This is incredibly long, but it is to help me remember...so if you have time, just bear with me. The HM was on 5-1-11 and it has taken me this long to not only find the time, but to find words that could accurately describe how I felt on that very special day. This was my second HM, the first was in 2008 and I have been trying to get back since that race. Circumstances and a nearly year long battle with plantar fascitis would keep me at bay until now. I set my goal and did what I knew I would have to in order to be successful in this race. I had a lot of weight to lose and fitness to gain to be race ready...and training hard and diligently got me where I needed to be.
This race seemed to be both Divinely blessed but also governed by Murphy's Law at the same time,lol. I received a special blessing a few months back in the form of a sponsor for my entry fee. A wonderful lady in my church family was doing the Full and knew of my great desire for the Half....she approached her work place and long story short...they sponsored the entry fee for both us...me sight unseen and without any clue this was taking place. This was a huge financial relief for my family. So unexpected...God is so good! With the money we saved there, I was able to go to a good shoe store and be properly fitted for the right shoes. OH MY HEAVENS...let me tell you....the right shoes, my beloved Brooks Ariel 11's, have nearly alleviated not only most all traces of the plantar's, but also a great deal of hip and back pain. If you are a fluffy turtle wogger like me and over-pronate...give these a try...they were worth EVERY penny.
As race day approached I grew increasingly anxious and had creeping doubts. I received so much encouragement from ANEWLORI in those moments of doubt, she encouraged me to listen and believe the voice of truth...so I did : ) Look the lyrics up to that song, The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns, they hold much power. The seven day forecast everything looked great...mild to even a bit warm. With each passing day the forecast seemed to decline swiftly. I trained through the winter in a myriad of nasty conditions...but never on my long run/walks,lol. I had no idea what I would be facing,lol.
Enter Murphy's Law....the entire week pre-race was riddled with school and church activities that transformed my normally mundane days into a hot mess. Friday I should have been taking it easy, but went on the class field trip with my first grader(I wouldn't have missed it for anything) and it was one that had us on our feet ALL day. It was a fun but very tiring day. I got everything ready to go the next morning...we live about 40 minutes from OKC, so I had to make sure I had all my gear for any weather ready to go to the hotel. The dogs went nutty on Saturday morning which was virtually unheard of and we got a late start out of town....made it to the expo which was so much bigger and CROWDED this time. Got my packet without issue and then it was time to go and pick up a few small items from Wal-Mart where I scored the cutest Danskin jacket on clearance for 5 bucks. It has extra long sleeves with little thumbholes and little did I know how perfect it would be the next day.
Time to let the kids swim at hotel to wear them out before depositing them with the grands for the evening. All was well but we were running way behind. I did not get to eat dinner until 9:30pm that night and I should have been in bed by 7:00. Just couldn't get caught up. Decided on Harvest Nut and Grain pancakes from IHOP with no butter or syrup. As luck would have it...either nerves or the pancakes got the best of me and I was up puking until midnight. Finally got a little bit of fitful sleep and was up again by 4am. This moment I was so thankful my husband had insisted we splurge on a hotel close to the race. I felt like someone coming off of a week long bender...shaky...jittery...hot
/cold...icky. Got my feet all moleskinned, band-aided, and body glided up in record time...I have it down to a fine science through much trial and error. I had prepacked my best fuel oatmeal with good stuff in it and couldn't barely choke down three bites. I knew I needed that fuel so I gagged down two bites of banana and the bites of oats. Alternated sports drink and water trying to hydrate but not get sloshy...oy...I felt awful. Then when I got my dtag on and my bib...that mental thing clicked in and I was ready to go. It was already thundering and lightening and the rain was starting to fall. I was patting myself on the back for having packed my little throw away plastic poncho baggie thing. So attractive,lol..but so effective...also proved to be a good little sauna tent and wind break too. If you do ANY length of race people...listen and heed....get these little gems and keep them handy...they are cheap lifesavers. If you are a good race neighbor like I will be from here on out....I will pack extra yard trash bags for folks who aren't in the know. So many people needed them and we had just taken stuff out for luggage room.
As race time was approaching and I was warming up, the adrenaline got my nerves in check and the sky started to barely lighten, revealing just what an awesome sight 25,000 people in one place is to behold, especially when we were there to run and to remember...together. I found my happy place to the back of the pack and off to the side where there were no corral gates....I am fairly short and got smushed and smothered in last time, that was a lesson learned...whew. I was so worried the race would be called off...or that I would be struck on the spot by the fantasmagorical lightning show that was happening all around us...just wasn't certain which would come first. The race was delayed by 30 min. to a 7am start...so I used this time to pray for my friend who had taken the early start for the Full and had been out in the mess for over 2 hours already. Finally...time to go.
I was already getting pretty wet and cold...but was so ready. It was almost a full 16 minutes from the gun to when I finally crossed the start. I was able to run comfortably for most of the first mile before I reigned it back in because I wanted to run the last...had trained to run that last mile. It was evident now that conditions would likely not improve...actually they got worse,lol. When we made the turn to start heading up north about 2.5 miles in we were straight into a fiercely bitter and strong 30+ mph north wind...when you are soaking wet that makes for interesting going. My shoes, socks, and feet were well soaked by this point too...that is one thing I had never trained in or for....soaking wet feet...just keep putting one foot in front of the other I told myself...just like always...only squishier. Mile 3 was when I had to turn my music off. I need my music y'all...at least so I thought....I was already on an empty tank(I will force and gag down more bites next time, this was awful and I knew it would be) and got dizzy...the music I only wear in one ear to stay tuned in to the surroundings too...and it had my equilibrium off too I think. I was fading at mile 3..this sucked...I had GU planned for mile 6 but went ahead and took it then....magic beans folks, pure magic beans. I am SO fortunate that this stuff does not bother me at all and I don't need a lot of water with it...it gave me what I needed. At this point I began to settle in and enjoy how well my body felt in respect to bones and muscles that could be a problem....everything felt so good and I had hit my rhythym. I took in what I could but had to just keep the head down until going through some beautiful parks. Around mile 6 an elderly lady about ran me over....the course marshalls were hollering at her and couldn't figure out how she had gotten through barricades and onto the course...she was obviously bewildered..it was actually a little comical...the look on her face was something like one who found themselves amidst an unknown people post apocalypse. One of the race pictures online actually has a pic of this,lol. Around mile 8.5 was when we got the wind to our tail and the marathoners converge back with us. This is always so exciting to me...to see these beautiful, tenacious people conquering so much. At this point I saw several people with blood on there shoes....another tip here...people..toss vanity aside...wear socks that come above your shoe top...or you will be s.o.r.r.y. Oh my. Many were at the aid tents for bleeding blisters and such...but I kept on trucking. I could feel hot spots on the balls of my feet but nothing awful, yet. Mile 8 to 10 I was able to go faster than my norm...those were 14 mm and i was proud of that...after 10 I had to slow down though to save for the finish and the blisters were starting to burn. These last few miles go through some of my favorite historic neighborhoods....it was just pouring down...but everything was still so beautiful. Lots of spirit among the participants and around mile 12 you see the speedy people milling around with their shiny blankets and medals and it gave me just what I needed to finish strong. I wanted so badly to run that last leg...I had practiced it, envisioned it so many times in training complete with tears on many occasions....and here i was in the middle of a moment I had worked so hard for...and I was going to make it all mine. I did it....I ran it...I made it and crossed that blessed line and it felt so good. Finished way slower than I wanted, 3:42:02, but I was so happy this time. I felt so much joy throughout the entire thing....despite the conditions...for me, it was pure joy just to be there and just to move my body in ways I never dared dream possible. The end definitely left me wanting for more...more miles, more training, more joy that can only come from conquering the impossible. Next year, Lord willing, I will cross that finish line having completed my first 26.2 mile marathon. From there...there will be no more impossible....only dreams that are waiting to come true by being put into action. I don't weigh over 320 lbs anymore. I don't feel my weight crushing my bones and my spirit during a 20 pace walk to the mailbox anymore. I don't feel the need to deprive myself of living in the world anymore...because I belong out there..in the world...living my best life. So do you : )
OMG...one last thing. I have seen Ben Davis' inspirational story and video around spark a lot...it has been a true inspiration to me and many here. I watched the video here again the week before the race, it is so emotional. After the race I found out he was HERE! He ran the half in OKC!!! He has such an awesome blog on the race...much shorter and more entertaining than mine and his video is there on his site for those who may not know who he is...he is an inspirational hero of mine for sure and it made it extra special to me thinking he was out there on the same road ! Scroll down through his posts to May 1st for his take on the race.