Things I would do differently:
- Carry my inhaler while running. Do I have allergies? Yes. Do I have asthma? Yes. Have I had asthma attacks before on runs? Yes. And yet, stupid, idiotic, imbecilic, insert-your-own-favorite-adjective-that-describes-a-complete-ignoramus ME didn't carry any of my two dozen inhalers. I know why: I haven't had a running-related attack for a couple months now, have never had an attack during one of my long runs, and took an allergy pill before I left the house, thinking that would be enough. Oh, Lawdy, WAS I WRONG. Right around mile two I could feel my lungs tightening up, and for the next four miles couldn't draw anything deeper than a very, very shallow breath. This sucked. I almost gave up and walked close to the beginning of the attack, but saw a lovely, lovely friend of mine standing on the sidelines who cheered wildly when I yelled her name and she saw me, and this helped carried me through. I kept running, I did not walk. I saw her again just as my demon lungs were opening up and begrudgingly letting some oxygen back into my system, and I felt so much better after my Lori/oxygen hit.
- Bring an allergy pill with me to the race, take it thirty minutes prior to start time. I left the house so far in advance of the race, and was so nervous and, well, running so much, I believe I burned right through it, so it couldn't cover me through the whole two and a half hours I needed it to.
- Try to enjoy the course and the running itself a bit more. This is one I can keep in mind for next time, but I really don't think I could have done it this first time. I was so overwhelmed with the thousands of runners around me, the crazy, intense (but positive) atmosphere surrounding the whole event, and my own jangling nerves I really don't remember a lot of the details of the race itself. Somehow over two hours of running went by incredibly quickly.
Things I would absolutely do the same:
- Rely on my running guru the Magnificent Mindy for advice and my training plan. I whined, she listened. I freaked, she stayed calm. I said, "I'm thinking about signing up for a half marathon," she said, "LET'S DO THIS. Here's what you're gonna need." I freaked out again, she bought me coffee. I was one and a half miles into the actual race wondering what malevolent dissociative personality apparently lurking in some forgotten corner of my brain had signed me up for this, and there she was on the sideline, hugging me fiercely when I trotted over. Running gurus for the win.
[I would just like for everyone to know that I wrote all of the above last night, and am now forcing myself to finish this post before I have a single cup of afternoon coffee, freshly ground and brewed and staring me right in the face over there on that kitchen counter. I am a cruel, cruel task master.]
- The half marathon training plan detailed in the book Train Like a Mother. This is the book and the plan within its pages Mindy prescribed for me, and while I may not have stuck to the letter of its law every single day, I definitely stuck to its spirit, using it as a general guide. The morning of the race I woke up, my brain decided that it was Crazy Time, and I convinced the part of me that was still waking up that I was not ready. I had trained all wrong, all wrong. This was going to be the worst morning of my life, and I had brought it all on myself. Having ample past experience, I managed to beat back most of the Crazies by the time I was starting the actual race, but there were still some trace doubts floating around in there- until my asthma attack. The fact that I was able to keep running through four miles of not even really being able to breathe- then run seven more good, faster miles after? I chalk it all up to a great training plan that had me physically and mentally ready. Well, that and God.
- Ride down to the race with the Amazing Anne. (If you haven't given all your friends alliterative mental nicknames, I don't know what's wrong with you.) She's done all this racing stuff many times before, so she knew right where to park, had a loose pre-race routine in place, plus she's kind and funny and knowledgeable and fast. Hoo. We lined up together, knowing we weren't going to be running together, because, well, she is fast and I am slow and we are both okay with that, but man. Seeing her take off was so fun; it's always enjoyable to see someone do something really well and with great proficiency, except for maybe this guy:
|The six-fingered man: Really good at torturing people.|
- Focus on the cheering crowds and their homemade encouraging signs. Among my favorites: "Run fast, you will: May the 'course' be with you." "You're doing all this for a free banana?" 1st person: "Go, Becky!" 2nd person: "Go, Karen!" 3rd person: "Go, random stranger!" "Worst. Parade. Ever." [Terribly unflattering candid head shot of a shaved head Britney Spears] "If Britney can survive 2008, you can survive 13.1." "I bet this seemed like a much better idea three months ago." Yes, many of the people were there to cheer on their loved ones, but they also didn't hesitate to cheer for every other runner who passed them. The nicest people ever may be found on the sidelines of a marathon, I'm now convinced.