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Week 14: My First Half-Marathon Complete!

YAY!! I made it! Months of training has finally paid off and (DAM) it feels AWESOME! (Note, this post might contain a lot of exclamation marks! #sorryimnotsorry)

I finished my first 20K, the Des Moines Dam to Dam race this past weekend and it went wonderfully! I finished in 2 hours and 17 minutes. I feel pretty good about it. (*a special note, I took off 7 minutes from my clocked time because I had to stop and use the restroom at mile 2, TMI, I know)

Here is my Instagram Diary for the race.

Friday night, I stopped by Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center and picked up my registration packet. I never would have imagined picking up your race packet could be so fun! They had live music, pizza, beer – every where you looked carbs and Powerade. I went for some Powerade, Twizzler bites and peanut M&M’s.

I have to give Dam to Dam props, I was expecting long lines and a zoo, but it was well organized and I was in and out. My race packet included a fun pink dry-fit shirt, socks, plastic drop off bag and my racing jersey.

I headed home, cooked dinner for my mom and me (pasta with grilled chicken and roasted green beans), popped in my favorite movie, The Goonies and hydrated with G2 and H2O. A great relaxing night.

Post dinner I laid out my race outfit, made sure my Ipod playlist was up-to-date and charged, and relaxed with TV. I tried to keep it simple with a new running tank, black running capri’s, shoes, Grandma Tesar’s running necklace and an i-pod. I’d like to say I was able to get a good nights sleep, but my body was full of nerves and I didn’t fall asleep until after 11.

Race day came early with an alarm at 4:15 a.m. I brushed my teeth, got dressed and ate a piece of toast with some PB and washed it down with H2O. I met my girlfriends Jane and Brenna at the downtown shuttle location at 5:15. Because of flooding there were no drop off points at the Dam. Instead, all runners had to take a shuttle from different points around town. The ride took a good 20-25 minutes, long enough for the sun to come out and play. I’m so happy I had friends with me for the bus ride- it helped calm the nerves.

After we arrived at the drop off, we put all our extra belongings into our race bags and dropped them in our designated race # locations. Next – port-o-potty time. (Imagine 8,000 people waiting in line to use the bathroom – it was a zoo!) Thank goodness for Jane! She led us all the way to the end of potties with no lines. We were in and out quickly and headed to the dam for some stretching. I didn’t have my phone to snap a picture, but this gives you an idea of our starting spot view.

From there we lined up according to our pace times. Jane and I started the race together. We enjoyed a local high school’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and waited patiently for the race to begin. (I’m sure this happens to everyone, but as soon as we got ready to start the race, I had to pee again.) As I pondered how I was going to get through the race without going to the restroom, I looked to my right, and saw the blimp of the Principal building and heard the announcer say, “That’s where your running.” I had a momentary “man o man and THAT’S WHERE WE HAVE TO GO?! SERIOUSLY!?” but quickly got over it and started to focus on MY run. The shotgun sounded and it took us another 5-10 minutes before we actually crossed the start line. The first mile was a little like herding cats, but we eventually evened out.

I started my run with a little of this and a little of that on my i-pod – just to get things moving. Then I moved onto a little of this and a little of that when the race picked up. I decided to stop at mile 2 to use the restroom real quick. I decided to go then because it was early enough in the race where I wouldn’t cramp up if I stopped. Bonus, the potties were color coded for Iowa State and Iowa fans, and let’s just say it paid to be a Hawkeye fan that day (line was much shorter.) After a quick detour, I was on my little way.

I felt pretty good during the race. I kept a pace I felt comfortable with and ran the entire way. They had water stations every two miles and entertainment at every mile. Running with 8,000 people sure keeps you motivated to keep going. I stepped it up when I had two miles left. My favorite part of the race was just before reaching downtown, crossing the pedestrian bridge and then running all the way into downtown past the Principle building to the finish. Something about the crowds cheering you on and finally seeing that big FINISH line – it gets your feet moving.

I’m glad I finished strong (even though I’m sure someone watching me from the outside saw me going tortes speed, I sure felt like I was sprinting). I received my medal, grabbed a powerade and walked off the pain in my legs. I snapped a quick professional picture and went in search of my friends.

After a round of congratulations, I went in search of some yummy (FREE) food and did a little stretching. I couldn’t party long because I had to move onto the next fun thing (a lovely wedding reception for my girlfriend Emily in CoMo, but that’s a post for another day). So I walked (slowly) back home and basked in the glory of finishing my first 20K.

A special thank you to Grandma Tesar and Jenese for running with me. I reached up to this necklace several times during my run and it gave me motivation at some of the hardest parts.

Thank you to all my amazing family and friends these last couple of months. I really appreciate your words of encouragement and constant support to help me reach my goal. Ya’ll are AWESOME!

Finally, my biggest thank you goes to my husband Tim. You were my biggest cheerleader and I couldn’t have gotten through any of my training runs without you. Thank you for carrying the water, handing out kleenexes and giving hundreds of high-fives and “you’re doing awesome”. You are the most amazing partner and I thank you.

Well, that’s it for this week. We’re slowing things down with a fun Exile Brewery 5K this Saturday. We’ll speed things back up at the end of the month as we get ready for our full Chicago half marathon in July. Until then… Stay healthy and just keep running, just keep running.

Are you training for a race? How’s it going? What’s your best advice for someone just getting started?

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