The Cleveland Half Marathon 2011: My Incredible Journey

So all I want to really do right now is go to bed, but I figure that I probably should blog about my 1/2 marathon experience while it is still fresh in my memory.

What an incredible experience! As you may know it was also my birthday today (42) so that made it extra special. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We got up a 4:30am in order to get the dog out and get downtown by 6am. Mike and Zach dropped me off and then went to find a parking spot. Their plan was to meet me at the finish line! I was meeting the group of the “Living Person” runners at the cathedral for a picture. This group was coordinated by Father H.Paul Kim from John Carroll – his goal was to get at least 125 people to run in either the 10K, Half or Full marathon to commemorate the 125 anniversary of John Carroll University. It turns out, he got 155!! He is such a great guy. He even had a special Mass last night for runners and their families followed by a pasta dinner. We attended to support the group and it was a very touching service.

After the picture, we made our way to Brown’s Stadium – about a 15 minute walk. When we arrived we had just about enough time to go to the bathroom before starting (which is very vital for me! Only twice this morning, however!!). The national anthem was sung and then we started. I was concerned at first because I was outside the fenced in staring area at first, but that worked itself out. Thankfully my iPod worked as it was supposed to and I was off. It was an emotional start. I was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd of runners, and the size of the crowd of spectators cheering us on and overwhelmed by the wonderful feeling of getting to this moment after such a long time of training. My legs felt good and strong and I started to hold myself back from going too fast. That was the big warning that everyone kept telling me about. The adrenaline of the day and running with that big group can make you have the tendency of running faster than you really should. I finally settled in about mile 4 and felt really great. It felt like it was really going fast then. I remember seeing the clock at the 6 mile marker and thinking that I was okay for time. I finally took a water break then and again at mile 9 and 11, I think. Some was powerade and some was water. That seemed to do the trick. I did not need to eat the “sports beans” filled with caffeine that I purchased at the Expo the day before!

The route was pretty cool. I enjoyed going through the neighborhoods a lot. There were a bunch of people out with their coffee cups cheering us on and some random bands playing in the neighborhoods too. Plus it felt pretty easy in terms of hills. There were just a couple and they weren’t that bad. I think I’ve run worse ones just in Hudson!

I felt myself getting tired around mile 11. At that point I just got into my music and focused in on seeing my family at the finish line. I saw Zachary hanging over the fence cheering for me and I held back the tears again. I pumped it and finished strong as I was trying to beat 2:30, but ended up a bit over that – 2:31:12 to be exact. I’m happy with that for my first time for sure!! Plus my other big goal was to do it with no walking. Aside from taking a few steps to get the water, guzzle a couple of sips and toss the cup, I ran the entire thing with no walking. That is a win.

After the finishing line, I was handed my medal, which is way cool (the guitar spins!), and I grabbed some water and chocolate milk and found the fam.

Even as I write this I cannot believe that I did this! I cannot believe that I, Lisa Pillsbury Ramsey, the girl who despised running in gym class, and the woman who did not start running until two years ago ran a 1/2 marathon – 13.1 miles without stopping. I remember signing up for this back in December and really second guessing myself. At that point the furthest I had ever run was 4 miles. I couldn’t conceive of running that far or for that long! I remember thinking, I could either drive to Columbus or run 13.1 miles – yikes! The fact that I accomplished this has little to do with my abilities, that is for sure. It is all due to the fact that I was diligent with a realistic training program, had great supporters and advice givers, and was just plain old determined to do this!

I firmly believe that if I can do this, anyone can. You just need the desire, the commitment and the plan. So, what is my next goal? Not sure yet, but I know one thing. There WILL be a next goal. I’ve got the bug now. But first, a reward – tomorrow is my spa day. Goal setting will have to wait for a day or so!!! Mama needs a massage!

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