Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Omaha Half Marathon Race Report

Short Version:
I finished my first 13.1 mile race in 2:53:05. Greatly slower than my original goal (pre-injury) of 2:30-2:37. Regardless of my time, I had an AMAZING time. Yes, an overweight-never-in-my-life-have-I-ever-been-an-athlete had a great time during a 13.1 mile race! I thanked everyone...officers, volunteers, marines, even spectators! I smiled through most of the race. And after mile 5, never had the thought of quitting...oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I met up with Jeff Galloway at mile 5! Yep, I did a 5k with American Olympian Jeff Galloway! Perhaps that's why I had no thought of quitting! So, now that I've given you the teaser, you know that you want all the details. Don't you? Alright, fine...

On Saturday (10-25), James, the kiddos and I headed downtown to the Doubletree Hotel for the packet pickup, race expo and pasta dinner at about 3:00. Packet pickup should have been organized better, in my opinion. I hopped into a line that was giving out packets, only to realize that I needed to first go to a different table to be told my bib number??? Not sure why the packet table couldn't have the lists for the bib numbers too. So, after a quick visit to the bib number retrieval table, I got back in line to get my packet. Here, I was also given my long sleeve technical finisher shirt. After claiming my packet, I then had to back track out of two rooms to activate my time chip. The time chip was attached to the back of the bib. I thought that was pretty cool. I verified that #1398's information was indeed mine.

Goodies I returned home with...

I checked out a few vendor booths (there weren't many). I stopped by to admire I Run Like A Girl merchandise. Checked out the handblown 100% recycled glass "medal" that all finishers would be receiving. And was very tempted by some great Omaha Marathon technical shirts that I didn't want to buy until after I completed the race.

After browsing the expo, the family and I grabbed a plate full of pasta, slice of
Italian bread, cup of lemonade and the yummiest cookies EVER, while listening to Jeff Galloway. Finally, we headed out. Since we rarely go downtown, we decided to walk around a bit. We walked to Gene Leahy mall for the kids to slide the huge slides! We also found lots of other fun things on the way back.
Finally, we headed home. While the kids and hubby hung out with the neighbors, I gathered all of my gear/necessities for race day. I was soon in bed (way earlier than normal).

My alarm went off at 5:00. I got out of bed feeling well rested and excited...strangely, not very nervous. I ate half of an Olympic Granola bar and sipped some water. I can never manage to eat more than that before a long run. I got dressed, and did all of my pre-long run rituals. At 5:45, I was out the door, and driving hubby's truck downtown. I was sad that James and the kids wouldn't be there for me. The twins were to sing at Mass...and I was sad to miss their first performance with children's choir. :0( After parking, I had about a 1 mile walk to the start area. I was about 30-40 minutes early. I stretched a little, sipped more water, but mostly just took in the excitement of the atmosphere.

At 7:00 the gun went off. I positioned myself way in the back. It took three and a half minutes for me to cross the start line. Not too bad, I guess considering how many people were ahead of me. It took awhile for the crowding to thin out. I almost immediately noticed the I was having wardrobe issues. Not again! I wore this same skirted capri on Memorial Day. That day, I ended up having to use my bib safety pins to hold up my skirt. I thought I had addressed the problem...apparently not! I had my phone in the pocket...and that weight...was pulling my skirt down! Thankfully, I was wearing a SPIbelt. I lowered it around my hips. Yay! Without missing a beat, my skirt wasn't falling off! Okay, here we go! Since having sustained an injury 6 weeks ago, and hardly running through that time, I let go of all time goals...I just wanted to finish today. With that in mind, I just wanted to have fun. So, at mile 1, I stopped to capture this pretty picture:

Before I even reached mile 2, my injured right calf was screaming at me. At mile 2.5, I called James. I whined to him about my calf. Not sure why I needed to call him. At this point, my mind was starting to go to a bad place. I knew at mile 6.2, I would be right near the start line...the perfect opportunity to quit! Shortly after talking to James, this house caught my attention. It reminded me of Halloween. I thought my kids would get a kick out of it!

I continued running. I chatted with an older gentleman who was running the full. Right about mile 4, I was lapped by the leader of the half marathon. (Yep, in the time it took me to run 4 miles, he had run about 11!). As we were passed, and older lady and I started chatting. She was also running the 26.2...here 303rd marathon!!! I told her how inspiring that was., and we continued on. At mile five, I was passed by a man and woman wearing bright gold shirts. They were running with Jeff Galloway. Outloud I said, "Oh my God! I'm running with Jeff Galloway! I've got to get a picture of this!" The woman he was running with said, "Here, let me get a picture of you two."

At mile 5 with Galloway!
At this point I started chatting with the gentleman Jeff was running with. I learned his name was Brian. Brian asked me if I had followed Galloway's training plan. I told him that I followed a plan I found on the internet (actually it was indeed Galloway's. I just didn't recall at the time.). He let me know that they were running 30 seconds/walking 30 seconds. He asked if I wanted to join them. OF COURSE! He told me more about Galloway's run/walk program and it's benefits...how it erased fatigue and allows the healing process to begin immediately. Before I knew it, the 10kers (6.2 miles) were peeling away for their finish...and I was continuing on. I told Brian about my injured calf. I informed him that since starting walk breaks with them, my calf now felt almost 100% better. Soon after Galloway started running/walking with me and talking to me. He gave me tons of encouragement. He told me stories. He gave me pointers on my calf injury. He reminded me of when to walk and when to run. When I had a scary
"stridor" episode (that had never happened to me before this event...it happened once with Brian, once with Galloway and once about mile 10...all when I was trying to talk too.), he advised me to drop my running back to only 15 seconds. He advised me on how to handle uphills, as well as downhills. Before I knew it, I had completed a 5k with an Olympian, him giving me some one-on-one for about 2 miles! What an amazing experience for a first time half-marathoner, right? I'm hoping the photographer got a picture of us running together at mile 7! So, here I am, Jeff Galloway pulling away from me, at mile 8.1 with a completely new outlook on this race. I don't have to run this whole race. I just have to finish. I don't have to suffer through the next 5 miles. I can just enjoy myself. I kept recalling Jeff telling me that he wants people to enjoy themselves and finish with smile on their face. And that's
what I did. I smiled. I thanked everyone. I chatted with anyone that I could. I enjoyed the live music along the course. I kept taking walk breaks. Counting steps when I wasn't distracted, and just doing what felt comfortable. I wasn't as consistent with the walk breaks as when Jeff was with me, but I tried.

About mile 9, I noticed two women ahead of me running/walking in intervals. I followed their lead, even though they were almost 50 yards ahead of me. When they would run, so would I. When they would walk, I would walk. I started to gain on them. One of the women finally pulled ahead. I caught up with the woman left behind about mile 10. "Can I join you?" I asked. "Sure," she replied. Her watch beeped. "Wanna run?" she asked. "Sure," I replied. I inquired what about what intervals she was doing. She informed me that she was running one minute/walking one minute. We stayed together for a while chatting, encouraging each other. She was a young mother as well. We got passed by the leader/s of the full marathon at about mile 11. (Again, in the time it took me to do 11 miles, the leader had done about 24.5! That's
crazy!) I stayed with the young mother until about mile 11.5. I pulled away, starting to do my own thing again. I received tons of encouragement from other runners that had finished and were returning to their vehicles. As spectators would tell me, "Almost there!" I jokingly said, "and you're not lying!" I was almost there! I wanted to run faster, but had nothing left in the tank. About mile 12.5-12.6, the young mom I was with a few minutes earlier, passed me. "You still have gas in the tank?" I asked. She responded with, "Just a little." I was running a 13-14 minute mile at this point. I just couldn't push faster! But I see the finish line! And finally I cross
the finish line! SMILING! I did it! I'm a half marathoner! A Marine gave me my medal. I thanked him.

I was handed a water bottle. There was a spread of food leaving the chute. Bagels, bananas, oranges. The oranges looked the most appetizing. I grabbed a cut of quarter orange. Yum! Oranges have never tasted this good! Threw the peel in the garbage and grabbed another. Then another! And finally one more. Had a piece of cheddar garlic bread and a chocolate milk! I met up with a woman I chatted with back at mile 8 as Jeff pulled away from me. We chatted a bit more there in the finish chute/refuel line. I asked her to take a pic of me:
how cool is that handblown 100% recycled glass medal!!!

Walked a mile back to the parking lot, encouraging people in there last mile of their race. Once home, it was time for:
ice bath
and hot cocoa
Although I didn't have some sort of stellar pace (13:13, by the way), I couldn't have asked for a better first half marathon. It was an amazing experience. One that leads me to say that I will do another (probably more) half marathon. So the First 13 is over, but this blog isn't going away anytime soon. I will continue to run, continue to become more fit, and continue to race (at a turtle pace!). Come along and join me!


  1. Congratulations! And what an amazing experience, being able to get some priceless tips from Jeff! Too cool!

  2. Congrats!! What a great recap...I found myself smiling because you are so happy! I love that you said thank you to the volunteers, officers, and spectators. And what an amazing experience it must have been to run with Jeff!

    I hope you enjoyed your first 13.1. Sounds like there will be plenty more to come!!

  3. How awesome! You pushed through that mental block and made it! Running is so mental and sometimes getting past that is very hard.
    My husband and I ran the 10k and had a blast. Weren't the Marines at the end fantastic?
    I love love LOVE Jeff Galloway! His program is what got me running again after a Half Marathon that almost killed me. I attended his running seminar the day before the marathon but wished I could have run with him. How lucky are you?!