February 26, 2016

5 Years Ago

Five years ago, I went to bed nervously awaiting my first half marathon. I didn't sleep well, tossing and turning much of the night. I had no idea what to expect. After all, running 13.1 miles was new to me.
What I've learned about running and myself 5 years after my first half marathon at the runDisney Princess Half Marathon


During the training for this race, I covered new ground, literally and figuratively. I ran more miles than I ever had before. I learned how to fuel on the run, even though I never really mastered gels. Truth be told, I would munch on a few bites of a Balance bar every few miles...the thought of that makes me gag now! I trained solo, in freezing conditions, often questioning my own sanity. I took advice from friends and coworkers who were experienced runners and I approached race day relatively informed but also completely naive about a half marathon.
Before the start of our first 13.1 - blissfully clueless! 
What lay ahead of me was a day that was nothing like I planned. After 8 or 10 miles into the race, something really strange happened. I can't remember all of the details...if only I had written a detailed race recap back then! All that I remember was feeling off and feeling a little loopy. And to make matters worse, I don't really remember crossing the finish line of my first half marathon. After watching the finish line video from the race, I was able to put the pieces together and have that jumpstart my memories so to speak, but I think I blacked out. So much for an amazing finish line experience at your first half marathon, right?

What I do remember was hanging over the fence past the finish line, totally exhausted and eventually saying I needed help for the golf ball-sized blister on my foot. We walked over to the medical tent where I collapsed on a bench and grabbed an ice bag to throw on my neck. When I couldn't completely explain why I needed medical help, Mom quickly sprang into action and helped get me some immediate assistance. I was thrown into a wheelchair and taken into the tent. My vitals were scary: BP of 79/56; temp of 103.9; and pulse of 139. An hour later, I emerged to rejoin my Mom and Aunt where my Mom handed me my medal. Side note - she had to tell the volunteers in medical that I had finished so I got a medal. If she hadn't done this, I might not have gotten that medal!
Post-medical tent with my Aunt (who won her AG!) and Mom
Note my cool 2XL Wine and Dine shirt - got this since they took off my
running top to cool me off in the tent.
So why am I rehashing that crappy experience? For those who know me well, you know that I hate thinking or talking about that race. I really didn't enjoy that weekend. I deeply resented that I trained really hard for that race and I ended up with medical issues that made the race quite disappointing.  I felt MISERABLE for the following few days - like the worst muscle aches you've ever experienced (hello, laying on a lounge chair for an HOUR post-race) and the worst hangover you've ever had multiplied by 1,000. I barely ate because I felt so awful. The only food I ate after the race in Magic Kingdom was popcorn. I still have the bucket! :) I tried so hard to enjoy the Disney magic after the race, but I had a hard time doing so.
My first half marathon bib
So now you're probably thinking, "Christine, what's your point of this post? Is this a sob story or what?" Ok, ok. I'll get on with it. That race changed my life. For the short term, it made me hate running. I openly eschewed the sport that left me confused and dizzy at a race finish line. But eventually I came back. I came back in 2012 to the Princess Half Marathon for another half that left me happy, healthy, motivated, and ready to run again.

In the years since my first race, I have embraced running. It's become part of me, just like swimming was part of me in high school and college. And I haven't looked back.  What else has running done for me? Let' see...
- Running has improved my relationship with my Mom. Now we have this incredible shared hobby and it truly has brought us closer together.
- Running has given me a healthy outlook on my body.
- Running has gifted me with many, many wonderful friends, whom I never otherwise would have met!
- Running has provided me with neat opportunities to race all over the world.
- Running is a wonderful stress reliever for me.
- Running won't always be there. There may be times when injury, life, or something else keeps you away.
- Running has improved my self-confidence. Since it's a highly individual sport, you are in complete control of the outcomes (with some very minor exceptions) so I've learned that I'm capable of a lot...and enduring a lot of pain in the process.
- Running has been a wonderful outlet for goal setting outside of my job.
- If I wasn't running, I wouldn't have been able to experience the running community which is a warm, welcoming place that I deeply embrace.

While my first half marathon was very much a flawed day, it was the beginning of a very positive transformation of my life. And I'm forever grateful that I had a hair-brained idea to run a half marathon before my 30th Birthday and begged my Mom and Aunt to join me in that crazy journey! Thinking back on your first big race, what have you learned or how do you remember that day?

More on this topic:
- More details on the my medical experience in 2011 in The Health Issue
- I believe in me
- The fun, albeit unexpected return to running in 2012

{Christine}

19 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you had a completely different experience in 2012. Its clear that running has brought so many positives to your life, my favorite of which is the bond that you and your mom have because of it. Not many mothers and daughters can say that they run together. And the way that you support each other at your individual races is so wonderful. I'll never forget your story of when your mom qualified for Boston and you screamed "We're going to Boston!" and you got tons of looks from others standing around you in the post race tent at Shamrock. Such a wonderful memory that I'm sure you'll always look back at and smile when you think about it. I'm smiling just thinking about that story right now.

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    1. Aw that's one of my favorite memories too. That was SUCH a good day! :)

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  2. It's really amazing how much running can change and influence your life! I know the goal setting outside of work was a big one for me when I felt really unchallenged at my last job - I also honestly feel that the accomplishment of running a marathon (something I NEVER thought I'd do!) really gave me the confidence to leave my job and go back to school, it was like, "well if I can run a marathon, I can do anything!"

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    1. That is so true my friend. Sometimes I wonder if it helped me walk away from my crappy job.

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  3. Oh, wow. I didn't realize that you had such a bad experience with your first half marathon! That's impressive that you didn't let it stop you and you continued on to more races :)

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    1. I let it stop me for the better part of 11 months...luckily my next race was a much better experience!

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  4. What a rough experience :( I had similar issues for my second half. I got so sick in the heat, it was kind of scary, but the experience taught me how to handle things differently, I was so new to running, I had no idea..
    Running is something I really miss right now sitting out with a foot injury, it really did become my motivation and my stress relief over the years.
    It is sad you don't t have that memory of crossing the line the first time, but thank goodness you recovered, your vitals were very scary.

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    1. So scary indeed! It was pretty terrible. I hear ya on the injury too - it's hard to be away from something you enjoy and that is part of your routine. Hope you're back to running soon!

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  5. This goes to show how you CAN get back up and give it another shot! Thanks for sharing your experiences...it's definitely encouraging!

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    1. You are absolutely right, Karen! Great point :)

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  6. Running and racing has definitely added another dimension to our lives! I definitely know the feeling of having a race not go as you had planned (or trained for) and being taken to a med tent in a wheel chair! I'm glad that you went ahead and continued with future races where you could enjoy crossing the finish line and bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Even this race that didn't go well is still an accomplishment! -M

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    1. I'm so glad to have met you both through running :)

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  7. You have come a long way. Now you are marathoner!!

    I have had some bad races and have thought about quitting ...for a few minutes Haha.

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  8. My first half was the Disneyland half in 2010. It was such an amazing experience that I wanted to do it again. I don't know if I would have continued running half marathons if I had had the same experience as you. Kudos for sticking with it!

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  9. My first marathon was absolutely terrible. While I didn't wind up in the medical tent, I probably should have (Sidenote: I'm not sure the event had a medical tent, which is a pretty bad sign. Thankfully it no longer exists). I had weird chest pains after, and have since avoided the distance. Like you, it was a time of many firsts, longest run ever each weekend, having to use gels, etc.

    But, one thing you always get from that crappy first race (and the first race at any distance is always a doozy)... you respect the distance. You realize just how much running can break you do, how important recovery is, and how completing a race IS an achievement.

    It's always good to look back at where you've been as a runner and how far you've come. Thanks for that reminder!

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  10. This reminds me of my first marathon. While I didn't end up in the medical tent, it was a terrible experience. It took me 3 years to brave that distance again. But I learned my lesson and trained completely differently. I'm glad you did the same thing.

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  11. Wow, I can't even imagine. That race must've been hella hot. I've had races with bad memories, mostly because I feel like I mismanaged myself. I'm glad this one lit the fire in you to come back strong for redemption! Happy 5 years. Running is definitely a gift.

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  12. So fun to read about your first half marathon! I remember my very first one too. I swore that I would never do another one as well, lol. Running has taught me so much and has brought so much joy to my life, I can't imagine my life without it or the people I have met because of it!

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  13. Dear, I like all your post very much, it tells me so many thins that I do not touch before, hope you can do this job all the time. By the way, I want to introduce a useful Free Photo Recovery Software, which is a fantasy.

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