Monday, September 24, 2012

Long Race Recap

I never really write about my races much.  I do them and after I feel either good, frustrated, let down, in pain, ecstatic or a combination of several. This race is different.  I looked over the race elevation and knew that if I was willing to give it my all on every mile that I would reach my goal for a sub 2 hour half marathon.  I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a runner because that 400 pound woman inside me tells me that is just not possible.  I am a runner and for me to reach that goal no matter how “easy” a race course may be I would forever have a claim to a fast race.  I know many runners that run 1:30 something half marathons but for me under 2 seemed the ultimate goal!  So here goes the day…..

1:30am I wake up and simply can’t get back to sleep. I take the time to plead with my Heavenly Father that I might have the race I want and desire so badly for.  I try laying back down but sleep won’t come. I did get 4 solid hours of sleep so hopefully it’s enough.  I get dressed and go find my mini clip MP3 because I was planning to run without music but now I am panicked because I must have music for a 2 hour run!  I find it and it’s dead.  I pray that it will charge fast enough to last the race.  I begin trying to create a play list of running songs.  I don’t really know how so this takes me 2 hours.  Thank goodness I couldn’t sleep.  I put “Past the Point” on 3 times so that it comes up frequently to keep me motivated. Dan gets up to see me off.  I love that he is so supportive of his crazy wife! Yes, CRAZY!  Who else gets up in the middle of the night to go run 13.1 miles starting in the cold and dark but someone who is crazy! 4am I head outside to wait for my ride. Yep, a little chilly but praying it won’t be even colder up the canyon.

Shenna and Mary were so wonderful to talk to the whole hour drive to the buses.  It seemed like old time when I went to bootcamp.  Sheena is super fast and solid muscle.  She is also super tiny.  Maybe 100 lbs?   Mary is amazing!  She won her biggest loser competition last year.  She has become a runner too.  This is her second race.  We talk of our concerns over the race and get caught up on stuff.  We get there and wait for a few buses to leave so we don’t wait in the cold too long.  The bus ride seemed forever! Doubt starts to set in.  Can I really run this far?  Oh no, I thought it was all down hill but I swear this is a bit up and wow this section is pretty flat.  Can I really reach my goal?  What was I thinking signing up to run 13 miles, I haven’t trained enough!  Your mind just fills with so much that you have to just release the fears and know that one way or another you are on that bus and have to make it to the finish line.

Arriving at the top of the race it was cold.  We got right in line for bathrooms then wrapped up in Mylar blankets.  We still had an hour till race time.  Gloves go on fingers.  We stretch.  My body feels good.  I feel rested.  I feel strong.  Nothing hurts.  It is cold and dark.  I can almost see my breath.  One more trip to the bathroom.  My big hoodie comes off and in the bag.  I line up between the 1:45 and 2:00 pacers and plan to never see either of them again. 

I cross the starting line and begin my Garmin watch that will keep me on track the next 1:56.  It was pretty dark the first 3 miles.  Finally it lightened up nicely by mile 4.  That is where I saw the first mile marker. I must admit at about 1/2 mile in my upper right side began to really hurt.  It was a sharp side pain but up high.  It continued the next mile or two.  I kept trying to breath more deeply to get more oxygen to my muscles and it worked along with a desperate prayer for help. The canyon was gorgeous.  It was a gradual down hill grade for a lot of the race but I wasn’t prepared for the flat and slight uphill sections.  I hate uphill.  My heart rate and breathing get out of control when I go uphill.  BUT I had a goal to reach.  Each mile after mile 4 I would check my time and figure if I ran the next miles at a 10 min pace could I still finish below 2 hrs.  Each check told me yes.  I had run the first 4 miles so quickly that I knew it would be possible. 

At mile 7 I was getting really tired.  My muscles were feeling it.  I just couldn’t get my shoulders to relax.  My lower back was feeling it and my upper abs.  Downhill is tough on the body! I literally looked up to heaven and in my mind said, “ Dad and Papaw can you just carry me a little ways?”.  I felt instantly lighter.  My pain felt lightened and I increased my speed.  I gave it everything I had every mile.  I was not going to let my goal go.  If I could keep my mind focused on the goal then my body would respond.  No matter how difficult the small up-hills seemed or the flat sections, I never walked.  I slowed a little but I had a goal to obtain.  At mile 10 I decided my goal was no longer to just  be under 2 hours but to get 1:56.  That would blow my mind!!!  10 whole minutes faster than my previous half marathon time in June.  I kept checking my pace and watching the mile markers and I knew if I gave it everything I had then it could happen. 

At mile 12 we were completely out of the canyon and onto streets and running trails.  There was more up hill and my body was done.  Do I walk and just squeak by under 2 hrs or push with everything I have left in me and hit the 1:56?  Oh it was hard to decide but I had already made the decision.  1:56!  I couldn’t give up now. I chugged up the last uphill right before the finish line and then sprinted with everything I had in me across the finish line.   I searched the crowd to find my family, they would be so proud of my time.  Not there yet.  Darn, I was too fast.   I stopped my watch , looked down and sure enough it read 1:56!  I had done it.  My goal was achieved.  I felt on top of the world! I walked down through the vendors and chugged a few cups of water and grabbed a few things then my family saw me.  I was so excited to show off my watch that read my unbelievable time.  Dan was so proud of me.  He is my biggest supporter and cheerleader.  I love that he encourages me every step of the way.  It was so fun to see 3 of my kids too.  They also were very proud of their mom.  I went past the vendors again and got some goodies for the kids to eat and took some pictures and home we went. It was over!  I had done it!

In my mind I kept thinking…” How did this 400 lb woman run a sub 2hr race?” That’s right, I am not 400 lbs anymore!  I may not be the weight I’d like to be but at 202 lbs I ran 13.1 miles at an average pace of 8:54. I never ran even one mile of the race over 10 min/mile!  Incredible!  ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!!

I love looking at the race pictures of those that ran next to me the whole race.  I am at least 50-70 lbs heavier than the other women but just as capable to run that fast.  This really makes me reconsider weight and size.  There were two gorgeous very slender blondes that ran next to me for several miles but then fell behind and I kept thinking, “Wow, I may not look like them but I sure can run like them!” Fitness, health and strength is so much more important than size.  That should be my focus not the scale! 


  1. You did so well! My second half coming up this Saturday, and I hope I beat my PR. I've been training hard!

  2. Go Becky! You're amazing! I totally agree--I'm all for DOWN hill versus uphill anyday :o)

  3. I really like that last paragraph, Becky! Don't loose sight of that perspective!

    1. I am going to try really hard to remember this. I really wish I had a picture of the two blondes to hang on my wall to remind me.

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  5. I really love this story. It shows the struggle to really PUSH to reach your goal. Helps give me motivation to keep working hard. You are awesome! Thanks for sharing this.