Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Break Part 1 - Half Marathon

I can't believe that Spring Break started just a week ago. So many big things have happened this week! Our week started with a trip to Atlanta. The original plan for Spring Break was actually to go to Savannah on Thursday for a few days and meet up with my college roommate and her family to run a half marathon there. But, since they scheduled David's surgery for Thursday we had to make a new plan! That plan included switching our half marathon to one in Atlanta the week before. So we woke up early Saturday morning, put the kids in the car, and hit the road. The first few hours were a little rocky because for some reason Lily kept getting upset about random things and crying. I'm not sure what finally calmed her down - getting to watch Frozen, stopping for lunch, or the threat of a consequence, but she finally got her act together. She even earned her three stars (my car behavior management system) so that she could get a treat the first time we stopped for gas! We hit up Chick-fil-A for lunch and let the kids get some energy out on the playground while we ordered. Then we loaded up the car again and ate on the road. We managed to avoid traffic the whole way until we passed Macon. For some reason there is always crazy traffic right around McDonough. Saturday was no different. We kept watching out ETA on the GPS climb higher and higher, and thankfully we were able to take an alternate route that saved us about 45 minutes of waiting. We still sat in quite a bit of traffic though. Finally we could see the Atlanta skyline in the distance! I still get a sense of nostalgia every time we drive into the city for the years that we lived there and that skyline meant we were almost home. We got off our exit, drove for a few blocks, and spotted our hotel up ahead. Then we stopped. Traffic wasn't moving again, at all. We inched closer and closer, and finally when we got close enough to the entrance we saw a sign that said we had to enter around the block. Agh! So we got in the left lane to turn, only to get stuck behind a taxi that decided to pull halfway up onto the curb and completely block our lane (we were on a one way street). We couldn't pull around because traffic wasn't moving, and he just sat there oblivious. We are not typically horn honkers, but we laid on that horn. He finally realized that we couldn't get around him, so he got back in his cab. Whew! Oh wait, nope. Now he pulled up to the intersection and just completely stopped in the lane. Like on the street. Apparently he was picking up people from our hotel, and instead of going around the block and turning in he decided to just make the street his own personal parking space. The people came out, loaded up their suitcases, and then went back into the hotel. We were about to lose our minds. We started the honking again. He didn't move. Somehow we finally managed to get around him and pull into the drive of the hotel. When we checked in we found out that they were filming a car chase scene for a movie with Jamie Fox, and that's why the traffic was so atrocious. I was very thankful that we wouldn't have to contend with any traffic the next morning for the race! We purposefully chose a hotel that was a block away from the race start.

As soon as we made it up to our rooms, Cherie arrived! Our next order of business was to walk to the race Expo at the World Congress Center. Again, thankful that we chose a close hotel so we didn't have to venture into that traffic again. We walked through Centennial Park and saw the finish line for our race! Then we continued on to the Expo. Along the way Brian decided to stop and let the kids run around in a field while Cherie and I went on. We picked up our numbers and shirts and checked out the booths in the Expo. We decided not to try to dried leaves they had for samples. Ok, so they weren't actually leaves but they were weird dried plant things that looked scary and gross. Nothing else really caught our eye so we went back to find Brian and the kids. They were playing near some purple trees that Lily of course loved since she loves all things purple. By the time we made it back to the hotel it was after 5:00 and we had made plans to visit with some friends for dinner. We got our car from the valet and headed to their house. We had a great time visiting with them and letting our kids play to together. I wish we lived closer to Atlanta. We have so many wonderful friends there that we love! At 8:00 we reluctantly headed back to the hotel so we could get the kids to bed and I could get to bed early too. I helped Brian tuck them in, then went over to the room that Cherie and I were sharing. No joke, as soon as we turned off the light the people in the room next to us started making all kinds of noise. Our room had an adjoining door with them, and it seriously sounded like they were standing in our room talking. We tried to drown it out with a sound machine and the AC fan, but they were still audible. Thankfully sleeping is my super power, so once I fell asleep I didn't wake up again. Poor Cherie had a much harder time, and Brian said he could hear them at 3am! (They were between our two rooms.)

Sunday morning our alarms went off all too early and Cherie and I got ready and headed to Centennial Park for the race. A cold front came through, which is great for racing, but that period of time when you're waiting for the race to start is pretty much miserable! We kept our hands in our sleeves and pockets to keep them warm, but pinning on race numbers was nearly impossible. After walking through the park we headed to the street with the start corrals. We found corral C, but couldn't find a way in. Apparently the reason that we were walking in the opposite direction of everyone we saw was because the entrance to all corrals was in the back! So we turned around and made the walk again. I'm pretty sure that Cherie hated me at this point, but it was too late to turn back! At 7:00 the first wave started, and we started walking up toward the start line. Six minutes later it was our turn and we were off!

Going into this race, I really wanted to get my best half time. I felt really well trained and with the cold weather I really thought I had a shot. Within 5 minutes of starting I quickly started to realize that this may not be a possibility. I knew that this race would have hills. But I completely and totally underestimated how many hills there would be! Let's just say that I thought running the Ringling Bridge 4 times in a 10 mile run was going to be a harder task than the Atlanta hills. In reality I basically ran the Ringling Bridge continuously for 13.1 miles. There were literally only two times in the entire race that I was on level ground and felt like I might be able to get in a rhythm. I was either going uphill or downhill the whole time! I had made a last minute decision to do some intervals in this race, and I am so glad I did! I don't think I would have made it without them. I ran the first three miles with Cherie, and started my intervals at mile 3. I ran for 8 minutes (sometimes 9 if the interval ended on a downhill) and walked for one. Unfortunately I messed up my watch somehow, so I wasn't able to use the intervals on there where it beeps at me. Instead I resorted to good old math skills. I felt pretty good until I exited Piedmont Park after mile 9. I turned the corner and looked at a neverending uphill. I almost walked so many times. Instead I did crazy runner things like talking out loud to myself, making grunting sounds like tennis players do, and letting out little yelps of achievement. I made it to my next interval and I was never so happy to walk. According to the elevation that section of uphill was about a mile, and when I reached the end of it I started to feel pretty good again. There were downhills every now and then that helped me catch my breath. Then mile 12 came. More neverending uphills. Typically I skip my last walk interval, but with that uphill it wasn't going to happen. There was some more crazy runner behavior, and I pretty much talked my way to the finish line.

Pretty much as soon as I stopped running my legs stopped working properly. I don't know if they were numb from cold, completely fatigued from hills, or just not getting enough blood, but I felt like they were unattached from my body. It's like I was walking on unstable wooden poles that may or may not move when I wanted them to. This was my fifth half marathon, and I've never experienced immediate stiffness and fatigue like that. I was pretty certain that I was going to need a wheelchair for the next few days. (No comments about how I actually did need a wheelchair after a previous half marathon.) Right after I crossed the finish line Brian called me. My fingers were so numb that I could barely figure out how to get out my phone and answer it. He told me that the kids were absolutely freezing so he was going to come say hi and then take them back to the hotel. The poor things were popsicles! Caroline was crying because she was so cold! I made them take a picture with me, and then Brian took the three oldest ones back. Lily wanted to stay with me and go find Cherie. I hobbled on my sad excuses for legs to the other side of the park and grabbed some chocolate milk on the way. There is nothing like chocolate milk after a hard race. It's one of my favorite things. I half fell to the ground to attempt to stretch for a few minutes, but it pretty much did nothing. It wasn't my muscles that were hurting, it was my joints and ligaments. But it sure felt good to sit! Now Lily was rethinking her decision to stay with me and was complaining about how cold she was. Cherie and I helped each other to our feet and got a picture by the finish line, grabbed our boxes of food, and walked back to the hotel. I took the most amazing and possibly longest hot shower of my life and felt much better after.

We decided to walk down the street for lunch instead of trying to mess with driving when half the roads were closed. We were the first people in Ted's Montana Grill, and I totally embarrassed everyone by wearing my race medal. Whatever, I earned that thing! I can't really eat for a while after a race, so I ordered soup and salad that I barely ate. At least Brian and Cherie actually enjoyed their food! Our waitress was super nice, but she kept referring to my kids as babies or "the babies", so I'm pretty sure they weren't too pleased with her. She did keep bringing them lemonade though, so she at least had that going for her. By the time we left the restaurant was full and we felt like quite the trend setters. We walked back to the hotel, said goodbye to Cherie, and headed to Marietta for the second part of our trip.

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