This will actually be a recap of my training AND the race itself, so it might be a long one.
Ok, so where the heck do I start… I started a quite ambitious training schedule in July, running 4 times a week and strength training… WELL, that was a joke, because I basically did two strength training sessions the whole time and I noticed I kept skipping my short 2 mile runs. I was just tired and my legs didn’t like running that much and I basically felt like there was no way I could run 13.1 miles… But I trudged along until I got up to my 7 miler, the longest I had ever run, and I panicked and basically decided to just not run at all and sit on my ass.
Yea, your probably thinking “that’s not a very good idea Jill”… and I know, but I did it, and thought about why I was afraid to run and realized I was pushing myself to hard and trying to run too much. So I revised my training schedule and decided a slower walk/run plan was better for me, I picked up where my training schedule had left off and felt a world of difference… Until the temperatures started getting to be 80+ degrees by 7 in the morning! I was miserable and hot and I wasn’t fueling myself properly (especially for the heat and humidity). Needless to say, I hated running with a passion for about three whole months. Then it started getting cooler and I started doing these incredibly long runs and although I felt like death after, I was really proud of what I was doing… Although I started to slack on my short runs toward the end I kept up my long runs and was feeling pretty confident.
Until my last run in Texas before the race, it was a 3 miler, and I was running it at 11 in the afternoon… It was quite a bit cooler, but not cool enough to have a good run, which was stupid on my part, but oh well, we live and learn right?
Well, then that takes us to just 3 days before the race, I’m on a plane flying to CT and I know I’m supposed to have my last run that day, but I felt like I had too much going on with traveling and the sort (and knew I hadn’t eaten well all day) and I’m freaking out because my last run was so terrible… I was a bundle of nerves. Until my sister Jodi came over my mom’s to go on her last run, she was doing 4 miles and I was hesitant to do that many just days before the race but decided to go for it, I had slacked on a few short runs anyway… It was cold and rainy and it ended up being a GREAT run! My spirit was lifted and hope was restored…
The next thing I knew it was RACE DAY!
I was surprisingly calm for this being such a huge race and being only my 3rd race ever! I felt great and prepared! However, my Dad had been training a lot more diligently and well, he’s been a runner his entire life so keeping pace for a 2 hour half would have worked great for him, unfortunately I had been running around a 3 hour pace for training so I tried to stress to him that we needed to go slow and he kept telling us we needed to push ourselves and let the training speak for itself… Jodi and I just rolled our eyes.
Before the race!
There were so many people!! We lined up around the 2:30 pace group and before I knew it we were off!
I kept staring at my garmin and slightly panicking about the 11 minute pace, I had been running at around a 12-13 minute pace for my other runs, I could feel my legs revolting against it, it was cold and they were not used to this, and there were HILLS!! I tried training on the hills we have here, but they felt like nothing compared to these! My legs were burning before the 1 mile mark and my ankles were starting to ache, I knew I couldn’t keep up that pace and I was seriously doubting whether I could finish the race at all! I told my dad and sister that I needed to slow down, and slowed down to about 12:45 and just gritted my teeth and tried to push on. I knew I just needed to run what was comfortable for me and do my thing… I hated going that slow and seeing all the runners pass us, I felt like we were the last runners in the entire race, but I knew I needed to do my thing.
Before I knew it we were at mile 3 and my legs were in a rhythm and I felt great! Normally I would have taken a short walk break at this point, but Jodi and I felt awesome and kept going. We added some fuel around mile 4, I ate 2 dates but learned very quickly that they were WAY too plump to be able to eat them while running, they were just HUGE and I couldn’t choke them down for the life of me, so after that I switched to Clif shot bloks which were much easier to eat. Mile 5 was pretty unremarkable, and before I knew it we were at mile 6 and still hadn’t taken a walk break. It was around this point that I decided to just not walk at all, who needs walking anyway?! Then I noticed something awesome, people had started taking walk breaks, and it no longer felt like we were at the back of the pack… And before I knew it we had passed the 2:45 pace group!
Somewhere a little before mile 7 we hit the halfway mark and I couldn’t believe I felt as good as I did! Jodi and I were talking quite normally singing to the music as we passed, waving and thanking people for cheering us on. It was SUCH an experience, I will never forget how much fun it was to run this with my sister and my dad. It was also around this time that my Dad brought up us doing a full marathon… which was not a good idea at the time and we decided that we should talk about that when we weren’t hopped up on adrenaline.
Mile 8 was through Elizabeth Park and was probably one of the hardest for me my legs were really starting to get tired, my knees were hurting and I just felt like stopping… We had been joking the whole time that mile 8 would be a “walk in the park” and Dad kept telling us how after that it was all downhill, and stupidly we believed him. But I had already come that far, I wasn’t going to give it up now! However, my Dad lied, miles 9 and 10 were not downhill much at all, it actually felt like a big series of hills with very little downhill, maybe it was just my legs but Jodi and I were not feeling it… But we dug deep and kept pushing on… While Dad happily jogged a little ahead and kept turning around giving us the thumbs up every so often.
Before I knew it I was coming out of mile 11!! The end was getting closer and I got a second (fifth?!) wind and felt like I was just floating closer and closer to the finish line! I picked up my pace and I realized that Jodi was having a hard time I tried to encourage her but realized she was in a really rough place (like I was in the beginning) and I knew it was best to let her get through it on her own. I jogged up and caught up with Dad and I couldn’t believe I had made it that far without walking! Then we heard “last half mile, it’s all downhill from here!” from a race volunteer, there is no way she was lying! I relaxed and took a deep breath and tried to feel every second of what was happening. I let my legs (and gravity) take me down that last hill and turned the corner and saw the finish line. I had gotten a few encouraging text messages from Jason throughout the run and he told me where him, my mom and my dad’s wife were so I started checking out the crowd feverishly searching for them while the finish line got closer and closer!
I saw them screaming for us and cheering us on and the biggest smile came over my face! I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening! I grabbed my Dad’s hand and he grabbed Jodi’s and we crossed the finish line together. We immediately hugged each other not able to believe what had just happened. But it did. We finished in 2:42:22!! Which was incredible to me considering my 12 mile training walk/run took me 2 hours 38 minutes!
We were tired and sweaty and maybe even a little dazed, but we did it!
Click the link below to watch us cross the finish line!
Finish Line Video (if this link doesn’t work, just type in my name)