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That’s right. After months of training, I completed my biggest fitness goal to date. I ran 13.1 miles AND I had so much fun doing it. I was 5 miles into the race and I was already daydreaming about doing another one. Yeah… call me crazy. Wait, half crazy. I have no intention of running a full marathon to be totally crazy.

While race day went unbelievably well, getting there had its rough patches. A couple of days before the race, I felt anxious and stressed. I mentally asked myself several times, “Can I do this?” But then I took a step back and changed my thought process. I remembered that I run to feel good, to alleviate my stress, and to feel at peace. Sure, it is a longer distance than I normally go, but I enjoy the act of running, so I should be fine.

I had a couple more emotional dips, but this positive thought kept me going.

The Night Before

David and I picked up our race packets and T-shirts at the Health and Fitness Expo Friday night. As we were making our way back to the booth to pick up our race packets and T-shirts, we passed a sign that had the course on it. That’s when I almost completely succumbed to my nervousness. There it was: every street I would touch the next day.

See. It’s intimidating, isn’t it?!

When I picked up my number, the volunteer asked me, “Are you excited?” I said, “No, nervous.” He then proceeded to ask if this was my first one. He said he ran his first one last year. “You’ll have so much fun. It’ll be over with before you know it.” I had no idea how true his words were. While we were at the Expo, David and I stopped by the trail runners group booth. I’ve been interested in trail running for a couple of months. In theory, it sounds like an amazing workout. Your total body would get a workout because you’re constantly trying to stabilize yourself while navigating a sometimes rocky/rough terraine. Perhaps I’ll add trail running to my list to try out. ;)

After we left, it was past dinnertime. So, we picked up a Bertolli’s skillet dinner at Target. I love skillet dinners. So fast. So easy.

It was a winner: broccoli, pasta, red peppers, and garlic. Yum!

I wish I could tell you I went to bed early, but I didn’t. I signed off of Facebook around 10:45. My thought was: what good is laying in bed going to do if I’m not tired?

After I managed to calm my mind, I fell asleep. That’s when I started dreaming about the race. (You totally called where this was going, right?) One bad thing happened after another. First, somehow I slept through the start time… even though I was there in the start vicinity. Then, once I got running, I got yelled at for having headphones in. (Technically runners aren’t allowed to have them, but everyone does anyways.) After that, the course had changed. Then, I ended up in a neighborhood and I couldn’t get out.

Needless to say, it wasn’t hard to wake up after that dream. I KNEW none of those things would actually happen. Thank goodness.

Race Day — The Start Line

Before David and I headed out the door, I made two pieces of toast with butter and honey for me and a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey for David. Neither one of us is typically able to eat a breakfast bigger than that before a race.

Once we parked at Crown Center, it was picture time. After all, we had to capture the moment. Duh.

I was getting excited!

David was all set too.

I was all pinked out on my feet. Pink on my shoes. Pink socks. And a pink chip (that advertised Race For a Cure).

Once we made it outside, David and I parted ways. I stuck around the 2:20 pace group and because he’s a speed demon, he moved up toward the 1:45 pace group. It was still dark out. Although, it was cool when we left the comforts of the Crown Center lobby, it wasn’t too bad standing next to thousands of people. They helped to block whatever wind there was. I was slightly nervous standing there, but my feet stayed planted to the ground. I wasn’t going anywhere. This was it. At 7:05 a.m. we started moving up slowly as racers began to cross the start line. Then, it was my turn. After my shoes hit the blue mat to activate my chip, I turned on my Nike+ and I was off and running.

Race Day — Running the Course

The first mile is always tough for me. But for some reason (perhaps because of the adrenaline), my muscles felt fine. For the first 3.5 miles, we ran up Grand passing the Power and Light District, including the Sprint Center, rounded a corner and cruised through downtown, passed Union Station on the right and made our way up the Liberty Memorial hill. I was told to walk up this hill — in order to save my energy. But I couldn’t. I know I was supposed to take these first miles slower, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk up the hill. It was too early to start that.

Next up in our tour of Kansas City was Westport. We ran by The Foundry, World Market, and turned left at Jimmy John’s. Yeah, my toast had worn off. And it was mile 6. Luckily, within the next mile or so I had completely forgotten about it or my stomach decided it wasn’t the right time to demand food. The next landmark on our journey was the Country Club Plaza. Throughout the course, there were particular sections where spectators stood, cheered, and held signs. The plaza was one of those sections. The signs people held up were so fantastic and clever. Some included, “You trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage,” “Channing Tatum is at the finish line,” “Worst. Parade. Ever.” and “Run stranger, run!” And Channing Tatum wasn’t at the finish line. ;) Good motivation to get your butt movin’ though!

After making our way through the plaza, we ran past the Nelson Atkins museum on our left and came to the half and full split. I saw the sign and veered to the left. To realize that the runners who veered to the right had to go another 18 or 19 miles was crazy to think about. Thank goodness it was my halfway point.

The last half wasn’t that eventful — I wasn’t familiar with the last two Kansas City landmarks: Hyde Park and the 18th and Vine District. All I knew about the 18th and Vine district was that it is centered around jazz. To embrace the area, they even had a jazz band playing on one of the corners.

For only having ran 10 miles before the race, I did really well from mile 11 on. My greatest fear was that I would have to walk (or crawl, eek!) across the finish line. But somehow, I found it within me to even pick up my pace for the last tenth of a mile.

How did I feel after I crossed the finish line? Incredible. The months of training was totally worth it.

After the Race/Recovery

After I crossed the finish line, it took some effort to come to a complete stop for the volunteers to cut off my chip. I was a bit wobbly as I walked to receive my medal for finishing. Although I was feeling good, the more negative effects crept up quick. I was cold. I was sore. And I was hungry.

I grabbed a roll and some chocolate milk and David and I headed back home. We spent the rest of the day recovering. We finished off a large taco pizza in one sitting and watched more TV than we have in a long time. Waking up at 5 a.m. caught up to me (and well, running 13.1 miles), so I took a 2-hour nap. Our bodies ached the rest of the day. You would think I was 80 years old by the way I was walking so slow and so gingerly! I was most surprised that my knees hurt so much. I have never had trouble with my knees before. But hey, they connect the calf and the quad together which are impacted on every step, so I can understand why they would be sore.

So, how did I do after it was all said and done?
As you read in my last post, my goal was to complete the race in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Well… I was able to beat it! I completed the course in 2 hours and 20 minutes exactly (with no additional seconds) and I have the picture of the printout to prove it. :)

Yep. There’s the pretty metal. :)

Now, my advice to you:

  • If you listen to music while you run, I highly suggest a timed playlist so you know when to push yourself and when you’re nearing the finish line.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I only took 2 water breaks throughout the entire course and I didn’t drink as much water as I should have after the race. So, the days after the race were rough for me. I had headaches and felt crummy. You are exhausted after you push your body that much. Treat your body well in return and take time to recover. (I’m taking a week off from running.)
  • If you can run 10 miles, you can run a half marathon. The adrenaline will be flowin’ and it’s such a high energy environment you can push through another 3.1 miles.
  • Have a good support system. Tell your family and friends what you want to accomplish. The encouraging text messages and thoughts before the race is a great energy boost.

Goal — Finish a half marathon: Complete!

Thanks for coming along with me on my journey to completing my first goal! There will be many more adventures to come! Stay tuned.