I started running last year because I needed something to do. I was living in an extended stay hotel with three cats and to say I was stressed was putting it mildly. My dad had just died, I was trying to sell my house in Corpus- in short I felt out of control. I had always read about eating disorders that a lot of them have to do with control. They can control what they put in their mouths. So, I took what should be an unhealthy thing and spun it into healthy for me. I made a concious decision to watch what I ate (but did not restrict myself from anything entirely) and decided to move more. Moving more initially began as doing the #2011pushupchallenge and some yoga and then I decided to escape the tiny suite I was in and go outdoors.
I started with a run/walk method that I still use and I gradually began to build up endurance and distance. Along the way, I moved into my house where I was briefly without hot water which actually helped keep me more consistent with running. I needed to be miserably hot in order to tolerate (and sometimes enjoy) the cold water. During the hot days of late summer, I slacked off. Needing motivation, I signed up for my first 5K in October. It was very large and crowded and not well organized but it gave me some "race" exp and it included walkers so I wasn't last! After that I decided I needed something else. Annie was doing a half marathon in Vegas which had a catchy name- Strip at Night, but it was in December and I so did not have airfare. I perused the Rock N Roll website and decided on New Orleans. March 4th gave me plenty of time to train, etc (this was November ish). When the Saints won big, the race was hugely discounted so I went for it. Signed up on a whim and announced it on twitter. Then I got oral surgery where one of the odd restrictions was to not open my mouth outside. Running was sidelined apart from a few half hearted attempts on the treadmill where I usually stopped after a mile, mile and a half. Then the whirlwind of the holidays along with a huge helping of laziness and my training was sucking.
A couple days after Christmas one of my favorite authors, Victoria Laurie, was at my favorite indie bookstore, Murder By the Book, doing a reading and because she is a psychic intuitive, she was also doing mini intuitive readings as well. I had chickend out at the previous reading and not asked a question so I was determined to do so this time. Besides which to my fangirl little mind, our trading of tweets and FB comments had practically made us BFFs (ok, so I still do a squee! every time she responds). So, at the reading I'm waiting to ask my question and one girl asked something and she asked "are you Megan?" when the girl said no, she asked where I was and I did a little wave and she said, yeah, we're getting your question in. Big, huge inner squee! Victoria got to me towards the end and asked me how I was and if I had been running (she's recently into running as well) and I asked a question about my love life and then she brought up my half! She said I would finish my half marathon in March and it wouldn't be my last one and then she said I would do a full one next year. I told her I didn't think I had the attention span for that; she said I'd only do one and be done with that.
My intuitive reading sparked some drive and for a week and a half I was super motivated. My distance and frequency increased and then my motivation just died. I did very, very few runs. In mid Feb, I decided to try for 9 miles. I made it 6 miles, mostly walking before blisters kicked my ass. My time was better than I expected so I decided that I could probably make this work. So, procrastinator that I am, I went on about my week and went out of town for a wedding and then on the Monday before the race I looked at some hotels to book a room. Mistake. Every single hotel on the race website under $200/night was booked. I called two of the must call for reservations hotels and they were booked as well. I did a few half hearted searches and started feeling disenheartened. New Orleans was probably not going to happen. I became a little resigned and did no training. Then Annie tweeted me to see if I wanted a roomie and I said absolutely, but no room and no rooms avail under $200. She said she had points for that and was working on a way to run it. We went back and forth a bit. She thought she figured out a round about way to run, then she didn't. I said, hey no worries, you love to run save your points and we'll try another time but Annie said while she was checking prices she accidentally booked it so we were set!
Within a week, I had gone back and forth- not ready, should I try it? I'll wing it, no hotel room, search, search, possible Twitter found hotel room, no Twitter room, no hotel, resigned to not running, maybe hotel, definitely hotel, holy shit, I'm doing this! Friday afternoon, I knew I was going and was excited and just a little nauseated. I also had a slightly sore throat and little earache, but I chanted that it was just allergies as I packed my stuff up that night. Saturday morning, the sore throat had intensified and had approached swamp territory, the earache was holding steady, and just for fun, body aches had kicked in. WTH? I tweeted Annie (yes, we have known each other for years and we're about to share a room, but we had not yet exchanged phone numbers) and said germy roomie, ok? She was equipped with Airborne so I headed to SuperTarget to drug myself into health and then was NOLA bound. I picked up my first ever timing chip and the various accompaniments at the Expo and then spent the night at the hotel, freaking exhausted and feeling bad. I ordered in some pasta and continued drinking hot tea and taking meds. Annie got in a little before midnight and we talked briefly, strategizing wake up times, etc.
Race morning arrived and I woke feeling no worse, but not better. We walked to the starting line, hung out, judged running ensembles, admired shoes, ogled runner calves, and I discovered an upside to feeling sick the day of my first half marathon- minimal nerves! Annie told me she did her first half one mile at a tie and that seemed like a reasonable goal. My main goal was to finish and to breathe. Looking around my corral (the last one), I was hoping to see someone slower and overhead a few people talking and thought I might be able to keep ahead of them. Then I spotted the tail vehicle/sag wagon and hoped I'd be able to not need that. As my corral came closer and closer to the start line, I did have the realization that I would be walking this half marathon. Finally we crossed the start line and I took off walking. I thought about trying a jog, but at that particular moment I felt too bad and realized my best chance at finishing would be by walking.
I kept a fairly good pace, stayed ahead of a few dozen people and the sag wagon. I loved the route. Gorgeous houses and adorable businesses. Many places offering tempting food and drink. About two miles in, I realized I had wrongly blamed my socks for the blisters I had gotten during a long run previously. New purple Under Armour socks did not prevent blisters this go round and now I'm thinking new shoes may be ahead for me. I walked on though and more than a few people passed me. I felt a little nervous as I glanced around for the sag wagon. In sight, but a comfortable distance away. I kept on and more than a few times, I looked for the sag wagon, part in dread, part in hope. Maybe a little ride wouldn't be so bad. Once I got to the 7 mile mark, I felt like I had this; over half of this was done. Somewhere between 8 and 9, I began to doubt my sanity. But when I reached 10, I felt a little relief; only a 5K to go. About the last mile and half, a vehicle passed us and it was along the lines of "oh, hell no, I'm not riding now!" but it wasn't the dreaded tail vehicle so we just kept going (had formed a brief bond with some fellow walkers). The encouragement towards the end was amazing. Runners who had already finished would offer inspiring words, various groups cheerinng, signs, spectators, etc really helped to keep me moving more than I ever expected. One of my favorite signs: "Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit if You're Tired, Keep Going!"
Finally, I crossed the finish line. It was really mixed for me. I was so glad I had done it and in disbelief I had managed to finish, but I was really dissapointed and felt like this one didn't count because I did not run at all. I was really relieved though I wasn't last and I avoided the sag wagon. My medal was really pretty and surprisingly, I actually felt a little better sickness wise, but did hobble from soreness and the angry, angry blisters on the bottoms of my feet. After a few days of soreness, I contemplated things. Now I have new goals in place and I'm looking for the next half (which I'm planning on not "winging", training for, and running)!