My life changed somehow the morning of Sunday, September 26, 2010. The early morning was gorgeous with clearing skies and 52 degree temperatures and a light wind. This was the day that I would run my first Half Marathon and the event I chose for this special event was the Quad Cities Marathon located in Moline, Illinois which is where I now live. This Marathon and Half Marathon literally traverses two states, four cities and three bridges. How cool is that? I was going to be a part of it!
The days leading up to this day were very odd and with each passing day more and more surreal. Saturday was race packet/expo day and after experiencing taper for the first time and feeling very low mid-week, I woke up feeling different…light. I was ready to race. The only problem was that time was standing still. I had a great time at the expo and walked away with goodies. Yes, I know you are all shocked and yes, the color of most of the goods was PINK.
What I loved the most was my new magenta-ish Bondi Band that says…Suck it up cupcake…that I wore for the HM. This particular Bondi Band would eventually play a major role during my race. My first intentions on wearing it was cuz it was just plain cute in a smart arse sort of way. The other Bondi band is pink with a purple tiara on it for the Princess HM end of February. Yes, there WILL be another HM!
I returned home to start gathering my racing gear and the time continued to drag. I revisited my playlist to make sure my ipod was fully charged and the music was just so. I cried upon listening to the music I had carefully selected for my first HM. I have been an emotional mess in different times of my life, but this one was really messy. WTH? After returning home from church it was time to settle down for bedtime. What a joke that was. I went to bed knowing that everything was ready to go and every clock in the house was set.
I most likely had about an hour’s worth of sleep. I was not concerned at all though because I had slept well the night before. My heart was racing and my brain would not shut down. The adrenaline had taken over as scheduled. Finally, at 4:30 I gave up and got up to dress in the neatly organized running gear. The moment had finally come The moment that I had been dreaming of for 16 weeks.
So what do I do but log onto Spark and start racking up my Spark points. It was now on my 5am. Bananas, coffee, Ezekiel toast and water was consumed and everything was going as planned. Jim got up and took a few pictures and I was out the door. I reached the downtown area and snagged a great parking spot. It was chilly but doable. The time was now about 6:40 with start time of 7:30am.
I dinked around and getting more and more restless as I just wanted to run after not doing so for a few days. I finally caught up with fellow Sparker Pam (kayali) and we compared notes and levels of nervousness. We were both ready to go! My hubby and two very close family friends arrived and I had a chance to say hi before go time.
The atmosphere was alive and I could tell that this was much different than any other race I had run. This year the Quad Cities marathon had over 4800 runners between the Marathon, Half marathon, 5k and marathon relay teams. This was special. Pam and I parted ways as we are both pretty much solo runners. I found my pace runner of 2:30:00 and settled in for the National Anthem and speeches. Come on already! It was go time according to the cannon and we were off!
With music in my ears and a huge smile on my face I was running my first HM! The first mile took us to the on ramp of the I-74 bridge that would take us from Moline, Illinois to Bettendorf, Iowa. What a glorious view from the bridge. I looked to the east and could easily see the bike path that I spent many many miles running my long runs. So many emotions I felt. By the time we exited the bridge it was mile 2 and eventually a healthy uphill grade was before us. With all the hills I run this was no problem and I took it slow and steady. So far so good and before I knew it we were at mile 3. My pacing felt good so far and was holding steady at about 11:30-ish area.
Another slight incline and then a good downhill run that I took at an easy pace so I wouldn’t injure my hamstrings. I did let the momentum take me down to gain some time for future use LOL. At this time we were heading to a bike path that would take us into Davenport, Iowa. This bike path follows the Mississippi River with beautiful scenery with the Rock Island Arsenal across the river. By this time I spot a public restroom that is NOT a poopalot so I decide to snag this chance to use it even though I really didn’t need to.
I was now at mile 5 and I decided that I had better start really using my run/walk as I had not up until this point. With the crowded runners I hated to slow to a walk and I really did feel like I could keep running. That would eventually bite me in the butt. I was toodling along my merry way and opened my first GU chocolate outrage. Since I opted not to carry my handheld water bottle I did start out with a simple bottled water along with my Amphipod fuel belt with 3 flasks of water and two pouches. This worked awesome and I did well with my experimenting on my long runs. When I was done with the bottled water I tossed the empty and my hands were free.
Miles 6 and 7 were uneventful and all was going well in my Half Marathon happy place. When I reached the 10K point I was so happy with my split time of 1:12:44 and I was on track for my goal time of 2:30:00. The crowds were great and I was soaking in the ambience. I reach mile 8 and as I was slowing to a walk I feel a tweak in my left knee. Well crap, WTH is this? It was sorta kinda like what happened that day on my long run. I’ll just keep monitoring it. My first glitch. As I was running through downtown Davenport the camber was really starting to bother my knee and I was looking forward to reaching the Arsenal bridge that would offer a more even surface.
I was now at mile 9 upon reaching the bridge that would take me back into Illinois. My knee was starting to ease considerably but I was starting to fade somewhat both physically and mentally. By the time I crossed the bridge it was mile 10 and I popped my second GU and grabbed some Gatorade from the station. That helped a bit until I reached mile 11 and everything was falling apart in my running happy place. For the first time I had doubts. My music no longer meant anything to me and was pissing me off. I was going inside myself and ignoring anything around me. I wanted this to be over. I hated life at that moment. Honestly, I did not see this coming as I had never experienced anything like it before even in my worst Tempo runs. I was indeed hitting The Wall. Wall meet Laurie…Laurie meet The Wall. I didn’t know what to do and I was losing controlI came upon the fruit station and grabbed a banana. That helped a little and gave me a little more fuel in the empty tank.
At this point the Marathoners were converging with the Half marathoners and their speed and ease of running made me mad. I ran at a slow steady pace even though I wanted to sit on a bench that was at the side of the bike path. I knew the official race clock did not have auto pause so I kept going one step at a time.
I reach mile 12 and even though I knew the end was near I lost it. What did I do? I dug out my iPhone from my back Amphipod pouch and called Coach Nancy. Can I see a show me of hands of runners that call someone during a race for a cry for help? I really had no idea everything that she was telling me but just hearing that wonderful Texas drawl gave me the spark I needed to finish. I had never dug down so deep within myself. I kept thinking about my Bondi Band that said SUCK IT UP CUPCAKE and cannot believe how much tht helped!
I rounded the final corner and the finish line was in sight but yet it seemed so far away. I walked one final time and drew some deep breaths to calm myself down. I did have to look bright and shiny for the official race photographers after all. The crowd of spectators lined both sides and the headphones came off as I wanted to take in the entire experience now. OMG, the flood of emotions kicked in and I was doing it!! I was indeed finishing my first Half marathon.
Money cannot buy moments like this!
I am across the finish line and the race volunteer with many clinking finisher’s medals was approaching. My hands were shaking as I grasped MY medal and the flood of tears came. What did I do next? Yep, call Coach Nancy again and bawling my eyes out but this time it was tears of absolute joy. After 16 weeks of training, hydrating, ice baths, days of hot weather and fueling came to an end and the prize was in my hand. The weight of the medal felt so glorious and it was MINE. I worked so hard for this and its all MINE.
Then I remembered everyone that was actually a part of this prize. My Spark running buddies, my Summit training group and Coach Kelley, my coworkers that listened to my running stories until their eyes glazed over and most importantly my family and my husband. Jim lived this and he was so patient with me. He followed me during my long runs and acted as my body guard and my sag wagon. There were many Sunday mornings he would get up early along with me in order to hit the bike path before the day heated up.
After talking with Nancy I found Jim and my wonderful friends, Doug and Deanna, that made the trip to the QC to watch me run. I fell into Jim’s arms and cried again and he did the same. After composing myself, it was time to hit the beer line!!! It was time for recovery and beer is the elixir that soothes the weary muscles. Isn’t it LOL? It never tasted so good. I found Pam and after hugs we compared notes and talked about starting the next round of training.
After parting ways, I headed to the beer line one last time and then to the Palmer Chiro tent for a good once over and that rawked! I proceeded to the official time tent and received my time. That is when I finally learned of my finish time…2:33:45 and I was beyond thrilled! My goal was 2:30:00 and if I had not stopped at the potties I would have hit my goal. That’s okay though as I am GIDDY!!!! Before i left, I watched the marathoners finish and what an inspiration that truly was! Seriously inspiring and I was mezmerized.
I have learned so much from this first experience and will take the lessons and apply them to my training for Princess. They are lessons that cannot be learned from a book. They are the most valuable lessons that are priceless. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and will not ever take it for granted. Today, I changed somehow and I never want to go back for I love this feeling.
Today, after I received the official race photos from marathonphotos.com AND after looking at the photos Jim took, my jaw dropped. I could clearly see the face of Mom in my face. I could see gestures much like Mom had. I started running to be proactive with my own health after losing Mom to breast cancer. I always run races wearing pink in order to raise awareness. Mom never saw me run as I did not start until a year after her passing. I am now convinced that she was with me Sunday morning and that she had a major role in guiding me to the finish line. Call it an overactive imagination, call it wishful thinking. This is something that I see with my heart. Thank you, Mom, for sharing this moment with me.
My friends, thank you so very much for your friendship, support, patience and encouragement. Thank you so much for sharing my journey as you all helped make it incredible. Ya’ll rawk!
2::33:44 official finish time
10k split time 1:12:44
cals burned 1356
split times 11:26, 11:26, 11:45, 10:55, 11:12, 12:12, 11:30, 11:28, 11:39, 12:12, 11:54, 11:40, 11:50