Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Prague

I ran my first half marathon on Saturday March 27, 2010 in the beautiful city of Prague under partly clouded skies in a sea of 7500 other people.  I ran that half marathon in memory of dad who passed on March 29, 2006.  In a time of 2:52:11, I crossed the finished line tired, thirsty, hungry, and proud.  Proud that I did my training, proud that I made it to the starting line, and proud that I never let negative thoughts cross my mind as I ran in the back for the whole race.

My nerves where on edge before the run.  The day of I didn't want to eat - my stomach kept churning and my bathroom breaks became much more frequent.  I managed to eat a bagel and a banana, loading up my pockets with my trusty GO Gels and my Ipod.  With my water bottle in one hand, my Canadian buff on my head (thanks Zoe!), and my race number pinned to the front I set off, finally crossing the start line 5 minutes after the gun went off.


Surprisingly I felt good for the first part.  I ran conservatively for the first 5K, trying to keep a steady pace.  For the next 10K my pace picked up a bit.  I ran next to various people from time to time, but for the most part I was by myself watching others in front of me or passing them to the side.  As I passed each the kilometer marker my confidence kind of grew.  I was actually running a half marathon!

Then...I hit...the wall.  Or something like it.  At 15 K my right leg started to give.  My hamstrings had enough, and they were telling me in a powerful way to stop.  I hadn't run longer than 10 miles so when I hit that marker and kept going my lower body started to rebel.  My dreams of a time of 2:30 went as my run turned into a run-walk which then turned into straight walking for at least 1 1/2 miles.  The people around me were also walking, all of us just trying to finish before the emergency vehicles behind us told us to stop.

But, I never had any negative thoughts - I just kept moving.  When I saw the 20K marker I knew I was almost there so I made my legs go faster, getting back up to running pace.  As I crossed the bridge I saw the crowds cheering and the blue carpet and my legs became faster.  I was actually going to finish a half marathon, I told myself.  As I crossed the finish line Mike was there with his trusty camera snapping the oh so not flattering pictures of a face twisted in exhaustion and pain.  But, I was so happy to see him there.  I fell into his arms and said "I am never doing that shit again."

Here I am, 2 days later and still a bit sore.  My knees are a bit shattered and the right IT band is not happy, but I did it.  And, I plan to do it again in October somewhere in Europe.  That race was one of the first times  I can remember where I was just being.  Although I had my Ipod in, after the first hour I was barely listening to the music. Instead, I was taking it all in - the city, the cobbled stones (which I might add are a bitch to run on), the other runners.  I was just there and it was nice: no thoughts of papers, articles, readings, moving, professors.  It was just me, my body and mind working together to get through the race.  At kilometer 12 I remember looking up into the cloudy sky and asking my dad to help me get through the race and it hit me that running is saving me.  Running is saving me from a life of worry and sadness, from anger and self hating.  When I run I feel alive, and I feel as if I know why I live.  I am not fast now and I don't really need to be (although I will try to improve on that time cause damn it was a long time to be out there on a flat course), but I like the feeling of going out there for a long time and seeing what the body can do.   This body is made to move.

7 comments:

Sam said...

You are one amazing woman. Congratulations - you earned that beer!

Nicole said...

Thanks Sam, that is really nice of you!

Meg said...

freeking awesome-congrats! you must be on such a high! next...marathon :)

Alicia said...

You're my hero! I love how you said you'd never do that ish again when you finished, and now a few days later, you're saying you plan to run your next one in October! You go chica! :)

Nicole said...

Yea - it's crazy how that happened but now I am looking for another to do somewhere in Europe later on. Great excuse to travel and stay in shape!

Celeste said...

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome pictures. Congrats! <3

Chan3yboy said...

Congrats Nicole! I hear that a marathon is one of the hardest sporting events that a person can participate in. You ROCK!!