Monday, December 14, 2009

Smiling the whole way, Charlotte

Three days have passed since Lori and I finished the Charlotte Half-marathon. I still catch myself, a grin showing on my face, daydreaming about when we crossed that finish line in Charlotte. Lori grabbed me and hugged me. I didn't know if I should cry or laugh, the emotion of finishing such a hard course I had been told, I just smiled. One distinct memory is fresh in my mind, I smiled from the time my feet hit the starting pad until I crossed the finish line. This run was so much different than the previous Governor's Cup. The energy was incredible which helped take my mind off running the distance. We had knocked 10 full minutes off our previous half-marathon time of 2:13, in just 5 weeks, 2:03 was our finish time. As I am typing this the same proud smile is spread across my mouth.

After hearing all the horror stories about the course for the half-marathon being just awful, girls saying they hated every step of the 13 miles, Lori and I changed the training course of action. What was so terrible from what I had heard was the continuous hills, so Lori and I started running the hills in Haigs Creek three and sometimes four times a week.

Haigs Creek hills are nothing at all like Lake Carolina hills, Haigs Creek hills go for a half mile straight up, then here is the clincher, they plain out, meaning, no downhill recovery time. Honestly those five or six miles on hills in Haigs Creek wear me out more than running 15 miles.
Well our mission worked as we would find out on that faithful Saturday, December 12 at about ten o'clock. The temperature in Charlotte was 25 degrees there was call for freezing rain. The directions that were given to us to follow via the website for the race were wrong, so we were panicked about finding our way to the center to pick up our numbers and to be able to get to the start line for the race on time. The morning had not gotten off onto a great of a start, especially having to get up four in the morning to get there on time.

We got everything taken care of and started on time. The temperature was the coldest I'd ever run in. There were 7000 half-marathoners and I was one of then. We started to run. I kept waiting on those horrible hills that I had heard about. Mile one passed and I was still waiting, mile two, mile three and nothing substantial as far as hills. I looked at Lori and said I think that was supposed to be the hardest one. We shrugged at each other and just kept going. The course was so well balanced, where there was an uphill, there was a balance of a downhill to recover. I had never felt so good before on any run much less at such a long run. I remember smiling from ear to ear because I didn't need to take a walk break which is what I am used to even if for a few seconds.

The dynamic between the two races was incredible. The Governor's Cup there was no support, no cheering from other around us. The Charlotte Race was full of energy. Santa Claus was running, some elves and one of the Incredibles were also in tow. The homes that we passed along the way were unbelievable. People, total strangers cheering us on even stopping their cars, turning up their radios and high fiving us as we went by.

The miles seem to fly by and when we approached the 9th mile marker which this time I did not want to kick I might add our time was so much better than before that Lori asked me if that was a mirage. I looked at her and said no it's not a mirage it's real, it's real. We were timing better than before. I had the urge to just keep going, just run is all I kept saying to myself in my mind and I kept smiling. I was in no pain, my legs weren't fatigued. I felt like a million bucks.

Then I saw the finish line, I picked up my pace and so did Lori, I looked at her and said we're almost there. We crossed at 2:03. I was so proud I felt like I had beat the course, the hard course that I had been warned about. In my mind I had played out the run more than once, the one that was supposed to be worse than the Governor's Cup, but it wasn't, not at all.

I only have one regret from that day, that I hadn't signed up for the full marathon, but there's always next year.

Afterward I had no crapping, never felt sick during the race, and the soreness was minimal, like I had done a hundred squats and lunges but not at all what I had expected, way less.

Here's to a great race, improved time and one more half under my belt. None of which I could have done without my supportive family, Nik and the kids, my great running partner and her husband, (Nik and Greg have now lovingly been named our personal cheering section) advice and encouragement from a friend, Mr. McSwain and the many people who believe in me. Last but not least a determination that won't quit.

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