Wow! What an amazing experience. Warning, this is a long one. I have a lot to say.
I am still on a bit of a runners high from yesterday! Have I mentioned that I love running! Running’s my favorite!
I didn’t sleep well the night before the race but what’s new. I got home around 9:30, hung out with the dogs for an hour and was in bed by 10:30. There is a bar that plays loud music on the weekends that is just a few blocks from my house. Shutting the window didn’t help so I ended up getting up, eating some more carbs and then going back to bed and finally fell asleep after midnight. My alarm was set for 4:30 but I woke up at 3:30. I think I drifted in and out of sleep until my alarm went off. I hit snooze but a second later bounced out of bed afraid I would keep hitting snooze and miss the race.
I had my typical pre-race meal of toast and peanut butter but had to choke it down. Peanut butter at 5AM, meh! My mom picked me up at 5:15 and she dropped me off as close to the start line as she could.
I was so excited and loved being surrounded by thousands of runners ready to tackle the same a difficult race. As I stretched I reflected over the past couple months. I lost my grandma in the middle of training for this half marathon. I missed some of my long runs because I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could.
I thought she should be here to watch me do this. When I decided to train for a marathon, I knew her cancer was getting worse but really thought she would still be here in October to cheer me on in Columbus. When she was in the hospice I told her I would run that marathon for her. I thought about her a lot through the half marathon.
I ate a honey stinger waffle thirty minutes before race time. I am new to fueling for a race so I’m still learning what works for me. It wasn’t bad as far as race fuel goes. I made a quick stop at the porto-potty and headed to my corral or “pig-pen”.
I jumped into my corral ten minutes before race time. The national anthem was sung and the gun went off and it was time to run. I waited for my corral to be released and I was off. My legs were cranky right from the start. I had put a lot of miles on them the week prior to the race and immediately I worried they would be sore the entire race. I pushed through and of course my first mile was my fastest. I always start too fast. I have to learn that in an endurance race I need to save the speed for the end. I started to relax my pace in mile two but my legs were still sore.
A Ray Charles song came onto my iPod as I was coming across the first bridge. I put a couple of songs that remind me of my grandma on my “Workin’ on my Fitness” playlist as motivation. I didn’t cry but did feel the tears want to break through for a second.
I knew my mom would be on the corner of York and 4th to cheer me on so I sent her a text message as I was coming across the Taylor-Southgate bridge to have ibuprofen ready, even though I had taken two when I woke up. I was letting my leg cramps get to me. She didn’t have ibuprofen which was probably good because I didn’t need it. When I passed my mom and saw her awesome sign that said “Jessica You Rock, Go Princess” I was psyched and ready to do what I came to do. I snagged my moms Vitamin Water and headed down fourth street. My legs started to loosen up in mile three and then Forrest Gump ran past me.
I loosened up and started to take in everything around me. The course support was amazing. There were people lining the streets everywhere. Mile three took us through Covington. Before yesterday I had run a bunch of 5k races and a 7k. This was my first big race and it was exciting to have so many people cheering for all the runners.
We headed back across the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge around mile three and I thought I should take my first GU Chomp, but I couldn’t get the package open. I was afraid that might happen. Sweaty hands weren’t allowing me to open the pack. Rookie mistake! I should have opened it before the race. I put it back in my race belt and took a Strawberry Banana GU. I know you should never try anything new on race day but I hadn’t worked up the courage to try a GU because I’d heard how gross the consistency is. I got it down and was headed back to the Ohio side of the race.
Coming up 5th St. in downtown was one of my favorite parts of the race. It was a wall of people cheering on the runners and it was so motivating and exciting to be a part of. A barefoot runner ran past me at this point. I mean really barefoot. His feet were so dirty. I don’t know how they do it. The juggling guy ran past me too. He ran the 5k the day before juggling three red balls and there he was running again, juggling again. Show off!
I alternated between taking Gatorade and water from the fluid stations. I think this worked great. I felt pretty well hydrated through the whole race.
I had a pretty steady pace running up 5th St. We headed out of downtown and up Gilbert. This is where I slowed down a bit. I feel I ran a smart race. I ran a little slower than I thought I would but I felt great the whole time and didn’t want to push myself so hard that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the race and take it all in.
Gilbert was a little rough but not unbearable. I stopped to walk for a couple of minutes and grabbed some peanuts that some kids were handing out. Again, the crowd support was AMAZING!
We turned on to Eden Park Dr. and I told myself the hills here aren’t that bad and I pushed it up the hill. I turned the volume on my iPod up and conquered that first hill heading into Eden Park. I didn’t quite yell “I LOVE HILLS” like I said I would, but I enjoyed pushing myself up the first hill and around the bend where I hit the halfway point. I got a little emotional knowing my mom was getting a text message telling her I was halfway there.
I got a text from her at some point that just said “Go Jessi” but it meant so much to me. We’ve been through a lot lately and she truly is one of my best friends.
I kept pushing myself up the hill, walking a little but not for long. I loved getting to the top and running past the overlook. The view is amazing and as challenging as the course was I felt awesome. We headed out of Eden Park and started to separate from the marathoners at mile nine to head back to the finish. I grabbed an orange slice from a guy on the corner of MLK and Eastern and started to pick up my pace to head down the hill.
I was so overcome with emotion through the race. I never cried like I thought I would but it was a great first half marathon. There weren’t a lot of spectators on Eastern but I appreciated the ones that were there. A local football team was there handing out water and shouting encouraging words.
I was so excited to get back into downtown. I was almost to the finish. I was tired but happy. I sent my mom a text message when I had a little over a mile left and she told me she was jut past mile 13. I picked up my pace a little as I headed down Eggleston and couldn’t believe I was about to finish my first half marathon. It was over so fast. My official time was a little slower than I thought, 3:06:46, but at the end it seemed like it flew by.
I rounded the corner and turned onto Pete Rose Way and could see the finish line. There were so many people and I knew my mom was just ahead. I saw her just past the 13 mile marker with a new sign that said “Princess Jessica, Your Crown Awaits You at the Finish!”
The signs were great! I told her they had to be pink and covered in glitter. Yes I’m thirty going on sixteen! I loved my tiara and wore it proudly all morning as I watched the marathoners come in.
Just past my mom was the finish line. I thought I would cry. I kept thinking to myself throughout the race that I was going to cry at the finish. I think I was too prepared for the crying so it didn’t happen. I did cross the finish line with a huge grin on my face and gave a hi-five to the flying piggy standing at the finish line.
There may not have been any tears but I was on a serious runners high and am ready to run another half marathon and am so ready to train for the Columbus marathon.
Running wasn’t always easy for me. I know it’s not always easy for anyone. I grew up an athlete but wasn’t a fan of running. I played softball, basketball, volleyball and was a cheerleader. I took dance classes for many years. I was definitely always active but never a fan of running. Running was sometimes a punishment for goofing off during basketball practice.
I wasn’t a slim and trim athlete. I had to lift weights for volleyball. I wasn’t the cheerleader that got thrown around. I was the cheerleader that helped do the lifting and throwing. I was healthy but muscular.
After high school that muscle turned to flab, I got diagnosed with Intracranial Hypertension and spent a few years too tired to do much more than work. I gained weight and at my largest was 193 and my doctors were pushing me to lose weight but my medication made me extremely sleepy. Sometimes headaches would keep me in bed for days. I had a neurologist ask me if I could walk when I wasn’t losing weight fast enough for him. I never went back to see him by the way.
Yes I can walk sir! As a matter of fact I can run, fast, and I do it all the time!
I didn’t do this race for doctors with bad manners. I ran this race for me and for my grandma.
People often say to me they wish they could run. You can. Try it. You might love it. It might become addicting. I’m hooked on racing, hopefully for as long as my body will let me.
After I crossed the finish line I grabbed my medal and some food and spent the rest of the morning cheering on the marathoners and watching my boss cross the finish line of her 14th Flying Pig Marathon!
Thank you so much for all of the encouraging words. It means a lot to me. Thanks Lori for coming down to see me cross the finish line. Thanks to those that cheered me on during the race. Sorry I didn’t hear everyone but I appreciate it. I was blasting my iPod. Thanks boss for being such an awesome and peppy person! Your enthusiasm for running is contagious! Of course, thanks again mom for being my biggest cheerleader! You always have been!