Sunday, December 05, 2010

Half Marathon Action

Last week, my column compared parenting to a marathon, Being a good parent isn't a race, it's a marathon. On Saturday, I ran in the St. Jude Memphis half marathon.

Yes, me.

It was a little crazy of me to sign up, but now that it is over, I am so glad that I did.

I had a LOT of anxiety about the race in the weeks leading up to it. Every time I ran--usually 4-5 miles--I would beat myself up when I got tired. "How am I going to do the half?" was my very negative mantra. My plans to build up to 13.1 were thwarted by sickness, busy-ness, and scheduling conflicts with people who could/wanted to run 6+ miles with me. (I don't ever run by myself!) I only managed one 6+ mile run before the race. (I think it was 7.8 miles.) So I was understandably nervous. However, my goal was only to finish, and I was fine with walking some, possibly half, if necessary.

I spent the day before the race hydrating, carbo loading, and thinking positive thoughts. I went to bed at 9:00pm and when I woke up at 6:30am, I was ready to go. I drove myself downtown, parked at my office, and walked to AutoZone park to check my bag. I wouldn't have time to go home after the race (Rock-n-Romp started at 2 downtown), so I planned to shower at the Y.

Once my bag was checked, I made my way to the start. It took me a minute to realize there was a system, but I did eventually find my corral. The start was broken into several corrals based on average pace, and each corral had a pacer who held a sign. I joined up with the 10:30-11:00 minute mile crew even though I'm usually a little slower than that and anxiously awaited the start. Each corral started a minute or two apart, so by the time my group went, twenty minutes had already passed. (They don't start calculating your time until you cross the start line.)

It was really cool to be in a group of runners who went at about the same pace as me. It helped me slow myself down when necessary and I didn't feel like I was being passed a lot. (Towards the end, I did fall back into the corral behind me. ) It was also great having a water station every mile. The best part, however, was having people lining the streets cheering us on. Several times I heard a "Go Stacey!" and it REALLY made a difference. (Thanks to everyone who cheered for me!)

The race went through the St. Jude campus at mile 4 and it was really, really awesome. That was probably the fastest mile I've ever run. I felt totally energized by all of the enthusiastic people lining the streets. And I imagined that many little eyes were watching us out of the windows.

Along the route there were plenty of people with signs and T-shirts with pictures of St. Jude patients, some current, some recovered, and some who didn't make it. It was incredibly touching. I had to choke back tears several times.

There were also musicians along the route singing and that was pretty cool. My favorite cheer station was in Overton Park. There was a group (maybe from the YMCA) dressed as the Village People dancing to "YMCA." Lots of runners spelled out YMCA with their arms as we went by. It was hilarious.

I was really surprised by how quickly the race went. Once we got out of downtown, it just flew by. I was a little bummed that I didn't have a friend to run with, but it worked out. I ran when I wanted and walked when I needed to without feeling guilty about slowing someone else down. By mile 11 my feet were KILLING me. I was really happy that I had recently gotten a size larger shoe, otherwise I would have really been in pain. I was thinking I was going to have to walk the last two miles, but a girl I know from derby came along and we ran together for about a mile. I definitely needed that little boost!

The last mile was really great because I could see the finish line and there were people cheering us all the way in. The finish is at AutoZone park down on the ball field. They call your name out right as you cross the line and the stands are filled with tons of people--some runners, some friends of runners. Once you get through, someone hands you a silver super-hero cape and then someone else gives you a medal. It's a pretty awesome way to finish. I remembered to take off the fleece I had around my waist so that my number would show up in the picture snapped at the finish. And I even smiled, but I'm kind of scared to see the picture!

There's a food area for runners at the stadium, but standing in line was freaking me out a bit. I was pretty exhausted and in pain. Standing still was making me feel like I was going to throw up. Plus, I really needed to go to the bathroom. I kept meaning to stop during the race, but I never did. So I got my bag and hobbled a few blocks to the Y, where I could get in the hot tub and take a shower.

After soaking for awhile, getting clean, popping a couple of Advil, and eating a protein bar, I felt pretty good. I walked down to Flying Fish for a bowl of gumbo and a Diet Coke, then got my car and headed to Rock-n-Romp. It was great having a big party to go to!

My final time was 2:41:19. Not bad at all!

I'm definitely not ready to even consider a full marathon, but I will sign up for the half again next year. Oh and yes, I already put one of those 13.1 stickers on my car!


Mel Spillman artwork said...

Congratulations! That is a major success and for a great cause :)

eks said...

Nice job! We passed each other running a few times (I recognize you from pictures on your blog), and I almost cheered for you but I thought it might have weirded you out... I am just a random reader who enjoys your column in the paper. Again, way to go!

Stacey Greenberg said...

thanks y'all! eks i would have welcome the conversation! congrats to you too!

Chip Chockley said...

Awesome job! I'm really impressed and proud.

Wendy said...

Awesome!!! So happy for you!

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