Monday, May 02, 2011

My 3rd Half Marathon... what an EXPERIENCE!!!

I'M ALIVE!!!! ...  & I think the only down side of this race is a blister the size of a half dollar in the CENTER of my right foot (OUCH).... & a sun burn.  Ricky looked at me when I met him for lunch afterwards & he was like "Whooooooo - I didnt know you freckled so bad" ... Hello Mr. Sun - thank you for aging me.

But it was a half marathon full of experiences.  How can it not be when you're surrounded by 15,000 other runners (doesnt that blow your mind? 15,000... it blows my mind everytime I see every person running, hear the pounding of their feet)

As most of you know - I was nervous about it.  And thank you sweet friends for the encouragement... you have no idea how much it meant to me.

(Getting ready to leave... everyone still sleeping in my house - even the dogs... but I'm ready to get this party started!)

I got up early on race day, gave myself time to not have to rush... I drove downtown, found a parking garage that was semi-close.  I always have to laugh when its another few miles to & from my car after a race...but I got to the starting line right as they were setting off the wheelchair racers.  Then it was 2 minutes till we were off... no time wasted for me. 

The gun goes off & I'm across the start line... going pretty well - going fast - feeling GREAT.  It was a beautiful morning!  The sun was shining, the sky was blue - there were even hot air balloons flying overhead for the Hot Air Balloon race that was also going on at the same time.  What a way to start the race....

Then it happened...

2.68 miles in... Why do I know that exact mile?  Because I saw it on my watch as I was down on the ground... yes.. THE GROUND.

So what happened?  It was some tight running on some of these downtown streets - well, some guy (Mr.Jerk is what I now call him) came up behind me - his foot caught my shoe from behind causing my shoe to literally FLY OFF my foot, causing me to trip...luckily, I was on the side of the road.  If I went down in the middle of the crowd, I would have been TRAMPLED.  First thing I did was to make sure nothing was twisted - or even broken.  I brushed myself off & then went to find my shoe... which 15,000 runners were trampling... & how do you jump in front of them to retrieve it? 

No one helped... Mr. Jerk didnt even say he was sorry - just looked at me as I went down & kept on running. Geez people... ever hear of manners?

I finally retrieved my shoe - went to the sidewalk & sat down to put it on.  As I put it on, all the nerves I felt over the past few days just kicked in.... I couldnt believe this just happened to me.  Time - PRECIOUS TIME - was just clicking right by while I'm trying to find my stupid shoe & get it back on. 

I get it laced up & then get back in the flow of people... but my spirit was crushed a little.  I kept thinking about how this just ruined my whole race... my pace was off - my spirit was stepped on.... & not to mention, I was scared to death someone else was going to run into me again.  (Which by the way, someone ran so close to me on mile 9 they knocked my water bottle out of my hand.... am I invisible?)

I had to laugh because the very next song on my ipod was Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush "DONT GIVE UP".... "Dont give up - I know you can make it...." Thank you Lord for simple small blessings. 

I told myself this isnt about anything but me finishing so I got my pep back in me.  It helped that I ran into a running friend at mile 4 who was running his first marathon.  Seeing the pride on his face made me snap back into shape....

... & I did decent... end up making up some time after the fall... never really hit "the wall" this race & just enjoyed the rest of the run.

I got to mile 10 & saw a lady who looked a little worn.  I looked at her & said "We're almost there"... next thing I know, she ran up to me & said, "You're my partner to the end"... we ended up talking about church, youth ministry, her 14 yr old daughter, friends - who we ended up actually having in COMMON - (how funny is that?!?!) .  She told me "I seriously prayed to God for help to get me through the last few miles because I'm struggling so bad & then you came"... & we finished it together... finished strong on that last quarter mile too!  GO ALLISON.. great meeting you!

But I felt better then ever in a half marathon... I actually SPRINTED to the end.  The first year, I was almost CRAWLING.. the 2nd year, my legs were like lead... this year, I SPRINTED!  (I even ran back to the parking garage at the end... wh wh what?!?!?... training works I guess)

I ended up taking off about 14 minutes off my time from last year (YIPEE!!!) - but I didnt hit my goal.  I wanted to get under 3 hours (yes, I know I'm slow... I'm ok with that - gotta remember, my first year was at 3:45) & I came in at 3:06 ... 6 minutes off!!! 6 MINUTES!  And I just kept thinking that if that "shoe incident" didnt happen, I woulda made it... Yes, I sat & pouted for a little bit.  DANG IT!  6 MINUTES!  UGH!!!!!!!... oh well, at least I have a goal for next year already.

I then walked up to watch some of the other finishers only to find my friend's wife waiting her husband while he was knocking out his first full marathon.  I decided to wait with his family & watch him come in.... & I got to see so many wonderful people cross the finish line.  People crossing with pain on their face - people who looked like they were on a stroll - people who had their kids run the last little bit to the finish line with them... it was awesome... & then, the topper of it all...

I see a young man in a wheelchair - a team of people around him.  They stop the wheelchair... they bring him a walker & he STANDS UP... & he ends up WALKING to the finish line.  It was slow.... it looked painful... he was struggling... but he MADE IT!  And the crowd went NUTS!  I just about lost it... I was so inspired.

(sorry - taken with my horrible cell phone... but had to snap this amazing young man!)

Then it happened again.. & again... & again... about 15 times, I saw different people, different ages... all starting in a wheel chair - get up at a point & walk across the finish line.

Ends up, they were all with the Reeves Foundation - formed from Christopher Reeves for people with spinal cord injuries.  Somehow, I ended up next to the lady in charge of this organiztion & we got talking about it.  All of these people flew in just for this race, along with their physical therapists & the people who work with them to get them back on their feet....

Can you say "INSPIRATION"?  What I am whining about my shoe flying off - or loosing a few minutes - when you see these people who dont care about time - just walking across the finish line - no matter what.  I have never seen anything like it... & was so blessed I was there...

Then finally, here came my friend Corey... running for 6 hours, he finished his first full marathon.  I loved seeing his kids run to the gates with their signs & his wife screaming for her husband... It was an honor to witness a friend accomplish such a big goal...


So in the end - it turned out to be a great day.  I saw inspiration all around me actually all day... everything I mentioned, plus little things....

*  A father who was running with his son who was visually impaired... leading him with a band... so cool!

*  Residents of a nursing home sitting in front of their building with their pom poms - so full of smiles & encouragement

* A lady in a wheelchair who was on the side of the road who looked so terribly sad watching everyone... it made me run harder thinking of people who cant run... how blessed I am...

* A man handing out free White Castle sandwiches to runners... & people actually TAKING & EATING them while eating.  (I gagged a bit watching them)

* The University of Louisville campus full of people with shirts that said, "If you're still running, we're still drinking" ... & boy, they sure were.  We had to pass them up on the way down & then again back up & yep, they were STILL drinking.  Remember, this was before 10 am.... they werent stingy either - they were passing out beers to runners who wanted them also

* They have "free beer" tickets on the bottom of the racing bib (...why?  I dont know...) - but a guy was running with a sign on his back that said, "If you dont want your free beer - give me your ticket" - & he was racking up.  He's probably STILL down there drinking beers...

* A sign someone was holding that was my favorite:  "Hey you - complete stranger! I'm proud of you!" ...I even yelled to her that was the best sign all day!

*  The running Elvis's - or Running Elvi as they are known - are always a fun favorite

*  Two ladies were running the FULL MARATHON in Gone with the Wind dresses!  They even had on the bonnets to complete the outfit!!!

* Running into my gorgeous Jazzercise instructor at the end of the race... she's the sweetest, most encouraging lady ever!!!

It really is an experience to be a part of... I've heard the saying, "If you want to WIN a race, run a 100 meter... if you want to EXPERIENCE a race, do a marathon" ... I agree.  Experience is so much part of it... I highly recommend the experience to anyone.


...just make sure you can deal with blisters & sunburns afterwards...

20 comments:

  1. Great job! I'm so proud of you!

    I can't believe you lost your shoe...crazy!

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  2. What a great race! And a great experience, even with the shoe snafu! That has got to be one of your best races ever!

    Oh, and by the way, the KT tape made a huge difference for Chris!

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  3. Wow, I know I have said it a million times but I'm so proud of you!! I don't know that I wouldn't have just LOST it and started crying if that had happened to me! But you didn't, you just kept going! What a great inspiration you are. Also, the guy in the wheelchair? Totally started crying when I read that part. Amazing!! Great recap friend!!!

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  4. Girl...that gave me goosebumps from head to toe! SERIOUSLY! Hey...if I'd seen Mr. Jerk...I definitely would have stuck my tongue out at him! What a crummy way to conduct himself...I mean REALLY!!! All it takes is a little common courtesy.

    Every time I watch a marathon on TV, I get incredibly inspired by all those people who cross the finish line against all odds. Thanks for sharing your story of VICTORY! Proud of you! Hope your boo boos get better real soon!

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  5. I've said it before and I'll say it again...YOU ARE MY HERO! I think it's so awesome you have the drive to do these. Proud of you for finishing so close to your goal!

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  6. Girlfriend,
    I was about to cry reading this. What an inspirational run!!! I mean seriously!! I'd have lost it when the guy in the wheelchair stood up to WALK across the finish line ~~ lost it I tell ya!

    And the nursing home cheerleaders complete with pom-poms makes me want to bawl my eyes out. Just picture my sweet mama with pom-poms cheering you on..... that my friend, is just her style.

    CONGRATULATIONS FRIEND!!! On another GREAT accomplishment!!

    How's your blister feeling today? And any injuries in your fall?

    Love you friend ~~ Dawn

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  7. This is just awesome! Way to go! You should be so proud of yourself and it sounds like you had tons of fun. Keep on running!

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  8. I loved this! It reminds me so much of the 3-day--including the taped knees! :)

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  9. oh my gosh, I am in tears reading this. I am so proud of you!

    my 1st thought as I read was "how can any one 'enjoy' running a 1/2 marathon?" but after reading your description of the day, I think I understand.

    so cool.

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  10. How cool that you went by that woman just when she needed you! Just think: if you had gone home, you would've missed all of that great inspiration!

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  11. Awesome Job! My son ran his first marathon yesterday, and watching it, I gained such a respect for you long distance runners and the stamina and will you have to finish the job!! I cannot imagine running for 3 hours straight, or in his case 4 hours and 19 minutes. Kill me now! My son said he felt wonderful and terrible all at the same time. And at that point, he said he didn't want to run another one, LOL. Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS!!

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  12. So proud of you RJ!!!! I can't WAIT to do my 5K on the 14th!!! I ran just under 2 miles today. Not too bad for someone who's only been running for a few weeks!! ;-)

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  13. Oops that last comment was from me! Didn't realize my son was logged in on this computer!

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  14. You. Are. Awesome!!

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  15. Rebecca Jo
    You put me in tears with your write up. Thank you so very much for mentioning me, and cheering me on. I am so happy that you rebounded from a negative setback. You. Are. An. Inspiration!! God Bless!
    -Corey

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  16. This is the best race recap I have ever read...I have goosebumps on my arms!

    So proud of you, Rebecca Jo! You are truly awesome!

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  17. Very proud of you!! Sounds like you had a great race day!

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  18. Congratulations! This post had me in tears while reading it. It sounds so awesome. Makes me wish I was a runner. In fact, while you were doing your half-marathon yesterday, I took up a challenge to walk 400 miles in 2011. I know I'm getting a late start, but I'm going to try. Who knows, maybe after awhile I'll start running too.

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  19. WOW. What an ordeal!! But it makes a fabulous overcoming trials story!!

    You rock girl! Good job on beating your last time. You're my hero!

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