18 Oct

“it was the best of times…it was the worst of times…”

I would say that this sums up my experience with the half marathon pretty well, but because I am a girl of  many words and I can’t just leave it to one statement because I always have way more to say. HAHA.

So first off it you don’t love getting up super early  long races like these are probably not what you would love to do.  Morning runs in the summer to beat out the sun was frequent this summer.  Morning runs because the days were so long with work I couldn’t fit in a workout at night.   I am not a morning person, but thankfully I perserved with the help of my running partner who did his first 5k EVER the day before.


{running partner about to finish his first race!}

As for the morning of the race I could walk to the start line from my apartment so I didn’t need to allow time for a comute, traffic, or any other factor.  This helped out a ton because I needed every moment that I slept. Still even with getting my race packet a couple days prior, setting up all gear the night before, AND not having a comute I still had to wake up at 6am. ouch.  so if you are thinking of doing a long run keep this little tidbit in mind. running = early mornings

{all my gear ready for the morning}

As I stumbled out of bed and drank my first 8 ounce glass of water of very many that day. {i needed to drink 8-16 ounces of water 2 hours prior to the race}  I got ready, had another glass of water and a half of banana and granola. {needed to eat and drink another 8 ounce glass of water 30 minutes prior to the race}.  I walked to the race station and my knee was a little sore like I had tweaked it.  I found it strange since I had been resting most of the week and didn’t feel any pain the night before, but I brushed it out.  As I was stretching and getting ready for the race I was growing more and more concerned of actually running with my knee.  Was I making up the injury? Could I really not run the race after all the training? So much was running through my mind and so I said that I would run at least a 5k and see how my knee was doing and re-evaluate.

Mile 1-3:  I started off slow because of my knee and I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to finish this race even with a little tweaked knee.  As I hit mile 2 and mile 3 my knee started to feel better.  My knee wasn’t bothering me and I was gaining some speed.

{almost at the 1 mile marker and about to go up a hill}

I had a cheering section which was awesome and felt so good! I have such great supporters in my life and they were as much apart of the race as I was running it.  From the morning running group, to take out nights after an exhausting long run, to putting running gear and race money into the budget.  I really couldn’t have done this without full support and it made me realize that I do anything if I put my mind to it. Bachelorette weekend-still ran.  Hills like whoa-still ran.  3 hours of sleep-still ran.  Hotter than any summer ever-still ran.  Worked 18 hour days-still ran.  I have never been so dedicated to working out than this time in my life and I felt pretty proud of even being at the starting line.

Mile 3-6: After my knee stopped bothering me I started to increase my speed.  Around mile 4 my stomach started to become irritated, but I kinda shrugged it off and kept on running.  I passed a porta potty around mile 4 and thought about stopping, but never being in a race and having to stop before I thought it would be crazy to stop. Boy was I wrong.  I totally should have listened to my body rather than my stupid head because mile 4-6 was pretty awful.  I was having stomach pains and needed to go to the bathroom, but alas no bathroom.  The faster I ran towards a bathroom the worse the pain got–the slower I ran towards a bathroom the more I thought about how it would take me that much longer to get to a bathroom.  I really didn’t know what to do and kept going fast then feeling terrible and going slow again. A rough couple miles.

There are times when I thought about quitting.  Thought about calling my husband to come pick me up.  Thought about calling someone to just talk me through the quitting process.  How do you quick in a race? I never did anything passed a 5k so I had no clue–do you just stop?  I visualized stopping so many times, but every time I replayed it in my head and saw tears.  I didn’t want tears of sadness that day–only tears of joy crossing the finish line.  I also thought about what my facebook status would say when I didn’t finish.  The power of the social network in full force.  In the end the it made me strong thinking about quitting, but in the end so glad that it was just a thought and not an action.

Mile 6-9: At mile 6 I stopped and walked for the first time.  I was feeling awful and when I stopped I didn’t have such a wave of stomach sickness as I did when I was running.  This was when I visualized the quitting the most because I couldn’t imagine walking the rest of the way–i was not even half done! Then I got a tap on my shoulder of a co-worker who was running the race too and in that moment I just started running again.  With a partner maybe the pain wouldn’t be so bad? Maybe focusing on something different would make it stop? I actually got a boost from running with her and will be forever grateful for the tap on the shoulder because she got me through one of the hard parts of the race.  I passed a growing amount of supporters of me and they were cheering so hard.  I focused on the cheering rather than my stomach, which got me to mile 7 where I finally gave in and went to the bathroom! I felt a little better–but still not as fabulous as I wanted to at mile 7.  I told myself from here on out that every stop that had a porta potty I would use in order to increase my chances of finishing the race.


As I struggled I never felt like a failure.  People were cheering me on throughout the entire race–strangers.  Signs and sidewalk chalk that said “YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS” were inspring and even if they weren’t meant specifically for me I appreciated every single sign/message.  If you ever find yourself supporting a racer a nice quote like this goes a long way for a runner! Obviously most people had signs that said “Goodluck Nicole!” and other name signs–but the ones that were generic signs with inspirational words actually impacted beyond the “Nicoles”.   I am sure people saw the pain in my eyes and the fear of not finishing and so they clapped extra hard, yelled extra loud and rang the cow bells extra hard.  For all those supporters who came out for the race–THANK YOU.  If I do not run the race next year I will be one of those supporters with a inspirational sign and yelling really loud!

Mile 9-11: My stomach never really stopped feeling bad, but at this point I had learned to live with it and keep on running.  The stop and go really slowed me down and my pace got slower because of all the stop and go.  I don’t love to stop when I am running and by mile 11 I started to really feel the heaviness in my legs, the soreness in my feet and the hills seemed extra long.  I actually pumped fist my way past the 11 mile marker because in my training I never passed 11 miles.  I felt like a champion in that moment.  I took a picture around the 11 mile marker to remember the pain I was feeling in the moment.   Even now when I look at this picture I know exactly how I was feeling the exact moment I took this picture with my iphone.   On mile 11 I thought about the finish line, I thought about my friend who just completed an Ironman, I thought about my husband being at the finish line, I thought a lot on mile 11.

Around mile marker 12 I saw something amazing happen that made me run faster.  As I was running I was also running beside individual’s who were running a marathon at the same time.  It was around 3:05 hours and there was a marathon runner who started to walk.  You could tell he was burnt out, exhausted and had lost all steam.  This runner behind me starts to run past me and almost past this walking {almost} marathoner and slows down to a trot.  I watched in awe how this stranger/friend/running partner {i will never exactly know for sure} say a few words in his ears and push him slowly to start walking.  Didn’t happen. The guy said a few more words and pushed him again. Nothing.  At this point I thought the guy trotting was going to keep on going to make his time.  Again the guy said a few words this time getting something out from his belt and giving it to the guy walking.  He pushed on him again and this time the guy started to run.  There is a bond between runners and in that moment I saw true teamwork.  You needed a 3:15 in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon and this runner wasn’t going to be at the Boston Marathon without this guy by his side.  It was truly inspiring.  For that moment on I didn’t care I didn’t make my 3 hour goal, or my knee, or my stomach, or the people passing me by.  I just kept running because it felt like that marathoner gave me the little push in the back that I needed too.

Mile 12: I felt every step, every movement and my whole body was aching.  I was motivated to run faster and be stronger but my legs and momentum had given out after all the stopping and starting of the entire race.  I knew I was about to see a large crowd and I needed to dig deep and just let my training take over.  I thought about calling my husband to just say motivational things into my ear as I was running, but in the end I knew it was just me and the pavement.

Not only in my training but when I was doing couch to 5k I ran across one bridge almost every run.  I knew I was home when I turned the corner and the saw the bridge.  The bridge has a mural on the side of it with different people and places and it is the home stretch of bridges.  Even when I cross over this bridge in a car I am reminded of all the running I have been doing this past year.  It was only fitting that the homestretch of my first half marathon was this bridge.  Once I crossed over the bridge I was only about .3 miles away from victory–I just needed to cross over the bridge.  When I saw the bridge there were tears in my eyes because I knew that the end was near and that I was almost a half marathon runner.  I didn’t look at the murals, I didn’t look at the people passing me, I didn’t look at the supporters.  I looked straight ahead ready to see the finish line.  For me this bridge will always have meaning for me–it is where I started running.

{just crossed over the bridge and turned the corner towards the finish line}

Mile 13: Anyone can run a mile, right? Well I was never quite good at running 1mile and before the couch to 5k program I never ran a mile without stopping.  This last mile–1 mile I thought the entire way about one year ago.  One year ago I was still not working out, still not being motivated to being active, still just making excuses.  On this last mile I thought about all the times I started an exercise goal and falling short.  I thought about how in a year I finished a couch to 5k program, ran a couple 5ks, completed my 3 miles in 30 minutes goal (twice), and now I was about to complete a HUGE goal lofty goal of mine–13.1 consecutive miles.  Something I thought I would never cross off my list. Something I thought was just a funny thing to even put on my list. This last mile I didn’t feel any pain I only felt joy.  I saw my husband screaming for me at the top of his lungs. I saw my running partner do a pump fist in my honor.  I saw the biggest smile on all the supporter faces because they knew something that I didn’t know.  the best was yet to come.


Iknow why extreme sports/exercise is addicting.  I now know what everyone talks about when you cross the finish line.  I am in the club until the day I die.   I did something with the word marathon in it–seriously??!!! I was overwhelmed at this moment and full of emotions that the person handing me my tin foil looked at me and said “honey, are you okay?” and I just looked back and said sorry I just finished my first race.  I was beaming and I was aching and I quickly grabbed my things because I just wanted to be around my huge supporters that day.  When looking for the exit I asked a volunteer and with a lot of empathy pointed to the stairs and said “up is the only way out.”  Are you for real? I just ran 13.1 miles and you want me to now climb up baseball stadium stairs–this is a cruel joke, right? Nope as I limped among other runners up the stairs I got to the top and a chipper girl greeted me with a now you completed your race-you made it up the stairs!! HAHA.  I grabbed a banana and was quickly greeted by my husband and running partner.  Cheering and hugging and laughing occurred all while huge crowds walked by.  I didn’t care where I was I just wanted to celebrate.  As a good husband is he wanted to capture the moment for me and started to click away.  When I looked down at my medal it was then did I realize what I just accomplished and I kissed my medal.  Yup I was that girl.

Mile .1: I had to round a baseball field and it was actually a ton of fun.  I tried to take it all in but also trying to push myself and do some sort of sprinting action, which in retrospect probably looked nothing like sprinting.  I gave it my all and kept the eye on the prize of the arch that said finish line.  I pretended I just hit a home run and was running around the bases.   The stadium was filled with joy, lots of clapping, hugging, love, pain, talk about pace, and anguish {I finished at the cutoff for the Boston Marathon and watched people miss the mark by seconds-pure agony).  Finishing time: 3 hours 16 minutes and 16 seconds.


Because I like to keep it real: I of course looked into reasons behind my irritated stomach and found this information.  It’s not unusual for runners to experience gastrointestinal disorders or diarrhea, also known as “runner’s trots” (lovely term), during long runs. The cause may be dietary in nature or due to lack of blood flow during digestion (since the blood is being pulled to your muscles).  It might also be the up and down motion that stirs the bowel.  It helps to avoid high-fiber foods (fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains) and coffee/tea before working out, stay hydrated, and drink a sports drink.  It also states to eat someone binding to help with iritation such as bananas (which I totally did!).  I read in a magazine to eat 30 minutes prior to a run, but in other articles I found today it says to eat 2 hours before a race.  Also states to stay away from dairy the day before a race/long run (good to know!).

Keeping it more real: My right knee is definately impacted by the race and I wasn’t making up the ‘tweaking” on acount of nerves and I did make the injury a bit worse by running.  I am going to rest my knee and ice it  this week in case it is due to swelling.  I am hoping rest and recovery will help it out and be back to normal for my 5k this weekend coming up.  My next exercise goal will involve more strength training to help out with the recovery and strengthening of my body.

Keeping it so real your eyes may hurt from all this realness: The question I have gotten asked the most today-Will you do it again?  Simple answer is yes.  More complicated answer is with better training, better understanding of what my body needs on long runs, and with a little time off with training for a half marathon.  My next training will be a 10k with focus on speed and strength training.

#2 most asked question: Will I now train for a marathon? Simple answer is no.  More complicated answer is maybe in the future with a couple ifs involved.  IF I can get my long distance speed up because there is no way I am running for 6 hours.  IF I can find the time to properly train.  IF I find a training buddy who will keep motivation up on the hard miles.


3 Responses to “13.1”

  1. Nicole October 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    GIRL, YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sending you a high five right now! 🙂 YOU DID IT!!!!!!!

  2. love1025 October 19, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    AWWWWWW high five’in you right back!!!! Thanks for the support!


  1. Memory lane | Sweet Sweet Nothings - May 21, 2013

    […] 13.1 miles […]

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