Yesterday I ran my first half marathon! I started this goal shortly after the new year. I did spin classes and running through the month of Jan and Feb. Then my Force Of Orange training program started Feb. 28th. It has been one hell of a journey — to be covered in another post.
I met Amanda, my running buddy, around 7. We talked around Lambeau for a bit, stretched and got ready for our race at 8. Our corral was the very last one. But we quickly realized we should have moved up a few corrals. Everyone in our corral was walking. They literally walked over the start line. It was weird.
The first 5 miles felt fantastic. I felt good with our cadence. I was enjoying the moment. I focused on drinking both Gatorade and water at the fluid stations. I didn’t want to repeat the overhydration/lack of salts that I experienced after the Lake Monona 20K.
I’d look down at my watch and be pleasantly surprised that another mile had passed. It was going great.
And then the wall came. Both Amanda and I struggled emotionally from miles 5-7. Mile 5 felt like the longest mile known to man. At mile 7.5, Amanda was hoping for some Guu but they ran out. She was quick to notice there were two Guus on one of the water tables, thankfully. I think that gave her a good second wind for the rest of the race.
I focused on eating a Shock Blok at miles 4 and 8. I’ve tried the Guus and I’m not a fan. I’ll stick with the gummies.
This was the point where it just felt so damn hot. We spent nearly the whole race on hot asphalt and after mile 8, we could really feel it. I was trying to only drink when I was thirsty but I was so hot that I was so thirsty. I ended up drinking at every fluid station – both Gatorade and water. I cut down on the amount near the end of the race because I could feel the fluid bogging me down. I did try to just chew on ice but that didn’t quench my thirst.
Mile 10 was a hill — a Green Bay hill not a Madison hill — and at the top was a nice family handing out little dixie cups of Heineke. I took it. It tasted amazing! It was cold and refreshing. And not water or lime Gatorade!
Then we got to mile 11 and I hit the struggle bus hard. All the fluid in my stomach plus the heat made me almost come to a halt. I had to walk so much of those last two miles. I was trying so hard not to puke.
Amanda tried her best to get me to run mile 12 — which I really really wanted to do. But as soon as we entered Lambeau, I started shaking and got that feeling in my throat where puke is imminent. Puking on Lambeau was the last thing I wanted to do. So we walked around the Lambeau Loop and I actually soaked in the atmosphere. I’ve done that loop a few times now but this is the first time that I just walked, looked around and lived in the moment. Also trying to keep from puking on the field. Although my Bears’ fan husband said that would have been OK.
We came out of Lambeau and all we had left to do was run up a slight incline — in the massive heat — straight to the finish. It was the longest finish of my life. This is where I thought for sure I was going to lose it. Thankfully, I held it together and ran across that finish line. I quickly found a mist machine next to a fence, rested my head on the fence and let the mist cool me down. I slowly started to feel better.
I was a bit disappointed that my last two miles — especially the last bit to the finish — ended the way they did. But today I am feeling proud. I actually ran 13 miles. I remember being amazed that people could do that and now I’m one of them.
I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I was cognizant of the fluid intake but I think it was just so hot.
Yesterday around mile 11, I thought to myself, “why did we do this? this is so stupid.” But today I’m finding myself on the runner’s high and looking forward to starting my summer training program. My only goal was to finish and that’s what I did. Now my new goal will be simply to do better at the next one: The Madison Mini.
I am so thankful for Amanda for keeping me going, stopping with me when I had to walk, and being a great running buddy. I’m also very grateful for all the volunteers, the people who came out to cheer us on, the funny and motivating signs, the bands, and the residents who put out their sprinklers and played music for us. It made it a great race.