I made it! I survived my first half marathon since the cancer and surgery a year ago. I was very worried about this race. I was not as prepared as I should have been, the farthest run so far being 8 miles (and it was rough!) A few weeks ago I ran 6 miles and it was torture. I felt like I was going to throw up around 3 miles and ended up walking nearly 2. Then the next week I ran 8 and I had horrible hip and knee pain and wondered how I would even survive 13.1. Then, to make matters worse, I woke up at 3am Thursday morning with major congestion and sore throat. Perfect timing. I get one cold in 6 months and of course it had to be 2 days before my race. My body was achy all day Thursday and Friday. I slept with kleenex plugged up in my nose so I didn't drip all over (cute, I know.) I thought a couple times that maybe I should pull out of the race. But then I kicked myself in the butt and said I would run this race no matter what. I knew this wouldn't be the best run of my life, but it would be the most meaningful. This race signified so much for me. It's my favorite race (PR 2:05 in 2009), and then last year my friend took my place since I was still recovering from my surgery and couldn't run. I felt like this race was my comeback. My comeback from cancer and then acclimating to my new lung capacity. It was my way of saying "You suck, cancer. And I BEAT you!" It was also my way to give back to all those who have encouraged and supported me this last year, telling me they knew I could do it, even when at times I wasn't so sure. So for two days I downed lots of Airborne, Cold-Eze, vitamin C, green tea. You name it, I was taking it. I noticed yesterday afternoon my cold was lightening up a little and I became hopeful. Last night I stayed at the Days Inn in Springville with my friend, Susi Mabey, her daughter Malissa, her brother Kevan, and her nephew Kaleb. I was the first one to get to the hotel and had about 2 hours before anyone else came. I stretched, watched some forensics stuff on tv, surfed the internet with my phone, and then said a prayer. I asked God to help me get through the race, to help me push my body, that my cold wouldn't affect me, and to make sure I didn't die on the side of the road. ;) Susi, Kevan, and Kaleb got there around 11pm and Malissa showed up around 11:30pm. We all got to bed around 12:30am and were up at 4:30am getting ready. We left the hotel at 5am, got our bib numbers by 5:30am, and then lined up for the busses. Turns out 25 busses were ordered and only 15 showed up so it took awhile to load, drop off, come back, and load again. We got on the bus around 6:30am, made it up to the starting line by 7:05am. The race was supposed to start at 7:15am but we figured that wouldn't be happening because we knew there were at least 6 busses behind us. The porta-potties had huge lines that we didn't want to wait in (and Susi has a small fear of them anyway) so Susi, Malissa and I hiked up a ways and did our business in the bushes. Very lady-like, I know. I downed 2 aleve and 2 endurolyte pills, turned my Garmin on, and I was ready to go. The race started at 7:30am (so not too late), and we were finally on our way. I ran the first 3 miles in 29:47. Made it to 6 miles in exactly 1 hour. I couldn't believe how great I felt those 6 miles. I only stopped at the mile 3 and mile 6 water stations and that was it. My hip and knee felt great (I was wearing my IT band strap and I think that made a difference.) The run was beautiful. I didn't take it for granted this time, like I did 2 years ago. I listened to the river, watched the trees sway back and forth, and enjoyed the cool breeze on my face. It was amazing. I knew, though, that the hardest part of the race was coming. Weirdly, at mile 7 out of no where I felt the spot behind my left ankle tighten up and then it made my big toe cramp up. I stopped running and tried to stretch my foot and toe out. After a minute or so the cramp went away and I continued with the race. Another 1/4 mile it happened AGAIN. It happened probably 15 times within mile 7 and 11, and it seemed to happen more when I was running uphill. Very odd. This has never happened to me during a run. Those walking breaks to stretch my foot out slowed me down quite a bit, but it still didn't take away from the race. I knew I was running the race just to finish. I really had no expectations and just hoped I could push myself and do the best I could do. My lungs felt pretty good the entire run. There were spots here and there where I was sucking air more than I normally would, but with the lung capacity I have and just getting over a cold, I felt pretty good about my breathing. Around 10 1/4 mile there was a nice little hill and I remember thinking I had less than a 5K to go. When I hit mile 11, it started getting pretty rough. My brain wanted me to move faster but my body wasn't listening. I felt my quads tightening up but thankfully no more cramps. We wove through a neighborhood there in Mapleton and then turned onto the main road, the last mile. Wish I could say it was my best mile. It wasn't. I knew it would be hard. I walked a couple times. But the thing that put the biggest smile on my face was hearing my name around 12 3/4 mile. I looked ahead of me and saw Jake and the kids, waving and cheering for me. My heart was so happy. I didn't know if Jake would come and wouldn't hold it against him if he didn't. I knew it would be a pain to haul the kids the hour and a half down there, wait in the hot sun for me to finish, then turn around and go home. It meant so much to me, though, that they came. I gave Ben and Emma little high fives as I passed them, then they hurried to the end of the race so they could see me finish. As I stepped on the mat and crossed the finish line at 2:29, this huge wave of relief and joy washed over me. I just ran a HALF MARATHON. 13.1 miles. I grabbed my flower and t-shirt, drank a bunch of water and took 2 extra strength tylenol, ate some fruit, a few bites of a bagel, and drank some yummy cold chocolate milk. I felt good. Jake, the kids, and I went back to the finish line to watch Kevan, Susi, and Malissa cross, and then we all took pictures before saying good-bye to the Mabey clan. The race was a great reminder that I am strong and I can do hard things. It reminded me to be thankful for my able body. It reminded me of the love and support I have at home, which means so much to me. It also reminded me that there is a God who listens and cares about my needs. I needed this... and He knew that. I feel on top of the world right now, such a difference from last year's race. Contemplating a marathon next year. It's going to be a lot of hard work, but I know I can do it. Stay tuned...
My cute family coming to cheer me on
The picture Jake took when I was about 1/4 mile from the finish line
High-five'ing the kids
Us with our dear friend, Susi (love her!)
Me, Malissa, and Susi
The crew: Kevan Kjar, Susi Mabey, me, Malissa Mabey, and Kaleb Kjar
Susi is almost done! The second pic she is doing a little jig for me.
Malissa about to cross the finish line