Posted by: grasshopperme | March 15, 2012

Put On the Big Girl Panties, Hun. Time to Come Out Swinging

Shamrock’n Half Marathon day arrived, on schedule (actually one hour sooner-thank you daylight savings time) and didn’t really matter whether I was ready or not.

I wasn’t.

Not physically (see my earlier posts for all the gory details) and definitely not mentally. I wasn’t healthy enough. I wasn’t fast enough to make the 4hr cut off. I hadn’t trained hard enough. I hadn’t run long enough…..

None of it mattered last Sunday. Race day was here. Time to live by the words you wear around that neck of yours, Grasshopper. SUCK. IT. UP.

Amy and I arrived at one of the suggested parking areas early enough to walk leisurely to the ballpark where the race was to begin. After a couple of wrong turns inside the concourse, we finally located the start line, sweat check and, most importantly, the potties. All missions accomplished, it was time to line up. The rain that had fallen overnight subsided early that morning and by gun time we were looking at clouds, but no rain and (thankfully) only a very slight breeze.

Amy, being faster, started in the wave ahead of me with a couple of other people we knew. Fifteen minutes later it was my turn and off I went. The starts of races are typically my most stressful time. The shoulder to shoulder jostling for positions make me claustrophobic and my lack of grace and coordination always have me concerned about tripping—or causing someone else to trip. Staying with my usual pattern I walked the first 5-10 minutes at a brisk pace, not only to loosen up, but also to let the crowds spread out.

Within the first couple miles it became clear none of the plans I had mulled were going to pan out. My hydration and fuel plan was in place, but I didn’t have enough lung capacity back to run the longer intervals at a brisk pace. I was going to have to be okay with it if I was going to make the longer distance. Trusted trainer Will’s voice was bouncing around my head “Slow down. Save that strength to speed up later. If you bonk at 3 miles, you won’t make 13.” Right, as always.  😛

By the middle miles I had slowed to over 15 min/mile, but was jogging more than not. Things went well until about mile 7½. The hamstring I had strained started feeling twitchy and most of the next mile or so was an experiment to find a stride that would alleviate the pain. This seemed only to spread the pain throughout the rest of the right leg. By mile 9 my knee and hip joint were throbbing.

An extended walk break through Old Sacramento ended with an uphill climb toward the scenic river walk. At this point I saw Will’s girlfriend, Laura, who had volunteered to be race support for Amy and meet her at mile 9 with Gatorade and Gu. She had run a few miles with Amy and made the turn around back towards town to meet her back at the finish line. She kindly offered the fuel and G2 she had left, but since I had just came from an aid station I was in good shape. It was nice to get an update on where Amy was along the course (I could tell she was on pace to beat 3hrs as she hoped) and reassuring to hear someone say I was looking better than I felt!

Before long I saw my “holy grail” a.k.a. the mile 10 marker. I allowed myself to look at my watch for the first time since leaving the city streets for the bike trail shortly after mile 4. This was already the farthest I had ever run. I had the equivalent of a 5K to go, and the news looked good. If I wasn’t able to run another step, I could walk and still beat the 4 hour cut off. If I could manage to continue to jog/walk at the pace I’d kept during the middle 4 miles, I may actually come in under 3½ hours.

At mile 12 I took out my phone to send Amy a short text: 12. She’d know about how long she had to meet me at the finish line for a picture. It was then I saw that Will had sent a text to me about a mile earlier that read “Home stretch. You can do it!!” so I cc’d him on the text to Amy as well. Within minutes came another from him “Come on strong! You’re gonna finish a half marathon and you’re killing it!!”

One of the reasons I chose this race as my first half was the chance to finish on the infield of Raley Field where the Sacramento Rivercats play baseball. The 13 mile marker was the driveway behind the left field fence and a short S turn leads you into outfield of the ballpark where you then follow the warning track around the field to the finish line shortly past third base.

Within the first 50 yards inside the park, I could hear Laura and Amy and Will and knew they were close. I spotted them (mostly thanks to Amy’s love of bright pink) standing right behind the dugout and knew in a few strides I’d get to start celebrating too.

Medal in hand I was directed to the exit behind home plate and pointed toward the stairs to the upper concourse. After a short pause (and a WTF look to make sure the nice girl wasn’t joking) it became clear that, finisher or not, I was going to have to climb STAIRS to meet up with my friends, my food, my goodie bag, my free beer tickets, ummm pretty much my LIFE.

By the time I got to the top of the stairs, Will was coming at me grinning like a lottery winner and I could not fall into that hug fast enough. It was done. I had finished my first half marathon. Two of my closest friends were there sharing it with me. I was under the cut off by even more than I dared to hope less than a month before (chip time 3:22:31). Somehow, I was still vertical.

Well, mostly vertical, if you ignore the momentary collapse onto Will’s shoulder as I sucked up the last of my inner big girl and whispered through the start of tears something heartfelt and profound like “Oh my God, I hurt so f’ing bad.”



  1. GREAT job!! And I know that “everyone” loves a stadium finish but they ALL end with a big climb out! LOL!

    • Thanks! Good tip for the future. “Fool me once…”

  2. Congratulations on your finish! You were WAY under 4 hours…great job!!

  3. Yahoo! You did it! !!! I didn’t know it was last weekend so I didn’t check in with you. I know it was physically painful but emotionally you must be estatic! Great accomplishment I am awe inspired.

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