10 Things I am now in possession of:
- A new Half Marathon PR (2:01:48)
- A new medal
- A blister the size of Brazil on the ball of my left foot
- A toenail on my left foot that may not survive the night
- A nagging pain in my left knee that may be related to #3 and #4
- Some of my very favorite race photos ever, courtesy of Ms. Meals and Miles (see her absolutely breathtaking post about this race here and hundreds more photos on the Meals and Miles FB page)
- An amazing experience to remember with some of my favorite blogging buddies (Meghann, Kelly, Amber, Ben, Megan)
- A hatred of all hills
- Sand in places we shouldn’t speak of
- A raging hunger
But let’s back up — shall we? And be warned…this is a picture heavy post. After all, it’s not every day you run 13.1 miles (at least without rabid dogs chasing you).
I arrived in Tampa on Saturday night to crash with Meghann and the should-be-sainted Derek. After a less than stellar experience at a little Italian joint, we headed home to hit the air mattresses, because we had a 3:50am wakeup call. After a ‘nana and peanut butter, we were ready to run.
Now, let it be known that I *did* know we were going to run over bridges, but despite multiple attempts from Meghann and Kelly to warn me about how big they were, I really didn’t get it until I saw this from the parking lot.
Flash forward to what it would look like on the course…
Yeah, I think Kelly summed it up about right.
This was an incredibly challenging course — not only did we run up, over and down THREE of those big bridges, we faced several smaller hills on the rest of the run. We were rewarded by beautiful views of the beach and some amazing neighborhoods, but it was hard for me to really appreciate the environment when I was cursing the world with every step.
That’s not to say I didn’t have a good race (uh…a 10-minute PR? I’m fine with that). In fact, I’d go as far as to say the first 6.5 miles were glorious — some of my best ever. I ran between 8:15-8:30 during that stretch and felt really strong.
I even (gulp) PASSED Meghann at one very brief point.
But I knew I’d gone out too fast, and used a bathroom break at miles 6.5 to try and bring myself back. It worked, and for the next couple of miles, I felt pretty good.
Miles 8.5-11? That’s a different story. I hit a mental wall of epic proportions. I took three walking breaks during those miles, and while they were short, they were a bit heartbreaking. I’d felt so good only moments before, and by the time I got to mile 9, I was ready to walk the rest of the way. Honestly, knowing that you’d all been tweeting me and supporting me through my training was a major factor in keeping my tired and sore legs moving.
(That, and the fact that I risked major cramping and took water and gatorade at the later aid stations…something I should have done the entire race because it made a big difference in my giddy-up.)
Mile 11 took us up and down that third and final bridge, and honestly? It set up a pretty miserable last mile. I started taking it .1 at a time. When 12.0 became 12.1, I felt good. Better when 12.1 became 12.2 and so on. After what felt like AGES, I made it to the finishing chute and crossed the finish line.
Don’t be fooled — I may have looked like this:
But I felt like this (can you tell I didn’t know there was a camera?):
Luckily, we were close enough to the beach to recuperate with some really fun post-run photos:
(The outtakes of this shoot are priceless, so make sure you go “like” the Meals and Miles page on Facebook and check ’em out)
I am incredibly proud of both my finish (maybe more BECAUSE it was so tough?) and my PR, but I’m glad the race is over.
I love setting goals and pushing my body to achieve them, but this is just too long a distance for me to *really* enjoy. I had an amazing weekend with friends (seriously…I could talk to these guys every day, all day, and not be bored) and another great experience under my belt. It’s time to start thinking about triathlon season and getting in shape for some fun races ahead…
Love to these friends for life!