The homeland half

Today was the Inaugural Homeland Memorial Weekend Half Marathon and I came in first place! No, really, I did!

OK, in fairness I was the event’s creator and the only [real] participant. But still, I ran (and walked) 13.1 miles today. Which is probably more than you ran today so please don’t judge me for bragging. And not only that, but I did it with a 6 a.m. start time. (Crazy lady!)

The course was pretty simple and was measured (and marked) by my dad, and we drove it last night so that I could see where each mile point was. It started from my sister’s house, went east out of town to Airport Road then cut to the left onto Masterson Road and left again at Red Bridge. The turn-around was about a mile past The Flying Horseshoe Ranch.

It was a straight out-and-back which meant that all of those blasted hills I had to run up on the first half of the course were hills to run down for the last half! (Which helped!) What helped more was that my dad was waiting at each mile marker to offer water and take photos. Talk about a support team!

And now for the boring mile-by-mile recount:
My 12-year-old nephew was going to do the race with me but I knew before Mile 1 he’d be bailing. Just past Mile 2, we were on a walk-and-water break. And by Mile 3 he joined my dad in his car. By Mile 3.5 Haden was ready to rejoin me.

At Mile 4, my sister, Celeste, had come out for a quick cheer and a photo op. At Mile 5, Haden hopped back in the rig with my dad – having decided he really, really was done. Mile 6 was a chance for a quick water break before I headed the additional .55 miles to the turnaround.

At the turn-around (Mile 6.55! Yay!) my jacket came off and I was on the downhill end of the race. Just before Mile 7, my sister showed up again with water and the kids for a final cheering session before heading home to feed everyone breakfast. And just past Mile 8, as I turned back onto Masterson Road, the winds picked up. Cold, hard, miserable winds. And that’s also where my legs started to get mad at me.

By Mile 9, I was starting to wonder what I’d gotten myself into. Not so much with today’s race, but with the thought of my marathon in October. That was also when my mind started to mull over some unspoken words that need to be spoken to a friend, which started to make me a bit frustrated because I fear they’ll go unsaid forever. Which isn’t exactly motivating!

At Mile 10, I requested my jacket back. The winds were frigid and by this time my legs had given up on me to the point of no running – where for the two miles before I’d been on a walk-run routine. It was frustrating to know that I’d be walking the rest of the race, but I knew that I’d be able to walk fast – it’s just that my legs couldn’t do the running thing anymore. Or so I thought…

By the time I got to Airport Hill (a steep and long-ish hill that I’d run up at the start of the race), I was ready to run down the hill. I continued walking again at the base of the hill and was soon upon Mile 11—Just two miles to go now!! And that 12th mile was hard! I had the cold wind, the sore legs, a nagging question about if I could actually do a marathon, and the thoughts of unspoken words to keep me down.

But then, just before rounding the corner for Mile 12 – The Final Mile – I saw my nephew riding his bike toward me. He decided to come out to cheer me on for a bit. It made my heart sing, and my smile came back to my face. At that point, dad headed back to the house and I started to feel a bit more confident – albeit with sore, un-running legs!

And, finally, about two blocks before the finish line, I managed to run again. The heavy winds were complicating that, but the final 100 yards or so was down an alleyway where the wind was blocked – and at the finish line were my parents, my sister, my nephews, and my foster daughter. They even had a ribbon for me to run through and a ‘1st Place’ ribbon for my efforts!

I’m tired now. Really, really tired. But I’m well-pleased with my efforts; especially since I didn’t actually train for this. (Oops!)

The Loch Ness Marathon is in just 18 weeks and I’m pretty sure my running partner for that race won’t bail on me (though she’s allowed to run on her own since she’ll be faster than me!). I don’t expect to run it all, but I do expect to finish. I guess I’d best get training!

[Photo credits to my dad, Roy Cook.]

6 Replies to “The homeland half”

  1. Woot woot, you are a running rockstar. Who cares if you ran, wlaked or crawled… you did it… and of course YOU WON! Keep on keepin cous!

    1. Thanks, Cuz! It was hard going, but I have to admit that I didn’t really train so I should just be happy with finishing! I hope we get a chance to run together again soon! xx

  2. Hey you, well done. You finished, and you won!
    Reading your blog post was so scarily parallel to my own half marathon experience – I too hit the wall at mile 8 and then resorted to a blackmail technique of just getting to the next mile marker before having another breather. I suspect the only thing that kept me going was the other runners around me – that and the crowds. There is no doubt that support makes a huge difference, even if you don’t actually know the people out there cheering. Just the sheer fact of cheering is a great boost (remember that if you’re ever anywhere near a race!) I too struggled through miles 9, 10 and 11 before getting my second wind at mile 12 and making it through to 13.1. I also thought, there’s no way I can ever run a marathon – but with training, I know I can. I thought I’d never run a 10k or a half marathon but I’ve managed both of them. You’re a runner, I have every faith in you making it to the finish of the marathon with me in October.
    go runners go!

    1. Oh, that wall sucks! Sadly, my lack of training meant that when I got my second wind, I still couldn’t get my legs to run! But, I only wanted to finish and I did that!
      I’ll be getting a few more long runs in this summer then I’ll need to find a couple of routes to run in Stirling. That’s going to be fun!!

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