Hot dang! Thank you to everyone who sent encouragements my way before, during and after the race. I was, and still am, in awe at the outpouring of love you gave me on my Comeback Race. I celebrated with lots of coffee and a huge breakfast at a 24-hour breakfast diner at two in the afternoon. Perfect.
I had to wait a couple days to write the recap because it still seems unreal to me that it's all over.
But I know you are dying to know what happened on race day. So I'll put you out of your misery.
After a nice, yet miniature sized, supper at a downtown Memphis restaurant, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for race day.
And I had to wait 18 agonizing minutes until my corral reached the start line.
There is nothing more real than walking toward a race start line with 20,000 other people. That feeling is unlike anything I've ever felt. It's hard to describe. There is an air of seriousness mixed with excitement. This feeling that can only mean we are about to start something important and meaningful and slightly terrifying. And then the fact that you aren't alone just make it that much cooler. I love that about running. It's so "to-each-their-own" but then "all-for-one" at the same time.
I make it to the start line. My corral is screaming with excitement and nervous energy. Music is blaring. And the announcer is counting down the seconds til we start. The music changes. And we're off.
Mile 1: Can you say crowded? 20,000 people crammed on one city street is tight. I say goodbye to my mom and Lisa, and Kerri and I tried to set our pace. Did I mention it was crowded?
Mile 2: Nothing major to report. Ran up the first big hill. And down the bricked road called Beall Street.
Mile 3: First time for nutrition. Kerri runs ahead of me. I run like crazy to catch up to her. Very big hill made worse by very large gust of wind.
Mile 4: Through the St. Jude campus we go. I try not to make direct eye contact with any crying parent. Make it out tear free.
Mile 5: Nothing major to report. Start the long drive out to toward the Memphis Zoo. Try not to think about how I'm running away from the finish line.
Mile 6: Second nutrition. Kerri runs ahead of me. This time I know I can't catch up to her. My pace is set. At some point during this mile I feel a sharp pain shoot up my inner quad. Think about the searing pain and contemplate walking and/or throwing up. Decide to keep running and to slow down if it happens again. Said quad basically goes into a state I call "numb."
Mile 7: Final turn off the death straight-a-way I'd been on for 2 miles. Look for zoo animals. See none. Fight the now crowded street since the road narrowed.
Mile 8: Start relying on the people I dedicated miles to. What would Monica say right now? Worry about the "numb" quad. Can't figure out when I will get out of the zoo. Figure out I'm now in a public park that connects to the zoo.
Mile 9: The Doubts Mile. Another round of nutrition. Evaluate my body. Feeling the fatigue. Calves are tight. Right quad is "numb." Denise would be saying something positive now if she were here. I start to doubt my training and the fact that I set such a lofty goal for a new PR. Why did I say I'd run a sub 2:30? That was stupid. And it's never going to happen. Why is my quad "numb?"
Mile 10: Finally get out of the park and on to the road back to downtown and the finish line. Feel a surge of energy from turning said corner. Can see the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in the distance. Relieved to see the hospital because I know it's close to the end. Where did all these hills come from? Don't remember these hills from last time. How many are there? Where's Kerri? Pick random orange shirt in a sea of people and pretend it's Kerri. Feel slightly better knowing she's up there.
Mile 11: WHY IS THE LE BONHEUR CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL SO FREAKING FAR AWAY? Am I going backwards? It's only a 5K. You do 5Ks all the time. If Daniel were here right now, he'd be prancing beside me with fresh legs. Stupid fresh legs. Must ask him about my "numb" quad. That can't be a good thing. Don't think about it. How are there more hills? Only one more hill left. Seems like a small one. Start up said small hill and realize it's a death trap and then the coldest wind blows at 100 miles per hour while I trudge up it. I tell myself it's character building. Then I laugh at myself because that's stupid. Finally pass the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, and realize I have 20-ish minutes to run another mile. HOPE SURGES.
Mile 12: Last batch of nutrition. Random guy tells me not to walk because I'm so close to the finish line. Give random guy the death stare. Decide to give it all I've got. Bust out a 10-minute mile pace AND maintain it. Pass tons of walkers. Wonder why they are walking when I'm still running with a "numb" quad, sore foot, tight calves, tight hamstrings and a sore left hip. Contemplate how broken my legs will be once the race is over. Decide it doesn't matter because I will make my new PR goal.
Mile 13.1: Decide to pass someone to feel like I'm winning. Choose blue tye-dye tank top girl who danced around me for 12.5 miles. Pass her. Think about how she's totally eating my soon-to-be PR dust. Enter a state of sheer euphoria. Can't feel my legs. Nothing hurts. I can see the finish line. People are yelling encouragements. Turn the corner. Hear the race announcers. Cross the finish line. Stop my Garmin. And bask in the glory of my new accomplishment. Then immediately wish I hadn't stopped moving because my legs hurt so bad. But I don't care because I ran the half marathon in 2:24:54.