Monday, September 23, 2013

Half Marathon --- CHECK!

It wasn't pretty, but it happened!

Let's take a step back and remember that I am a failure at training, so my longest run to date prior to the half marathon was 8 miles. And I did that one time. On the morning of my wedding. When I was pumping lots of adrenaline.

Otherwise, I made it to 7 miles one time and every other run I have ever done has been shorter than that. So I went into the half marathon thinking realistically, I am not going to be able to run the whole thing.

However, you have to keep in mind my running buddies......two of the most amazing women I know, that I now get to call family. Donna and Sierra had faced setbacks in their training as well, but had powered through. As of their last long run, they were at 10 miles. They were confident. So I was counting on them to be confident enough for me :)

I flew out on Friday evening after work. I had dropped Collin off at the airport on Friday morning, but I couldn't take more time off from work, so I planned to take the last flight out of Abilene that night. Bad idea. I know it's a bad idea to take the last flight, but for some reason I did it anyway. Whenever I take the last flight of the day, things inevitably go wrong. The problem with that is that there are not any more flights that day to fix the issue, so you are typically screwed until the next day.

So of course, weather comes through and flights are delayed. My flight out of Abilene left an hour late, so I was guaranteed to miss my connection. I could have still TRIED to make it, but considering the weather issues, I was better off booking another flight and confirming a seat on it. Except the flight I was on was the last flight to Dayton that night. So here I am, still in Abilene, without many options to get me to Dayton.

And then comes my new best friend, Sam. When I checked in, she heard me talking and said "Oh I'm going to Dayton too!" Turns out, her flights got messed up and she was actually flying to Columbus, OH, and driving to Dayton (about an hour). I approached her, asked if I could split costs and drive with her, and booked my flight to Columbus. Otherwise, there was no way I was getting to the race.

Fast forward several hours----Sam drops me off at my hotel at 1:30 am, and all I had eaten in the last 10-12 hours was the bun off a Sonic sandwich (the chicken tasted like rubber, and had the consistency of it too), a bag of mini pretzels, and a small bag of beef jerky. Talk about great pre-race prep, right?? Collin sleepily let me into the hotel room and informed me we were meeting his family downstairs at 5:30. By the time I fell asleep, I think ended up with about 3 hours of very crappy sleep.

But the show must go on. So at 5:15, I got up and donned my race gear, grabbed my bib, and headed out the door. Luckily, since we still had 3 hours until the half marathon started, I was able to actually eat breakfast. Typically, I don't like to eat too close to my runs because it never ends well for me.

Curt dropped us off at the shuttle buses that would take runners to the starting line. Considering the earliest any of us would finish was going to be about 10:30 am, he headed back to the hotel to kill some time. Sierra's fiance was also at the hotel, so they were going to come watch us finish later.

Oh did I forget to mention------it was raining. The 5k Curt was going to run got rained out on Friday night, and it was raining steadily as we left the hotel, got to the shuttle, and wandered to the tents around the starting line. It kept raining until a few minutes before the marathon started at 7:30. Collin took off on his run and Donna, Sierra, and I stood around nervously for another hour. We found our pacer, who was hilarious and called himself Pacer Chaser, and was keeping the pace for a 2:45 finish. We decided to start there.

Within the first mile, Donna and Sierra started picking up the pace. I was content to stay with Pacer Chaser, but they wouldn't let me fall back lol. Until about mile 5, we stuck together. Right around 5 miles, my hip started to hurt. I started falling back, and Donna fell back to join me. Sierra kept getting farther and farther ahead of us, and I kept getting slower, but Donna stuck with me. We pushed through the next 4 miles, but when we hit 9 miles, I knew there was not much of a chance I would close the gap. My body was seriously hurting. So I encourage Donna to try to close the gap with Sierra-----they had trained together and I know they wanted to run together. Donna is also super encouraging, and I didn't want to deprive Sierra of that.

So from mile 9 on, I ran solo. I am used to running alone, so it wasn't a big deal for me. However, with each step after mile 10, my entire body ached. Each step was jarring and hurt my hips, knees, lower back, and feet. I kept telling myself to just keep moving, that I was almost there. My Garmin watch had crapped out on me right before the race (I don't think I charged it woops!), so my only concept of distance was when I hit another mile flag. So I kept aiming for those flags.

Unfortunately, at 11.7 miles I stopped running. I know it was 11.7 because there was an Air Force guy on the side calling "Half Marathon 11.7, Full Marathon 24.8" every couple seconds. By that point, I was near tears, whimpering to myself with every step. When I realized I wasn't as close to 12 miles as I thought I was, I knew I had to stop and try and stretch out so that I could finish the rest running. I stood to the side of the trail for about 5 minutes, stretching my legs and talking myself down from my extreme disappointment in myself.

I know I didn't train appropriately, and had a terrible day and night of sleep, but I was a little heart broken that I was at my first half marathon and I hadn't run the whole thing. I know plenty of people go into races like this intending to walk and run. But my goal was to run my entire first half marathon. I was also coaxing myself along the whole time thinking about how proud my husband was going to be of me when I crossed the finish line and told him I ran the whole time. That is what had kept me going as long as I did, so it took me a couple minutes to calm myself down.

I started walking at that point, and every step was jarring and painful. I normally walk at a fast pace, but I was trudging along. It was miserable.

I walked, total, about 1/2 of a mile. I didn't want to totally kill my time by just standing on the side of the trail, so I decided to walk off some of my aches and pains. For the last .4 or so, there were people along the edge cheering, which helped motivate me to keep moving. Once I rounded the last corner and hit the 26 mark for the marathoners, I knew I only had .2 left and was determined to not stop moving. At the 13 mile mark, I saw Collin and Curt. Collin flashed me a big smile and I think that gave me one final boost........I "sprinted" (for me) to the finish line. At that point, I also saw the clock time, which was just under 2:59:30......I knew my chip time was at least 5 minutes behind the clock time, but I was still determined to be finished under 3 hours. When I crossed the finish line, the clock said 2:59:40.

My official time was 2:53:48. Despite my disappointment that I walked for .5 mile, I am seriously so proud of myself. I am so excited that I did a half marathon, and that I did 96% of it at a jogging pace.

after the madness was over!

Saturday afternoon was ROUGH because Collin and I were both in serious pain. Walking was HARD. The family left after we all ate lunch, but we weren't flying out until Sunday morning. All afternoon and evening Saturday, we tried to confine ourselves to the bed or sofa in our room reading lol. We had to walk to dinner which was like  1/10th of a mile and brutal. Navigating the airports was also a form of torture. But now that I'm a few days out and feeling better, I am already planning my next half! I am determined to do the ENTIRE thing at a run next time! I would also love to do it much closer to 2.5 hours next time.

In case you were wondering, Donna did catch up with Sierra and finished in 2:40:55. Sierra finished in 2:41:24. I am so amazed by both of them! Collin did the FULL marathon and finished in an amazing 3:23:09 (yes, it only took him 30 minutes longer than me to run twice the distance :P)

I'll also add that I LOVE getting to do things with our family :) Sierra and Donna are already talking Full Marathon, and Collin agreed to do another one with them. I have negative interest in a full, but I absolutely will do another half! And Collin and I are in the process of bike shopping so we can start Triathlon training!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

And we're MARRIED!

Wow. Life certainly got in the way in the last month! But the result was a great wedding day that went off pretty much without a hitch :) And nowwwww.......we're married!!

We have actually been married for exactly a week now :) Collin and I headed to Baltimore on September 1st to begin the wedding week preparation fun. We actually had a pretty relaxing week......there was stuff to do, but we had plenty of time to do it, so we weren't running around completely crazy. My brother arrived on Tuesday night, Shannon and Eric arrived on Wednesday, two more groomsmen arrived on Thursday, and my remaining lovely ladies and Collin's family arrived on Friday!

But let me back up a minute.

The week was fun. We went shopping, we packed hotel Welcome Bags, we wrapped bridal party gifts, and we got to hang out with my parents. On Wednesday evening, we ate crabs with my parents, brother, and Jimmy. On Thursday morning, I had the pleasure of going on a run with the lovely Kathleen at the NCR Trail, which is a GORGEOUS trail. On Thursday night, the groomsmen took Collin out for a Bachelor Party and Shan and I met up with some friends for a very healthy wedding week dinner :P Collin and I worked out every day, as usual. Altogether, it was an awesome wedding week.

Getting my dress was another fun adventure. I went for my final fitting on Wednesday, and while every other fitting prior to this one, the dress was still way too big, this time, it was pretty much cutting off my circulation. The fit was actually perfect everywhere except right around the top. So I had to come back on Thursday for a final fitting, and then pick it up on Friday after Shannon, Mom and I got our nails done. Talk about down to the wire. It was worth it, though, because the fit was perfect. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

On Friday evening, Kit drove in from DC after work and we all began getting ready for the rehearsal. Collin packed up for his stay at the hotel, and we set off for the rehearsal. It went pretty well and I didn't really have any concerns. The rehearsal dinner was awesome, and I finally got to unveil a project that had been in the works for months........Collin's Grooms Cake. I am not sure how I kept this a secret for as long as I did, but I was very proud of myself. Kathleen's husband and mother-in-law make AMAZING cakes, and I enlisted their services for this beast. It was incredible, and I know Collin was shocked! I am amazed at how talented they are!

Kit and Shannon stayed with me at my parent's on Friday night, and we ended up getting home around midnight. I finally got to sleep around 1 am, and was awake by 4 am. I guess I was excited?? :P It worked out well, because my new mother-in-law and sister-in-law were coming over at 5:30 to go for a run with me! We are all still training for the USAF Half-Marathon next weekend, so we put in an 8 mile run on Saturday morning! It was a perfect morning for running, we all run around the same pace, and it made me realize that a running partner (or two) makes a HUGE difference. When we got back, Dani was showing up to the house with coffee and Shannon and Kit were out getting bagels for breakfast! We headed to the hair salon around 9 to begin hair and makeup prep!

At this point, we still had lots of time to kill. It was only 11 am and we weren't leaving for the church until 1:45. So my tech savvy friends introduced the rest of the room to Instagram! As I was upstairs packing up my bag of stuff, I could hear everyone else downstairs sharing instagram names and figuring out how to work was pretty funny. We all snacked on bagels, and my awesome mom made sandwiches so that we would all make it until 4 pm, when we would finally get some cocktails and appetizers! The girls donned their dresses while the photographer, Kirsten, snapped pics of my dress and accessories.

Finally, it was my turn. I got fully assembled and we were off! The whole day didn't pass in a blur, I remember each part, but looking back on it, some of it was just like "woah, when did that time pass?"

We sat in front of the church in the limo for a few minutes while the last guests arrived. When the groomsmen gave the cue, we all piled out and snuck into the church. I was ok at this point, super excited and ready to go. However, as soon as my girls started walking down the aisle, I started to tear up.

 My dad said to me "I could tell you the same thing Pop told Mom on our wedding day." Without even thinking about it, I answered "No, I'm ok. I'm ready." When my parents got married 30 years ago, my mom and Pop were standing at the back of the church, about ready to start the walk up the aisle, and Pop told Mom something along the lines of "It's not too late.......are you sure about this?"  He was giving her an out, letting her know if she wasn't totally sure, that was ok. They could bolt lol. It's nice to know that after all the planning and money, my dad felt the same way :) Luckily, I was sure.

However, the tears kept coming. Right as Shannon started her walk down the aisle, while we were still out of sight, I snagged my dad's ever-present handkerchief and blotted the tears. However, that would prove to be futile since as soon as we started our walk down the aisle, I literally could not keep from crying. I was trying to smile at the same time, so I'm sure I looked like I was in pain haha. Pretty quickly I zeroed in on Collin, and his big smile kept me moving up the aisle.

It wasn't that I was really nervous or unsure. I was 1000000% sure. I had 6 years of love and energy built up in me, and the only way it was coming out was in tears. I was literally shaking the whole time, and Collin kept telling me "Relaaaaax". Eventually, I did relax and really enjoyed the ceremony. Shannon and I had a few moments of near hysterical laughing on the altar, and I don't think my wedding would have been complete without it lol.

Pretty soon, we were married. The vows portion is actually a complete blur to me. I remember roughly, vaguely what was said, but not really. It was so fast! Pretty soon, Collin was being told to kiss his bride and we were on our way out of the church! Things got amusing at this point......about halfway through the ceremony, I felt my garter slip down to my knee. I was able to keep it there when I wasn't walking, but when we walked out of the church, it kept slipping lower. By the end of aisle, it was around my ankle and I was taking shuffle steps to make sure I didn't lose it before I could bend down and pick it up lol.

 The rest of the day was filled with amazing friends and fun. We took pictures at the church and at a nearby college that had great greenery, and then we headed over to the hotel for the reception. We were put in a "holding room" until cocktail hour was over, so we could all be introduced at the reception. I thought I was ok at this point, and that the tears were done. But as soon as Collin and I started dancing to our first dance, the waterworks started again.

Aaron and Shannon both gave amazing speeches, and I am so glad we were surrounded by our best friends on this awesome day. My dad also welcomed everyone to the party before saying Grace, and his speech was wonderful too. Collin and I had time to eat, and then we tried to make the rounds to all of the tables. This proved a little futile, so we went for a divide and conquer method. I feel like there are still people we didn't get a chance to talk to, which is disappointing. I didn't realize how many directions the bride and groom are pulled in!

Overall, it was an amazing day. I couldn't have asked for anything more. When it had some time to sink in, Collin and I were both in sort of giddy shock that we are actually married. I am so excited for what the future brings!

I don't have the professional pictures yet, but I'll leave you with some of these guest pics!

and finally, home to this sweet pup :)