Sunday, May 4, 2008

I DID IT! My first HM is in the books!!! **UPDATE AT THE END**

I can't believe it's over! I ran the Avenue of the Giants HM this morning and it was awesome! But I did have an incident on the race course and now have some battle scars thanks to the bumpy ground. Don't worry, I'll share what happened in a minute.

I woke up a few minutes before 6 a.m. today. I was so jazzed that I got a restless six hours worth of sleep. But I didn't feel bad or anything. I had put all my stuff together the night before so I knew exactly where everything was:



After a quick shower, I had an onion bagel. Man, I LOVE these things:



Then it was time to pack the cooler with some food, as Tim and the kids were going to meet me down at the course for the finish and we would eat lunch then (I made a lot of sandwiches in case I was severely hungry; we ended up not eating all of them):



Then I got dressed and was ready to go!:



It takes about 30 minutes to get from our house to the race course. I left early because I knew traffic would be an issue. When I got there, I had to sit in a line of traffic about two miles long to get to the parking area. But I finally got in and prepared for the race.

Time flew and before I knew it we were headed to the starting area. I stood near the back of the pack on purpose, knowing I didn't want to start out too fast. I had thought about my pacing all last night and knew that I would need to force myself to start out slowly to make sure I had enough left in the gas tank when I needed it.

The first four miles were uneventful. But at the four-mile aid station I HAD to use the potty. Unfortunately, it wasn't just a No. 1 I had to do, so I had to wait in line for NINE minutes. OMG, it was ridiculous! There were only five or six people in front of me, but there was only one potty. And for some reason they felt they had to take their time. The only reason I know it was nine minutes is because I checked Garmin when I stopped and I was 48 minutes into it. When I finally got back, it was almost 58 minutes. Ugh! So much for my "goal" time (although I know they say for a first HM you shouldn't have a goal time, just run to finish, blah, blah, blah).

It was around five miles that my body really kicked in. I felt great, I was getting faster and passing tons of people who had passed me while I waited in line at the potties. The course was gorgeous, and the weather was perfect. Not all that warm, and clouds and fog, which was great for running a faster pace. I came to the turn-around and headed back. Surprisingly, the race seemed to feel easier after the mid-point. I felt so good and didn't bonk at all. I took fluids from every aid station (even though I had my fuel belt) and ate two packets of Gu along the way. Everything was terrific and nothing could break my stride.

But then something weird and crappy happened not long after I passed the 10-mile marker. The road we were running on is quite "back country." It's narrow and covered with pot holes and strange bumps in the pavement. It really is a perfect road to hurt yourself on. I was trucking along, feeling great, when it happened. My right toe caught on a bump. You know how it is when you trip and are falling but you try and save it so you don't fall? It's like you think taking a million baby steps will somehow allow you to remain upright, even when you know damn well you are going to be tasting pavement in a few seconds. That's how it felt for me. My right toe hit the bump wrong, I took a million funky baby steps with my upper body parallel to the pavement, and I ate it. Hard. My right knee hit first and my upper body kinda spun so I ended up landing on my left elbow, with the left side of my head slamming into the ground for good measure.

"S#%@," I thought as I peered toward the sky through the redwood canopy. There was only person around me at the time (thank goodness I didn't have a huge audience), and she came to my aid. I got up, saw blood on the ground and realized it was coming from my arm. Well dammit, I had come way to far to let some stupid fall take me out of this thing. So I started running again. I was about half a mile from the aid station, and I stopped and the guy cleaned my elbow up. He offered me a bandage, which I took but didn't put on my arm, and he checked my head to make sure I wasn't bleeding (I wasn't; just had a big contusion that was turning into a goose egg). I thanked him and started the home stretch. Little did I know my knee was hurt worse than I thought, but in retrospect, it's probably a good thing I had running tights on and didn't know before I finished the race.

Despite the fall, that last few miles felt good. When I got to the 13-mile marker, I immediately started tearing up. I could see the finish area and it was just such an emotional thing. Then I saw Tim and the kids. Cue more waterworks. I probably looked like an idiot, crying underneath my sunglasses. Oh well, I didn't care.

I came to the finish line and they read my name over the loudspeaker. The timer said 2 hours 46 minutes and some change when I crossed (Garmin turned off after my fall and I didn't bother to turn it back on; it wasn't very accurate due to the redwood tree canopy and was reading off by 1/2 mile at one point). I don't know my official time yet, but I know I would have finished around 2:37 had it not been for the long potty break.

After it was over, I rolled up my pant leg to look at my knee. I didn't realize it, but my running tights were soaked in blood. Uh oh. As it rolled it up, I saw blood, a scrape - and then a disgusting gash. It made me gasp. I didn't realize I had actually gashed myself that bad. I headed to the first aid area, and two nice guys cleaned up the wound and bandaged it. I have to keep a close eye on it now for infection, and of course my knee hurts now.

Anyway, I have more pics to share. :-)

Me nearing the finish (if you look closely, I look very sad. That is because I am trying to stifle the tears):



Me and my medal:



The medal up close (so much prettier than last year's!):




My elbow owie:




This one is kinda gross, so I am warning you now. My knee owie, up close:



And a couple panoramic shots:






I will post my official time and place later this evening. I do know one thing: I will DEFINITELY be doing another HM in the future!! This distance felt perfect for me, as I'm not fast but have endurance on my side.

Thanks to all of you for your support!! It means so much to me!!! :-)

***UPDATE***

So my knee wound was pretty deep and wouldn't stop bleeding, so I went to the ER. Got three stitches and an antibiotic. Wanna see a pic? Sure ya do:

17 comments:

AAPblog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Running Jen said...

YAY Michelle!!!! Way to go, you should be very proud of yourself! You did awesome, great finish time for your first half! Sorry about the tumble you took, I took one last year finishing a race at Disney, and I had an audience, as it happened near the finish line at Epcot, that sure was fun.

You did great, and I agree with you, the distance of a half is just perfect.

Marcy said...

YAY!!!! CONGRATS CHICA!!! You did AWESOME!!! ;D ;D Wow, that knee looks pretty bad! I'm glad you're ok ;D ;D

Megan Hall said...

Congratulations!!!! Sorry to hear about the fall (and the bad bathroom planning by race administrators - don't they know that a couple miles is all it takes to get *everything* into the flow?) - but sounds like a great accomplishment anyway. Can't wait to hear about the next one...

Mary Gee said...

Wow. You did great! Even injured. What a great race report... what a great race. YAY Michelle!

Running Jen said...

Oh, goodness, sorry to hear you needed stitches! Hope you feel better soon

Jenn said...

Congrats! (And ow!)

Tim said...

We are all extremely proud of you. You are an inspiration and you are my warrior.

J~Mom said...

Congratulations!!!!!!!! What a fantastic job you did out there!! I had to wait in line for port a potties and PF Chang's and I totally know how irritating that is!! Grr!! But you ran a fantastic race!! :>D

Sorry about your knee! I can't believe you had to get stitches!! :<( It looks awful! (((HUGS)))

Amy@RunnersLounge said...

Way to go! That is an amazing story! If you are going to a HM - you might as well make it a really interesting story. Hope the knee is feeling good today.

Running To Stand Still said...

I am probably the only weirdo that thinks its cool that you needed stitches, LMAO.

It makes it a more memorable event ;)

Sucks about the bathrooms. I would be crying like a baby too. So happy that you did so well and are looking to doing them in the future.

Caren said...

Nope Erin, I thought it was cool she needed stitches too. Makes her seem like a tough chick!

Go Michelle! I'm so proud of you. What an accomplishment! I know you must be so proud of yourself too. Take care of those boo-boos now girl!

She Who Makes Waves said...

Congratulations on winning your first half! Yes, you're a winner! What a great race report!

Mendy said...

Oh. My. goodness. You're poor knee and you ran 3 miles like that. Amazing spirit...

YOU DID AWESOME!!! Congrats on a fantastic finish. :-))))) big hugs to ya!!!

BTW, your visors look sooooo good on you. I get all emotional sometimes at the end too.

When's the next one?

Barbara said...

Michelle, you were awesome to run through the pain! That gash looks terrible. Congrats!

Sonia said...

WOOHOO MICHELLE!!! You did it!! =) Everybody gets teary near the finish line, even the stronger ones who can admit it publicly ;-)

This is a pretty crazy accident, I can't believe it! You will have scars from your first half forever lol

CONGRATS Again!! =)

P.O.M. said...

I'm totally late in the game here - sorry.

Yeah for your first half! That is awesome that you finished despite the falling incident. Looks really painful. Congrats!!!