My First Half Marathon – walking down memory lane

Not sure why….but I am walking down memory lane today.  It’s been kind of fun.  This blog was written a while back after my FIRST half marathon.

April 17th, 2011
Lawrence Kansas
Kansas Half Marathon
My FIRST ever!!

One of my team mates suggested we ‘get together’ as a team to celebrate and run a race together! This suggestion was made in the fall of 2010. Sounded like a GREAT idea so we picked a place that was central for easy access for all of us. There will be an entirely separate blog about that get together and how much fun that was though. I started training at the end of 2010 for this half marathon.

I knew I wasn’t 100% and I hadn’t been for several weeks. My piriformis muscle flared up and was very angry at me, not to mention the sciatica I’ve been dealing with for quite a while. I went into the race with no expectations, well, I expected to do as well as I could do. I had rocktape ( running from the bottom of both feet to the middle of my back helping hold me together! It felt great though.
Fast forward……April 16th – my nerves were running through every emotion known to man. I had feeling of PRIDE, fear, victory for my journey, sadness because my family wasn’t with me, JOY for the team mates that were with me, sadness for the team mates who didn’t make the journey. Literally, every emotion possible. I finally crawled in bed about 9:45, about 45 minutes later than I wanted, but that’s OK. I didn’t expect to sleep much anyway so 45 minutes wasn’t going to matter!! I cranked the AC down so it would be cold in the room as well. I slept like a rock only waking up one time AND I fell right back sleep. I was very thankful for that. 5AM the alarm goes off. WOO HOO…RACE DAY!! I lay back down on the bed for about 30 seconds after I shut the alarm off, but realized I needed to get up and start getting ready. Nice hot shower to get the muscles warmed, dressed and started getting the legs moving. I decided I needed to walk outside to see how chilly it really was and quickly decided that I WOULD be wearing my insulated sleeves! It was a beautiful day, but quite chilly none the less. I started stretching out and warming up the legs fairly early so the piriformis would be as happy as possible. My brother in law, Lee, came into my room at 6:15 and did some elbow to the piriformis stretches that helped as well. 6:30am, the team met in the lobby and we were off to the race site.

There were already lots of cars at the site and people everywhere! We arrived 45 minutes before the start. This allowed time for a quick walk to get the legs warmed. A quick phone call to my wife, and visit to the port-a-pots! One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with running is that there is not an age, size, or any other factor that comes into play. I very much enjoy watching people as they get ready for the run. Some folks questioned me about the tape on my legs, which I happily answer, “it’s holding me together.” I visited with several of the pacer’s for the race to finalize where I thought I should run. I had a pretty good idea, but asked around anyway. I decided I’d run with the 2 hour group. I thought I could hang with them fairly well. About 7:15 I moved toward the starting line and started getting my iphone ready with my tunes, as well as getting my walk meter up and running. Then an interruption…WHAT?!…A phone call! Like an idiot, I answer it. It was my nephew who was there at the race trying to find me. I told him I couldn’t talk and had to get my phone ready for the race. I hung up on him and attempted to get everything going again. HE CALLED BACK, LOL, I ignored that call in a frantic race to get my phone ready. I was trying something new with walk meter this race. I had set the application to post to my Facebook automatically at every mile. This was the perfect way for my family to follow me since they weren’t there physically. Very much in spirit though!! If you look at my heart rate monitor, you’ll see how fast my heart was pounding at the beginning of the race! It was definitely pounding away rather hard. 3…2….1…..GO….and we’re off….I, Jerome Merlau am officially running my FIRST half marathon!!

Mile 1-3 are filled with hills, YUCK! My piriformis doesn’t like to run hills!! This portion of the course took us around the Haskell Indian Nations University campus then off into a neighborhood. HILLS! That’s ok though, I just ran my race about 20 yards behind the 2 hour pacers and was doing just fine. I was determined to take in the sights and sounds of the course as well, there were people in their driveways clapping as we ran past, which was cool. I even saw one guy in his house slippers and house coat, taking pictures. I yelled at him, ‘Hey, you look comfy.’ I ran past Dwight (a team mate’s husband) and nearly goosed him for fun, but decided against it for fear he’d hall off and deck me! LOL. Miles 1-3 were at a 9:22, 9:14 and 9:06 pace respectively.

Mile 4 we transitioned onto the new running path in town and headed north for about a mile. This was a nice peaceful very flat surface to run on. We then zigzagged through a neighborhood sort of heading north to 8th street. There were more people out watching, clapping, ringing bells etc. That was a lot of fun. At this point I tried some gu for the first time. I’d stopped at all water stations for a sip. Taking the water helped my lips which typically get very chapped when I run. Mile 4 – 6 were 9:00, 9:00 and 8:38 respectively.

Mile 7 we turned south on Massachusetts! It was VERY cool to get to run down this popular street in town. I pulled one ear phone out so I could hear the people clapping and cheering as we ran down the street. I was watching for my team mate Nicholas as he was ahead of me and I knew we would be passing each other soon. I waved at him and yelled, ‘Nicholas, LEAVE NOTHING, YOU’VE GOT THIS!’ The sound just echoed off of the buildings and I got emotional. Remembering how 15 months ago I would never have done this, remembering my family and friends who had helped me here to this race, to this street!! At the turn around, about mile 7.5 or so was my sister and her family to cheer me on. That was awesome to hear somebody yelling my name and clapping just for me! What a moment of pride I experienced!! From this point forward, I knew what to expect from a course/road condition at least. I was feeling fairly good at this point still, not much pain to speak of, heart rate steady, just enjoying the run taking it all in. Miles 7 -9 were 8:55, 9:00 and 9:00 minute miles respectively. Not bad I thought.
This is me making the turn!
at the turn

Mile 10 brought us past the starting area again and headed back into the hills of the neighborhood. Still feeling fairly good, I still had the 2 hour pace group in my sights around this point. Then I hit the hills on the back side of the campus, WOW!! Who knew that your hip flexors could hurt so much, LOL! Mile 11 is when I feel apart. I was going up a hill when my legs just stopped running all on their own and I found myself walking for a little bit. I walked as quickly as possible to the top of the hill I was climbing. I knew I could run again when I hit the top and I was right. I hit it again and was able to pick it up again, passing those who had passed me while I was walking. I was doing well, and then just before mile 13, I found my legs walking again. This worked out perfectly though. I looked up and there was another team mate, Molly. We stopped, hugged, encouraged each other and off we went. I was able to pick up the pace from there to the end, but wow, did it hurt!! Miles 10-13.1 were 9:07, 9:25, 10:02, 9:14 and 8:41 per mile. We finished on the track with people cheering on both sides of the track, which was an amazing feeling! My friend and team mate Nicholas ran in the last few steps with me and I greatly appreciated that!

When I finished that race I was (and still am) on cloud nine! I am a half marathoner who will run many more, what an amazing feeling to be able to say that!! There were hugs from team mates and my sister’s family, high fives, congratulations all the way around. I finished 22nd out of 35 in the 40-44 age group and ran an official time of 2:02:29 with a 9:21 min/mile pace.
My VERY FIRST Half Marathon Medal!

Spark People team mates who also ran in Lawrence
Larry, Nicholas, Me, Molly, Sheila and DwightyBob

Statistics from my Garmin

Sorry it was so long, but I felt I needed to include the details.