I won't lie. The run was great. I never, never, never thought I'd be one of those people who talks about fitness in general (or running in particular) as a good thing... as something I looked forward to... but things change.
I was totally anxious the morning of the run. I stayed up way too late stressing about things like sunblock and Port-A-Potties. My alarm went off at 5:30am and I had 1.5 hours to eat and drink water and get out the door for the 7am bus to the start line. In typical Heather style, I used about 15 minutes of my prep time to actually prep (sunblock, breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed) and the rest to read the latest edition of Vogue, start a new book, water plants and change my sheets. Long story short, I missed my bus... my backup bus... and my backup-backup bus.*
I ended up walking 45 minutes to the start line, which was a good thing because by the time I reached the Starbucks in Uptown Oakland, I was ready for a bathroom break. I was so thrilled to be able to use a bathroom with an actual sink and a toilet that flushed! Port-A-Potties be damned!
I got to the start line about 20 minutes before we had to line up, which was just enough time to check my bag and down a banana (thank you, PointsPlus! I might not have eaten this power food if I'd had to sacrifice 2 points for it!).
The next 2 hours and 20 minutes are sort of a blur. I remember being really focused and humorless at the start line. Other runners were cheering (doing actual cheers) and yelling (woo! yeah!) but I could not crack a smile. All I could think was Do I need to pee? I think I need to pee. What if I have to pee while I'm running? Did I put on enough sunblock? Oh, God. What if I get a cramp. Or blisters. What if I didn't train enough? Can I still drop out? Ugh.
Those anxious thoughts continued for about 8 miles, despite the fact that the lovely people of Oakland were out in full force cheering on their neighbors. There were bands at every mile, plenty of water stops and a lot of stuff to distract anxious runners. Still, I couldn't get out of my head until more than 1 hour in, when my iPod playlist landed on Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams". I love that song. It totally snapped me into the moment and, at the next mile marker, there was a group of about 20 members of the Raider Nation. I high-fived a guy in a gorilla suit as a I ran by. Friends, if there's anything that can snap you out of a funk, it's a group of guys in black and silver dancing to "Disco Inferno" while wearing gorilla suits and Afro wigs. I wish I'd brought my camera so I could show you but I was way too nervous to worry about keeping track of a camera.
Miles 8-13.1 were much better than miles 1-8. My friend Becca was standing at mile 9 to cheer and I saw her just when I needed a familiar face. Miles 9-12 were around the lovely Lake Merritt, where I do my weekly runs, so I was on familiar turf. At mile 10, I realized I was not in pain. It dawned on me that I actually was going to finish, which was goal #1.
At around mile 12.5 or so, Becca was there to cheer again and my friend Carmel was with her! What a great treat! Seeing them kept me going until the finish line... where I saw them again! (They actually ran through a back street just so they could cheer for me... I love them.) Carmel took this photo just a couple of blocks from the finish line.
People. It was mile 13 and I was smiling. Wild!
So, I finished in 2:21:02, which works out to 10:48 per mile. That's a little slower than I'd hoped for -- I wanted to run closer to a 10:30 mile. But I consciously took it easy because I wanted to run the whole way, without walk breaks. I was also proud of my Nike+ stats for the run. Pretty consistent pace!
Carmel took this picture after I crossed the finish line and got my medal.
After the run, Becca, Carmel and I walked to Becca's apartment. As I freshened up, the girls made me the most wonderful brunch: goat cheese omelette/chicken-apple-cinnamon sausage/mimosa. It was perfect. And I slept like a baby when I crashed out at 9pm Sunday night.
It's wild to think how much you can change your life over the course of just one year. Last March 27, I was miserable and felt trapped in a deep hole I didn't think I would ever be able to dig my way out of it. I still have a lot of self-doubt, but that's what makes me such a planner and Weight Watchers is great for planners like me!
The next hurdle is another run this weekend in Washington, DC. It's 10 miles so I feel confident about the distance... I just hope I'm not pushing myself too far.
*I missed the backup-backup because I walked into the rose garden while I waited and saw that new bushes have been planted, the fountains have been filled and a duck couple has moved in! I took this photo as my backup-backup bus was pulling away without me.