My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

2016 In Review

Well, what to say about 2016.

It was a challenging year for me. Much more challenging that I would have liked.

I started the year feeling rather burned out from a very busy 2015 and with an injury that I was in complete denial about.

It actually took me a few months to realize what I was feeling was burn out.  I had accomplished 2 very big goals in 2015, and suddenly I didn’t know what to do. I had put so much time and energy into those goals that when it was time to think about new goals, I just couldn’t. I felt a little lost and unsure of myself. I didn’t know what to do. Okay, I know that sounds strange. And maybe I’m not explaining it just right. But that’s really the only way I know how to describe it.

And the injury. Well, that’s another story. Looking back, I think the injury actually occurred at the end of my half marathon. My left foot was a little sore, but I expected to be sore after the race. It didn’t really bother me that much. Except when I ran. And to be honest, I didn’t do a lot of running over the winter. I chalked it up to needing to get new shoes. And then I knew I needed to get a new pair of custom orthotics. When I did my first race in April 2016, I had some soreness, but attributed it to not doing much running for the last few months. Same when I did a race in May. There wasn’t a lot of pain, just enough to bother me. And I only noticed it when I was running. I was still feeling very burned out, so I didn’t run much. I walked a lot, though.

Then came the Canada Day 5k on July 1st.

I was feeling some soreness almost from the start of the race. I had a cramp in my right calf, as well as the soreness in my left foot. I attributed the cramping to not stretching or warming up much before the race.  As the race went on, the pain became almost unbearable. Even walking was not helping. About the middle of the race, my friend Karen met up with me (after she had long finished). I told her about the cramp in my leg. She had me stop and then she took a water bottle and rubbed it up and down on my leg. It helped tremendously! I was able to continue on. But the pain in my left foot just got worse. But I refused to give up. I had never not finished a race and I was not about to start that day! Karen had to leave me, but my friend Lani and her kids took over. They walked with me the rest of the way. It took a lot of effort to cross that finish line. That’s when I stopped denying I had a problem.

I booked a doctor’s appointment as soon as I could. The doctor said my foot was swollen, but she didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong. She couldn’t feel anything broken. She advised me to that I needed to take it easy for a while. No running, not even much walking. She also told me I should replace my orthotics right away.  I was happy to hear that she didn’t think it was too serious, but bummed about not being able to run. When I asked her for how long, she said probably a couple of months. I had wanted to do more races, but knew that my foot really needed the rest. So I did as my doctor said. It wasn’t easy at first, but eventually got used to it. I was used to doing a lot of walking but knew that I needed to take it easy on that too.

To be honest, I was mentally glad for the break. I had been pushing myself so much that I think this was the universe’s way of saying to slow down and take it easy.  It gave me a chance to recharge myself. Without feeling the pressure of having to run, I felt freer. I realized that I had lost the love of running. I needed the break more than I realized.

After about 3 months, my foot was finally starting to feel better. I had replaced my orthotics, which really helped. I wasn’t quite ready to run again yet, but I did start walking more. It was almost 4 months before I went for my first run. My friend Meggan and I did a walk/run together.  A little slower and a little more walking than I would have liked, but I did it and it felt good.

I was finally feeling like I could love running again.

I also knew that it would take time to get back to where I had been. I basically needed to start back at the beginning and rebuild. I would need to take it easy at the start so I didn’t get injured again.

I even did another race in early December. It felt good to be out there again, even if it was rather cold that day.

I had planned on doing another one in December, but they had to cancel it because of the weather.

2016 was also a challenge mentally.  I felt drained and exhausted much of the year. Which is why I didn’t do much blogging. Every time I tried to write something, I just couldn’t. I was blocked. Nothing made sense when I did manage to write. I’m finally feeling good about writing again too.  Hopefully that will continue throughout 2017.

I’m glad 2016 is over. And I’m looking forward to a great 2017!

 

 

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And the award for the best story goes to …

Okay. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ll explain that in another post. But for now, let me tell you what happened today …

 

So awhile back I decided that I needed to get my butt back in gear and running again. I wrote up a plan that would start with the new year. I lost a lot of the running base I add due to injury (more on that later) and need to rebuild. So my plan is to start out slow, run when I can and work my way back up to what I know I’m capable of doing. With that in mind, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and do a Resolution Run on January 1st. My local running store does one every year and I decided this would be the year that I would tackle it.

With that in mind, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and do a Resolution Run on January 1st. My local running store does one every year and I decided this would be the year that I would tackle it.

I got new running shoes for Christmas, so I was a little excited to break them in.  I also got grips for my shoes so I could run outside when it’s snowy/icy.

I wasn’t sure if I would need the grips this morning, but I took them with me anyway. The sidewalk and road by our house were icy, but that didn’t mean it would be icy near the running store. The route would be part sidewalk, part road. And there is a giant hill involved. I was excited, although a little nervous.  When we got to the store, the sidewalks didn’t look that bad. I ultimately decided not to use the grips. Looking back, I should have used them. Read on to see why …

So we head out to the start. This is when I notice the sidewalks look icy than I first thought. But too late to go back to put the grips on.  I knew that I would need to be extra careful.  I never worry about how long it takes me to finish, I just worry about finishing. That’s always my first goal – cross the finish line. Anyway, so off we go and lots of people are being extra careful. There were a few slight slips at the beginning, but no one fell, so that’s good. Pretty soon everyone was way past me, but I don’t really mind. I’m pretty well used to that.

We had been warned that there was a big icy patch at the corner where we turn. I was prepared for that. I get to the corner, see the ice, and carefully cross the road.  Now here is where I messed up. I was thinking there was a sidewalk as soon as I crossed the road. It’s been a while since I ran in this area, so I didn’t remember that the sidewalk starts a little farther up the road. Anyway, after crossing the road, I end up walking in the parking lot, which of course is covered in ice. I’m trying to figure out how to get off the ice safely and get back to the road or to where the sidewalk is. I make it to the area where there is snow. It’s not far to the road, so I think I can just gingerly step through the snow to the road.

Wrong. So wrong.

I get about halfway across when I step on a spot that is not firmly packed, and I sink into the snow up to my thigh. Just one leg. I try to get myself out, and sort of manage to, but then I fall again into the same area. Now I’m really stuck. Looking back, I remember thinking I hope I don’t ruin my brand new shoes. I went straight down, so I didn’t think I was hurt. There was a woman across the street who was running and she saw me fall. At first, she didn’t know I was stuck, but as soon as she realized I couldn’t get out, she ran across the street to help me. She didn’t have gloves on, so she ran back across to her car to get her gloves, then back across to me. While she did that, I called my husband who was nearby waiting for me to finish. At this point, a gentleman showed up as well to help. Between the 2 of them, they helped me get out of the snowbank and over to the road. Then they helped me across the road to where my husband picked me up. He drove me back to the running store. I was a little shaky, and pretty embarrassed, but I was okay.

When I got back to the running store, I think they were a little surprised to see me back so soon. I explained that I had fallen. I was okay, just a little shaky. I was upset because I’ve never not finished a race before.  They asked if I wanted to go out again, and I said no, I was afraid to fall again. They gave me the option of doing a different route so I could still finish the race.  I was happy with that. So while the others were making their way back, my husband and I were walking the remainder of the distance near the store. When my friend Meggan finished, I explained to her what happened. She asked if I was okay. I said I was, just a little shaky. My pride was hurt more than anything. She walked with me for a bit to finish the distance of the race. I was starting to feel a little sore, but nothing too bad. I did notice a small cut on my left ankle. I might have some bruising, but overall I’m okay.

As Meggan and I were talking after the race, we began to find the humour in the situation. Looking back, it is pretty funny. I can only imagine what people driving by must have thought seeing me stuck in that snowbank. I’m short anyway, so having my leg stuck in that snowbank almost all the way up must have looked pretty funny. Meggan said they are probably telling their family and friends “guess what I saw today!” And then I said, “and yeah they probably won’t be believed. Sort of like saying you saw Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.” We both thought that was pretty funny too.  And then Meggan said, “Just think. You started the race, got stuck in a snowbank, had 2 strangers help you out, and you still managed to cover the distance! And the award for the best story goes to …”

So there it is.

I decided to start the new year by doing a 5k race. I fell into a snow bank and got stuck. My pride took a big hit. I was rescued by 2 strangers. But I still managed to cover the distance. Whoever said running is boring.

Heck of a start to the new year. It didn’t go as planned. But it worked out in the end.

And now I have a heck of a story to tell again and again.

I almost wish I had a picture of me stuck in that snow bank. Almost.

 

Happy New Year!

 

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Mindset

I’m participating in a webinar this summer called Summer of Success, hosted by Mark Black.  I’ve often thought about doing one of these, but never really had the chance to for one reason or another.  When the opportunity came up for this one, I just couldn’t pass it up.  It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling a lot lately.  I’m hopeful that this webinar will help me move forward.

This week’s topic was on Positive Mindset.

One of things I learned early on in my journey to be a healthier person is that mindset is everything.  If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t have true success.  I know that’s why I failed over and over again in the attempts I made in my teens and 20s.  Once I changed my mindset, I found the success I desired.

Mindset is how you view everything.

Do you see things in a positive light? Or a negative one?

When something bad happens, do you look for what good might come of it? Or do you dwell on the bad?

Simply put, do you see the glass half-full or half-empty?

I’ll admit I don’t always have a positive mindset.  I try my best, but sometimes I find myself thinking negatively.  I know I need to change how I’m looking at the situation, but it’s not always easy.  Sometimes I can do so relatively quickly; other times, it takes me a long time to turn my thinking around.

When I first received my cancer diagnosis, I was devastated.  I remember thinking my life was over.  I couldn’t see anything positive about it.  Even as the doctors told me it was caught early and that the prognosis was good, I couldn’t see past the disease itself.  I never feared cancer growing up.  It didn’t run in my family so I never thought to fear it.  I feared heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol because those did run in my family.  But there I was sitting in that doctor’s office hearing the words no one ever should have to hear.  As I slowly told family and friends, did my own research and saw more doctors, I realized it was not as bad as the word implies.  I was lucky.  The cancer was found early, and it’s location meant that it was the type that it did not spread quickly.

The more I learned, the more my thinking shifted. 

The more my thinking shifted, the more I realized I had been given the opportunity to change my life. 

I could continue to be the couch potato and junk-food junkie I had been most of my life, or I could look at this as my chance to make my life better.

I could learn to make healthier choices. I could learn to be a more positive person. I could learn to enjoy exercise (for perhaps the first time ever).

As weird as it sounds, I began to look at my cancer as a gift.  I was being given the chance to become a better person – both mentally and physically.

So that’s what I did.

It’s not been an easy road.  I had a lot of struggles at the beginning.  A lot of things were thrown in my path: nearly losing my dad, the death of my stepmom, the deaths of 2 of my beloved cats, and the death of my mom — all in just over a year.  None of them were easy.  Any of them could have broken me.  But I refused to let them.  I was building a new life for myself.  I stumbled and fell a lot, but I always got up.  I refused to give up.  And with each thing I overcame, I became a better person.  I began to see everything in a different light.  And let me tell you, it really does make a difference.

Friends began to tell me how much of a difference they could see.  Not just in my physical appearance.  I seemed happier.  I smiled more.  I laughed more.  I was more open.  The more I looked for the good, the more I found.  Funny how it happens that way.

Two years ago, my husband and I were in a car accident.  Yes, I was upset about it.  But I surprised myself but almost immediately looking at the good side of it.  It was a single car accident and we both walked away with only minor injuries.  It could have been so much worse.  And I could have dwelled on that fact, but I chose not to.  I chose to see just how lucky we both were.  I think that made a huge difference in the healing.

My journey to be a healthier person has not been easy.  And right now I’m going through a lot of struggles.  I’ve been dwelling a lot on the past.  This week I was reminded just how important it is to have a positive mindset.  It’s always been there, in the back of my mind. And right now the negative thoughts are trying to squash it.  But it’s starting to fight back, fighting to get back to the top where it belongs.  And I’m going to do whatever I can to get it back up there.

I know it’s not an easy road, but I’m determined to get where I want to go.  And I’ll get there.  I’m positive.

 

 

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My friend Juliet

There are a few people in my life that inspire me and make me want to be a better person. They inspire me to be kinder, more open, gentler … just be a better person.

Juliet is one of those people.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she is that kind of person to many others.

Juliet is a beautiful person, inside and out. Her smile lights up the room, and her laughter is magical.

She’s kind and understanding. 

She’s full of life and love. 

She shows compassion and kindness to everyone. 

She’s smart and funny. 

She’s incredibly creative. 

She makes everyone feel important and worthy of love. 

She’s one of the hardest-working people I know. 

She has a huge heart.

She’s just an amazing person.

Talking to her, no matter the subject, always makes me feel better. I feel lighter somehow, even if we are just talking about events of the day. I just love being around her.

I admit that when I first met her, it took me awhile to open up and allow our friendship to grow. I don’t make friends easily, but she made it easy. 

I feel like I’ve grown since I met her. I’d like to think that being friends with her has helped me be a better person — kinder and gentler to myself and others, and more open to the world in general.

She’s the kind of person that just makes the world a better place just by being here.

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Break over

It’s been a quiet few months around here. I was having a really hard time writing. There were things I felt like I needed or wanted to write about, but I just couldn’t get the words out. I’d try and try, but nothing sounded right. So I decided I needed a break. I knew that eventually the ideas and words would flow again. And I finally feel like I’m at a point that they are.

I’ve been struggling a lot the last several months. And not just with writing. It just seemed like everything was harder. I couldn’t even figure out why at first.

It took a long time for me to realize I was burned out. I completed two big goals last year and it took a lot out of me. Not just physically, but also mentally. The mental part was the hardest. I think that’s what made everything seem so hard. My brain desperately needed a break. So I gave it one.

And I’m feeling much better these days. I’m feeling calmer, happier, lighter. And I’m getting back to things I love, like running. Yes, I even took a break from that. But things are looking up. I’m running again and I’m writing again, so the world is feeling brighter. Let’s hope the trend continues.

 

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Why I love Urban Escape Cafe

I spent a wonderful few hours at the cafe today, which is what inspired this post.

I’ve been going to the Cafe for about two and a half years now. I liked it as soon as I walked in.  And it’s only gotten better.

I go there as often as I can, but sometimes wish I could go more.  I love being there.  I always leave feeling better, no matter how I felt when I got there.

The first time I went there, it was to meet someone to discuss a job.  And as I said, I liked it as soon as I walked in.

I continued going whenever I got the chance.

Fabulous coffee, good food, great atmosphere. What’s not to love?

But it was more than that.

It was the people.

People having conversations with each other.

People sharing a part of their day with people they may have just met.

They have undergone a few changes since I started going there. New owner, new location. But those changes have only helped it become even better.

The new location is perfect. Exposed brick walls. Hardwood floors. It’s warm and inviting. It feels a bit like home.

The food is still delicious.

And most importantly, the coffee is still fabulous!

The people. Oh my goodness, the people.

Juliet, the owner, who is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Truly a beautiful person.

Sara, who works there too. Such a sweetheart.

The regulars: Steve and Cathy, Peter, Jim, Fred, Rick, Peter, Junior. And others I’ve seen there, but don’t remember their names.

We sit around, often sharing a large table, drinking our coffees (or tea or whatever), and talking.  Talking about anything and everything. Sharing stories, comparing notes, making each other laugh.  We pause occasionally to order a refill or get some food, but then continue.  We work on crossword and sudoku puzzles. Occasionally answering messages on our phones or tablets. But always talking.

A seemingly random group of people, who may not have met otherwise, sitting in a coffee shop sharing part of their lives with each other, creating friendships.

And I always, always leave there with a smile on my face and a warm glow in my heart.

This is just one of the reasons why I love Urban Escape Cafe.

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Goodbye 2015

Well, here we are at the end of another year.

It’s certainly been an interesting one.  I upped my running game this year but faltered in other areas.  I’m still learning how to create balance.  It’s not easy.  I still struggle a lot.  I’m trying my best, but some days are really hard.  I still have days where I just want to give up.  Somehow I find the strength to push through, although I’m not sure how.  I’ve had to find a lot of strength lately, although I kind of wish I didn’t have to.  I know it’s all part of the journey, but some days I wish things were a little easier.

Anyway, let’s get on with reviewing the year…

At the beginning of the year, I set some goals for myself. Some big, some small.  Some fitness related, some not.  So how did I do with them? Let’s see …

First, I wanted to do more races. In fact, I set a goal of 10 races.  That might not seem like a lot, but for me it was.  I actually had my doubts a few times that I would be able to do it.  But I did it.

Second, I set a goal to do my first half-marathon.  This goal terrified me.  I chose a race in October so I’d have plenty of time to train for it.  After a lot of searching, I found a training plan that I thought would work for me.  I had to modify it a little, but I felt it was a good solid plan.  The training went well, and when race day arrived, I felt I was as prepared as I could be for it.  It was the hardest thing I had ever done.  Although it took me longer than I had anticipated, I did cross the finish line.  While I was physically prepared, I hadn’t really mentally prepared for it.  But I didn’t realize that until mid-race.  I gave everything I had to that race, and then some.  To be honest, sometimes I’m not sure I made it to the finish line.

I wanted to do more running this year, and I certainly did that.  I had to log a lot of kilometres in my training.  Once the race was over, though, I didn’t do much running.  I felt like I needed to rest and reboot.  In my training plan, I had built in a rest period after the race.  It ended up being longer than I had planned.  I did some short walks in the weeks after the race, but no running for several weeks.  When I did start running again, my heart wasn’t always in it.  I questioned myself a lot.  I did a lot of reflecting.  I came to the conclusion that I had given  so much to my training and the race, I was mentally exhausted and just needed a break.  I decided not to harp on it and just let myself rest.  I did do some running, but not very much.

I also wanted to get back into the gym.  While I did visit a gym here and there, I still have not joined another one.  I really do miss it.  I really do need to get a membership somewhere.  Circumstances just didn’t allow it this year.  Hopefully next year.

The other goals I had this year were relatively minor — read more, write more, spend more time with my friends.  I did read several books this year, so I’m pretty happy with that goal.  I love to read, so I always think I should be reading more.  There are several books I heard about this year that I want to read.  Hopefully I will get the chance to next year.  While I was training, I regularly wrote on my blog.  Once the race was over, I posted a couple of things but haven’t posted anything since.  Overall, I think I did pretty good with that.  I’m hoping I will do as good or better next year.  As for spending more time with friends, this one was hard.  Everyone is busy these days.  I tried many times, but to no avail.  Maybe next year will be better.

The one goal I continually need to work on is being hard on myself.  I think I did pretty good with that this year, but I know it’s an on-going thing.  It’s something I will always need to keep an eye on.

Overall, I think I did pretty good with my goals of the year.

So what else happened this year?

My job with Celebrate the Hero continued to grow.  I really love working there.  I’m continually learning new things.  It is so rewarding.  I hope things continue to go well there.

My husband and I took a short trip to Delaware this summer.  My dad got remarried, and I was able to spend time with some of my family.  Because we live so far apart, I don’t get to see them very often.  We stay in touch via Facebook, but it’s nice to actually see them. We took day trips to Philadelphia and New York City.  We crammed a lot into the few days we were there.  I wish we could have stayed longer, but at least we got to see them for a few days.

To be honest, not much else went on this year.  My training and race schedule took up a good portion of the year.  I spent as much time as I could at my favourite local coffee shop, Urban Escape.  They moved to a new location this year, but not far from their old one.  I really love that place.  I love that it feels so comfortable.  I love that everyone is so nice and friendly, especially Juliet, the owner.  It’s just a wonderful place to be.  I made a few new friends, which is always nice.  And I even reconnected with an old one.  Overall, it was kind of a quiet year.

Well, that’s it.

I hope you all had a wonderful year.

And I hope your 2016 will be a happy one.

 

 

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Lessons learned from training for and completing my first half-marathon

It’s been 2 weeks since I completed my first half marathon.  Through 4 months of training and the race itself, I learned a lot.  And as they say, hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back, there are things I wish I had done, and some I’m glad did.  You can never really be completely prepared, but the more prepared you are, the better.

With that in mind, here are some of the things I learned:

If you think you’ve done enough training on hills, you haven’t. Do more.  And do a variety of sizes.  There is an art form to running up AND down hills.

Do your training on a variety of surfaces. Roads, sidewalks, trails, gravel, dirt, etc.

Double, triple, quadruple check the race details, rules, etc. Never be afraid to ask questions or for clarification.

Do your best not to let unexpected things throw you off your race plan.

If you need help with something, ASK!  Runners are a friendly group.  Most love helping other runners.  Just remember that what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

If you can, have someone you can talk to, text or call to help calm you down if you start to freak out, especially at the start line.  If all else fails, find a random person and strike up a conversation.

If you can, check out the race route beforehand.  Knowing the terrain may help on race day.

If possible, do some of your training with a friend or a running group.  They may be able to help you correct any issues you might be having (i.e. pace, form, etc)

Remember that the only person you are really competing against is yourself.  Run your own race.  Don’t worry what everyone else is doing.

Don’t skimp on cross training and strength training. Both are very helpful.

Don’t forget about the stretching. Even a little bit will help.

Pay attention to the weather, even during training. You don’t want to dress too lightly or too heavily.  And learn to run in less than ideal conditions, like when it’s raining.  It goes back to being prepared.

Remember that it’s okay to walk, just as long as you keep moving forward.

Most importantly …

Remember your WHY and let that help you get to the finish line.

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Thank you

A year ago, I decided that in 2015, I would take on my biggest challenge ever – my first half marathon. And I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t do it alone.  Not only would I need a solid training plan, I would need lots of support from those around me. 

I wasn’t sure what others would say, so it took me awhile before I really started talking about it.  I mean, I told a few people, but not very many.  The people I did tell were very supportive.  As I became more comfortable with the idea, I started telling more people.  Honestly, I half expected at least one person to laugh or call me crazy.  But it never happened.  

In fact, quite the opposite.

The more I talked about it, the more people were supportive, offered encouragement, and became my cheerleaders. 

It was pretty awesome.

As my training progressed, people would ask how it was going and were genuinely interested in my progress.  They would read my blog; and like and comment on my Twitter and Facebook posts.

People would see me out running and would share kind and supportive words and gestures.  Sometimes they would stop me to chat; sometimes they would just shout from their cars; sometimes they would say something as they were walking or running by me.  Some people I knew, others were complete strangers.

To everyone who took the time to encourage me all the way, I want to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for believing in me; thank you for supporting me; thank you for listening to me when I needed to talk.

And really, that’s not enough. 

Those two words just don’t cover what your support means to me.

In those moments where I doubted myself, your words helped keep me going.

In those moments when I wasn’t sure I could take another step, you reminded me that I could.

And during the race when I didn’t know if I’d make it, your kindness guided me to the finish line.

You were with me every step of the way, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

There are a few people I want to mention by name:

To my friend Karen Walsh.  Thank you for your kindness, your friendship, and your support.  Thank you for offering your advice and knowledge.  Thank you for driving me to and from races.  Thank you for always being there to cheer me to the finish line.

To my friend Jeff Zaben.  Thank you for always making me laugh when I need it. Thank you for your unwavering support.  Thank you for being my cheerleader. Thank you for being my best friend.  Thank you for reminding me how strong I am when I feel like I’m not.  Thank you for knowing when I need a friend. Thank you for being you.

To my friend Nick Foley.  Thank you for teaching me to talk in absolutes.  Thank you for believing in me.  Thank you for your constant support.  Thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for showing me I can do anything I put my mind and heart into.

Thank you all for everything you’ve done for me, and continue to do. I’m a better person because of you. My world is a better place with you in it.

Thank you.


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The County Half-Marathon (2015) – race recap

Fair warning, this will be a long post.

Sorry it has taken me so long to post this.  I definitely needed some downtime after the race just to recharge, both physically and mentally.

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I woke up Sunday morning with the typical pre-race nerves.  I’ve done enough races now that I knew I’d have them.  Truth be told, I’d been feeling them for a few days.  Although this time, the nerves were much stronger than they had ever been before.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering this would be the biggest race I had ever done before.

I was up earlier than would normally be for a race day, but I had to be.  It was going to take about an hour to get to the location, and they close the roads, so we had to be out there before that.  I showered and dressed, and then made my way downstairs for breakfast and coffee.  I added a few last minute things into the bag I was taking to the race.  And I made sure I had everything I needed in my race vest.  I took the time to do some stretching as well.  I like to do some stretching before a race because it helps calm me a bit.

Soon enough Karen arrived to pick me up.  We stopped on the way to race for coffee (for me) and tea (for her).  We made sure we had plenty of time to get there, just in case there was traffic.  As it turned out, there really wasn’t any, which meant we got to the location pretty early.  The way this race works is everyone parks where the finish line is and then you are transported by bus to your start line.  This race is a full marathon, half-marathon, and relay race.  Karen and I were both doing the half, and several other people we know were too.  One friend was supposed to do the full, but he injured himself and had to pull out.

The full marathon and relay start 2 hours before the half, which I think is a little weird.  If you think you will take over a certain amount of time for the full, there is an early start option.  There is no option for the half.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, it was finally time for us to board our bus.  As we were getting ready to get on the bus, I realized I left my belt bottle in Karen’s van.  I decided not to go back for it, thinking I’d be okay since there would be a water station about every 2 kms on the course.  We took the first one going to our start line.  Karen told me to go ahead of her, and we joked that she was going to block me from trying to run away LOL.  So we get to the start line, and we have over an hour wait until we run.  It seems like a ridiculous amount of time to wait! And all it did was give me more time to freak out.  I talked to other runners and paced around trying to keep calm, but it didn’t help that much.  I really was freaking out.  More and more runners were arriving and all that did was freak me out more!

As I was pacing around, I saw Tyler.  I didn’t know he had planned to run.  It was actually a great comfort to see him there.  We chatted for a few, and then he left to do his warm-up.  Finally it was getting closer to the time.  I checked my bag, as all the other runners were doing.  The first runners in the marathon were passing by, and everyone cheered.

The sun was mostly shining, which I was happy about, but it was very windy.  The wind made it cold.  Thankfully, I had gloves and a buff on.  I wasn’t sure if I would need to keep the gloves on throughout the race, but I was happy to have them at the start.

It was finally time to line up.  I stayed near the back, as I always do, out of respect for the faster runners.  Finally it was go time.  I was happy to finally going.  I had been going a bit crazy! All that wait time I had been questioning everything from my training to my sanity.

As I crossed the start line, I reminded myself of a few things:  This was my race, not anyone else’s.  Don’t out too fast.  No matter what, I had to cross the finish line.  Don’t worry about the time, worry about finishing.

There were a few people along the road cheering for the runners/walkers as they passed by.  I thought that was pretty cool.  There was a family with their dog, and as I went by, I said hi to them and the dog.  The dog seemed to want to join me in the race.  Everyone laughed.

The first part of the race was relatively flat.  I was totally okay with that.  I slowed to a walk at the first water station, grabbed a drink, and moved on.  The scenery was pretty.  I thought about pausing a couple of times to snap some pictures, but I never did.  As the course moved along the water, the wind really picked up.  I pulled my buff over the back of my head so my hat wouldn’t blow off.  It was mostly a head wind, which kind of sucked, but nothing I could do about it.  Slower marathon runners and relayers passed me.  We shared words of encouragement.  That’s always nice.

I paused at each water station I passed.  I was very happy they were there.  I thanked all the volunteers as I continued on.  I had to stop a couple of times to use the porta potties too.  Happy to see them there too!  I followed the fueling plan I had worked out in training, taking in a gel about every 2 kms. I made sure I had plenty of them with me, in case I needed extra.  Plus I had some chews as well.

Pretty soon, I was alone on the road.  And I knew I would be.  I was okay with that.  By most standards, I’m a slow runner, but I don’t care.  I had my music to keep me company as I was running, as I almost always do.

I continued to thank each group of volunteers I passed, and even the cops that were keeping the roads blocked for the race.  Buses continued passing me as they continued to take relay team members back and forth.

As I was going along, it seemed to me that there weren’t as many water stations as there should have been.  I figured maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the kms as much.  I didn’t really think about it too much to begin with.  But as I neared the halfway point, 2 large trucks passed me with their backs open.  One I noticed had tables in it, like the ones at the water stations.  As I neared what should have been a water station, I saw the trucks stop.  A guy got out of truck, picked up the KM sign that was ahead and put it in the truck.  I started to freak out!  I pulled out my phone and sent a text to Karen, who I knew had already finished and was waiting at the finish line.  I explained what was happening and she went to  find one of the race people.

I also sent a text to my friend Jeff, who had been sending me texts since the race started.  I told him what was going on and that I was freaking out.  He did his best to calm me down, but it was difficult.  This was my worst nightmare! I was being left alone on the course!!

This was also about the point that the hills started on the course.  I had begun walking because Karen and I were texting back and forth.

A couple of kms later, I finally came across another water station.  It was being manned by a woman and her kids.  They were really nice.  I was so happy to see them!  Two of the kids decided to walk to the end of the road with me.  I thought that was really nice.  After I had passed them, the woman closed up her water station.  She gave me a bottle of water, which I greatly appreciated.  As I continued on, a cop came by in his car to tell me that the roads had been reopened and to remind me to stay to the side of the road.  I thanked him and continued on.  A little bit farther down the road, there was a guy stacking wood in his yard.  He asked me how I was doing and I said I was fine.  He asked me if I was going to finish, and I said “Hell yeah!” He laughed.

About another km or so, the woman from the water station came by in her car.  She offered me another bottle of water.  She said all the other stations have been closed up and she wanted to make sure I had enough water.  I took the bottle and thanked her.  I told her I was very upset about the water stations, and she said she was too.  I wish I had gotten her name.

I was pretty much only walking at this point.  I was really upset and trying not to completely lose it.  I was on the shoulder of the road, and it was hard to run on the gravel and dirt.  A few times, I wasn’t even sure I was going the right way.  Karen was going her best to keep me calm too, but she knew I was having a hard time out there.

A couple of times Karen texted me to ask where I was at.  I didn’t always know, which of course freaked me out too.  I told her at one point that there was a large hill just ahead of me.  I was beginning to wonder if the road ever ended.  I was pretty angry at the race people.  I did my best to use that to keep moving.

The lady from the water station came by one more time, just to make sure I was okay.  I thanked her again.  Another lady drove by, asked if I was okay and if I wanted a ride to the finish.  I told her I was okay, and no, I needed to finish.

I had to go up another hill and the road was curving, so I hoped that meant I was getting close to the final turn onto Main Street.  As I was heading up the hill, I saw Karen walking towards me.  I was so glad to see her! At least I knew I getting closer to the finish.  At least I hoped so.

My back was feeling a little sore.  And I thought I could feel a blister on my foot.  But I wasn’t going to give up.  I knew I had slowed down quite a bit, but I didn’t care.  I was determined to finish the race.

As Karen and I walked, we talked about how the race had left me out there alone.  What really made the both of us mad was that we had talked to them the day before at packet pick up.  The guy we spoke to guaranteed me that they would not shut down the water stations as long as someone was still out there.  But that’s exactly what happened.

As we got closer to the finish, a guy came up to us.  He was from the race.  He said that they had shut everything down at the finish line, and that they would contact me about getting me my finisher medal.  I became even angrier! I asked about my backpack that I had checked.  They said they had it.  I told him I needed it, that it had my glasses in it.  He called the lady who had it.  After a couple of minutes, he came back to us.  He said that he will go meet her to get it and my medal and meet us at the finish line.  Then he left.  I swear, I could have spit nails at that point!!

Thankfully, it wasn’t too much farther to the end.  As we finally neared where the finish line should have been, a man stepped out and started clapping.  I didn’t know who he was.  Once I crossed, he came up to me.  He said he was one of the bus drivers and had been watching me all day.  He said he stayed there waiting for me.  He said “everyone deserves to have someone cheering for them at the finish line.”  I was crying.  I thanked him repeatedly.  I told him he has no idea how much that means to me.  I wish I had gotten his name.

Finally, the other guy arrived.  He gave me my backpack and my medal.  Karen took a picture of me.  The guy asked me what my finishing time was.  I told him what my running app said, and he wrote it down.  He said it would be entered into the stats.  And he once again said that one of the race directors would be in contact with me.  Karen ran to the get the car,  I slowly got in, and we drove home.  I repeatedly thanked her for coming to my rescue and helping me finish.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done — both mentally and physically.  It was not the way I had hoped the race would go.  It was not the finish I had pictured.  I missed out on the post-race food, beer, and celebrations.  I missed getting an official race photo.  I’m angry that I was lied to and abandoned on the race course.  I had plenty of chances to give up, but I didn’t.

I crossed the finish line.  And had someone there to cheer for me as I did.  And that’s what matters.

 

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