193 + 13.1

Escalator at Peachtree Center

Like this escalator, this post is long. Watch out!

So over the course of the last 12 weeks, I have run 193 miles + the 13.1 miles I did yesterday. Whoa!

The morning began with a 5:00 am wake up call. I had a hard time getting to sleep the night before, so The Daddy turned on Sportscenter and then I was OUT. I woke up several times during the night. The winds were strong and kept blowing our patio furniture and gas grill across the porch. HJ began coughing at 5:00, so even though my alarm was set for 5:05, I got up.

Scheduled to meet Heather at 6:00 in Dunwoody, I ate two tablespoons of peanut butter, two slices of toast, a bottle of vitamin water and some caffeine blast ball thingy to substitute a cup of coffee. With me I took a bottle of water and a Clif bar for the MARTA train ride. I was supposed to meet Heather at a Marta station up GA 400. Just as I was making the exit from I-285 to 4o0, Heather called and said she was there waiting for me. I said, "Be there in five minutes." UH, make that 15. 

So I missed the exit and had to travel 3.5 more miles before I could turnaround and get back to the right exit. I got off at Northridge, stopped at the light and waited to go back south on 400. I turned onto the EXIT RAMP.

Yes, I am about to begin driving NORTH on the SOUTHBOUND lanes. 

I noticed the arrows on the ramp were painted in the opposite direction as I was traveling, annoyed that I had missed the first exit. Then I saw the WRONG WAY signs. I quickly threw it into reverse and backed out of my mistake. Thankfully at 5:45 am, there wasn't much traffic to speak of. 

Adrenaline pumping, I turned to the correct ramp. I really wanted to import an aerial photo of the exit ramp so you could see just how easily I made this mistake, but I'm not that talented in the way of imaging. 

So a couple of more wrong turns and I'm there ready to meet Heather. The ride down into the city began our people-watching adventure. Heather didn't bring her I-pod for the race, so I ended up not using my little, pink shuffle. I never would have imagined running 13 miles without music, but the people-watching, the people dodging and the scenic course through charming neighborhoods and districts made it bearable.

When we got off MARTA, we were at the station with the longest escalator in the world. (OK, so not in the world. The longest and steepest escalator in the Southeast.I'm not kidding. It really is. It said so on MARTA's website. And guess what, folks? It was turned off. So then it was a really long and steep set of stairs!

Last in Line:
When we got to the streets downtown, we could hear the national anthem. Once we were in Centennial Park, we found some potties and stood in line after we got our picture taken. The lady told us, "You have plenty of time! There are about 2,000 people ahead of you waiting to start."

Last to Start:
Once we took care of business, we started trying to find the start line. UH. Where is it? You know how in a downtown setting, sounds echo? We could hear the announcer, but we couldn't find where to go. Once we finally got inside the barricades onto the street, we realized we were the last ones to start. LAST ONES TO START! I kid you not. It was kind of a weird beginning.

Upside of being the last to start: 
YOU ARE PASSING EVERYONE! I mean, there were people walking, for goodness sake. At the start line. WALKING. I don't know what to think about that. It made us feel super fast, though.

Downside of being last to start: 
YOU ARE DODGING PEOPLE LEFT AND RIGHT. The entire race. I kept waiting for the road to open up, but 15,000 people is a lot of people to have to pass. Ha. But, there really were 15,000 runners.

Last Mile: Finish Strong
The last mile was the hardest. I did have a few moments of dizziness and weakness, but that's when we started walking through the water stops. And I started drinking Gatorade. Man, that stuff makes me think of soccer when I was 7- or 8-years-old. My friend Julie gave us the advice to walk through the water stations to catch our breath and because those wet cups are slippery!

So back to the last mile...

I didn't know where The Daddy, my girls and in-laws would be standing, so I was keeping an eye out for them. And they were keeping an eye out for me. Green shirt. Green shirt. Green shirt?

If The Daddy hadn't shouted my name, I never would have seen them. But when he did, we were so close to the finish line. I just raised my arms waving and made some kind of a loud noise, like YEWLP! I didn't think to stop. He didn't have time to take our picture until we passed them by. So we've got a really flattering view of my backside. Nice. It really was our fault for running too fast...

So it turns out that we surprised The Daddy. I had a sensor on my shoe that sent text messages to The Daddy with my pace so he could judge when we would be crossing the finish line. At the 10k mark, our pace was 9:26. He figured we would slow down on the second half of the race. We didn't. Well, a little. To 9:34. Woo-who! 

That put us crossing the finish line 2 hours and 5 minutes~approximately~ after we started! 

I had never run that far.

I had never run that fast. 

And as we ran those last steps, the loud man on the microphone told us to "finish strong." And I thought of Paul.

In 2 Timothy, Paul tells us that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith. I hope I will, too. 

I love The Message version:

You take over. I'm about to die, my life an offering on God's altar. This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting—God's applause! Depend on it, he's an honest judge. He'll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.

Things I have learned through this experience:
  • I can do all things, through Christ, who strengthens me.
  • Stretching helps.
  • I like running.
  • I sweat. A lot. (I kind of knew this before, but...)
  • You HAVE TIME to do the things you really WANT to do. 
  • You don't HAVE TIME for things you're not that interested in.
  • I have friends and family who believe in me.
  • Jason Mraz is my alternative power source. David Gray, too.
  • I hate drinking water.
  • Following a training plan is good.
  • Snow skiing does not substitute for running. (My only real derailment in my training.)
  • I can comfortably run five miles. Even with hills.
  • Three miles is the perfect distance.
  • I sweat. Like a hog.
  • I can surprise myself.
  • I feel thinner. Must be the 3 pounds of water weight I lose each time I run.
  • I feel thinner, even though my scale doesn't think so. AND that's ok.
  • Making a plan to do something is important.
  • Sticking to the plan is hard.
  • Positive words do wonders for my confidence. 
  • I should use positive words more when I talk to others.
So that was my experience. I don't know if I'll do it again, but I'm looking forward to being lazy again. 206.1 miles later.


Anonymous said...

Wow - you are the woman, Sly! I'm so impressed. Congratulations!
--Laura G

Lou Lou said...

Such a HUGE accomplishment! I am sooo proud of you- I can't say it enough :)

emacgrass said...

i'm so inspired by you! congrats, girl!

Lori said...

I am so proud of you!! I am NOT a runner, hate running, would do anything NOT TO RUN, but your little (long :o) story actually made me "feel" like running... now whether I pick up the torch and GO is another story but the feeling is a new one... I think I'll 'run' with that for awhile.

Todd and Randi said...

Congrats! I'm so impressed.

Lisa said...

I wasn't sure exactly when your race was, but I knew it was right around now. Congrats! I think starting at the end is a definite disadvantage, but sounds like you made the best of it.

Wanna know what's a little weird? I did my first 1/2 back in October, sponsored by ING and I did it in 2:05. I went back and checked, just to be sure. Too bad we can't go running together! :)

Congrats on 7 years together, too.

Kari Beth said...

found your blog through a friend of a friend...and so forth! love it! you're writing is great! and like you i run, so its nice reading your experiences with it! great half btw...that time is awesome :)