Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Finish Line!!!!

Russell and I headed to Knoxville, Tn last weekend to run in the Covenant Health Half-Marathon. I must admit, after being sick in bed for a week only two weeks prior to the event and struggling to finish my 5k due to illness, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I never doubted that I would finish, it was just whether or not I could finish in the 2:45 minutes we had decided to make our goal... after seeing all the hills.

I had never been to Knoxville prior to Saturday. The home of the University of Tennessee and is the third-largest city in Tennessee, behind Memphis and Nashville. It is also the Home to the Womens Basketball Hall of Fame. It appears they have done quite a bit to the city over the past few years to revitalize the downtown and surrounding area. The University is well hidden within the city's mixture of Modern buildings and historical sights.

We checked into the race on Saturday... having never ran in a race this large we didn't know what to expect. It was extremely well organized, especially considering there were over 5800 participants in the 5 separate races. The handcycle & wheelchair marathon, the Full 26.2K Marathon, The Half-Marathon, a relay marathon, and the 5k.

After checking in Rusty and I went to have dinner and cheer on the Mountaineers in the Elite Eight game against Kentucky. We walked back to the hotel (the Marriott, which was .7 miles from the hotel, and was excellent for the evening) to watch the second half and get a good night sleep.

Race Day:

6:00 am ~ Wake up, remember that WVU beat Kentucky.... that wasn't a dream! Get ready and head downstairs for a quick breakfast of bananas and Yogurt!!

6:45 am ~ We jogged to the start line to get in a warm-up. This is when I should tell you that although we did a few weeks of hill training, we assumed that knoxville was a relatively flat city... we were VERY wrong. Although not quite as hilly as Morgantown, it was pretty close. But I felt great on our warm-up... still wasn't nervous. Just wanted to get started.

7:00 am ~ When we arrived to the event center, we went inside to stretch and use the bathroom. The only complaint I ever heard about the organization of the Marathon was that the bathrooms inside the Convention Center were locked... and the lines outside to use the porta-johns were huge. So we went to the neighboring hotel and disaster was avoided.

7:25 ~ After the handcylces and wheelchair participants started we were allowed to line up. You find the corral that had a set of pace times, for example we were in the 11:00-16:00 minute mile grouping, there were also groups such as the 9:00 minute ahead of us and so on.

7:30 ~ The gun fires and there are so many people in front of you that you can not move. However you have a disposable microchip on you that tells them when you actually cross the start line so... 2 minutes later we began. We stayed with the pacer for the 5 hour Marathon for the first 2 5k's averaging between a 11:30 to 12 minute mile. It would have put us at a 2 hour 30 minute finish. But by the 7th mile... the hills were really starting to affect my performance and we slowed to a 14 minute mile pace, where we stayed for the remainder of the race.

Also around the 7th mile I was experiencing back spasms and right knee pain. I was expecting to feel some pain, especially since during training I never ran over 10 miles. However, I hadn't expected it so early in the race or to be in my back (where I had never had any discomfort whatsoever). But we pushed on. I was disappointed that I slowed in the 7th Mile considering it normally is where I feel the most comfortable and in rhythm with my body.

The organizers had 8 water stations placed along the way and the people of Knoxville and volunteers cheered us along the way... which really helped! They even handed out Gu at the 11th mile, which came at the perfect time and took away Rusty's hunger pains. I found that every time I tried to drink water I thought I would be sick. But I pushed through.

Russell was amazing. Encouraging and only pushing at the right moment. He stayed within 10 yards of me the whole race, keeping track of our pace, slowly speeding it up when we got off track and letting me know he was proud of me. I definitely needed him there. I know I wouldn't have made it through without him!!!

Throughout the race you meet people, other runners, who all have a story... many of which in my pace group were alot like my own. People who realized they had to do something to get healthy. They aren't out to win but to finish. Everyone we meet who runs in multiple destinations a year says that knoxville is one of the hardest courses, that Nashville, or Virginia Beach are much easier... I kept thinking to myself... "maybe I should have researched this course more" I just picked by location and date. But hey if you can get through a difficult race, the easier ones should be cake!

During the last three miles the group we ran with were so encouraging of each other. By the 12th mile I kept expecting to see Neyland Stadium... but nothing. I got a little bit of a push during the 12th mile, and seeing the 13th mile marker was amazing, until we got to the last hill... going up to what we hoped was the Stadium. I walked a moment. Gather my breath and then started to jog up the hill. As we turned the corner we saw the Stadium ( I never thought I would be so happy to see the UT stadium!)

When we got to the stadium entrance I looked at Russ and said " you ready?" and kicked for my sprint to the finish. Russ said he was surprised I had so much left in me. Sprinting down that to that finish line was amazing. I heard them announce our names and then I crossed!!! I DID IT!!! I accomplished my new years resolution!! The best part was doing it with Russ by my side!!! I am so thankful that God has given me such a wonderful husband and friend!

So there you go... my journey to the finish line.

What next?

Well I have started working at the YMCA as a wellness instructor and hope to get my personal trainers license... I wanna work with other women like myself, who were never athletes and just want to get healthy for themselves.

I am also starting the PX90 workout probably next week and want to continue cycling and running.

About Me

My photo
I am the mother of 2 beautiful babies! They are my world! I have been married to my WVU sweetheart for the last 8 years! I am a stay at home, working mom. I run a photography business from home, am a fitness instructor, and homeschool my girls! I teach at the local homeshool co-op, and at my church. I currently run, Modern Mommy. It is an online support group for moms. We have 17 different facebook support groups! I have dedicated a lot of the past 3 years to helping other moms! I love music, to paint and to read but don't have time for any of them! My girls are amazing! Eliza is almost 4, and a spirited blue eyed ginger! She loves ballet, music, soccer, and yoga! My 14 month old, Hazel Ann is the happiest child ever! She is still nursing. I currently live in East Tennessee, by way of North Carolina, colorado, West Virginia and New Jersey! I have an obsession with boutique brand little girls clothes, which is strange because I am quite the tom boy