So…last night I ran. I ran for the first time in nearly 14 months. I wasn’t planning to run. It just happened.
I am camping with my family and just before dinner last night I decided to walk down to the bathroom.
After a few steps, I felt magic in my legs. My quads were loose and stretched. I felt my muscles come to life. They yearned to run. I figured, what the heck? Might as well try running the couple hundred feet to the bathrooms.
When I got to the bathroom moments later, I felt my legs had come to life. I quickly took care of business and decided I would take the long way back to my campsite.
Muscle memory kicked in. One foot in front of the other. I felt alive.
My lungs burned. But I kept going, with a ridiculous smile on my face.
I was determined not to stop to catch my breath. I refused to walk.
It wasn’t far. It wasn’t fast. But that didn’t matter.
So, two weeks ago I roadtripped it to the STL with some friends to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. It was pretty epic.
First, the road trip. Annie, Nadia, Bob and I met up at the State Fair park ‘n’ ride and before we left, Annie had to pee. So we drove down to the Pettit. We got refused. HOW RUDE. The guy wouldn’t let Annie use the ATM, either.
Our trip was off to a great start.
We finally got to a gas station which had A CALIFORNIA RAISIN!
We got back on the road and played “Who can check in to more funny places on foursquare while we drive?” We all won. Here are some of the beauties from the weekend:
Once we got to St. Louis, we headed to the race expo. I’ll tell you one thing, the Rock ‘n’ Roll series knows how to do an expo. I bought things I needed and some things I didn’t (per usual). After I said adieu to Annie, her sister Beth, Nadia and Bob, I headed west to visit one of my bestest friends, Holly. And her mom. And her THREE adorable dogs. We went out for dinner and had a great time that night, and the next morning watching a horror film and playing stupid games on our iPads, whilst cuddling with the dogs. It was a great visit.
Then I met up with Patrick and Lindsey (my friends living in DC) who are from STL and were home for the race. We sat and talked for HOURS. It was so great to catch up with them, talk about geeky stuff, journalism (and me getting out of the biz). I’m so glad I got to see them the day before the race, because I never found them on race day! (Which reminds me, I missed Sam from Sacramento too!!!) BOO.
Fast forward to an evening with three Munkwitzes. Thats Munkwitz overload. But awesome. I spent the night with Annie, Beth, Kim and Beth’s hubby Adam. Adam made us a great pasta dinner… of course we had to carb load the night before the race!
The next morning, we woke up and got ready for the race. I had gotten everything ready the night before, so there wasn’t much to worry about. I nibbled on my Clif Mojo bar, drank some water and anxiously waited to leave for the race. I wasn’t very talkative, but I wasn’t nervous, which was a new one for me. I had a feeling things would go well for me during the race. I was excited to do the race with all my friends from across the country, even if I didn’t see them, I knew they were there. 😉
We dropped off our bags at the gear check and headed to our corrals. I said goodbye to the Munkwitz girls and went to Corral 22 (second from the last, of course). It took about 30 minutes from when the race started to when I finally crossed the start line! That’s what happens when you have 21,000 runners!
It was such a beautiful morning, and pretty cool to run through downtown St. Louis. We passed Busch Stadium (where I stopped to get a picture of me flipping the Cards the Bird)…
… and a bunch of other cool buildings.
But now, on to the ACTUAL race recap.
The race started off really well for me. Except for stupid people who think that just because I’m fat, this was my first race. I can’t tell you how many times someone said, “Good for you! This your first?” I know they were being encouraging, but I took it as a dig. Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I’m slow. But I know what I’m doing.
In fact, about 10 minutes into the first mile, I realized I was going to have a split in the 12s. THE FUCKING 12s! I knew this would mean T-R-O-U-B-L-E for later in the race so I forced myself to slow down and walk a bit. After the first mile, I pretty much stuck to a run 5-6 minutes, walk 1 min interval ratio. Of course, I was flexible with the intervals due to the rolling hills and water stops… and maneuvering through groups of people. I was pretty proud of myself when, at about mile 5, I was encouraging a fellow racer (who WAS a race virgin)… telling him he had it and not to worry. He was asking about time limits and I told him that if he kept his pace going, he would be fine. Then he realized I was 5 corrals behind him and had caught up to him. I told him not to worry and that he was doing great… and I kept on trucking.
For the first time, I left the iPod and my Nathan handheld water bottle at home. I’ve recently become very annoyed by carrying water on long runs, and I knew there would be water every 1.5 miles, so I’d be fine. And as for the music, it was a Rock ‘n’ Roll race so there were bands along the course. I’ve also been avoiding the iPod during runs lately. I’ve been getting rid of everything except for my phone and shot blocks. And inhaler, of course.
Running without the iPod and water bottle was FREEING. It was also scary. I was alone with my thoughts. MY HEAD YOU GUYS. I had 3 hours of just me and my brain. I got a lot of thinking and soul searching done. It was a very, VERY personal experience for me. I don’t even know how to describe it. I dug deep into my soul, examined some priorities in life and even questioned if running was something I wanted to continue. At one point, I thought, “seriously, what the fuck am I doing?” Yes, I’d say I hit the wall alright. I worked through some things during this race. It was all very unexpected. Maybe that is why I haven’t written the race report for two weeks – I wanted to keep it all for me. And I’m not going into specifics for that very reason.
Woah. Back to the race.
I was rocking until the 8th mile (9th was even worse). It took 2 hours for the first 8 miles (incl. water stops and photo breaks), so I was PUMPED! I knew if I could keep things going, I was going to obliterate my PR.
And then, there were hills.
Well, they weren’t so much hills as they were inclines. Long, slow, drawn out inclines. My quads were on FIRE.
Things started hurting. I started getting snarky. Well, you know, more than usual. I took longer walk breaks (2-3 min). I wasn’t going to let a little pain keep me from beating my PR.
As I approached the finish line, (you could hear it before you saw it), I got excited. I was almost there. I turned the corner and sprinted the last quarter mile to the finish. I wanted to finish strong. And I did.
Ohemgee. Tonight I had the most amazing run EVAR. Well, as amazing as it can be to run around in circles. I was dreading this run ALL DAY. When I got home from work, I even considered bailing on the run all together. Then I started thinking about how close I am to my 100mi goal. That was enough to guilt me into heading to the Pettit to run laps. It was very cold in there tonight, perfect running weather (indoors ha).
I went with the intention of doing 3 miles and calling it quits. But I got into a groove in the first half mile. I was in the zone. Left. Right. Left. Right. So after the first mile I decided I would go for 4 miles tonight.
As I approached 3mi, I realized I hadn’t yet seen my favorite Pettit walker – the #shakeweightlady*. Seriously, I love her. I was getting worried that I hadn’t yet seen her and told myself that I’d quit at 4 unless I saw her. If I saw her I would go for 5mi. Even thought the farthest I’ve ever ran without walking was 3.5 mi and that was on Saturday.
As I approached the 14th lap, guess who I saw?
The #shakeweightlady, wearing 80s floral hammer pants. I kid you not. It was a sign if I’ve ever seen one. So I powered on and rocked out 5 miles, doing negative splits for the last 2 laps. Fuck yeah.
See also: long run for the week, complete.
* Background on #shakeweightlady: I see her just about EVERY time I run at the Pettit on a weeknight. She wears shape ups and carries not one, but two shakeweights as she walks around the track. Sometimes she holds them up above her head and shakes them. She kind of dresses like a trashy homeless person from the 80s. Lately, her attire of choice has included “juicy” sweats plus a tea-length stonewashed denim jacket. She has also upgraded from the women’s shakeweight to the men’s version. Here are a couple of pictures from when I saw her in April:
This shall forever be known as the leg where Amy almost died.
I ran this leg on about 20 minutes of sleep. Yeah you read that right. 20.minutes.of.sleep. I was able to rest but only got about 20 minutes of actual sleep.
For the record, I do not recommend running 4 miles on 20 minutes of sleep when you have already ran 9 miles in the past 18 hours.
I did absolutely everything wrong prior to this run. I didn’t hydrate properly. I didn’t eat much. By 2am, we were exhausted and the thought of eating anything made me want to throw up. I knew I’d be relying on muscle memory and mental strength to pull this run off.
I got the slap bracelet from Marty and headed off in the misty fog for my final 4 miles through the City of Racine. The roads were quiet (it was 5 a.m. on a Saturday, after all) and I only encountered a handful of other Ragnar runners during this leg of the race. Most of the runners who did pass me looked about as good as I felt, which isn’t saying much. I saw (and did) much more walking on this leg of the race than any other. We were all running on empty. My legs felt like cement blocks. I had to will my legs to move. I walked more during this leg than the previous two legs combined, but I was still able to beat my pace goal for the race (and my recent half mary PR pace).
The course took us past the zoo and along the lakefront. I can’t tell you want a relief it was to see Lake Michigan! Yay! I’m almost done! I’m going to die! Wooot!
I couldn’t even tell you half the things I thought about during this run. I don’t remember. It was an out of body experience.
When I finished and passed off the bracelet to Matt J. I stopped dead in my tracks and bent over to catch my breath and stretch my hamstrings. Jordan H. put out his hand to give me a high five and I think I said something like, “I’m sorry, I can’t touch you right now.”
I couldn’t move. I needed to build up the mental strength to walk to the van. Tracey G. and Rochelle told me I looked so pale that they were afraid I was going to pass out or throw up.
I walked down the hill towards the van and made my dad take a picture of me. I have yet to see this photo, but I can assure you that it won’t be pretty. But it will probably be a favorite of all my race photos.
I got to the van and fell face first into the first row of seats (we had a 15-passenger van for the 6 of us plus driver). I passed out in that seat for at least an hour. I don’t really remember much. I know I told Tracey G. that I wasn’t able to move to send her off on her next leg and I also missed her passing things off to Anthony M Van H. for his last leg. At some point, the team stopped at McDonalds for some breakfast and I was able to talk long enough to ask my dad for a Sausage McMuffin with egg. He gave it to me and I ate it from my face in the seat position. I’m completely serious. I only turned my face far enough to eat the sandwich and only used my right had to open the package and feed myself. I was that exhausted.
The food helped revive me from my runner’s coma and I came to enough to wrap a blanket around me and cheer on Anthony M Van H. when he finished his final leg and passed things off to Jordan H. I was back to (almost) normal to see Rochelle off and meet up with the rest of our team at the final major exchange in Zion, Illinois.
Start Time: 5:10 am Goal pace: 16min/mile Splits: 15:17, 16:35, 15:47, 12:46 (.85mi 15:05 pace) Average pace: 15:42 Total time: 1:00:23 Finish time: 6:10 am
Total distance: 12.82mi Total time: 3:13:06 Average pace: 15:03 Goal pace: 16:00
This was one of those ZOMG THIS IS AMAZING I LOVE RUNNING kind of runs. Seriously. This leg of the race MADE the weekend for me. Reaffirmed my LOVE of running. Not only did I KILL my projected pace, I enjoyed every minute of it, even if it was scary as all hell.
We were at exchange 12, where Marty would pass things off to me. It was misting, very foggy and very dark. Had all my reflective gear on – vest, headlamp, tail light and of course some red glowstick bracelets and necklace.
I headed out from Wales Community Park toward the Glacial Drumlin Trail. The first quarter to half mile or so was through the neighborhood near the park, so there were some streetlights. This did not at all prepare me for 4 miles of complete darkness on the trail.
Leg 13 was billed as a “non-support” leg, meaning the course made it too difficult for team vans to “leap frog” runners. So it was just me, my iPod, water and a pitch dark misty night.
I have to admit, I felt so badass on this leg of the run. I mean, really, who does that? Who SIGNS UP to run in the middle of nowhere on an unlit creepy trail in the middle of the night? WHO DOES THAT? This girl.
The only time I could see farther than 5 feet in front of me was when a fellow Ragnar runner came up behind me and passed me. The other runners were very cool on this leg. Many said, “Good job” or “This is freaking nuts” or “ohmigod this is scary” or the like. I noticed runners would sort of wave their hand in front of their headlights as they approached me, which was a nice heads up that someone was approaching (a tip I told my fellow runners when I got to the van).
I ran with a woman for a li’l bit and we were laughing at how ridiculous and scary this leg was. When I say I ran in complete darkness, I’m not kidding. The foggy mist didn’t help things. It was like a scene out of a horror flick. “What if someone attacks me? I’m in the middle of nowhere. There are no lights out here and it isn’t like there are groups of people running. No one would ever know. GAH!”
On this leg, I stopped to walk only TWICE and each was for approximately 30-60 seconds. I felt so good on this run.
When I got to the next exchange point, I once again failed to properly hand off the reflective slap bracelet to Matt J. (seriously, I was horrible at the exchange).
As soon as I finished, RochelleTracey G.Jordan H.Anthony M Van H. and our driver (my dad) asked how the run was. The first thing I said was, “That was the most freaking ridiculous thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.”
I got to kick things off for Team 12 Sweaty Nuts for the Ragnar Relay Friday morning. We started at 10 a.m. and cut it VERY close for me to get to the start line in time. I got there with just minutes to spare before the countdown.
I threw my sweatshirt and all non-essential running gear at Rochelle and got ready to ROCK it.
I ran with the 10 a.m. start group for a few minutes, but they were all much faster than me and so I dropped back and ran the rest of the leg on my own.
After a half mile or so, I completely regretted not trying to get to a bathroom before the start of the race. Luckily, around 1.5 miles in I found a port-a-potty near some construction work. WINNING.
Got into a groove and had a blast running around Lake Monona (aka Krista‘s home turf). There was a detour during this leg, due to road construction, which added about a quarter mile to the leg, no big deal.
I only stopped to walk a couple times for a minute or two, and then near the end of the leg I stopped maybe 3 times to walk a block, to catch my breath.
I was amazed at how great I felt, despite a few moments of side stitches.
The course was pretty, mostly near the lake or through residential neighborhoods. Rolling hills, but nothing too bad.
I started getting passed by the 10:30 a.m. starters as I neared the last half mile of my leg. I got lots of “Hang in there” or “Nice job, you can do it!” comments, which were great, if not half condescending. Warning to “fast” runners: Just because I’m running extremely slow doesn’t mean I’m struggling. I’m just slow. No need to patronize me. Trust me, you’ll know when I’m dying (see write up for my third leg, coming soon to a blog near you).
I ran into the 1st exchange point and majorly failed slapping Matt J. with the slap bracelet. 😉
Felt great, good to get the nerves out right away!
Start Time: 10am Goal pace: 16min/mile Splits: 14:26, 16:03 (bathroom break), 15:30, 15:40, 10:00 (.72mi – 13:49 pace) Average pace: 15:10 Total time: 1:11:37 Finish time: 11:11 am