Today’s blog post is long overdue. I have had a lot going on in my personal life- getting a new job, trying to find (and failing) an apartment in a new state while starting the new job, training for Team Challenge, etc.- that the blog fell to the wayside. I have not given up on it! It’s just on a little hiatus.
I would be remiss if I didn’t do a post today. Today was the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. For the past 16 weeks, I have trained with a team of amazing people to walk the half marathon with Team Challenge, CCFA’s endurance training and fundraising program. We were out bright and early on Saturday mornings, rain or shine, hot or cold, racking up the miles to get to this point. I am floored by how much I accomplished. Prior to March (our first training), the most physical activity I had done in recent years was hike 1-2 miles with my dog, and even that would make me wheeze. Here I was walking 10 miles and, while I was in pain, it was doable. That is an AWESOME feeling.
Of course, Team Challenge is about more than just training for the half marathon. It’s about raising critical funds for research and education to bring us closer to finding a cure for these debilitating diseases. Thanks to the unbelievable support of over 60 of our friends and family, Dan and I raised $7,378 for the race– more than $1,500 than our last time fundraising for CCFA. I am so humbled by the support and gratitude everyone showed in helping us raise this amazing amount of money. The other day I totaled up the fundraising we’ve done for CCFA over the past four years- we’ve raised over $21,000. Amazing!
We arrived in Virginia yesterday afternoon. It was a jam packed day- check in at the hotel, meet up with the team for the pasta party, carb load, and then sleep to wake up at 4 A.M. for the race today.
I’m not really sure how to adequately explain the pasta party. Aside from the obvious (eating pasta), there are speeches, cheers by each team, inspirational words from honorees, and a fundraising recap. It was a pretty awesome night celebrating our accomplishment before the big race.
I got to bed around 10:30 P.M. and before I knew it, it was 4 A.M. and I was grudgingly getting out of bed to get dressed and ready for the race. I am not used to getting up at 4 A.M. let alone eating that early, so forcing myself to intake something beforehand was a struggle. But before I knew it, it was 5 A.M. and we were loading up the buses to head to the start line.
It took about 30 minutes to go from the hotel to the race site but we arrived around 5:45 A.M., with over an hour to kill. So we walked around, used the port-a-potties multiple times, stretched, complained about being up so early and watched the sun rise.
One of the highlights of the morning was getting to meet Stephanie, the awesome chick behind The Stolen Colon. Stephanie is one of the IBD bloggers I’ve been talking to online for a few months and I was super excited to get to meet her in person. She is having surgery on Monday to remove the remainder of her colon and yet she still did the entire half-marathon! Talk about an AWESOME, MOTIVATED chick. I wish her lots of luck in her surgery and will be thinking about her Monday.
Let me interject real fast with a weather report. It was HOT. I’m not talking about a balmy 75 degrees- I’m talking about 80 degrees + hot with minimal shade around the course. We knew this leading up to race day, so we made conscious efforts throughout the week to hydrate, but no amount of hydration could really prepare me for how hot it was today.
The race officially started around 7:20 A.M. (or at least that’s when Dan and I crossed the starting line and our chips started tracking).
I was doing well the first half of the race. My calves were burning but I anticipated that from my training. I learned that I have naturally tight calf muscles and that no matter how much I stretch or foam roll, I’m going to have some pain when I try walking above a stroll pace. The hills were the killer though- they weren’t steep inclines, more like rolling hills that went on for what seemed like FOREVER.
Dan and I started at a 15 minute mile pace but that slowed down quickly as the course became sunnier, the temperatures rose and my legs burned. We cruised through mile 1 – 6 hydrating and finding as much shade as possible.
I hit a wall around mile 7. I’m not sure if it was the heat, the fact that we hadn’t trained in very warm weather, or that I had been awake since 4 A.M., but I started to not feel well. Dan continued on but I sadly ended up taking the sag vehicle to the end of the race.
The vehicle dropped me off about 0.1 miles from the finish line so that I could still cross it and medal. While I would have rather earned the medal by walking the entire 13.1 miles, I am still so incredibly happy with how much I accomplished over the past 16 weeks. In the end, with the sag vehicle ride factored in, I crossed the finish line at around 3:20.
Dan finished the race in about 3:30. I am so unbelievably proud of him. When I first said I was going to sign up for Team Challenge, he wanted no part of it. So I trained with the team and he slept in on Saturday mornings. Halfway through, he decided to sign up for it and maybe walk it. But he wasn’t fully committed. About two or three weeks ago, he decided he was in. He had done some walking prior to it but no real long walk leading up to it. I thought he was crazy to continue on but I am so proud of him for finishing it.
He told me afterwards that since I started the race for him, he wanted to finish it for me. Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?
Now we are sore, laying in bed, trying to stay awake until 9 P.M. until we reach a socially acceptable time to pass out.
Next time I try something so physical, I think I’ll start with something easier, maybe a 5K :-)?