First Half Marathon Recap

Twin Lights Half Marathon, May 15, 2011

WE.  DID.  IT!!!! 😀

This is the race that I have been planning ever since I finished my very first race (a 10k) in Gloucester.  Well.  Not literally this exact race.  But a half marathon.  Any half marathon, really.

And then I got injured.  Sidelined by plantar fasciitis.  And then runners knee.  One after the other.  I was absolutely heartbroken.  Crushed!!!

But then someone wise (aka, Dad) told me, “Sarah, there will be plenty more races in your future.  Just rest and get better.”

And so I did.  I rested and strengthened and busied myself with other things like biking and yoga.  Not instead of running.  But because I was a runner.  I wanted to be stronger and more prepared for the next time around.

Eventually I reached the point when I could run/walk a mile completely pain free.  This was back in May, 2010.  The month when my Memere passed away from esophageal cancer.  I remember distinctly that day, when I went out crying and pleading, “God, please let me run.  I need to run.  Please.”

And I did.  And it was painless.  Not a hint of a knee or a foot injury.  This is when I knew that soon, I would be ready.

My dietetic internship started in August, a month when the days were quickly growing shorter and shorter, and my schedule was becoming more and more busy.  I didn’t have that spare time to run in the morning anymore, and yet I absolutely hated the thought of running alone at night through the dark woods.

And then dad did something I will never forget.  He threw on his running gear and said, “let’s run.”  And so, we did.  We religiously ran two 3 mile runs a week.  Through snow and rain and sleet.  We ran.

And in some quiet but unforgotten place in the back of mind, there still lingered the possibility of a half.

I didn’t announce these plans.  Those dreams and goals.  Not until one Saturday afternoon, after coming home from a 6 mile run.  That’s when I knew–I just knew!–that if ever I was going to make it, this was the time.

Dad kept increasing the long runs with me every Saturday, and we mutually decided that we would start a real training program together.  The Twin Lights Half Marathon gave us the perfect amount of training time, so we signed up.  The rest is history. 😀

And then Matthew–a Boston marathoner–said he wanted to join in on the fun too.

Over the course of the next 16 weeks, we all kept tabs on each other’s progress.  Issuing advice, complaints and advice on everything from foam rolling and icing to nutrition and sneakers.

And then–today–we did it.  We passed through the finish line as the announcers sounded off our names on the loud speakers.  I wanted to cry.

It is surreal.  I still can’t believe it.

I am so proud of Dad and Matthew (they finished in 1:45!!!)  And I am so proud of myself too!  Proud of each mile that led me here.  Proud of each tear that I cried as I ran away the bitter pain from my Memere’s passing.  Proud of each high five that my dad gave me as we finished our weekly long runs.  Proud of each step.  Each hill.  Each hurdle.  Yes.  I am so, so, so proud.

My knee acted up quite a bit today (by mile three!!,) but I’m honestly okay with that.  I plan on giving my body some much needed down time, while incorporating more strength training and biking into my routine.  Especially now that the nice weather is here! 😀

How was the Twin Lights Half Marathon course itself?

Well.  The final verdict from most runners was that it was incredibly daunting.  Steep.  Monstrous.  A bully of sorts.  More than one runner laughed at the finish line, saying that they were so happy that they chose to incorporate hills into their training routine.  I’ve never seen or experienced so many hills in my life.

But.  Sigh.  We made it.  And we made it smiling. 😀

Thank you everyone for all of your support and encouraging words!  They meant so much to me as I went through training.  I couldn’t have done it without you!!

Thank you, Matthew and Dad for running your hearts out with me, each step of the way.

And thank you God, for my health.  For letting me run.  I will never forget.

And good luck to all you readers who are also in the middle of training for your upcoming races! 😀

QUESTION: What is one of your proudest moments?

until tomorrow

I’ve never followed the conventional rules of wisdom on how to eat when feeling nauseated and sick: consume dry, bland foods.

When I had pneumonia, I could only stomach bagel pizza bites.  When I had a terrible ear infection that sent me straight to bed at my Memere’s house, I could only stomach a slice of her hotdog pizza (noticing a pattern here?)

And now, with an appetite still lacking after a nasty stomach virus, all I want is juice and bagels with heaps of cream cheese.

What can I say?  I like my cheese and bread.  And although the plans were to feast up on vegetables, whole grains, fruits and lean protein the week leading up to the race, plans have changed.

Because.  You know.  Life happens.  And I’m kind of just rolling with it.

Tomorrow at 10:00 sharp, I’ll be running through downtown Rockport with my Dad, my brother and 1000 other runners.

Rockport and Gloucester hold so many wonderful memories for me, that it’s only fitting for me to run my very first half marathon here.  I can not *wait!*   

And all these silly obstacles (rainy weather!  hills!  an unexpected stomach virus!)???

They’re just reminders of all the steps and hurdles that it took to get me to the starting line.  And for that, I am very, very thankful.

Thank you all so much for every single encouraging word!  They mean more than you know.  From week 1 to week 16 of training, your words of encouragement and motivation have carried me through.  And some of them have even become my own mantra to carry me up those hills!

Thank you, thank you, and thank you!  😀

Until tomorrow…


But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,” Isaiah 40:31

half marathon: mental preparations

I have this thing about wanting to check out the race locations before I actually step foot at the starting line.

I realize that this won’t always be realistically possible.  Say, for example, if I ever do the Disney Half Marathon.  Or if I run out of country (wouldn’t that be a amazing?)

But.  For now.  It works.

My mom and Pepere came along with me to check out the route, and we made a whole day out of it.

(Thank you, Pepere, for coming and for treating us to lunch!! 😀 )

Field Green Salad with Pecans and Feta Cheese

The reason I do these sorts of mental pre-race trial runs is that I want to feel calm, collected and completely prepared at the start of the race.

I like to feel ready for whatever comes my way: hills, rocky terrain, and any stand-out mile markers.  I like to feel ready for whatever might potentially be thrown at me.

Just.  You know.  Ready.

As I drove through the route, I mentally pictured myself running over the rolling hills.  And then we reached the second mile marker and I realized that the rolling hills kept rolling up, up and up.  Every time we reached the top of a hill, I thought for sure the terrain would level off.  But it didn’t.  It didn’t.  The hills kept climbing.

And then, slowly—over time—that crisp mental image that I had of myself (you knowI strangely looked like Kara Goucher in my imagination…weird) became a fuzzy blur.

And then, before I knew it, we were all laughing and cracking jokes about the entire route, in a good natured, completely necessary kind of way.

Pepere declared that he would bring the stretcher.

Mom said we didn’t need to check out the rest of the race because we already knew it was all uphill.

And I stated that at least there were plenty of benches along the route in case of an emergency.

So, I didn’t quite look like Kara Goucher in my dreams anymore.  But I did look like me.  And that’s more than okay.  Because on Sunday, I’ll be laying everything that I have on the line.

The injury that held me back from my half marathon goals last year.  The first run that I ran after being injured (more on that later!)  All those late night runs—and those weekend long runs!—with dad, as we trained our way from running 3 miles to 12.3.  Those moments when I didn’t feel like running.  And those moments when I didn’t want to stop.

All of it.  It’s all going to be right there with me at the starting line, urging me on.

I will put my heart and soul into this race, just as I put my heart and soul into my training.  I’m not looking for the perfect results.  Or that perfect time.  

I’m looking for the opportunity to prove to myself that I can.  I will.

I find this incredibly hard to believe, but…

…six more days and counting!

QUESTION: Have you ever trained or prepared for something really big?  Did you feel ready when the time came to lay it on the line?  I prepare a lot for formal presentations and things like that, but I never feel as prepared as I would like!!  However, with running, I have always felt pretty good.  That doesn’t mean I don’t feel ridiculously nervous and anxious.  But as long as I put in the time and the effort, I like to view the race as the final step and opportunity to enjoy all of my hard work! 😀