Wiggs’s first half: The good, the bad, and the lost toenail

Wow, I thought I was in pain yesterday, but today my legs and feet feel like someone took a hacksaw to them. Luckily for you, that means I’m camped out on the couch with nothing to do but recap my race yesterday. Oh, and what a race it was. 25,000 people, a boatload of local bands, and more Cytomax than a person could ever want.

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But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

In preparation for the 5:15 a.m. wake-up call, Molly, Dave, and I got our shizz together the night before.

Half marathon expo, hair trial #3 012

…Then we went out for an ENORMOUS pasta dinner. People, lemme tell you: I’m definitely one of those people who needs to carbo-load two nights before a race rather than one. I’m on a three-day, ahem, cycle (if you will) and 8 hours is just not enough time for my body to, uh, “compost” the food I’ve eaten. IfyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo. So the morning of the race, I woke feeling a little bit full and heavy. Good to know for the future. God, that was awful to write so I hope you’re at least learning something from my experiences.

Anyway, I put that thought out of my mind once I got to the starting grounds. The excitement was infectious.

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Not to brag or anything, but Molly and I make quite the cute pair of runners if I do say so myself.

The reality of the race began to set in for me as I took off my jacket and looked down at the t-shirt Dave made for me over a year ago. I don’t know if I’ve told you guys this story, but for our anniversary two years ago he surprised me with matching TEAM AWESOME shirts for us to wear when we ran our first half together. It was cute, if not a little stressful (this was before I’d ever run more than 3 miles at once). Dave’s mom also came down to run the half – she’s a seasoned marathoner – so it was nice hanging out with my loved ones before the pain began.

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Do you like how I put the DTag on my shoe incorrectly? I’m so lame sometimes.

Anyway. The race began and I was feeling pretty great. Awesome music was blasting over the loudspeakers and I felt light and loose on my feet.

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Here’s me, about 30 seconds in:

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We got to the first band, and people, lemme tell you: live music during a race is inCRED. Every time I heard the strains of a rock song rolling back up the course toward me, I got a little bounce in my step and sped up so I could get to the band and hear what they were playing.

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However. The route turned east and suddenly we were headed straight into the sun. Here’s what I thought about that:

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This was approximately mile 3, or right around the time I felt a familiar tightness start to creep into my left knee. While the course wasn’t very hilly overall, the first little bit of elevation turned the tightness into a gradually intensifying pain. At the next water station, I took a walking break and tried to give my leg a wee rest. You can sort of see the fear in my eyes in this photo. I was thinking: “Holy EFF, I still have ten more miles of this crap and my knee is already giving me trubs. What am I going to doooooooo?” (Yes, I did draw that syllable out into a howl in my head.)

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Unfortch, the five-second walking break didn’t really do much for me (big surprise). I slowly came to understand that my knee was just gonna get worse and worse. By mile 6, I felt like someone had shoved a knife up under my kneecap and was twisting it with glee.

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Sweet Dave was running alongside me this whole time, telling me how cute I looked and how excited he was for me (and taking photos of me, obviously). Still, my ears were ringing with pain as I got to mile 8 I glanced at the clock. My last mile had been an 11:23. Not good – at least not for me.

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The next thing I knew, Dave was telling me to smile for the camera and I burst into tears.

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Isn’t that so sad?! I mean, I love to feel sorry for myself (who doesn’t?), but seeing that picture really makes me want to time-travel back to yesterday and give crying-Wiggs a big hug. Good thing I had my Dave there with me to talk me through it. I was just so frustrated, because cardiovascularly (did I just make that word up?) Β I was having an easy time. I wasn’t breathing hard and I was able to hold a conversation or have a sob-fest without panting. The reason for my slowness was simply my pain – my stupid, weak knees were keeping me from running as fast as my lungs and heart would let me.

As soon as Dave took the above picture and saw my face crumpling, he came straight back to my side and whispered, “These are going to be the hardest miles of the whole race, but as soon as we hit mile 9 you’ll feel fine.” We stopped at the medical station about five minutes later and they gave me two Advils. I steeled myself against the pain in my knee and pushed ahead to what I knew would be the steepest hill of the entire race.

People, apparently I’m really good at running hills. I was passing mofos left and right, even with my knee pain, and by the time I got to the top I had left a whole army of suckers in my wake. Here’s what I thought about that:

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I find it hilarious that a couple of Advils and a great run up a hill could take me from tears to ridiculous happiness. I guess that’s what the runner’s high is for. At this point, we entered a tunnel – which apparently was full of Prozac-flavored air, because I suddenly felt GREAT and started skipping and cheering.

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The next thing I knew, I had blown by the 10-mile marker and I was zooming past person after person. (During my slow, painful miles I had dropped back into a slower corral – that’s the only reason I could pass anyone.) By the time we emerged from the tunnel, I was pretty much on drugs. That’s how great I felt. The pain in my knee was still excruciating, but I didn’t care.

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Suddenly, I could see Seattle.

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Talk about an adrenaline rush, dudes. As we rounded the bend, I could see the arches of Qwest Stadium’s retractable roof, and I knew that despite my throbbing knee I would be able to push through the pain and run hard for the rest of the race.

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By the time we hit mile 11, I was pretty much sprinting. I had tons of energy because I hadn’t been pushing myself, cardio-wise. It was flippin’ sweet.

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I ran down the ramp into downtown Seattle and could hear cheers reverberating across the entire city from the stadium where the finish line was. I wanted to scream with exuberance, but I didn’t because that would have been embarrassing and I like to pretend to have decorum sometimes.

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Soon, Dave put the camera away because we were less than a mile from the finish line. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been finishing every practice run holding hands – to make sure that we look good when we get to the end of the race. Well folks, I effed it up. About 200 yards away from the finish line, Dave reached out and grabbed my hand and I suddenly burst into tears (again). I just love him so much and I was so proud of myself for finishing, and so thankful that My One did it with me. I fought to keep my sobs in check because I wanted to look pretty for the professional photo of us – but no luck. The result, I believe, will be a picture of myself half-crying, half-smiling, which promises to be pretty high on the ugly scale. Oh well. Hopefully you’ll also see the incredible feeling I had, knowing that my months of training and hard work had been successful.

The four finishers:

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Nice face, Dave.

So you’re probably wondering what my time was. I’ll admit, I feel a little sheepish about how slow I am – but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m new to this and haven’t really figured out a way to keep my body from breaking down on long runs. My overall time was a 2:15:13. Molly got a 1:46. Hot damn. Dave, whose best time in the half is a 1:13, made sure to point out that yesterday was a record for him, too: his Personal Worst. Har har, jerk.

As we were leaving the stadium, I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said “Toenails are for sissies.” So I’ll conclude this post with an ode to my right middle toenail, which is currently losing its battle to remain a part of my foot.

Toenail 001

Middle toenail, I hardly knew thee. You managed to make it through months of training, but alas, the actual race was simply too much for your little body to bear. The entire tip of my toe is a blister full of blood and pus, and I know that when it breaks you will ride off into the sunset, along with my ability to wear open-toed shoes. I’ll mourn your loss, and paint toenail polish on my skin on the day of my wedding so I don’t look like a weird, four-toenailed freak.

Toenail 002

So there you have it, friends. It was great. I laughed, I cried, I cried some more, I licked dried salt off of my upper lip, and I lost my toenail. I can’t WAIT for the next one…on SEPTEMBER 13!!! Surpriiiiiiiiiiiiiise!!! Get ready for a new round of half-marathon training, this time with physical therapy and a focus on getting FAST.

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34 Comments to “Wiggs’s first half: The good, the bad, and the lost toenail”

  1. great race – and way to run through the pain. (btw – your time, still better than my best, by less than a minute!)

    take care of that knee, so that your next can be pain free.

  2. Congrats!! You made great time if you ask me πŸ™‚

    I can’t wait to run the half with you in Sept!

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I knew you’d rock it πŸ™‚ I’ll be there to cheer you on in Sept!

  4. Congratulations, runner! Your time is nothing to sneeze at, and I know I finished my first half half-smiling half-crying too . . . is there some other way?

    Whatta studette with the lost toenail and all!

  5. CONGRATS!!!! That is awesome, especially with that biotch of a knee. I hope it feels better soon. SO exciting that you’re signed up for another race – you caught the bug!!

  6. Congratulations!! I just hope my first half goes half as well! πŸ™‚

  7. Well, crap! I had intended to cheer you on during the race, but I missed it. When I heard about the race on the news, I wondered if this was THE race. . .lost track of you when you took a blogging vacation. . . :-z

    To make up for this, I want y’all to know that Wiggs’ race was front page news in the Sunday SEATTLE TIMES. The photos were gorgeous ~ here’s a link to coverage on their web page:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/2009393566_marathoncolor28m.html

  8. Who needs a middle toenail?!
    Congrats, Wiggs! That’s awesome timing for your first half AND in pain: I’m in awe!

  9. Congratulations Wiggs!!!

  10. Yay! Congrats on the race! Here’s to many more. πŸ™‚

  11. Toe nails really are for sissies.
    Congratulations on your first half! Way to push through and finish strong. Hopefully the knee will heal up quickly.

  12. You’re one tough bia! You did awesome! I can only hope one day to train for a half. keep up the good work. sucks about the toenail…

  13. Yay Wiggs!!!! Congratulations lady…I’m so proud of you! I’m debating signing up for my first 1/2 in November…and this has totally inspired me! I think I’ll do it…I think.

    Thanks for the fabulous re-cap, you had me laughing and close to tears. I’m sorry about your toenail, but I think that is quite the badge of honor! πŸ™‚

  14. Aw, thanks for all of the congrats, you guys! What a great thing to wake up to this morning! (I had an Internet-free afternoon yesterday – but more on that later.)

    Andrea and Jenny Marie, you should totes run a half. They’re so much fun. And if I can do it, you can. For rillz. I’m NOT a badass in any sense of the word.

  15. Bravo! Times a million. Super happy for you! Looks like you seriously rocked this thing. GO YOU!!!

  16. Congratulations!! Running through pain is exhausting mentally as well as physically so you are a bit of a super trooper.
    I almost want to show you a photo of my wedding feet to see if you guess which 2 toenails are just polish painted on skin! But as my husband still dry heaves at my feet I will refrain from showing a stranger.
    It must be awesome running with Dave, you guys are the cutest.

  17. Nice work! I went down to cheer for a friend and got a little choked up too. I can understand crying as a participant, but crying as a spectator? It was just so cool to see everyone there running and see all of the people cheering them on. Races are so awesome – congrats on finishing your first half and for signing up for your second!

  18. beautiful, lovely wiggs. thank you (and dave) for this 1/2 marathon play-by-play. I laughed, I cried! Above all else, CONGRATULATIONS. I am so, so proud of you! This from the girl who had a mental block about swimming more than 50 yards at a time. WHAT a triumph! and you did it in style, i might add. not a thriller-worthy photo in the lot. (although in hindsight it might have been a nice tribute to mj had you stiff-legged the tunnel of ecstasy.)

    so excited there’s another 1/2 on the horizon.

    • I KNOW! I’m SO not a distance person…but running is way better than swimming because the scenery actually changes the longer you go. Funny story: at mile 10 we passed a guy wearing an RIP MJ sign on his shirt and Dave freaked out with excitement!

  19. Awesome job! That’s so great that your loverboy did it with you, and was your personal photog throughout. Sucky that your knee hurt so much throughout, but you showed serious strength and heart for pushing through and finishing. I’m doing a 1/2 on the 13th of September too! Whoo. Have fun with this round of training. (stay away from going DOWN stairs for the next couple of days, they’re a biatch post-race). πŸ™‚

  20. Woohoo! Amazing job!

  21. Congrats!! Your time is great and I would have been thrilled with it! I’m looking for a decent half in Vancouver that isn’t one of those ultra-fast-road-running-series that I can work towards.

    • Thanks, MRS! I’ll let you know if I find one…too bad about the murder in the woods, because that would be an awesome place to have a trail race. 😦

  22. wow i dont even know where to start. this is an amazingly inspiring post! you have made me realize that if i set my goals, that all things are possible. my first half is at the end of sept and i am so anxious and nervous but also excited. you did amazing in your race and i am so happy for you! What an amazing way to kick off your soon to be married life! Big congrats girl, and thanks for sending inspiration my way through your journey.

  23. Yay!!! Congratulations! That is a fantastic way to end a race – all smiles and excitement!!

  24. I’m so late catching up, but I just wanted to tell you I am SO proud of you!!!!! You seriously rocked it. I can’t believe how many ‘in action’ shots you got! lol =) Your time is so amazing too- wow!!!

    *3 cheers for Wiggs!!!*

  25. I haven’t been checking blogs recently (a flooded apartment has stolen all my attention) so I’m sorry on my delayed response but Congratulations! I’m running my first half on Sept 13th- are you running the Chicago?

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