Thank you all so much for your wonderful words on my last post!!  I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your day to congratulate me!

Now I promised a recap, and so here it is!  Enjoy!

One thing I have decided, 3:30 is way to early to get up.  Especially if you were so excited the night before that you could hardly sleep and then realize that you finally were asleep when the blazing alarm takes away your dreams and shoves reality in you face.  And then when you see the e-mail that says that despite the rain and wind the marathon is still on, you wonder why on earth you are no longer tucked away in your comfy little bed sound asleep.  And then it finally hits you - you have trained three months for this morning so you better get moving or you just might miss it!  So by 4:30, I had finished my typical pre-run breakfast (bread+banana+peanut butter), and my brother and I were off!  (Yes, he took me at 4:30 in the morning.  Do I not have the best brother ever?!)

Once we arrived at the finish line (where the packet pickup was), and once I had gotten my packet (not a good sign when you're soaked before you even get to the start line...), we ventured to the start about 20 minutes away.  It was kind of sketch getting there because it was foggy/rainy/windy and we were surrounded by forest, but there were no souls in sight.  But we did eventually find it with plenty of time to spare.  My stomach felt a little wonky which worried me, but after a quick trip to the restroom (taking advantage of the fact that there was no line), I felt fine and ready to run!  That was, until I made my way to the start line and found that I was literally shaking and my teeth were chattering.  Again that question of why did I get out of bed?! creeped in.  But it also made me more excited to run because I just wanted to get moving so I could get warm!  Since it was rainy, I wore my rain jacket.  I though I might get hot, but I stayed comfortable the whole way!  
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My number! Loved the "I can do this"!
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Ready to take it on.
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Waiting by the start line!
Since it was raining quite a bit, I made the decision to not bring my phone with me, aka no music and no way to know my pace.  I admit that this make me a bit nervous.  Two hours seemed like a long time with no music, and I wasn't sure how I was going to know what my pace was - I had an idea in my head of a good pace to keep to ensure that I was able to finish and not burn out too quickly.  But in the end, I think not having my phone was a blessing in disguise.  No music allowed me to focus on the beautiful scenery, and not knowing my pace forced me to listen to my body and let it tell me my comfortable pace (which ended up being much lower than I would have expected!).

We were set out in waves, and I hung back until the fourth or fifth wave (there were probably about 20 waves total, but that included the walkers). The first two miles were the quickest two miles I think I've ever run.  Except for a big uphill at first, it was pretty much all a good downhill on the road.  The only trouble was that it was slippery so I couldn't fly down like I wanted too.  After about 1.5 miles on the road, we were one the trail and weaving around curves through the most gorgeous forest - ferns, moss covered trees, little streams.  It was picturesque to the max!  Even once I hit mile 4 (where I took my second round of Clif shot blocks, the first being about five minutes before I started), I still felt very fresh and couldn't believe how quickly this whole experience was going.  Was I really almost a third of the way done?!  

I didn't have anything to drink at the first aid station, but at the second one, I was thirsty.  I took what they gave me only to realize that it had a pink tint, but it was too late - down the hatch it went.  After one gulp, I threw the rest out.  Had I known it was the electrolyte drink, I would have avoided because I read about how if you're not used to a specific brand, it can upset your stomach if you try it for the first time while on a long run/race.  But thankfully, it didn't seem to have an effect.  It did cause me to avoid the next couple water stations though!  However, I did manage some water at the last two stations.

Mile five and six didn't fly by, but they were steady.  Around mile six, we crossed a really long board-walk like bridge, and I would run the whole thing again simply to go over that bridge once more!  It was almost like running over a tropical forest.  

About half way through the half marathon, the trail turned from gradual downhill curves to being straight and flat.  After this point, every mile got increasingly longer.  We were no longer running through the forest, but first across a wide field and then along side the road.  Luckily, thanks to the thick foliage, I couldn't actually see the road, but the trail didn't hold my attention like it did in the forest.  (Though I did get distracted by the apples and blackberries growing on the sides of the trail and several times considered stopping for a re-fueling snack...).  

At about mile 8 (where I had my final round of shot blocks), my body still felt okay, but it had begun to turn into a mind game.    I fought pretty much the rest of the way to the finish line.  At about mile 11, I could feel it in my entire body.  Now, I was battling my mind and body, but I was determined to win.  I knew that I could do it, I just had to convince myself continually that that was the case.

We made it into town pretty soon after mile 11, and that gave me hope that I was almost there.  It also changed up the scenery which was nice!  My body wanted to slow, but I wouldn't let it.  People driving by in cars would roll down their windows to cheer which was so nice and really did help me to keep my motivation.  I remember being in sort of a trance at this point where I was just running at the same speed as if I was a robot and not really going anywhere but like the scenery was being pulled by around me.  But I could have sworn the miles were getting longer!  At one point I thought that they had neglected to put up the 12 mile marker so that it would seem like more of a relief when you finished (or something like that), so it was a bit depressing when I found that was not the case, and the 12 mile marker gleamed before me.  One part of me said, "oh you only have one more mile!" wile the other part said, "you still have one more mile?!"  And let me tell you what, that last mile was the longest. of. my. life.  

There were so many turns around corners that it was like the course was teasing me.  And the officials/volunteers kept saying that we were almost there making me feel like it was around the next corner but nope!  I remember thinking, "come on, where is it?!  I just want to be done!"  Finally, I saw the park, but of course, I had to make a lap around the park first haha.  When I finally turned the final corner and was only about a tenth of a mile from the finish line, I saw that the time was just over one hour and fifty minutes.  "I'm going to finish in under two hours!" flashed through my mind (that was going to be my goal for my next half if I did one!).  And then, I ran.  I mean ran, as in sprinted.  I was going to finish this strong.  And in the process, I managed to pass several other runners!  Nothing felt better than crossing that finish line.  It was over, I had done it.  
After literally stumbling once I tried walking, I was handed my medal and found my brother (who was in fact standing right in front of me, I just felt a bit delirious at first haha).  We headed to the tent to get out of the rain and wind, and they had rows of subway sandwiches, bananas, oranges, and a bunch of Sunripe fruit strips.  I had a piece of orange as it sounded refreshing and later had half of a veggie sandwich that they had portioned in the bags (plus an extra one and a bunch of bananas and fruit strips to take back to the dorm) even though I really wasn't very hungry yet - I just figured I should eat something after running that far!  It took a while (read: a LONG time) to get official results as the computers weren't working, but once we finally got them (they actually ended up changing - the time they first gave me was about 3.5 minutes higher than my official time) we headed off.  My official time, in case you didn't see it last week, was 1:51:35, I placed first in my age group, and placed 24/260 females which I was pretty excited about!  

We sopped at Whole Foods because by this time I was starving, and I got exactly what I wanted - pizza!!!  And let me tell you what, it never tasted so good.
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Side of broccoli and strawberries.
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Re-hydrated with a carrot, apple, cucumber juice.
I know that this is already a monster long post, but I want to take a minute to reflect on this whole experience.  First off, it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life.  That might sound cheesy, but it is entirely true.  At the beginning of the summer, I could barely run 2 miles without feeling like I was going to die, yet in the following three months, I took on the challenge to do something that at one time seemed impossible, and I conquered it.  I've worked hard for grades in school, but I don' think I have ever worked as hard as I did for the ability to cross that finish line.  Further, this experience has really added a new kind of appreciation for my body.  I put it through so much over the past few months, so much intense training, and on the day of the half marathon, it carried me through with a time I didn't know was possible.  I continually feel proud of it for what it did, and I haven't ceased to marvel at the things our bodies can do.  So if you don't think you can do, you just might surprise yourself.

And finally, it's time for a bit of recognition.  First, I have to thank my parents.  They have shown me so much love and support throughout this whole experience, and although they couldn't personally be at my half marathon, I know they were cheering me on from a far.  I'm so lucky to have parents who support me in everything I do.  I don't know what I would do without them.  Second, I've got to recognize my brother because any fellow who drives his sister to a half marathon in the rain at 4:30 in the morning deserves to be recognized.  Having him there meant so much to me!  Third, I have to thank Brittany, once again, for showing me that this experience was not a fantasy but could be reality.  I probably would not have had this experience without her.  And finally, I would like to thank each and everyone of YOU!!  You have offered me so much advice and encouragement throughout this experience, and it meant so much to know that you guys were there for me.  Thank you so much for allowing me to share this experience with you.  Love you guys!

Well, that was a long one, but I hope you enjoyed the recap of one of the most incredible experiences of my life!  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a good week to come!

P.S.  I've almost finished week one of training for my second half marathon.  Yep, it's happening again.  I think I'm addicted.
 


Comments

This was so exciting!! How much fun! Ah I can't believe how crazy the weather was though -the same thing happened last year during the CIM (though I was on the relay, so it wasn't as far, but of all days to actually get a real storm in Sac haha!). My half is officially one week away and I'm hoping the weather is nice -but it will be in San Francisco so I guess I shouldn't hope for much haha! I am so happy for you! I can't believe you have only been running for a few months -wow! Congratulations!!

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10/12/2013 14:52

congrats!! great recap and it's so awesome that you did this without music!! running a half (trail) marathon is something that i'd like to do and there's one in may that i'm considering.

be proud of yourself for pushing through and doing so awesome!!

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10/12/2013 18:11

No joke, I woke up at 5am everyday when I got here in Buenos Aires, my clock is a bit odd and sometimes, I had to get up to finish some work before the PST clients wake up. You look fantastic in the rain and I am surprised that you were at the Oregon Half Marathon b/c that's where I'm based in (unfortunately still traveling here in Buenos Aires) and congratulations crossing the finish line! That ABC juice sounds really good and I miss juicing these days ;( Have a great weekend xxx

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10/12/2013 19:31

I seriously feel like you're writing about my first half back in May! I thought every single one of these thoughts! I love the part about how you thought they didn't do the 12 mile sign - I missed the 4 mile sign and I was freaking out! So happy you did so great! I was so grateful for my body when I finished too. We can do amazing things. And about how months ago the thought of running 5 miles was a crazy dream. Now it's no big deal! Great job girly :)

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10/13/2013 01:08

so proud of you buddy, and cannot wait to hear how the second marathon training goes- also well done on coming first for your age group!

Come have some cold pizza now, I kept you a slice. And by slice, I mean crust.

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10/14/2013 12:37

This post gave me the chills!!! I am SO happy for you and I AM SO EXCITED YOU ARE ALREADY TRAINING FOR NUMBER TWO!! You are AMAZING! I am SO glad that I could give you the push you needed, but you definitely had all of this inside of you and just needed to hear it!! You are a running beast and I am still amazed with your time.

I know exactly what that feeling is like at mile 11-12 of just wanting to be DONE! I don't know how people run FULL marathons hahahaa. It's the same thing though..totally possible, but WOOF so much running. I can't wait to follow your training for your next half!! Also, running in the rain - badss status!

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Charolette
10/14/2013 14:40

Alex, thank you for recounting your experience. You will find as the months and years go by you will be closer to your brother than you ever thought possible. I remember when you were good buds. My mom told me that when I was about your age and I thought NEVER! But now that she is gone I do remember that more. Again, congrtulations, don't push your body too much, take good care of it and it will be there for you.

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10/14/2013 17:23

Damnnnn girl, you're a half marathoner!!! You should be so incredibly proud! I 100% would have gotten pizza too lol ;)

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10/14/2013 22:32

I am so proud of you! Not only did you run your first half marathon but you KILLED it! People try for so long to get a to get a sub-2 and YOU did it! I'm so happy reading this post!

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10/15/2013 00:09

Subway sandwiches sound like amazing post race fuel! I love eating after running a half! I had Ethiopian food after my first half, and it tasted amazingly good!

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10/16/2013 13:25

Congrats girl!! What an amazing time and first in your age group is crazy! You should be so proud!

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10/17/2013 07:58

I am so proud of you girl! You've inspired my dad and I to start looking for a half marathon to race in in our area! You seriously are the cutest half marathoner. I love, love, love your outfit! Also, you look great at the end of the race! I can't imagine how I would look, but I"m positive it would not be pretty! I usually have Subway after my long run races too! It's the perfect post race meal. :)

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So proud of you girl! You are such a trooper, I think I would have thrown in the towel! Oh and of course pizza is a fabulous way to end such a great experience :)

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10/17/2013 15:34

Ah I can't believe how much you rocked your first half-marathon! Once again I am SO proud of you. One of my favorite things about running is how liberating it feels...and how it makes you realise just how much your body is capable of once you put your mind to it! I can't wait to hear about your training for round 2 :)!

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YAY! I loved reading this wonderful recap. You should be so proud of yourself! It's a really incredible accomplishment.

I felt the *exact* same way after finishing my half. I have always been terrible at running, but having finished a long race made me feel so empowered and strong. And, yes, I totally found a new appreciation for my body and what it could accomplish! It's such an amazing feeling :D

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CONGRATS ( again) on your time and winning 1st place!!!
Wow - way to go Alex!
Your brother is a doll and love how you heathified your pizza with your sides!
Loved reading this great post!

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10/18/2013 07:52

First in your age group?! That is so awesome!!! Congrats! :) I'm sorry you had such crappy weather but it sounds like you still rocked it!

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10/31/2013 08:48

Congratulations not just for finishing early with the race, but most also for finding the motivation to run even if it rains and making it to the finish line.

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10/31/2013 14:00

I find this recap inspiring to be honest. It makes me want to run a marathon! Congratulations to you for winning the first place! :)

Love reading this awesome post. Thanks for sharing!

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11/06/2013 09:18

DUDE!!!!!!! This recap is so amazing!! Congrats on your run and that epic medal! It's so schnazzy! :D I'm so glad you had so much fun too :)
And side note...besides having the same name, we have the same knee braces hahaha AND I must say, your smile is infectious!! :)

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11/08/2013 18:45

I know what you mean! Crossing the finish line is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
I ran my first half-marathon (and finish first one in the 16-19 category too!) last weekend, and I still can believe what an amazing experience it was.
When I first started running half and a year ago now, I'd never thought I'd be running for longer than 3 minutes without having to stop to drink up some water... I can't believe I finally got to make it to the finish line!
Your mark is amazing, by the way! You should be so proud of yourself.
Oh, and I'm really happy I've just discovered your blog, your posts are very inspiring!
Have an awesome weekend :)

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