Sunday, September 14, 2014

My First Official Half Marathon


Last Sunday, I ran the Springbank half marathon in London, Ontario. The race was special for many reasons:

  •  I had just turned 47 a few weeks ago and ran the 47th Springbank half for the first time.
  • Both of my kids accompanied me and waited to greet me at the finish line. Their support meant a lot to me.
  • My daughter ran the same race in 2013 and got her very first medal for her first half marathon.  It was during that race that I was waiting for her, I saw many people crossing the finish line and I imagined that that would be me. In a way my daughter’s interest for serious running made me serious about running too. She inspired me to make my dream a reality.
  • I registered for my first half marathon and ran it on Nov 1, 2013. But my time of 2:06 did not get registered due to some tech problems and they showed me as a walker with a time of over 3 hours. In a way, the Springbank half was a redemption race. I’d like to call it my first official half marathon. I made it in less than two hours.
  • For someone who is 47 and picked up running only last year. I have a lot of learning ahead of me. Not only through social media, various group runs, and reading articles, but also through personal experiences during long runs and races.
  • The organizers of the race, Runner’s Choice, were of course very organized and they had amazing volunteers to cheers us on. As I crossed the finished line, a woman with a warm smile put my medal around my neck and I smiled back saying thank you. They also read each individuals name as they came in. There were lots of refreshments and great support. The technical top they provided was great and it will be one of my favourite tops to wear during my runs. The medal was pretty cool as well and I still haven’t given it to ninja to keep it in his room.

  • What did I learn from this race? I’m going to be honest to myself and my readers:

    • I don’t enjoy running in crowded places for several reasons:
      • Noise:  
        • Sometimes crowds are loud and the noise bothers me. I don’t listen to music to mute all other noises. But I wish I could figure out how to focus better on my run and not the crowd.
        • Is there such a thing as an ADHD Runner? I might be one! When someone is behind me breathing heavily, pounding their feet, or their bib is making too much noise, their music travelling to my ear…I surge to put distance between myself and the distractions around me.
      • Scented Products:
        • I’m very sensitive to perfume and scented products. It becomes difficult to breathe properly and I get migraines. It’s just uncomfortable to smell someone else’s scents during my runs. Again, I try to pull away from them.
      • Mental Focus:
        • I definitely need a lot of work to learn how to focus on me and my race and not the elements around me.  I was even thinking to start listening to music again to eliminate all other distractions. But as a minimalist, I like to run free. And this brings me to the next question.

"Before the Race"
  • What didn’t work for me during the race?
    • Hydration Belt:
      • I’d love to run free of any gadgets. But being severely low in iron, sweating profusely more than the average person, and lacking the ability to drink water from a cup (I choke on my saliva!), I’d like to carry my own electrolytes (Nuun) and water.
      • I have tried many hydration belts but have ended up returning them as they all bounce.
      • This hydration belt was bulky, a bit big and bouncy. It fell two times and I had to pick it up. It was making me uncomfortable and tired. I gave it to a kind volunteer to hold on to it for me and moved on.
      • But that meant not drinking the way I was used to. I like to take a sip, just a sip but fairly often. Drinking at hydration stations is not for me. I had a hard time drinking from a cup, so I walked till I could drink. That slowed me down.
 That belt won't be part of any future races!
    • Pacing/Garmin:
      •  I don’t plan every minute of my race, strategizing, keeping track of my time and all that jazz. I just want to run as fast as I’m able to and get the race done. I run with feelings.
      • I usually find a person who passes me and it seems to be fast. I keep an eye on them and just run with them. If that person is too fast and they disappear from my view I pick another person. Someone who is bit faster than me and can be my pacer.
      • I had a few of those and it worked very well until around 16K when I started feeling little twitches in my calves. I said, “Please let’s not have any cramps”. The twitches got a bit stronger and I slowed down. My pacers were gone.
  • What worked:
    • Mental Strength and Visualization:
      • My mind was a jungle of thoughts buzzing in all directions. I wanted to finish my run in under two hours, I wanted to see my kids at the end of the line proud of their mama bear, I didn’t want to have cramps, my pacers were gone, there is heavy breathing….then I thought of stopping and walking to prevent the cramps but then another voice said you’ve made it this far keep going even if you’re dead tired! I thought of my kids and I did not want to let them down.  I started telling myself to shut down all the negative voices. I remembered how one day I had run through the woods feeling light and fast without a sound. That day I felt strong and regal like a gazelle. 
        My posture was better, I was feeling strong and I saw the finish line. I kept the visualization running through my head and kept pace. I crossed the finish line. I turned around and saw my kids and the first thing they said was YOU DID IT MOM!

What happened next was a round of severe dizziness, and everything was going black. I lied down on the cool grass and told my kids to go get Eload, water, and recovery foods like banana and etc. I started drinking and feeling better. The dizziness had subsided but out of nowhere both my calves cramped! Holy crap! I had a golf ball in my calf L I was in agony and a gentleman ran and got me juice, but seeing how bad the cramp was, he went and got the first aid people. One of them asked how often I run and I knew where she was going with this and said “I’m a runner” and I’ve never had this happening. This is not my first run here today! The other one tried to give me an icepack but you had to shake it to become ice! I told them you really need to carry real ice with you guys! Thanks to Brian, the manager of Runner’s Choice who brought some real ice, there was a decline in pain and the contractions eventually subsided.

"After muscle cramp attack had vanished."
As we drove home, I told my kids that I was thankful for having them with them and helping mommy to get her recovery food and drinks after the race. My ninja said, “You do a lot for us and we wanted to be there for you.” I choked up and had to wipe my tears.
This race was a great learning experience about me and our little family.  They see me as a great role model and I see them as my motivators.  Visualizing their faces with me running in the woods gave me the sub 2 hour half marathon. My daughter said mom you looked strong when you were coming in. That made me really happy.
My daughter behind me taking pictures :)

Visualization is a powerful tool!

I am a free-spirited woman who loves to run. I can see an ultra runner in the making. I visualize myself running in beautiful places and being one with nature.
Where I love to run...

Thank you to the organizers and volunteers for their support and fantastic race experience!


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