This past weekend I ran the B.A.A. Half Marathon with my mum, brother Sean, and brother’s fiance, Ally, for the first time. It was an EVENTFUL day to say the least. I always work out though so felt I was pretty prepared to run 13 miles. I had increased my running quite a bit in the weeks coming up to the big race, so felt I was in shape and ready to take on this challenge. The day the race finally approached, I had gone out with some friends from High School to enjoy wine and cheese and catch up. I left around 9pm to get a good night’s sleep. For some odd reason, I didn’t sleep much at all, either nervous from the race or perked up from the wine and cheese the night before. But I wanted to indulge a bit since I barely see my friends who live in Boston when I’m all the way in NYC.
The next day we all woke up at 6am and started to get organized for race day. I am fortunate to have such a loving mother who put aside my whole running outfit, the Lululemon shorts we got the day before, the white running tank top we also got the day before (Thanks Lulu) and some thick ankle socks. My sneakers are Asics, and pretty good when it comes to the outdoors; they have good support and are typically what most marathoners wear for long distance. My dad, mum, and I picked up my brother and Ally at 7am, and headed to the start of the race. I had to bring music with me (can’t run without it) so the day before I uploaded all my songs from my “Half Marathon” playlist to my mum’s little mini shuffle because she was appalled I even thought about carrying my clunky iPhone for the race. Check out the songs I love to run to on my Spotify – here’s the playlist.
My dad dropped us, went off to park the car and planned to watch and cheer from the 3rd mile spot, the 9 mile spot and the 11 mile spot, which was nice and something to look forward to on the run. The place was PACKED with runners. Loud music, excitement and nervous energy filled the grassy fields and there were lines and lines of runners trying to go to the porta-potties before it started. We didn’t care for the line, and went behind a bush like some of the other runners. The start time was approaching!
I felt really good for the first six miles of the half marathon. My mum and I ran for most of the beginning together, and I grabbed some water on the way and kept at a steady pace. There were SO MANY HILLS though, which was really challenging / annoying of them. How dare you B.A.A. organization? The temperature was so muggy and hot, 80 degrees, a little too hot for comfort especially when running such long distance. Yes, I know it’s not a full marathon and I envy the people who can actually run that far, but trust me a half marathon is PLENTY.
Mile 9 to 11 honestly felt like a marathon in itself, there was no stopping. I lost my mum somewhere between 6 and 7 miles, but once I started running up the 9 mile hill, I ran into her. She had gotten ahead of me and the expression on her face was one of pure agony and pain. Shame! I felt so sorry for her, she was getting a very painful charlie horse in her feet and needed to stop. She said “Gracie I’m in so much pain,” but I just said, “I’m struggling to ma,” and kept going. I felt so sorry but I couldn’t stop, not with 3 miles left to go.
The amount of pain I was experiencing in my feet and the blurriness I saw with my eyes was just indescribable. I wanted it to be over more than anything. Finally I passed the 12 mile sign, and knew this was it, you are so so so close, don’t stop now. I am normally a really strong person, but I just felt dead at this point.
When I finally saw the sign,”800 meters to the finish,” I thought this has to be it. Why write 800 meters instead of just half a mile? It’s misleading. I knew the finish must be close because more people started cheering. I mustered the last drop of energy I had left and sprinted. And then, the worst thing imaginable happened. I got to the opening where I thought the finish was, and there was no finish line. There were just more runners still running, lots of them, and they were running around an entire track. I wasn’t nearly finished, I had to go around an entire track and had used all my energy on that last sprint!!
Fast forward 10 minutes, and I am in a tub of ice for thirty minutes with 15 medical people around me. Yes, that happened…
From what I remember, I sprinted to the finish (again) and completely over exerted myself. I couldn’t see straight. A cloud of white cast over my vision. I think I must’ve collapsed then because I was suddenly in a stretcher and there were medical people all around me sticking a thermometer in me to get my temperature. It was 107.6 degrees. That is when at least 7 people helped get me into a tub of ice where I had to sit for 30 minutes to get my temp down to 102. I ended up going to the Emergency Room that day in an ambulance with a few other runners who were in a similar situation. I stayed overnight in the hospital with an IV hooked up to my arm. The doctors were testing my levels of CK. This test measures the amount of an enzyme called creatine kinase (CK) in your blood. … The muscle cells in your body need CK to function. Levels of CK can rise after a heart attack, skeletal muscle injury, or strenuous exercise.
I’m so grateful for my family who was there with me until I went up to sleep. I was so tired, I slept through most of it.
So that’s how my first half marathon adventure went. Eventful to say the least. It’s not to say I won’t ever do another half marathon again, but I think for the time being I will be focusing on signing up for more 5k and 10k races. Eventually, I would do another half marathon; just not THAT half marathon. Too many hills and probably cursed with bad luck for me. I finished the half in 2 hours (2:00:004 to be exact), but next time I hope to beat that and get an hour 50 or so.
Good luck to all the NYC marathoners for November 5th. It’s coming up and I really admire everyone running it. It takes so much determination to do it, but please stay hydrated and listen to your body. You don’t want what happened to me to happen to you, trust me! It was a learning experience though and definitely reminds me to always listen to my body, not just focus on the race, and stay in control. Don’t let the fogginess overtake your mind so you can’t see. Stay headstrong and you should get through it.
Have a great weekend!