National Running Day

It is #NationalRunningDay,  so of course this is a running post!

I love 54 degree run days.
I love the fact I ran now and can option in a yoga workout later.
I love my Under Armor shoes.
I love my run path.

I hate hip pain.
I hate having asthma.
I hate humidity.
I hate lost GPS signals.
I hate I only had time for 2 miles today.

Today is a gorgeous day that we were given. I could have kept running, but the get to work timer is on. Someone else tag in and enjoy this beauty today, please?

2 miles. 10:56 per mile. Onward and upward.

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To be honest? I really hurt today. My lungs hate me. My hip hurts to the point I can barely walk. My anxiety and stress are high. But guess what? If I hadn’t ran, these things would be even worse. Even our bad runs and days have silver linings.

Like Wings

Sometimes, dealing with my anger has a positive impact. On Sunday, I was running behind getting out the door for a run.

I tried to sneak out, but Evan woke up. Greg was visibly irritated that I was awake but not dealing with him, but I need to run when my inhaler is ready. I actually yelled at Evan to hush and I would get him breakfast when I got downstairs, but I wasn’t moving fast enough. Greg had to get up and handle the situation.

Again, I tried to sneak away. Arianna had other plans. She woke up and was cranky from being under the weather. I got crankier and plopped on the couch.

It looked like I wouldn’t be running,  my family needed me.

Greg looked me in the eye and brought me to reality. I needed to get outside.

New shoes, a great temperature, anger, and what Kim defined as marathon muscles pushed me to a 9:49 mile. If you are keeping track, that is 11 minutes less than my first mile ran and 5 seconds less than my Marathon Relay fastest mile.

Like wings.

I flew.

It felt amazing.

And I kept the pace up for the next .3 miles before turning around to head home.

Then I swallowed a small bug and started to overheat. Hello, 11 minute mile. 

Dry heaving due to overheating was next. Swollen throat, thank you Sunday mowers, and eating a ladybug sized bug finished my 3.1.

My wings weren’t so happy at the end, but overall pace was still under my relay pace. Phew.

But that 9:49? It makes me realize how much is possible in this running journey. Can’t wait for the next fastest mile!

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Unrelated photo...how I ended that night.

Some Time for You

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I heard something profound this week. Something that really stuck out to me.

Give yourself permission to be a better me so you’ll have a better we.

It hit home, and ever since, I have been rolling those words around in my head.

Over the past few days, that has meant that I put time on my calendar for me.

Personal time on my way home + gym or ymca classes.

Reading.

Organizing.

Being still.

Praying.

Saying no.

Leaving work mostly at a decent hour.

Resetting my eating habits again (my body loved this and rewarded me with a loss of 3.6 this week).

…The only thing missing was a run (because I totally switched up my workout schedule which likely led to the loss, too). But it is ok. The road is calling me in the morning. 

And I can’t wait to keep having more time for me…so I can be a better mom and wife.

Go. Block yourself at least 15 minutes a day for the next 7 days. You will be glad you did.

Broken Hearts, Broken Toes, and Broken Records

It has been four days since the Pittsburgh Marathon and I cannot get off my runner’s high. The entire weekend was dedicated to the Marathon, so it will likely be hard to come down from this.

I mean, c’mon. Take a moment to go here and look at what this city is like during the Marathon (source: pittsburghmarathon.com).

Legit. We #lovepgh. Deeps.

But to my race [weekend] recap.

Broken Hearts

Our weekend started on Friday when we headed to the Expo. Hands down, this was the best decision we made. Last year, it was crammed, picked over, and ended poorly (with me going on a shopping binge out in McKnight). This year, it was open and easy to get around. We even had time to put in our shake out run, a 1.7 mile run from the Casino to the Convention Center, then a walk back.

My heart broke a ‘lil, however, because the booths weren’t as great as I remembered last year / my company (who is a sponsor of some of the race weekend events) didn’t have a booth / I wrote on a virtual board about what I #runfor (as did Greg). It got a bit real.

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Those wouldn’t be the first tears I’d shed this weekend. Oh no.

Saturday, I volunteered with the Social Center (which meant I got to help out with the @pghmarathon Twitter handle). My duties were answering runner’s questions about the events, cheering on the runners in the 5k and Kid’s Marathon, and ensuring sponsor shout-outs were published. For instance, I was behind this sweet tweet.

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So why was my heart broken? Well, I got to meet Cutch! My heart shouldn’t have been broken. But when my kids saw this photo of us, Evan got a ‘lil mad (“that’s not my daddy”). Ha!

Arianna was just mad I was with her boyfriend. Well then.

The entire day was incredible. It made me want to be able to do more of with social media and events, and of course made me love this city even more. Heart unbroken.

Sunday morning, it all came back. We were running late (which is usual when I am trying to get my man out the door). I really wanted to see my friend Steffani before she started her Half Marathon and also to cheer for Ryan (who was the first leg of our relay). We got downtown with what I swore was an okay amount of time…until we hit solid traffic at the North Shore exit. It was ok. We were going to the Ohio River Boulevard Exit. It was NOT okay. Duh. The West End Bridge closed early, which meant that we couldn’t get off that exit and directly to the Casino. 15 minutes of stress later, we pulled up to the Casino, ran through, and waited for the T. We were on the T for the National Anthem and Corral A starting. There’d be no seeing Steff or Ryan. There’d be no seeing Corral B, either.

The announcer asked the crowd who was a newbie and the tears fell. My heart broke because I really wanted to be in Corral C, waiting to run a Half. I really did. My broken heart. It didn’t get better as the rain started to fall, I got cold, and we watched C and D pass by without seeing Ryan or Steff.

Broken Toes

After watching thousands of runners pass by, Greg and I headed to Fort Duquesne Boulevard to watch some more. I really wanted to see Ryan because I’m a planner and I really wanted to know that sending Greg over to Station Square happened at just the right time. We never saw Ryan pass us, and when runners from Corral D started to pass by, we decided it was time to get to our Relay Exchanges.

We took the T from Gateway to Steel Plaza where I took Greg’s long layers and left him to head to Station Square. I had to catch the shuttle to Mellon Park. We kissed goodbye and my butterflies started hard core.

Forty-five minutes later, I was at Mellon Park and struggling with RaceJoy (like everyone else) but found out that Lindsay was about halfway through her leg. (You can read her post about the day here, she’s super fast at this daily posting thing and I love her joy and reecap.) After a quick chat with Greg, two potty stops, and lots of jumping around to stay warm, I headed to the official exchange area.

When the announcer yelled out our bib number, I started to cry (again). Watching Greg run down the stretch of Fifth Avenue that had for so long been my home was an amazing feeling. Plus, we were running for the Heart Association and I swear to you I could see Uncle Byron pushing him toward me. Honest. He was so fast!

I handed him his medal and added a solid minute to our time because I hugged him, cried, and would not shut up. He had to tell me to move it, and move it I did.

As you can tell, my feet were already tired when I took over the relay at mile 15 point something. I had 7,000 steps in for the day at that point, and would log over 30,000 in the day. My feet hurt but I had some crazy speed.

The first half mile rushed by. I was at a 10:00/mile pace which is HUGE for me. Huge. Pace for mile one was 10:36. Not my fastest mile ever (10:14), but fast enough. The sun had come out, and I knew I needed to save myself for some good hills.

Somewhere in miles 2 – 4 during my favorite part of the relay (Homewood, yinz made me so HAPPY to run through your town), my toe started to throb and it would not stop. I watched my pace go up 30 seconds, another 30 and then steady off. I hurt, but I didn’t want to stop. I knew the toe I broke last year had rebroken, but I was not about to get a medic. No way. I was gonna finish this thing.

Broken Records

Technically, I was running two legs of the relay. This was a 6.1 and 4.7, so 10.8 miles. My watch logged 11.1. Let me say that I didn’t like the way the fourth exchange happened. I was forced to the left through the exchange, but then yelled at by volunteers for not stopping. I know that I am not the only runner who ran more than one leg. It irritated me, but pumped me up.

I’m not crazy about my pace in miles 2 to 10 because it was all over the 11 minute mile board. Not consistent, but there were hills. And mile 24 and 25 (my 9 and 10 miles) can bite me. Legit. I wanted to stop so much. 10 was my second slowest mile of the day and yet the levelest. Go figure. It was so close to the end.

Mile 10 to 11 made for a broken record for me. Runner’s high set in. It was a combination of looking for Greg in the crowd (he wasn’t there), being cheered on by spectators in the finish shoot, and getting ticked off at the “1/2 mile to go” sign that was a lie. I broke a personal record and logged a 9:54 mile! No idea I had that in me, but I sure did.

And compared to my 10 Miler pace in November (11:42), I *unofficially* put in 11:20/mile for my longest run since last year’s Half. It was also 1:57 per minute per mile faster than my Half pace. Record achieved.

Greg and I met up and tried to find the Heart Association’s tent. Unfortunately, no one was there when we arrived, but we took a photo anyhow.

I tried to avoid the Finish Line Festival because there were just too many people there, but we did walk through to cross the river back to the Casino. More tears and more falling in love with this city and my addiction (running).

Finishing among marathoners was super inspiring. I will do this one day, I will. Crazy, yes?  More tears, broken bones, and more records to break.

Top 5 Places Along the Pittsburgh Marathon Course

There are some really awesome spots along the Pittsburgh Marathon Course. As someone who has ran the majority of the course (Half Marathon in 2013, legs 4 and 5 of the Relay in 2014), I have picked out my top 5 places along the course. Will you be running any part of the Pittsburgh Marathon Course in May? Look for these!

pittsburgh marathon course

A few years ago, it would have been a true April Fool’s Joke if I wrote about running a mile, let alone a Half Marathon. Over 110 pounds ago, I set my heart and my head to a goal – to run a Half Marathon. Thing is, I never spoke it until a ‘lil over a year ago when I trained for my first half, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

Becky at her First Half Marathon – 2013

Now, there are still times that I don’t think I am really a runner, but I am. My feet move me, my lungs sure feel it, and I have at least five medals to prove it. When I was matched up with Jennifer, I got really excited to be able to share part of my story on her blog. I tossed around a few ideas and decided with a ‘lil of a month to go until the Pittsburgh Marathon, my “Top 5 Places Along the Pittsburgh Marathon Course” would be a fun fit for today. Although I am not doing the Half this year, I’m running two legs of the Marathon Relay and am excited to see my favorite places soon.

Top 5 Places Along the Pittsburgh Marathon Course

5. The starting line. Emotions soar as you inch your way (literally) to the starting line. It’s incredible to be part of such a large group of people — all ages, sizes, races, genders — with one common goal. Music is blasting, people cheering, and cameras snapping. I definitely ran the fastest quarter mile of my life (to that point) as we ran past through the starting line and I waved HEY to my husband.

4. The North Shore. Be ready to smell some amazing bacon wafting through the air from Bistro to Go. Run past PNC Park and the Children’s Museum. The harmonica guy. So much cool Pittsburgh “stuff” to run past. It’s truly part of “running home” (this year’s Marathon Theme).

3. The Birmingham Bridge. This, to me, is the make or break of the race. I made that bridge my “you know what” because I realized that “OMG, bridges are really big hills”. You get to see the city. Half Marathoners will be bracing themselves to go up the hill to Duquesne and saying farewell to the relayers and marathoners. It was definitely a defining moment in my running life.

2. The miles to the finish line. Okay, I haven’t done this yet, but I did some of them during the 10-Miler in November. Fast miles happen here. Crowds in Bloomfield and Lawrenceville are VERY supportive (so I witnessed on the news). The finish line is OH.SO.CLOSE. This is going to be my most exciting part of my experience this year.

1. Anywhere your friends or family are along the course. Greg and I strategically placed where I’d need him to be and scheduled out T-schedules and walk times for him to get to me. At least twice, he got to high five me. When I did the 10-miler, he even pushed the double stroller and had my ‘lil cheerleaders there for me. It really means a lot to have your biggest fans along the course. Don’t have fans? Don’t worry. EVERYONE is there to cheer for you on race day.

Are you going to be part of the Marathon Weekend this year? If so, look  for me. I’ll be panting, running between 10-12 minute miles, and taking on the hill to Oakland, through my beloved Shadyside (thank you, Chatham College), and down the hill into the finish line. Look for me, or follow @mrsgregwillis for race day updates.

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This post originally appeared on The Firecracker Blog as part of a Pittsburgh Blogger’s April Fool’s Day Event in 2014. The following bloggers participated: 

A Librarian’s Lists and Letters

Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul

Syntaxxerrorrr

The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin

Yinzster

Yum Yum PGH

Pure Protein

Disclaimer: I received product(s) in exchange for a blog review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Did you know I’m back to training for (almost) a half marathon? Yup, this spring, I’m going to be running home in Pittsburgh in the last two legs of the Marathon Relay. What’s protein have to do with it? A whole lot.

Following a workout, the body needs some help repairing muscles and cells. This is normal and natural, but protein helps make that easier on the body. Additionally, it helps keep your metabolism going long after the workout.

After a run, the first thing I grab is something with protein. Lots and lots of grams of it. But when I get to add sweet to it? HUGE bonus. That’s where Pure Protein comes into my plan.

According to their website,

Pure Protein® is the nutritious protein solution for those living an active lifestyle.

You can read up more (as well as find where to buy their products) on their website: http://www.pureprotein.net/. Or, you can stick around and read about the three products I got to taste test!

Pure Protein

 

First up, you know I had to try the Double Chocolate Vanilla Crunch protein bars. These were like eating a candy bar, only much better for you. They are soft, yet have a crunch. And the chocolate tastes real, no faking around here.

The Pure Protein High Protein Bar with Greek Yogurt Style Coating (Strawberry) were a flavorful addition to my day. There are strawberry bits inside (super tasty) and were so smooth going down (thank you to the green yogurt “glaze” on top).

And the shake in Cookies and Creme was, to me, better than sucking down a milkshake and much more flavorful than chocolate milk (a runner’s favorite). In fact, I’m drinking one now as I write this (post run).

What I love about these three Pure Protein offerings is that all three filled me up and fit into my lifestyle. When I had to take runs at the gym, I could just toss them in my bag and go. They’re great for throwing in my lunch bag as a snack, too.

So, you don’t work out and are like, “who cares!”??? Well, we all can benefit from protein, young or old, active or not. Seriously. If you add a little bit of protein to every meal, you’ll not only see results, but be less hungry and have more energy to handle your day. (These aren’t medical facts that I read somewhere, they are my real life experience talking). Both my kids and husband like the benefits of protein, too. Greg was elated when I offered to share a bar with him, and Evan LOVES the smell of the Cookies and Cream shake (but sorry honey, Mama’s not sharing this one!).

Have questions about the three products I tried? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back at ya (or find someone who can help out with other questions).

Pure Protein
Source: Pure Protein

Moms in Training

Disclaimer: I was asked to share the information below with you. My personal connection to the fight against Cancer was enough of a reason to say yes.

Moms In Training
Source: https://www.facebook.com/MomsInTrainingWPA

If you are a busy mom (aren’t we all?) looking for a reason to run, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of Western PA and West Virginia has a program for you. The Moms in Training program is designed to give moms the training they need and help to find a cure for blood cancer at the same time.

This is a modified version of the LLS ‘Team in Training’ program, designed specifically for moms. Currently, the LLS of Western PA and West Virginia is recruiting moms who want to train to run or walk a 5k (or further), meet other moms, and raise money for this cause. Moms in Training meets every Saturday at 9 AM at Pittsburgh parks (such as Schenley Park) for 75-90 minutes.

With the Pittsburgh Marathon coming up, this is a perfect opportunity for moms in the area. Marathon not for you? Consider the Half, Relay, or 5k. Busy that day? No worries – I already committed to run for another charity, but am able to join the program and train for an event later in the year. We all have to start somewhere, so why not here?

The commitment: Raise $500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Western PA and West Virginia by the day of your event. You don’t have to do this alone! I met up with Jordan and Sara, our local LLS Fundraising gurus, and they have plenty of ideas to help you achieve this goal. 

What you get in return: Training Schedule (run with the other Moms in Training on Saturdays, with a plan), Coaching (from certified coach Kim Bell), Workshops on topics like nutrition and stretching, Socializing (Moms have to have fun, too!), Team Environment (training is easier with a friend!).

As a mom, the Moms in Training team knows it’s not easy to work out with kids. If your child can remain in the stroller, they’re welcome to join you. If your kids are older and can run along with you, they can come along.

And dads? You’re welcome, too.

If you’d like more information on this opportunity, please check out their Facebook Page and ask for more information.

Back At It

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It is definitely time to get back at it.

After this month has been crazy hectic (vacation made it crazier…hope to breathe this weekend and share), my fitness slid. I somehow hit a new low weight last Friday, but to be honest, am nervous about tomorrow’s weigh in (travel!).

It is time to hit the roads again. On Sunday, I ran a 10:49 mile.  On Monday, I got back on the yoga mat. On Wednesday, I worked my abs. And not Thursday, I went to spin for the first time in a month (I think). Luckily…All of it was like nothing changed.

That’s no way of saying I am at 100%, which is why I am writing this. Knowing that keeping habits is hard, I wanted to share my struggles.  Cold. Sick. Tired. There is listening to your body, which I have done.

And now? My body says get back at it and shed those 30 pounds.

2013 Turkey Trot

Greg and I sure earned our turkey on Thursday. We got up on a blustery morning (it was 19 degrees when we got in the truck) and headed downtown for the 23rd Annual Pittsburgh YMCA Turkey Trot.

Did I mention it was cold? We were dressed in layers, but it still burned when the wind hit.

And of course, I haven’t learned my lesson from the 10-Miler (just a few weeks ago) and bought bagels for race day, so again, we had to stop at the store and shop on Thanksgiving. Urgh. At least I stopped at a store in the chain I work for, so I didn’t feel as guilty.

Our drive downtown was smooth, barely anyone was out (on the way there, home, or up to my parents’ for Thanksgiving dinner…but the number of people out in the shopping hours? INSANE). If you didn’t know, the 31st Street Bridge is open again (PSA).

We sat in the parking garage and watched two women get accessorized although they were clearly running late for the 5k. The laughs helped us stay warm until we left for the starting line.

I asked that we start sort of near the front of the middle. My body was telling me I could push it today, that maybe I needed to in the cold. I figured this would give us a nice pace for the first mile or so, before any hills were introduced. This was a correct assumption. The fastest mile was mile 1 at 10:13. According to my records, I only hit 10:40 two other times – while 10 mile training and while Suzie and I ran in San Francisco. So what a shave off time! (Note, apparently I hit a portion of my 10-miler at 10:02 and a portion of TT at 10:08. I am looking at real miles for times here.)

As we crossed the Clemente Bridge, my right lung felt like it had collapsed. I was bent over to the right and feeling like I should just stop. It was not pretty, but I whined a bit then pushed on. Besides, the Boulevard hill was waiting for me. Urgh. Surprise, the fine race folks decided to give us a gift and we ran up to Market Square and made the turn a ‘lil sooner than I remembered last year, so the hill was nothing. Either that, or all the other runs made me stronger.

With a renewed strength, we finished the downtown loop and headed back to the North Shore. Greg was such a trooper. I asked if we could slow down (because we were both struggling to breathe), and he said no. His legs were at  pace and he wasn’t sure what would happen if we slowed down. The next mile, mile 4, was brutal for us both. It was cold, and difficult, but our pace was 11:23 (it’s still very fresh in my mind of when that was my fastest pace). We carried on and pushed each other more than we each realized.

After mile four, we ran back around Heinz Field and to the Science Center for a turn around. There were not nearly as many people behind us as had been at the Boulevard, but there were still people behind us. The fast runners come out for this race, lemme tell you! A kid volunteer had given us fives at the first pass, we fived again on the second – huge motivator.

As we ran toward PNC, I told Greg I didn’t have it in me to do the usual “push it up” at the race end, I just wanted, NEEDED, to finish. I lied. Big time. Turning the corner at PNC Park, I pushed real hard and made sure I beat Greg across the finish line. (Official results, however, have him finishing before  me. We’ve yet to master me winning even if he starts and ends behind me.) Looking at the clock, I was okay with the result. Sub 1-hour at 56:20 I think.

I always forget the clock time is more than my start. Official results showed 55:55 for our five miles, which is 11:11 per mile. Endomondo mapped it a ‘lil further and said we were a ‘lil faster:

My Endomondo Results

I was happy for me, but over the moon for Greg. He doesn’t really get the opportunity to train. He attempted spin class with me earlier in the week and it didn’t go well on his body. He’s a southerner, so the cold is another challenge. But he pushed himself and me and made me so proud I cried. To have someone who loves and supports what I do with so much is a beautiful thing. And seeing his happiness over his best finish? Priceless.

Isn’t our city a beautiful one to run in?

Finishers

 

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If you’d like to read more of my running progression, check out these posts.

#pgh10miler

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Today was the Inaugural Pittsburgh EQT 10-miler, another medal for my list. Make that five! It was cold. I am not going to lie about that one bit. But that’s okay, because the run made me feel super strong. Here’s what I remember from the day…

1:30 AM: I was wide awake. I read a Facebook post about a runner who completed Iron Man and felt motivated. Luckily, I quickly fell back to sleep.

6:40 AM: My first alarm went off. I was (again) wide awake. Knowing there was no going back to bed, I started my morning. This is when I realized the truck was frosted over. Great.

7:15 AM: We were supposed to be out the door. Arianna was giving me an incredible amount of trouble. Greg was searching for the double stroller (which now we think we sold in the yard sale or on craigslist). We were so far behind, and I was getting hungry and MEAN.

7:38 AM: We left the house, all of us bundled up in a ridiculous (but perfect) amount of layers. I still hadn’t ate, and was scared it would bite me later in the day.

7:45 AM: We get to GE Express and I get a pumpkin bagel (score) and donuts for my family. The register tape stuck and I got real irritated. Roads were closing in 15 minutes and I didn’t want it to impact our drive. I tried to fix it, but failed. Gah!

8:04 AM: We pulled into the First Avenue Garage, about 11 minutes later than I hoped. Greg made up some great time, ahem.

8:34 AM: We had crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge. Arianna was walking (trooper) but crying that she was “going to die” because we walked too far. I was crying mad and probably said some mean words.

8:44 AM: Arianna and I joined the porta-potty lines. Holy long. Dr. Vonda Wright was doing the warm up I really  wanted to be doing. A kind lady gave me a hand warmer and commented on Arianna’s hat (which I’ll be reviewing here in a day or two!).

8:54 AM: We finally got to use the porta-potties. I was nervous I’d miss the start.

8:59 AM: I finally get to my corral, the anthem is done and countdown was on. It went much quicker from here to start than the Half!

9:03:50 AMish: I crossed the starting line, hitting what felt like a fast pace, but good. I was so glad I’d opted to keep my hat, broken sunglasses, and gloves. My goal was to complete it in under 2 hours 11 minutes (which would have been my half pace of 13:13 per mile). I’d be ecstatic with a “sub 2” (less than 2 hours). I set my sights on the 11:30 pacers and 12:00 pacers and set a goal to stay between them in case I needed to walk at any point. (My training last week was non-existent. I was so sick!)

At this point, we started up a hill. Fast and flat my broken toe (apparently, it’s very easy to re-fracture a bone that’s already been fractured…). I remembered loving that hill in the half. Next thing I knew, my phone was saying I was a mile in – just before the the one mile marker. Based on my running app, split was 11:04.

The second mile took us through the West End. Historically, according to the one time I ran through this village, there were tons of folks out to celebrate. Not as many as I’d hoped this year. Then, I remembered a second pretty decent hill before a slight descent to the West End Bridge. No worries, my Tarentum hill training had my beyond prepared and I took that hill (and then West End Bridge) like a champ. Split, 11:38.

Mile three made me ridiculously giddy and happy. There was a fluid station. I took both Gatorade and water. I smiled as the Delta Foundation cheered us on, waving rainbow flags. “Black Girls Run” ladies cheered us on. The harmonica guy (who played “you are my sunshine” at the half” was out on the streets of the North Side. Loved, loved, loved it. Split, 11:40 (I blame the fluid).

Mile four brought us through the Children’s Museum area. I can’t recall much of this section because I was testing the temperatures. My butt was frigid, but my hands and head were sweating more than I liked to worry about (who gets heat exhaustion at 40 degrees?!?!). I decided to take off my hat and gloves, but held onto them hoping Greg would be waiting for me. This part of the race took us over the 7th street Bridge, right into my favorite part of town. Split, 11:00.

Mile five started with the end of the bridge and a jog over to give my kids and husband a high five (plus hand off the accessories). Greg yelled, “Babe, you are RIGHT behind the 11:30 pacers, keep it up!” and I just smiled. The next few turns took us up to the 9th Street Bridge and I started to worry about how I looked. I redid my hair and made sure my shirts were all tucked okay. Photographers were somewhere around mile 5, I needed to be ready, yo. I had to walk through the fluid station thanks to a backup of runners, but I was okay with that. The first station had me barely getting fluid. This time, I gulped, but my nose wasn’t happy. Bacon smells filled the air as we passed Bistro to Go. Split, 11:38 (fluid!).

Getting to the mile marker at 6 felt like a breeze – “I’m over 50%!!!” kept going through my mind. Then, it hit me. A rock in my stomach, thanks to the fluid. It hit me hard, and I wanted to puke. I’ve never really wanted to puke while running. It made this mile rough. Ladies with signs saying “If it was easy, I’d do it” and “This will all be worth your Facebook status update” made me happy. Someone got behind me running very loud – like horse hooves — and it messed with my groove. I forgot about my stomach issues and busted out of there. By the time I hit the end of the 16th street bridge, I realized Greg was going to try to meet me there, too. I saw him roll up to the curb as I hit the same area and gave more high fives. So happy! Split, 11:30.

Two things about running mile seven that made me happy were seeing Joe and Mary Lou of Paint Monkey working on a mural with spectators and seeing a Twitter friend at a fluid station. We definitely started a slow incline, and I could feel my body getting tired. The 11:30 pacers were no longer in sight. Gah! Split, 11:49.

Mile 8 was more of a struggle, but I made it. Some uphill, some happiness as I passed the storefront of former Dozen and then Swank (my giveaway – have you entered?). Even more happiness with the descent through the end of Lawrenceville and the Cupid’s Underwear run folks. Split, 11:58.

Mile 9 was rough. I was happy, but feeling tired. I was cold. Bitter cold. My right hip, which had been bugging me BAD in training, felt amazing. My left leg, however? It ALL hurt. And hard. From the tips of my toes to my hip flexor. I was not happy. I was thirsty. I couldn’t see the end in sight. I really wasn’t sure how to feel. I knew it was going to be over 12 minutes, but didn’t care. Split, 12:04.

Mile 10. Oh, mile 10! I hit a stride. The path was flat. The end, it was so close. My stomach did the “I’m going to burst everywhere” thing again (thanks fluid), but I pushed through, finding my strength. After turning the corner into the last stretch, I could see the Finish Line. It looked close. Greg and the kids looked closer. I told myself to PUSH, PUSH, PUSH. Split, 10:53.

Mile 10+ (my app started just before the starting line, like JUST before, and I forgot to shut it off during pictures, fuel grabbing, and meeting Greg; however, it logged an extra 5 minutes past my “official” time and .44 miles…). Getting to the finish line, I saw my family. I also saw a fellow Genre’s Kids runner and introduced myself, then pushed. We both pushed. It hurt. I shed tears. It felt AWESOME. I hit a stride, crossed the finish line. Official time: 1:57:01 (pace 11:42 / mile). Sub 2!!! WOO!

After getting my photo, heat sheet (thank goodness, I felt SO COLD), and snacks, I met the kids and Greg. I stretched. I wanted heat and coffee. We found my results and walked about a mile back to the car. (No coffee.) Was ecstatic, proud, and felt so blessed to have 1) been able to do this and 2) have my family have watched me and supported me. I’m proud of Arianna who walked through much of the city with Greg with limited complaining (she saved that for the morning walk). I’m proud of the runners who beat me, crossed with me, and finished behind me. We found a reason to start, and pushed to finish.

And now, I’m on my runner’s high and can’t wait to plan what’s next (after the Turkey Trot 5-miler on Thanksgiving, of course). Shh…a thought crossed my mind that if I ran 11 miles next weekend, I could easily do RNR Las Vegas Half with Kristi (but right now I have a conflict, so am not even thinking about this). And this makes a sub 2:30 half in my reach. I don’t have words except for thankful, blessed, and over the moon.

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