& I bet the person that crossed that finish line an hour (or two) before me? I probably had that same joyous feeling in my chest & the smile across my face as they did.
Running is cool that way.
So race day. I woke up at 4:45am... my alarm was set for 5:15 but I just didn't sleep well. Race nerves are real y'all. When you think about all the things you need to do & try to plan it out so you have enough time.
I had my breakfast of eggs & toast & before I knew it, we were out the door at 6:27am... yawn....
We usually have a spot we park at for the race every year, but of course, this year, the police had it blocked off & even had the ally way access blocked. OH SWEET BABY JESUS... this where I blame Ricky for us being late & he blames me for being late - though we are still 35 minutes ahead of race time. THE PRESSURE OF PARKING IS HORRIBLE. I honestly feel like getting parked & getting to the start line makes my heart rate go higher then the actual race.
The funny thing, we saw a road that had parking meters & there were like a dozen open spots. Only 2 roads over from the start line. We were confused why there were all these spots that no one seemed to be taking. Were we missing something? Especially when people were literally in line to pay $10.00 to park in a parking lot right next to it. What were we missing? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
But we rode around the block, snagged up one of these fantastic spots & Ricky pulled out like 1000 quarters & went to start loading it up but noticed that it wasn't working. Then he went to check the other machines & none of them were working. They just recently changed it where meters charge on Saturday so we were confused....
but I told Ricky they surely couldn't tow us if the meters weren't working, right? ... but all I knew at this point? I had to pee - let's just risk it. The need to pee will make you make bad decisions in life.... but this one actually worked out well. Sneak peek to the end of this story - our car was there when we got back. Hallelujah! & it didn't cost us but 50 cents to park. WIN!
So I usually dont have to go to the bathroom before a race but the nerves were kicking in & I thought one more quick stop wouldn't hurt me, & we were passing a White Castle so I'm about real bathrooms. No porta pots for me unless I'm about ready to explode. & even then, it would be questionable. #PortalOfGross
Ricky was pacing nervously outside the WC Lounge just knowing we weren't going to make it, but I was so thankful I stopped & then we basically got a quick warm up running to the start line. I was about THISCLOSE to making White Castle's bathroom get all political & become gender neutral bathrooms... but luckily, it didn't come to that.
This is where Ricky is literally yelling at me to COME ON & I'm telling him to HOLD ON & then I'm like - SELFIE TIME - & we both smile & then started laughing because it was seriously like 1.3 seconds before this picture we were both stressed to the max yelling at each other. Selfies makes everything better apparently.
I wanted to try & find my aunt & uncle that were walking the race, but as soon as we got to the start line, Ricky got one picture of me at the front of the pack & then BANG - they're off. Well shoot. I just jumped in the crowd & took off.
|That's a relieved bladder picture right there!|
I was nervous about my knee.... y'all know this after all the weeks & posts about this precious & dear knee of mine, but let me tell you - I must have tapped into my inner top notch Physical Therapist as I wrapped it up that morning, because it was PAIN FREE. Are you hearing me everyone? A PAIN FREE KNEE!!!
... forget my work at the KT Tape & bandaging it up - I totally 100% without a shadow of a doubt know it was you all - praying friends that were lifting me up. Nothing else will convince me of anything differently. The pain I had the days, weeks before - to taking across the start line & feeling no pain? Can only be one thing....
I ran through Mile 1, mile 2 & felt great.
It was about Mile 3 that a new ache started rearing its head... my inner thigh. I typically have tight inner thighs / hips - but not usually till the end of the race. This was new having it so early - & it really made me wonder how much of my knee pain was attributed to this hip/inner thigh thing? I just know I want to strengthen more of this area - basically everything below the waist.
Side note - what I saw at Mile 3... do you all realize how heavy fire equipment is? I mean, just the jacket alone, I can barely stand up straight in. That they ran this wearing it & an oxygen tank? Firefighters... I salute you!
My favorite part of the race was right around Mile 4. I heard my name & turned & saw my buddy, Corey. We have seen each other in the same stretch of Broadway like every year. He is such an inspiration - running a marathon on basically a broken foot. A MARATHON... the full 26.2 miles. Amazing! Like this guy has been wearing a brace on his foot for the past month... & then I turn & see my beautiful friend Katie ... I so wish someone could have captured a picture of the 3 of us doing a group hug. It was the highlight of my race. Seeing familiar faces is always soul lifting.
A little past 4 miles & I hear someone say, "Rebecca?" & ended up meeting face to face a sweet lady that I 'met' on Instagram who was running the Triple Crown. I love when you get to meet people face to face. She & her husband were so kind & I am so glad to put a REAL face to the name now.
I think my Belle shirt gave me away most of the day - the back of my shirt had a full size glitter gold Belle silhouette. Ricky got a picture of it but I haven't uploaded it yet. ... it really made my day to have so many people yelling "GO BELLE" as I went by too.
|This was on the back of my shirt - but all gold & glittery|
We got to about 4.5 miles & Ricky made the comment that we may get off with no rain - which was predicted for most of the morning... & as soon as he said that? Sprinkles. Thanks Ricky... thanks a lot.
& that sprinkle soon turned into a flat out rain & at one point, a pretty good downpour.
I was worried about this because the high was only 60 degrees & I freeze anyways & I know once I'm cold & I get cold chills, I'm just not a pleasant person. But I brought my arm warmers with me & had them on earlier in the race, but got hot so took them off. I put them right back on when it started raining... & Ricky had a rain jacket & he brought me a garbage bag to cover up in.
I looked at Ricky when it was just down pouring & said, 'Isn't this so much fun?" ... we both just started laughing.
I did end up putting the garbage bag on at Mile 6. Do you know how much it broke my heart to cover up my "I am Belle" outfit? :)
I totally missed mile 7. I even asked a girl next to me, did you see the mile 7 marker? She said she wasn't paying any attention. But I knew the map pretty well & where the mile markers should be... I study the map plus having run it a couple of times, I knew we were close to mile 8. No complaints there. I'll miss a mile any time.
We headed into Churchill Downs for Mile 8 & that's when my iPod starting playing games with me. Now, I've said it a few times - my body is ran on a few things. Starbucks, sunshine & music. & when my iPod all of a sudden started just playing 30 seconds of a song &then going off, I was about to loose it. I ended up just stopping at one point to try & figure out what was going on. I can't run in my glasses so I can't see things close up & didn't know what I was hitting or trying to fix.
When we got to mile 9, my iPod was STILL not working & I was like, I cant go any further till I fix it. So we stopped so I could reboot it & try something else. I mean, we totally just put the brakes on so I could fix this baby. Ricky told me, "You know you're loosing time"... but at this point, I didn't care. I really didn't even go in the day with a time goal so there was no time to loose. Plus, I had already slowed down to talk to familiar people & I even would stop & take pictures of people who were trying to get selfies in. The photographer in me has to help out sometimes.
& then we hit mile 10... the rain was still coming non stop & it finally got to my feet. I had worn the socks you're supposed to wear for a wet day - no cotton. It still didn't matter.
BE WARNED... I'm going to show you a picture of my feet after the race... just to prove that all socks suck during rain...
I literally wore the socks you're supposed to wear in rainy weather. Yeahhhh- won't be doing that again.
Dont say I didn't warn you - if you dont like feet, close your eyes
& hit PAGE DOWN NOW!!!
EWWW - I know. Look how puckered! - & those huge cracks? They are like raw meat. Plus I have blistered IN BETWEEN MY TOES!!!
(Side note - when I took these feet pictures, Ricky was like, "What are you doing?" & I said, of course, I gotta put this on my blog - to which he just shook his head & said, "people know wayyyy too much about you" #bloglifeisreal )
... so needless to say mile 10 is what slowed me down. BIG TIME.
& that's OK - I was still good at keeping a fast walking pace going. & I would try to run but every time I did, the pain in my feet was so intense, I just couldn't do it.
Plus, mentally, mile 10 is always where I struggle. I dont know why. Ricky even said to me that he can see a change in my face at mile 10. Something I need to work out. But its so true when they say that running is such a mental game. I feel it every half marathon - always at this mark in the road.
It just feels like you've come so far, & you're so close to the end, but its still really a good distance. Another 5k. Some people only run 5k's... its like a whole other race to go. Ricky said next year, he's going to go ahead of me & every mile marker from 10 & up, he's going to change them all to 9 so I dont think I'm at the 10 mile mark. ... that would be incredible :)
& then bless his heart, I know he was just trying to motivate me (& I'm sure he wanted to get out of the rain himself) he looked at me & said, "Let just kick it in gear. Let's be real athletes. Let's get this 5k over with"... I looked at him & said, "I know this (pointing at my legs) doesn't look like an "athlete" to everyone around me right now, but I've come 11 miles & to me, it feels like the best athlete I can be at this point"
To know that I am in the back of the pack on the course, but I was doing the best I could do & that's totally OK... it makes me an athlete regardless. Every person on that road - the ones doing the full 26.2 - or the last person that crossed that last finish line.... we're all athletes.
Next thing I know, we made it! We're making the turn to the finish. The rain really kept the spectators away this year. It felt strange to see such empty side lines... but it didn't take any magic away from crossing that finish line.
|A friend posted this of us - we're on the home stretch to the finish line|
I'm so glad she captured this picture.
I think it was the first half marathon finish I didn't cry actually. I did that at mile 10. I was thrilled to be finished more then anything. Amazed that I did it when a week before, I really wasn't sure I was going to make it.
... & I actually was 4 minutes ahead of my last half marathon I ran 2 years ago! WH-WH-WHAT???
I was handed a mylar blanket & a medal & tons of people taking our pictures at the end & then it was time to head back to the car.
OHHHHHHHHHH man.... blisters bite.
I didn't even stop to stretch. We just wanted to get out of the rain. & we were about 5 blocks away still to get back to the car. Needless to say, when I sat down in the car & got my shoes off, & we turned the heat on.... it felt like a little piece of heaven.
I let Ricky pick where he wanted to eat since I put him through a ton of miles that he didn't need to do... he chose Culvers ... & I splurged on some mashed potatoes. Carbs heal me up quickly. & of course, I sat in the restaurant with my medal on. Duh.
& then I told Ricky I still needed something to warm me up so we headed to Starbucks for a Flat White. Just what I needed.
& I got home & was amazed at how good I felt. My legs & hips & especially my knees? All felt so good. It was really mind blowing. Now, I was totally limping the rest of the day in thanks to blisters on the bottom of your foot.... but I'll take that over knee & hip pain.
On a sad note - when I got home, my incredibly awesome shirt? It now says,
I am Bell ...
where & when did my E fall off? That's depressing....
Let's have a moment of silence for my shirt please.....
& I chalk up my 7th half marathon.
Its a funny thing when you gripe & complain about running a long race - all the aches & pains - all the time invested in training & doing it - all the money you put into gear & shoes - & you think, I just need to get through this race...
... & you cross the finish line & you think, 'what next'?
... because what next is recognizing that it's fun to do a race. It really is in the grand scheme of things. It's fun to be on the road with other runners. It's knowing that crossing a finish line is the BEST FEELING in the world.
... because what next is what pushes you to be better. Stronger. Teaching you always that you can do amazing things when you put your mind to it. Even when it hurts. All to feel the JOY & accomplishment that running can give you.
Whose up for another half marathon?