Race Recap: Empire State Half Marathon 10/20/13

I DID IT!! I finished my first official half marathon in 2:34:42 (The Empire State Marathon) and I could not be more proud of myself.

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This little “runner” who could barely run a 5K in February of 2010 finished her first half!

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The race took place in Syracuse, NY and the course ran through a familiar path, the Onondaga Lake Park, home to my first (and only) 5K race.  As I pressed through the park passing mile 3 I had such a sense of euphoria and accomplishment.  Just 3 years prior I ran this same path full of jitters and a similar eagerness, but with no sense that I would be capable of conquering any distance greater than that.  And yet there I was, I was in it with 10 miles left to go and I felt great.

I was pacing ahead of my normal training pace and was carefully monitoring my HR to settle at 160-165 BPM.  Based on my prior training runs I knew that I could comfortably maintain this HR for this distance and was letting my body set the pace.  The first 2 miles of the race were slightly uphill, but the majority of the course was flat and very similar to what I had been training on.

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At the halfway point, my body began to feel the stresses of racing and my HR hovered between 170-175 BPM.  I tried to slow down a bit to get back down to the 160’s, but found that it REALLY brought my pace down so I change my plan and aimed to keep my HR as close to 170 BPM for the remaining distance.  I was able to speed things up a bit towards the end, but when I hit mile 12 my feet began to ache.  I could feel it with each step and was looking forward to finishing the race so I used the cheers from the crowd and every ounce of adrenaline I had to push myself through that last mile.

Soon enough, the stadium was in sight and I could see the finish line.  I was greeted by my biggest fans, my husband and son and they cheered me on in that last stretch.  I sprinted to the end and crossed the finish line with dead legs and a pounding heart.  I DID IT!  I ran a solid 13.1 miles at my fastest time yet.

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I still get excited thinking about what I had accomplished and what I still have to accomplish.  The full marathon still intimidates me a bit, but I am miles from where I was and I have faith that I can make my way through it.

 

Getting Started: The Why

I initially started this journey because I was fed up with the excuses. I knew I was stuck and that something needed to change, but I dragged my feet.  I dragged them long and hard.

Why was I holding myself back?  What was I afraid of?  Was I afraid that I would fail?

The truth?   I didn’t realize I was in that bad of shape and hadn’t notice that I had gotten so big.  I thought that I hid my weight well and that the excuse of being a new mom was enough to keep others from noticing.  Boy, oh boy, was I wrong.  I was in flat out denial.

I didn’t think others would take notice because I was only within 12 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight (not a healthy weight either).  What I didn’t realize was that my body wasn’t carrying the weight so well anymore.  I was lumpy fat, not fit fat.  This reality bomb really hit me after seeing photos from a couple of my friends’ weddings (see below).  Have you ever played the game “one of these things is not like the other”?  I was the “thing”.

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August 2012–218lbs+(we didn’t have a scale)

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October 2012

How had I let myself get to this point?  How did it happen?

Plain and simple, I justified every action with an excuse.  I could eat that extra cookie because I “needed” the calories to produce enough milk to continue nursing my son.  We “needed” to order take out because I was too exhausted to cook a healthy meal.  I couldn’t go to the gym or exercise because I would lose my supply.  The list was endless.  I would continuously set goals in my head and plan on starting next week, but the following week would come and nothing would stick.

Come January 2013, I didn’t even bother with resolutions, I felt defeated and figured I couldn’t stick to anything until I was ready to wean my son.  My number one concern (err excuse) was not being able to nurse him because of a lost supply.  I didn’t want to feel like I was neglecting my son.  Sadly, the truth was that if I had continued down the path I was heading down I would have been neglecting him.

By his first birthday he was well adjusted to walking (he started at 8.5 months) and had nearly mastered running.  I remember chasing him down our hallway (our very short hallway) and getting winded.  It scared me.  I had the realization that some day soon my son would be fast enough to get away from me.  What would I do if I couldn’t catch him?  What if he wriggled away and ran in front of a car because I couldn’t react quickly enough because I was too out of shape?  I needed to do something so that I could commit to being the best mom I could be.

I didn’t want to be the “fat mom” anymore.  I needed to be the healthy mom.  I wanted to be the healthy mom.  I wanted to get my life back.  I also didn’t want to plan on a second child until I had dropped the extra weight.  I’ve read too many articles about how moms who don’t lose the baby weight within the first 6 months were more likely to not lose it and to continue to gain with each subsequent pregnancy.  I could not fathom being any bigger than I already was and I didn’t want to become a statistic.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it for myself and for my family.