Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life Begins at 13.1

Today, I ran the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, TN, USA.

My goal time was to finish in under 3:00:00. My time according to my stopwatch was 2:43:06. Official chip time will be posted soon, and I'll post an update to include it.

I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll begin at the beginning.

[Note: There is absolutely no blood in my brain right now, and the pain in my lower extremities has caused severe loopiness. This post might be incredibly disjointed and in a stream-of-consciousness style worthy of Faulkner himself.]

[Another Note: I am so loopy, that when I first typed that, I said Steinbeck instead of Faulkner. Um, Steinbeck is, like, the total OPPOSITE of SOC writing. I need a nap.]

I had to get up this morning at 4:00 to get ready, because I needed to be in the parking lot at LP Field by 5:00. I left in plenty of time to get there on a normal day; what I did not take into consideration, though, was that there would be 30,000 other people trying to park at LP Field at the same time as me. So, yeah. Traffic sucked.

I did get parked in time to hop on one of the shuttles to the starting line (LP Field was the finish line, so our cars were there when we were done). Talked to a nice guy who sat next to me on the shuttle. He had run the CM half before, and was really cool to talk to. One of my favorite things about running is the camaraderie that almost instantly forms when two strangers find out that they are both runners. It's very inspiring to talk to a pro; it's equally inspiring to talk to someone who has trained their ass off and is running his or her very first endurance race.

So we got to Centennial Park (starting line), and I checked my gear bag, went to say hi to my TNT team leader and coach, and got in line for the Port-a-Potty. The lines were long...

So, time to get in my corral. I was in corral 26, because I put on my race registration that I expected to finish in around 3 hours (faster runners are in the front corrals; it keeps them from trampling us). The race started at 7:00; our corral started at 8:00. It was a long wait. I had to use the bathroom again by the time I got to the starting line. Damn.

So, I took off at a nice, easy pace at the starting line. I went totally according to plan; 3 minutes run, 1 minute walk. It was going well. There were bands playing every few miles, there was plenty of Cytomax sports drink and water, and it was a beautiful run. I love Nashville.

The only bad thing in the beginning was the heat. It was hot. Like, 80ºF (26.6ºC). That's not too bad for spectating, but it was hot for running.

The bands were great; the spectators were awesome. There were lots of TNT supporters shouting "Go Team!" whenever they saw a purple jersey passing. My coach from the triathlon four years ago saw me, and shouted "Go Nena!" It was so energizing, so exciting! I had lots of energy the whole time, really, but just after mile 6, around the 10K mark, the bottoms of my feet started to hurt. I mean, really started to hurt. Like they were breaking to pieces starting to hurt.

I pushed through it, maintaining 3 min run/1 min walk. Lungs felt great; heart rate was good; knees felt good; legs felt good. I'm fit enough to do this. Damnit if only the bottoms of my feet didn't hurt like the fires of hell.

Have you ever had a sudden, stabbing pain that only lasted a split second, and it hurt so much that you couldn't imagine how awful it would have been if it had lasted longer than that split second? That's how my feet felt, but not for a split second; it was enduring pain of that magnitude.

I was maintaining my intervals through mile 10; still felt good. There was a Port-a-Potty with no line right before mile 11, so I made a quick pee break, then right back on course.

At mile 12, however, I started to go downhill. The pain in the soles of my feet was almost unbearable; my legs were getting fatigued; and my general energy level had dropped drastically. I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit so badly; but there was no way in hell I was quitting. I had worked too hard for this. I did have to ditch my timed intervals and just run when I could, and walk when I had to.

Mile 12 was the longest mile ever in the history of the world. There were more TNT supporters along that mile, cheering and encouraging us to keep going. They knew that's where we would need them. It helped; but it didn't take the pain away.

Then, I saw the pedestrian bridge. The home stretch. This was it. I make it to that bridge, run across it, turn the corner, and I can see the finish line.

13 mile sign...there it is. I can do it...

Turn the last corner...


It was the most amazing feeling ever. I did it. I finished the half marathon.

- The bands. They were awesome.
- The crowds. Especially the TNT supporters.
- The general excitement of all the participants. It was contagious.
- That I didn't crap myself. Seriously. That was a fear of mine.
- Knowing that I was going to finish. It hit me at mile 10, and it was an incredible feeling. I almost cried.
- Crossing the finish line.

- The heat.
- The horrible pain in the bottoms of my feet.
- The weird snake-shaped blood blister thing I have on the big toe of my right foot. I just discovered it when I got home.
- The ice bath afterwards. No one was home when I took it, and it's a good thing. I screamed like a banshee. No; not like a banshee. Banshees would have wondered "what the hell kind of creature can make a noise like that? Damn!"

I am so glad I did it. I'm already thinking that I want to do another here in Tennessee in October. Then another in Florida next March.

I'm not sure whether there is an effective treatment for my particular brand of insanity.

I'm sure I'll think of more things that I want to say. I'll post updates as I think of them.

Thanks to all for your support.

UPDATE: Official chip times were published today. Mine was 2:42:42. Even better than what I clocked; and the chips are way accurate! YAY!


Anonymous said...

What a great accomplishment Nena. I'll bet you feel like nothing can stop you now.

Congratulations from both of us here. Ann has been thinking of doing the same thing for a couple of years but has always had to bow out due to knee or foot pain. She really enjoyed your description of the event.

Nena said...

Do it, Ann! Do it!!

I know all about knee and foot pain; my knees are the reason I had to do 3:1 intervals. Had I tried to run for almost three hours solid, my knees would have been swollen to the size of basketballs.

The key is good, knowledgeable training. We had a Team in Training group at the race from your area (we were shocked; that's the farthest anyone has ever come!); you might want to check them out. It's a great cause, and their coaches are awesome.

Thanks to both of you for your kind congratulations!

Aimee said...

Awesome! I'm laughing at your Banshee comment and your crap comment. You're too funny! So, what's next on the agenda?! :)

Nena said...

Aimee, my immediate future plans are:

Tomorrow (Sunday), I am going to eat whateverthehell I want. All day long.

Monday: I'm going to get back into the groove of tracking my food and eating for weight loss, instead of eating for training. That's going to be hard, because training requires some volume eating during the last couple of weeks; I'm going to miss that...

I'm going to rest for a while, and just do strength training and spinning classes for a few weeks. Then I'm going to start a gentle running schedule again. There's a nice, flat-course race in Murfreesboro in October that I think I might do.

Also, I'm going to try to talk you and the rest of my bunco girls into training with me for the Disney World Princess Half Marathon next March.

If I can do it, y'all can do it.

...also, I am laughing out loud that my word verification is "manho."

Kelly said...

Great job Nena! Way to push through it.

Robin said...

WTFG Nena! That's a fantastic accomplishment. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for getting through the pain like that and making it to the finish. Awesome!

Jessicalovescake said...

Way to go!

Yasmin said...

um, the treatment for running insanity is more running. Really, it is. Trust me.

I'm glad you were so happy. Did you ever figure out what was killing your feet? Or was it just the duration?

There's always surf city next Feb and America's Finest in San Diego in August!

Yasmin said...

I want to do the Princess 1/2!

Pick me! Also, I'm jealous of your ice bath. I should have done that.

Jen said...

Finally got the chance to read your blog. Awesome job girl!!!! -Jenga