, but I bawled like a baby when I crossed it!
Almost immediately after the finish I saw my friend Crissi, who has been such an inspiration to me with running. She has been running a few years now and has become my "go-to-girl" with running questions. She had been waiting at the finish line for all of us "first-timers" for almost a half-hour, as she is super fast and finished the race in under 2 hours. Then one right after another I started seeing the rest of our crew. Mandy and Karen finished right before me, so I saw them next. They were already enjoying the post-race food and beverage. Then Candace was right after me, followed by Gina and Carrie. When I saw Carrie so soon it made me cry all over again. She has been dealing with various issues for the past few weeks of training and I wasn't sure she was going to be able to run any of the race. I thought for sure she was going to end up walking it, but she is one of the most determined people I know! She finished strong in just over 2:30 minutes, which is such an accomplishment considering all of the pain she endured. Susie finished next and finished strong, too. She had some major shin issues thru the training like myself, so I knew how much finishing the race meant to her. My time was 2:22, which was just 8 minutes under my goal of 2:30. Honestly, during the race I abandoned my time goal as I didn't care what time I finished, but just that I DID finish. After we all got our pictures taken and enjoyed a post-race snack, we headed over to the post-race reunion area to wait for Renee and Carrie Brengarth to finish. The two of them trained together and ran the entire race together which I think was really special.
Words can't describe how I feel. Yes, I'm having some after race pain right now, but the whole experience was life changing. I set a goal, put my mind to it, worked hard for it, and got it. There were many times over the past 12 weeks that I questioned my sanity, but now that's over I know that it was all worth it, and that I'm only a little crazy. People who run full marathons are the ones who are crazy! The sense of pride I feel is wonderful because I did this all on my own. No one carried me across the finish, I ran across it, and that is an accomplishment that no one can take away from me.
So the big question is, will I run another one? Well, the jury is still out on that one. I'd like to first find out what made my foot have that pain. Once that problem is solved, I'll see if I ever want to run 13.1 again. I do have to say, I'd like to see if I would have a better race time if I didn't have to stop to take off my shoe 3 times and if I would have been more prepared for warmer weather. So, something tells me that I will run another Half again. After all, if childbirth was so bad women would have stopped having babies a long time ago, right?