My First Half Marathon

It’s time for a recap of my first half marathon experience.

I want to premise this recap by reminding you all that I have been struggling with a colitis battle now for one month or so. A voice in my head kept asking me if I thought it was a good idea to run this race yesterday or not, not to mention the fact that I came down with a 24-hour stomach bug on Friday. Was my body trying to tell me something? I usually listen to my body, but not this time. After all of the training and anticipation of this race, there was no way I wasn’t going to give it my best shot. I HAD to do it. I didn’t care what time I finished in, I reminded myself it was okay if I needed to walk, I just wanted to finish. Period.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5:15 am, hopped in the shower for a quick wake-me-up spritz, put my running gear on that I had placed out the night before, and made myself my usual pre-run breakfast.

I had my usual pre-race jitters. It doesn’t matter if it is a 5k, a 10k, or a half marathon, I react the same way. I give myself plenty of time to use the facilities before a race (and this is if I’m in a flare-up or non-flare up). This is how my body has reacted to nerves for as long as I can remember; before basketball games, before dance competitions, before the Registered Dietitian Exam, etc.

We loaded up the car at 6:15 am and headed to the race.

Upon arrival, we parked, walked to our destination, checked our bags, and headed to the biffy’s (port-o-potty if you will). I forgot to take any pre-race photos and that’s probably because I was totally nervous and more focused on finding the bathrooms before we had to go into our start corrals.

7:15 am rolled around, and it was time to make our way to our corrals. We dropped my brother off in the 8:30 minute/mile area and Dana and I headed back towards the 9:30 minute/mile area. During our other long runs, we averaged a 9:30 minute/mile pace, but we knew that this may be far-fetched today since we had never ran this length before. We gave ourselves some slack and knew we could fall back if necessary, of course.

A woman sang a beautiful version of the national anthem and I tried to use this time to close my eyes and relax. It really was beautiful.

Then the race began. They started letting groups off by start time, and then held the rest, so we were walking in a slow pace to the start. It was a very dramatic moment to me, and it’s the moment that I noticed I had a rock in my shoe. I was about to start running with it when Dana told me I’m not going to want to run with a rock in my shoe. It turned out I had plenty of time to remove my shoe and dump out the miniature rock. Ok, all better. Now, get your music ready. It’s time to rock.

Our corral was set off and it was go time. Immediately I felt the excitement from the cheering crowd holding their awesome signs and from the other runners who were just as excited as I was to be running this race as I was. But I wasn’t about to let this excitement run me into an overly fast pace. We kept it low and slow. In the first few miles, we ran by the 35W bridge collapse memorial site which I had never seen before. We passed the rolling Mississippi River and of course passed hundred’s of energetic spectators and cheerleaders.

We made one bathroom stop around mile 2. Around mile 3 I started to get an awful feeling in my stomach. I thought it was maybe just the jitters and kept praying that it would go away. It felt like my stomach was completely empty and cramping at the same time, and it was bringing me to nausea. I thought that I might just be hungry as I hadn’t eaten for two hours now, so I snacked on a couple of Blueberry Pomegranate Gu Chomps. I also sipped on some water from the water stop and waited 15 minutes or so to see if the pain would go away. Not a chance. It only progressed and got worse.

I kept running up until mile 6, when I told Dana I had to walk. I HATE walking on runs. I don’t like stopping because 1. I find it harder to start back up again and 2. It slows me down and keeps me from reaching the finish line sooner obviously. When I stopped to walk I was fighting to inhale a breath and felt tears beginning to swell. What is going on with me? Then it was time to give myself a little pep talk (in my head of course): Melanie, your body is going through a lot right now with the colitis, the stomach bug, etc. You can do this though, I know you can, but remember that time doesn’t matter today. It is OKAY to walk. No one is going to judge you except for yourself, and you’ll get over it. Take care of yourself and you can finish. I began running again but was only able to run for about 5 minutes before needing to stop again to walk. At this point I made Dana go ahead because there was no way I was going to hold him back like this.

Once I talked him into going ahead, I walked for probably another 5 minutes or so before I tried giving the running a chance again. I was able to run for a long time after that but at a pretty slow pace. I would walk through the water stations and then pick up the running again. I would tell myself that I would run to the sign ahead, or run until I saw some of my family and friends that were there to watch us, and then I could walk but only if I really needed to walk.

When I saw mile 10 I thought okay, one 5k to go. I’ve done how many 5k’s? No big deal. Ha, well, that last 5k seemed like the longest 5k ever (and looking at my time it literally was my longest 5k ever). At about mile 11 we had to run up what seemed like a mammoth hill at the time. I ran up half of it, then walked the rest. I picked up the running again and told myself I cannot stop until I get to that finish line. I am way too close now, and there are so many people watching…and that was enough to keep me going.

I reached a corner where everyone was yelling, “You’re almost there! Just around the corner!” Sure enough, I rounded the corner and saw the finish line. Out loud I said ‘Oh, Thank God’ and I bolted to that finish line. They announced my name as I was running through and I felt such a great amount of pride at that moment. I thought I would get emotional but I think I was in too much pain to get emotional. In fact, Dana greeted me at the finish and it was a good thing because I felt like I was going to fall over. Immediately, a member of the medical team was at my side with an ice pack and water, and that was just what I needed. Well that, and to sit down, stat.

My official time was 2:20 which  makes for an average pace of 10:42 minutes per mile. I am usually a 9:30 minute/mile runner, but not today, and that is okay. I just finished a half marathon. Wow, what an incredible feeling.

We gathered with our family that had come to watch and then eventually conjured up enough energy for post-race photos.

In the photo above: Kevin’s friend Jeremy, Kevi, Me, and Dana.

My body was so unhappy at this point. That smile on my face and standing up there was taking every last bit of energy in my body. After photos, we made the lengthy trek back to our car (about a mile to our car…..blech) and I tried munching on a banana on the way. I felt such a void in my stomach yet everything sounded awful to me. The banana tasted extremely starchy to me but I know it was just an imbalance in my body so everything would taste off right then.

We headed back to our cozy home making one pit stop at Subway to pick up some lunch. At home, I immediately jumped in the shower, put on comfy clothes and settled myself on to the couch with water, Powerade Zero, and a blanket. This was going to be my spot for a while.

My day of eats minus breakfast which you already saw:

Newman’s Own Thin & Crispy Margherita Pizza that we protein-ified by adding some honey ham (and pineapple) making our very own Margherita Hawaiian Pizza. Num!

My favorite food from today: Froyo from Freeziac. I once again went with Cake Batter Froyo and added brownie pieces, cookie dough pieces, crunch bar bits, reese’s pieces, a dash of hot fudge, sprinkles, and one red gummy bear on top.

It was definitely a lazy food day. We were on the couch until about 3pm after watching a movie and taking a short nap. Then we decided to run and get groceries for the week. Once we got home, I returned to my spot on the couch which is where I spent the rest of the evening before bed.

As mentioned yesterday, TeamOrtho did an incredible job of putting on this event. I would love to go over what I loved about how they organized this event, as well as the amazing supporters and their encouraging signs, but I think I will save that for another post (this one is getting pretty lengthy).

Although I struggled throughout this entire race with some pretty awful stomach issues, I still finished. I will forever take pride in knowing that I completed 13.1 miles in the Minneapolis Half Marathon. If I ever decide to run another half marathon, I will run it when I’m not in a current flare-up. The trouble is, when I registered for this one I was completely healthy, but a lot can change in 3 months so it’s difficult to plan for. I know I can complete a more successful half marathon, without the pains, and actually be able to enjoy it a little more than I did this time around. I don’t think this will be my last one, but who knows!

I am so proud of my husband and my brother and myself for completing our first ever half marathon together. I am so lucky that I got to share this incredible moment with such amazing people.

Thank you for our cheerleaders who came to watch us yesterday, and for those who were cheering at home in spirit! Your love and support meant the world to me and my heart melts from all of the love I felt from you all.

Sorry for such a lengthy post, but this was an event in my life that will never be forgotten, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you all.

I have the day off today to recover and to get a few things done around the house. I hope you have a wonderful day.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Ted Sperides

    Amazing job, Mel! Your accomplishment too major guts, discipline, and patience to complete. Regardless of your time, or the pain you experienced, you have this little victory to help you get through anything life throws at you in the future! Proud of ya!! (and Dana and your brother too)

    1. beautifullynutty

      Right back at you, Ted! Do you think you’ll ever do another one? P.S. Miss ya!

      1. Ted S

        Honestly, I don’t know! – not this year. But, who knows how i will feel about doing it again in the future!

  2. Kalley Sikich

    Great job Mel!! You should be proud of yourself. You kept going and pushed yourself when a lot of people would have quit. Proud of you!!

  3. Congrats on sticking with it and finishing even when you weren’t feeling very well — I can’t imagine how hard 13.1 miles is when there are GI issues involved! You should be really proud of yourself for all of your hard work, and like you said, maybe you’ll do another one when you are a little healthier! Also, your froyo looks Delish…I LOVE cakebatter flavor!! Congrats again 🙂

  4. Lisa

    Way to go Melanie! I am so glad you felt the amazing energy at the finish line, despite all your pain. I am inspired by your will to continue on through your pain- can you bottle some of that up for me for my next marathon in two weeks? And way to treat yourself to a sweet treat after your race- my husband and I always give ourselves a free pass after long races to treat ourselves to something we would normally consider a treat!

    1. beautifullynutty

      Thanks, Lisa! I hope you didn’t mind I used your comment again in my post. =) Wow, good luck on your marathon in two weeks! You will be great. Just remember all of your hard work and training in preparation. You have got this! Way to go!

  5. Court

    Congrats doll! You are a tough cookie 🙂

  6. Julian McGrath

    Well done! You have shown great determination. If you keep these up you will learn more about preparation and strategies that suit you as an individual as you go. You definitely have the guts for it.

  7. ash green

    It was really insightful.
    Thanks for such a nice content.
    BTW if anyone interested more have a look thanks

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