My First Half Marathon, the unexpected Part 4

Don’t miss out on what English teachers, like myself, call the exposition or the set up and build up of the story.
Part 1: Night Before Preparation
Part 2: Pre-Race Excitement
Part 3: The Race itself (part 1)

After my 1 mile walk break, I knew I would have to start running again because my body sure was getting comfortable walking albeit speed-walking.  I changed my ipod to my “Pump It” list full of club and electronic music.  Songs that I promised myself in training I would never, ever walk to.  In an agonizing adjustment, my body became like steel, frozen and heavy.  The only way to get through this was to attempt to separate my mind from my body and swim in the music.

Apparently I picked up my pace, since I got to Kris’ last support stop quicker than he expected.  I was so focused on the drumming base in my headphones that I didn’t even see him at mile 10.5.  I asked for a quick hug to keep me moving.

Barely smiling, but still going

I remember seeing mile marker 11 on the first leg of the race, so I knew exactly when it was coming up. I kept thinking, “Oh my God, just 2 more miles, I do 3 all the time at the gym, come on, 2 more.”  By this point I was relying on the repetition of 5 songs to keep me jogging: “Blow” by Kei$ha, “Ghosts n Stuff” by deadmaus, “Satisfaction” by Benni Benasi, “Only Girl” by Rihanna, and “Take Over Control” by Afrojack.  Miraculously I made it to mile 12. Finished runners were walking back, calling out, “You’re almost there!”

My body was weak.  I was desperate.  My mind and body constantly fought each other for control of my movements.  Sometime after the 12-mile marker, I had to walk because I was determined to run the last part of the race.  I walked approximately ½ mile, then saw the 13-mile sign.  I reset “Take Over Control” and picked up my pace.  I was going to conquer that last mile.  Here are some pictures from the race photographers.  How was I so silly and upbeat after 12 miles?  It remains a mystery.Race volunteers encouraged us.  “See the white tents over there?  That’s the end, you’re almost there!”  Well, yeah I saw the tents, but I wanted to know EXACTLY where the finish line was.  Random white tents above the tree line were too nebulous for me.  “Just a quarter mile left!”  In the middle of the race path, I saw a paramedic putting a woman on a stretcher, but it didn’t phase me; my mind was on one thing: the finish line.  It flashed after I skirted around the paramedics.  My sense of pride had kept hidden a last boost of energy, and I sprinted.  Whatever was left in my whole being conspired together to help me sprint that last tenth of a mile.

The final sprint

I saw the time clicking away, getting closer to 3 hours.  I ran even faster, trying to get in under the 3 hour mark.  I crossed at 3:00:46, but with adjusted time, since I didn’t cross the start line right away, my time was actually 2:59:52, just under 3 hours!  Exhausted and not thinking straight, I wasn’t sure where the finish line was-the white sign or the end of the mat, so I ran to the volunteer, making sure I crossed the blue mat so I was fully finished.I got a medal, and a volunteer asked me to wait while she took off my ankle timer.  I was thankful for that since I didn’t think I could bend my legs.  Kris found me and gave me a giant hug.  Out of exhaustion I exclaimed, “I know I’m not supposed to sit down, honey.  I’m supposed to keep my legs moving so they don’t cramp up, but all I want to do right now is sit.”  I didn’t even wait for his reply.  I found a table nearby and collapsed in the chair.  I drank some water, and Kris gave me an apple.  Its juicy sweetness refreshed me.  With every bite, I chewed methodically, crunching the soft apple meat and tough skin.  I felt each piece drop into the abyss of my stomach.  This apple must have been what Adam and Eve felt tasting the apple in the Garden of Eden.

My sister joined us and gave me a fabulous sign. Remember the paramedics at the end of the race?  Ironically, while taking pictures, Kris got a call from the race organizers saying that paramedics took his race participant to Alameda Hospital after she collapsed.  He explained that I was standing right in front of him.  The lady on the stretcher had the same last name as me, and her name started with an “S.” I suppose since my name is Sarah, they just called the first name on the list.  Kinda surreal since I had passed her less than 10 minutes ago.

Remembering the advice from the lady at the beginning of the race, “The first rule is don’t lose your champagne ticket; the second is have fun,” I scoped out the various tents for my glass and the champagne station.  As much as I was looking forward to it, after jogging/walking for 13.1 miles, the bubbly alcoholic drink just didn’t seem too appealing, but my apple still was.  Still Kris and I toasted with the champagne and some water while taking our final pictures of the day.  What a feat!

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