Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nike Women's Half Marathon, Part Two

My alarm was set for 4:30 am.  I was up at 3:45.  This was not really a bad thing.  I had plenty of time to eat, use the bathroom, get dressed and even turn on the TV for a moment.  I was the first of our group in the lobby but it was full of TNT participants and the excitement in the room was awesome!

Once all of Haley's Sweet 16 arrived we snapped some pictures, stretched and Shawna led us in prayer.  
Haley's Sweet 16

We headed outside to start walking to our corral.  It was dark and a little chilly.  The streets were already crowded with people.  We walked up a few blocks to where we had to be.  There were more than enough porta potties and tables with water and NUUN.

I ran into my friends from Rhode Island and we were able to snap a pic and wish each other luck.
Some of the RI crew.

About 30 minutes before the race, Nike staff lead us in a warm up.  It was done with cool music and a guy up on a stage to show us what to do.  We stretched, kicked and jumped up and down to get the blood moving.  It was fun.

I was hanging onto my bag because it was dark but I wanted to change to my sunglasses before we started to run.  I waited to the last minute because I was sure the sun would be coming out.  I switched my glasses and dropped my bag at the gear check.

I headed back to my group, looking ridiculous in my shades.  Eric, Patricia and I were the only ones doing the half.  We wished everyone luck and headed to the 12+ corral.  I was placed in the one before that but I wanted to stick with Patricia and Eric.

The rest of the group were all doing the full and were in the corral before us.

After the National Anthem, the race started.  It was really slow moving and it took us 30 minutes to get across the start line.

The crowd support was really good at the start.  People were cheering and holding great signs.  Well, great except for one.  Come on Dude!  It isn't funny or original to have a sign that says, "Almost there" at .03 miles.

It didn't take long for me to have to use the bathroom.  I am guessing the extra 30 minutes getting to the start messed with me.  At the end of mile one, I ran into a porta potty.  I was in and out in a jiffy.  When I came out I didn't see Patricia.  I wasn't' sure if she went ahead or was waiting for me.  I took off and headed for my first hill.

I was getting nervous thinking that she might be waiting for me.  I pulled to the side to look down the hill for her.  I didn't see her.  I kept going and caught up to Eric.  He said he didn't see her either.

Eric and I ran at the same pace and I was enjoying it.  It wasn't dark anymore but there was no sun.  The fog was thick and my glasses were fogged up.  I was getting so annoyed and I hadn't even hit 3 miles yet!  It never occurred to me to carry a tissue with me to wipe my glasses.  Lesson learned!

It wasn't too much longer after that when we found Patricia.  The three of us were together again for a little while.

The crowd had died down a bit.  For some reason, I was expecting more people cheering us on.  We passed a choir signing to us, which was really cool and a few stops with music and dancers.  There was also cheerleaders from some of the local schools.  Most of the crowd support came form the TNT staff and although I kept my eyes out for the RI crew, I never saw them.

At the bottom of the third hill, I was a little taken back.  The hill was huge and it was curvy.  I stopped at the bottom and looked up, wow!  I pictured myself at the top and started running.  I was really slowed down by the walkers though.  I was surrounded by them and found it hard to weave in and out of them.  They were walking 5+ across and paid no attention to the runners trying to get around them.
Top of one of the hills.

Don't get me wrong, I have a ton of respect for anyone taking on 13.1 walking or running, but it would of been cool if we had a runners right, walkers left kind of thing going on.   This was pretty much how my run went because it never thinned out.

At the top of that hill, I stopped to look out at the Golden Gate Bridge, which I couldn't see because of the fog and I also looked down the hill for Eric and Patricia.  I had lost them again.  Bummer.

The next few miles I ran alone but here is the interesting thing.  I never used my iPod.  I just ran taking in all the sights and sounds and I really loved it.  The longest I had ever run without music before was just 4 miles.  Here I was on my way to 13 and I didn't even want it.

Nike had really cool signs along the way, all of them motivating.  It wasn't until I saw the Run Fearless sign that I stopped.  I just had to have a pic of me in front of that one.  Lucky for me, one of the girls in front of me agreed to snap my picture.

From there, I headed to a table that said bra exchange.  Hmmn, that is interesting. When I got there, all the bras were gone, but I am thinking I wouldn't of changed anyway.  I love what I was wearing and I would of hated to find out that the new one did not work for me.

There were water and NUUN stops every two miles and I was so glad I brought my own fuel.  I got a little spoiled at the Ocean's Run with all the gels and snacks that they had at every mile.  I did enjoy the Orange Mile.  The oranges tasted so good.

After that stop, I used the PP again, and this time, there was a line.  Once in line though, Eric caught up and was just a few people behind me.  We ran together after that.

One of the things I was looking forward to was the Chocolate Mile.  This was supposed to be a stop with Ghirardelli chocolates.  Well, unless I totally missed it, which I doubt, there was no chocolate mile.  There was a spot where we were given chocolate Luna bars, but that is not the same thing.  Oh well.

I felt really good during this race.  Nothing was really bothering me, not my back, my foot or my hips.  I never hit a wall or thought that I was not going to make it and I found my groove at the start line.  I was surround by purple TNT shirts with names and pictures all over them.  If I was close enough, I tried to read what the shirts said.  I looked at every picture I could and thought about the names on my shirt too.  This motivated me to keep going and to stay strong.  I wondered about Shawna and the rest of my group doing the full.  I had no idea where they were but I knew in my heart that they were doing well.

At mile 10, we were at a beach.  It was still foggy and I was still mad at my bad decision to wear my sunglasses.   I had Eric take my picture so that I can send it to Mr. RWM to let him know where I was.
mile 10

The view ahead of us was the the tents and busses that were at the finish.  It was cool to see, but I was not at the finish.  We had to go to the left and into a park for the final 3 miles.  The wide road that we were on for the last mile had thinned and I found that I was stuck with walkers again and I couldn't get around.

Eric was hurting a little and I lost him somewhere around here.  Shawna's family had cheered for us at about mile three and I saw them at the end of mile 13.  It was so nice to see a familiar face cheering me on.
It's all good.

I turned the corner for the last .1 and the finish was in sight!  There was a very large group in front of me and believe it or not, I actually slowed down so that none of them would be in my way for my picture crossing the finish line.  Is that weird?  I don't care.  I wasn't crossing with friends so I didn't want too many strangers in my picture.  Selfish?  Still don't care.  LOL

I was psyched to have crossed that line.  So many months of training and fundraising had all paid off.  It was so worth it!  My time was 3:10:05.  This is 33 minutes slower than my fastest time.  Considering the hills, two potty breaks and about 10 pictures, I am good with that.  I said it before, this was for Shawna and Haley and for fun.  That is what I set out for, mission accomplished.

I walked across the red carpet, was handed water and then headed to to the cutest fireman.  I stood in line and asked the girl in front of me to snap my pic and I would snap hers.  She agreed but when it came time for my picture, my camera would not work!!!  We tried more than a couple times, before I finally gave up.  This was the biggest disappointment of the weekend.

I wish you could see his picture.  He was really good looking with a smile that would make you melt.  I told him how happy I was to see him, mostly because he represented my finish and accomplishment.  He told me he was happy to see me too and that put a huge smile on my face.  That, and my Tiffany box with the most beautiful finishers medal ever!

From there, I got my finishers shirt and then a bagel and a banana. I was directed to the TNT tent where we had to check in.  It was here that Patricia had found me.  I was so happy to see someone that I knew.  We hugged and congratulated each other, checked in and got our finishers pin.

We had finished in the middle of the pack and apparently it was when most of us average runners finished.  The place was a mad house.  We couldn't get around easily and the lines for everything were half a mile long.

We had about two hours before Shawna was going to come in, so we decided to get our checked bags first and then head to the TNT tent for food.

Huge line into the tent, but once I got my sandwich, I felt so much better.  We sat down, ate and changed into our flip flops.

After that we walked around a bit to see what was going on.  Nike had a tent with just finisher shirts.  They were all nice but I was happy with the one at the finish line.  I was so surprised how much people were buying.  I think it is cool to have a shirt, but how many do you need that virtually all say the same thing.  The colors and styles were different but they all said NWM 2012 in some form or another.  And the prices!! Holy cow, they were so expensive.  I bought one shirt for $40 the day before and that was enough.

We headed to the finish line to wait for Shawna.   The place had really cleared out by now and it was actually nice.  We got a good spot and waited.  The announcers said each and every name of the person crossing the finish line who ran the full marathon.  It was really cool to see and hear.

We weren't' really sure who had come in yet, but we did know that Shawna was still running based on the automatic FB status we had signed up for.

Tracey was the first that we saw and I got chills watching her cross that line.  It was her first full and I am pretty sure, her first race.  She broke down and Patricia ran over to her.  It was here that I had my first moment of doubt about my decision to run the half and not the full.

And then we saw Shawna, with Robin right next to her.  They were smiling and so was I.  I was so excited for them. They looked beautiful crossing the finish line and I was so proud of them. What a fantastic finish.

It was then that I was sure I made the wrong decision.  I wanted to be crossing that line with Shawna and I felt like a missed an opportunity for an incredible first marathon.  As happy as I was to have just finished my second half, I also felt a little disappointed.  I shook it off and am now set on 26.2.

We caught up to her at the bagel table and walked with her to get her pin and then showed them where the TNT tent was.  They got some food and then Leah, Robin and I headed to the massage tent.  This was awesome.  I couldn't get in earlier but now we walked right up and got in in about 3 minutes.  I had a 20 minute massage which was great.

After that we snapped a few group pics and then headed to the buses.

There wasn't much time once we got back to the hotel.  I showered and got dressed for the Victory Dinner.  I met everyone downstairs and we got cabs over to the dinner.

The food was OK.  Nothing that I would of ordered if I had a choice, but we were all starving at this point.  I even went back for seconds.  We had a few drinks and then headed over to the dance floor.  Yes folks, after running half and full marathons, we danced until they closed the place at 8pm.  It felt good to dance and just have fun.  We deserved it and I am sure we all enjoyed it.
  Victory Dinner

We headed back to our hotel and met in the lobby for some wine.  As I sat there, talking with everyone.  I had so many thoughts going through my head.  I was so happy to be here with Shawna.   I loved meeting her friends and her family.  They were all so wonderful.  I was happy that we all set out to do something for such a good cause and we all succeeded.  I was also sad that it was all coming to an end.

I said good night as I had to be the first to leave in the morning.

I woke up early enough to get breakfast and was pleasantly surprised to see that Shawna had gotten up to eat with me.  It was so nice to have some one on one with her.  She has always been such a good friend and I have missed her terribly the last 4 years.  I wish we didn't have to be so far apart but it is obvious that distance has not changed how we feel about each other.

I grabbed my bags and said a final good by to everyone who was in the lobby and off I went.  I met my Rhode Island friends at their hotel and we flew home together.  I was so relieved to be back on the East Coast with Mr. RWM and the kids.  They truly are who I do this for and they make it all worth while.

Recently, my son drilled me on what distance I ran and what it was like and when I asked him why all the questions, he said he wanted to be like me.  And tonight I found Hal Higdons book in my daughters room.  When I asked her what she was doing with it, she said she was going to run a marathon.  Yes, she is only four and can't read, but how cool is that!

My family rocks, my friends are awesome and you all inspire me each and every day.  That is how and why I continue to do what I do.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Run Strong, Think Big.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

NIke Women's Half Marathon, Part One

I have so many things I want to tell you.  The weekend was so very cool.  I guess I will just start at the beginning.

I was up in the middle of the night and at the airport at 4:30 am.  It was dark and cold but I was wide awake, exited to be on my way.

The first leg to Chicago was uneventful.  When we got to the gate of the second flight, we were delayed a half hour.

Once we were all on the plane and the door was closed, we taxied a little bit and then the engine was turned off.  We were asked to hold because of weather in San Francisco.  I was getting a little frustrated because we had such a tight schedule.

Just as the engines started up, I got a text from Shawna.  It read, "Our flight got cancelled. We are flying to Sacramento and renting  a car from there."  Oh, no!!!  I felt so bad for them.  This was going to be a long day without delays, and now we were all getting in so late.

Once in the air, the flight was pretty good.  Landed late, but we were finally there!

There were 16 of us traveling form Rhode Island but I was the only one going to a different hotel.  Once I finally made it to my hotel, I found myself alone.  This really wasn't a big deal.  I flew for 10 years before having my son but I was disappointed to go to the expotique alone.

The Expotique was right across the street, so I went to check it out.  The music was so loud, I couldn't even think.  (insert old lady comment here).  There was a TNT section with a huge banner with pictures of the people we were running to remember.  I started to look for Haley, but got so emotional at seeing so many children and babies, I had to walk away.

I found my way to the line to pick up my packet and that went quickly.  It was well organized in that department and I was excited to see my number, 19,036.  My highest number to date.

Kara Goucher and Shalana Flanagan were going to speak for a little at the expo and were also running. I was so sad to see, that I got in too late and had missed it.  This really bummed me out.

I was through the expo rather quickly and as I was walking out, I got a phone call from Shawna.  Her and the crew from South Carolina were returning the rental car and were on there way.  She told me that three of our teammates were at the expo somewhere and sent me there number.

I gave them a call and asked if I could meet up with them.  It was David that I called and he said they were on the 3rd floor over at Nike Town.  It took me a minute to realize that Nike Town was different from where I was standing.

I headed over and at the stop light I could see people standing on the side of the building looking at a wall.  A women next to me was telling her girlfriend that that was where all our names were written.  Wow, that amazed me.  I went straight to that wall.

I found David, Robin and Leah after riding the escalator a bunch of times.  This store was a mad house!  So many people and the music was even louder than the expo.  Lines wrapped around for miles and I thought I was on the third floor but soon realized I was on the 5th.  Don't ask me, I can't explain it either.   Back down the escalator and finally I met the first three teammates.

We stopped at the wall and found our names, snapped a few pics and then headed to the nearest bar.  We sat and had a drink and a great conversation.  I love meeting new people!
Me, Leah, David and Robin

After our drink we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our boat ride to Sausalito.  That is where Shawna's aunt and uncle live and they made us a wonderful dinner and we celebrated Haley's 16th birthday.  It was a beautiful and emotional evening and it was the reason we were there and I was so happy to be able to share in that special moment.
On the ferry to Sausalito

Haley was a little girl who love to give presents more than receive them.  Sound familiar?  If you know me, you know I am not fond of receiving gifts.  I don't like the attention or the fact that people spent money on me.  However, I get so much joy from buying and giving gifts for my friends and family.

Shawna had us all bead our own wine charms as a fun activity and then she put our creations in a gift bag filled with little gifts for us.  Everything in the bag was special and had something to do with Haley.  I will treasure everything I received.  Except of course, for the chocolate.  I will eat the chocolate.  LOL

The dinner was delicious and the company was fabulous.  I am sure Haley would of enjoyed every moment and I know in my heart, she was with us.
Shawna lighting the candles on Haley's cake.

Since we all got in so late, our dinner and party were also late.  We were all so exhausted and by the time I got into bed that night, I had been up for 23 hours and 15 minutes.  I barely remember hitting the pillow but I do know that I fell asleep smiling.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up in a sweat.  I realized I had never turned the air on and went over to do so.  I hit buttons but no air.  Shoot, my AC does not work.  I went back to bed without covers and slept until the morning.

I felt pretty good considering how many hours I was up the day before.  I looked out my window and saw a diner.  I was staving and was in desperate need of coffee.  I got dressed and went to eat. It was a really cute place and I got the biggest breakfast on the menu.

I was joined by Shawna, Patricia and Tracy.  From there we went back to the expo so that they could pick up their packets.  It was a little more fun this time with people and we snapped a fun picture.

One of the things on my must do list for San Fran, was to see Alcatraz.  We had tickets for the 10:30 ferry over.  The ride was just about 15 minutes.  Once there we made our way up and entered the prison.
Yes, that is Flat Stanley!

The gate in.

We chose to do the audio tour, which gave us the most information.  It was really cool and a little creepy.  The voices on the tape were of real guards and prisoners.  It was hard to imagine what life was really like there, but they did a good job of putting it all together.  I would recommend this tour if you have plans to go to San Francisco.

On the way out, they had a man signing copies of his book.  He was an ex con who had spent time in Alcatraz!  His name was Robert Luke and I had to talk to him and get his book.  Now don't think I am crazy.  This man was 84 years old, with his wife of 37 years and never hurt anyone physically.  He was a bank robber.  He spent a little over 5 years on the rock.  Not too many people can say they met someone who spent time there and I think it was pretty cool.

From there we got a quick bite at Fisherman's Wharf and then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the inspiration dinner.  I stopped at the desk to get my new room key for a room with AC.

I met everyone in the lobby and we walked to the Inspiration dinner.  I wasn't sure what to expect but I was told to bring tissues.  You don't have to tell me that twice.

We got in line to go in and you could hear the excitement.  As we got closer to the entrance, the TNT mentors, coaches and staff members were dressed in crazy costumes, hats and wigs and they were blowing horns, ringing cowbells and yelling as loud at they could to cheer us on.  I got emotional right away and took out my first tissue.
Our cheering crew!

As we ate our dinner, they had a slide show of the people who we were running to remember and honor.  I had a very hard time looking at all the photos and there were just so many children.  I am crying writing this.  No family should have to go through this.  I prayed for every one of those people up on the screen and their families.  And when Haley's picture came up, I lost it.  I sent a message to Mr. RWM telling him I wasn't' strong enough to do this.  I needed him to be my rock and even though I  was with friends, it was him who I really needed at that moment.

I survived the dinner and enjoyed the speakers but I left there a different person.
After the Inspiration Dinner.  Loved our shirts!

We went back to the hotel and met in Shawna's room to write all the names on our shirts that we were running for.  I had a little trouble with the shirt staying in place and figuring out which pens worked best.  I was disappointed in how my shirt turned out, but the meaning and the thought were there.

After that, I laid out everything I would need for the morning, set my alarm and got in bed.

Next post to follow shortly.

Run Strong, Think Big!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On My Way

Well, this is it!

I am packing and getting ready to go.  Friday morning at 4:30, or the middle of the night depending on how you look at it, I will be at the airport getting ready to fly to San Francisco.

My nerves are in full swing but so is my excitement.  I have worked hard and trained hard and I feel ready.

It is crazy to believe that it was January when Shawna first asked me to do this with her and her family and friends.  I officially signed up with TNT and for Nike in April and in just three months, I had raised $3900.  What a whirlwind!  I can not wait to see Shawna and meet her friends and family.  I am looking forward to running with them and seeing everyone cross the finish line.

This past week, I did not run.  I am not too happy about it but it is, what it is, and I can't go back and change it.  I did get in some yoga, a few PT visits and one adjustment.  I will be well rested if nothing else.

People have told me that the excitement of the weekend will carry me through and I hope that is true.  13.1 miles is not easy, no matter how many times you have done it in the past, and this one will be no different.  However, I am doing this for Haley.  I am there to support her mom.  I am there because cancer sucks.
Haley, 6 years old.

On our shirts, we have have the names of people who we are running in honor or memory of.  Mine will have ten names written on it.  I will think about each and everyone of those people and their families and that is what will carry me through.

Ten people, thirteen miles and for me, almost three hours of reflection, prayer, struggles and I hope, victory!

Besides the race, my weekend is jam-packed with fun.  The expo, Alcatraz, birthday party for Haley and the Inspiration and Victory dinners.  We pretty much hit the ground running once I get off the plane and I welcome it.

I have been in contact with a few bloggers, Touch Chiks and SPA's who are all running.  I am hoping to meet a couple  of them and snap some pictures.  I really hope it all works out.

I will pretty much be offline strating on Friday.  I will have my phone and will probably post an update on Facebook, but the next post will not be until the middle of next week.

You have all been so supportive and it is your encouragement that motivated me to get up and run.  Thank you for being there for me!

Now back to packing.  This is my first destination race, so please feel free to comment and let me know what you think I should have with me.   I am pretty sure I got race day covered but I learn something new every day.

Are you racing this weekend?  Will I see you in San Francisco?

Run Strong, Think Big!  (Yup, that's the plan.)