Monday, November 22, 2010

Seawall Half Marathon Recap!

This post is going to be long and, of course, picture heavy, so in case you don't have a lot of time to read it, I'll start with this:

I did it!!! I ran my first half marathon and have the medal, the pretty, pretty medal, to prove it! Want to see a close up? I love it! Kelly was right when she picked this race out for us - she said that their website was really pretty and the medals were bound to be's perfect!

OK, onto the recap. If you recall, I declared my intention to run this race back in May. I started formally training for it the end of August, when I joined my running club. I was prepared, thanks to both the running club and the guidance from my running guru, Helen...but one thing that I had no control over was the weather - and boy, was it a hot one on Saturday. Late November in south Texas - it was 67 degrees and the humidity was running high. The race started about 20 minutes late - we were far enough back from the starting line to not know what was going on, but Jeff was up front and later said it looked like they were having trouble with the timing electronics. All I know is that it was getting hotter and the mosquitoes were biting and I wanted to start running, hopefully away from them! Finally about 7:50 am we started - woohoo, my first half marathon!!!

I love this picture of the runners snaking along the course...and the really cool thing? Both Jenny and I noticed it - as soon as we started running, you could hear the quiet pounding of hundreds and hundreds of footsteps - it was breathtaking, listening to all of us run.

The course had us doing a loop through "Beach Town" - it was about 3.5 miles, I think. You'll have to forgive me - I have runner's brain bad right now (couple that with C.R.S. and there isn't much hope for accuracy at this point, lol) so I may not be remembering things exactly. Anyway, I was running pretty steady for that part. Just after mile 3 I tried to eat my first Shot Blok, but my stomach wasn't doing well and I couldn't bring myself to chew it...I ended up spitting it out. I was carrying my handheld water bottle and did drink often, but it was hot, my stomach was nervous, and I couldn't bear the thought of ingesting anything more than water and a couple sips of Gatorade at the aid stations for quite a while. Still, the running was going pretty good at that point.

We made the turn onto the Seawall, and began the long, long run down it. I think it was about 7.5 or 8 miles. It was hot and humid, and the sun was beating down on us. Although our times were staying steady with a 12 minute mile pace, I figured that wasn't going to last. I began to need to walk a bit - maybe for 20 seconds at a time? Anyway, even with that walking, we kept up the 12:00 mile pace until mile 9, which I think is a miracle considering how hot it was. Have I mentioned the heat? ;)

So. We ran and ran. It was nice that there were always a lot of runners around us - I love that about big races! There is a huge sense of "we're all in this together" and I've never experienced it so much as I did in this race...something about knowing that we all are trying to run 13.1 miles really brings everyone together. The aid stations all had themes and everyone was really friendly and encouraging as they gave us our hydration (and offered PowerBar Gels - I didn't take any, though). A couple of things were bugging me - one, the zipper on the pocket of my hand held bottle (that I had my lip balm and my fuel in) was giving me trouble and I pretty much needed both hands to zip it back up, which was a pain considering it was slipped over one hand. I kept getting into it to get my lip balm. Wish my shorts had a pocket for that. The other thing? I wore a pair of compression liner shorts under my regular running shorts - figured that might help with the comfort/possible chafing issue on this long sweaty run. I wore them the previous week for the 6 mile run and they felt fine, but on this run, they bugged me and every time I approached a porta-potty, I debated running in and stripping them off. Although the lines weren't long for the porta-potties, I never wanted to take the time to change, so I just suffered through them for the entire race. You try and test out every possibility during training to avoid something like this happening, but it did. Oh well.

Still running. Lots of spectators on the course. I was looking for both Jeff, and Kelly and her husband, Chuck - and found Kelly first, around mile 6, I think. I was so so so happy to see her! Chuck got it on camera:

This is when I spotted Kelly, holding a bright pink sign with MY NAME ON IT!!! And she was ringing a cowbell - love it!
And this is the beeline we made for her...
KELLY!!! I was never so happy to see her smiling face!

Poor Kelly - I ran up and gave her a big sweaty hug. I think I even hugged Chuck, too - seeing them really invigorated me and gave me a second wind. I can't tell you how GREAT it was to have personal support along the race course!
I like this picture because I look happy, and I want to remember that, not how hard it was. Which is what I believe I said to Kelly as I hugged her - "this is so hard!"
Love that she had the water station crew pose with my sign!
And then we were off again...A few minutes later Kelly drove past us, honking and waving - so awesome! Coming up to mile 8, there she was again! Looking a bit less invigorated at that point, I was.
Quick pose for posterity, and we were off AGAIN (say that in a Forrest Gump voice).

A little bit later, we came upon Jeff, and he had even made a sign! OK, not quite as fancy as Kelly's, but I appreciated his effort:
Can't miss a photo op!

So. Still running...with some walking thrown in. We would run, then walk, then pick a trash can along the route to start running again. Toward the end, it came down to either Jenny or I saying "trash can" and we knew we were going to either start running or walking...I think we need to have that printed on a running shirt - "trash can" - no body will understand it, but it has meaning. Deep, deep meaning, lol. Have I mentioned we are still running? My gosh, 13.1 miles is a long freaking way to run!!! Around the 10 mile mark, Jenny got the look in her eyes that I've seen many times during our workouts - the one that says "let's just get this over with as quickly as possible" - and she decided to try and keep running when I took another walking break. No problem - we all have to get through things in the way that works best for us. We were getting close to 83rd St., where we would finally turn off of the Seawall and start making our way toward Moody Gardens. At that point, I could hear an ambulance in the distance, coming our direction. The traffic was backed up, thanks to us runners and the nice policemen stopping the cars so we could cross the street, and it took a few minutes for the ambulance to get up to us. Just as it was approaching, the woman running behind me called dibs on it! I had to laugh - it was good to know that everyone was suffering through the heat! And apparently that's why the ambulance was called - the heat really got to a couple of runners. Hope they were ok.

It became a matter of survival at this point - on the one hand, I only had about 2.5 miles left to run, but on the on the other hand, I still had 2.5 miles left to run! I ran for a while with a woman named Carol who was doing 50:40 intervals, and then I ran with a man who was (jokingly) mad at his wife for talking him into running a half marathon. When I asked where she was, he said "in the car" - ha! Smart woman. Then came the last, oh, half mile? We ran down the center of Moody Gardens, where Kelly and Chuck were, once again...I sure wished that was the finish line, but nooooooo...still had to run around the back of the joint. Chuck got a picture of me:
And I knew it was almost over. As I ran around the back, I could hear the announcer calling out names as they crossed the finish line, and I was so happy to hear Jenny's name called - I had about a quarter mile to go at that point. I rounded the bend and saw almost everyone from my running club, clapping and cheering me on - woohoo! And then I heard my name called over the loudspeaker - I was FINISHING MY FIRST HALF MARATHON!!!!!

You can see Kelly in the picture, still holding my pink sign! Ricky Bobby says I finished the race in 2:47 - not too far off my anticipated time, and not bad considering the heat.
Happy, happy, happy!
Just past the finish line - Boy Scouts handed out Otter Pops, and then I was handed a bottle of water, but where was the medal?!? Finally another Boy Scout handed it to me...but didn't put it around my neck, and my hands were full of the other stuff! Luckily Kelly appeared and put it on me, which I think was most appropriate considering she was the one who talked me into doing this race in the first place!
I like this picture because you can see Jeff and Kelly reflected in my sunglasses.

Jenny found me and we posed for our traditional post-race picture:
First time with bling!

Then I found the grass and sucked down an Otter Pop - great post-race treat!
Jeff kept trying to get me to drink water, but I was all about the frozen treat!

Then Kelly surprised me with a present:
Love the wrapping!

And that's when the tears came:
She had a necklace made for me that says "13.1" on the copper disc and "Seawall" on the silver disc - such a thoughtful, sweet thing to do, and everything just hit me at that point. I was a blubbering mess for a bit after that!

More pictures - my running club and our medals:
l. to r.: Coach Joni, Tracy, Brian, A.J., Darrell, Doug, Coach Dale, me. The weather conditions in this race were so similar to our 12 mile "death march" run that we dubbed this the "Galveston Death March" - affectionately, of course!

And of course, the post-race food:
BBQ sliders!

I could only eat a bite - my appetite always takes a while to come back after a long run. But that's ok, I really got the food for my awesome pit crew:
My husband, Jeff

From driving me to Galveston, to getting me to the starting line, from all of the photography and making sure I had everything I needed, thank you - I couldn't have done it without you!


  1. oh girl I got (tired and) choked up reading this.
    Im so proud of you and cant believe how fast the time went.
    it feels like last week we were emailed about this race.

    lovelovelovelovelove from Austin.

  2. Congratulations! You must be so proud of your accomplishment WOW is all I can say.I too teared up reading this anything is possible when you make the commitment to do it!!
    When and where is your marathon race gonna be? Just kidding

    Savor the moment you deserve it.

  3. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so, so, so, so happy for you and darn proud of you, friend! :-)

    Loved reading your recap and cried. I admit it. Grinned liked the Cheshire Cat, too.

    Pics fantastic, details so much fun to read, and the bling is super-cool!! And what a sweet gesture from Kelly. But Jeff gets my vote is Best Hubs, making his own sign and all. THEY definitely make a difference, don't they?!

    "... as soon as we started running, you could hear the quiet pounding of hundreds and hundreds of footsteps - it was breathtaking, listening to all of us run." I had this experience the first time I ran with a group last summer. It was beautiful. I know what you mean. Totally different than running w/ music and missing that 'unity.'

    And your PR? Fantastic! ESPECIALLY considering it was your first Half AND the heat/humidity. Brutal.

    *HUGS* from Orlando!!! And big smiles, too!

  4. Wonderful race story! Congrats on your first half!!! It looked like a great race and after party. I hope you have many more races to look forward to!

  5. Congrats! Nicely done. It has been fun to watch your running progress from just starting to completion of your first half-marathon. What an accomplishment, and here's to many more!

  6. Wow!!!! YOU DID IT!

    I loved your descriptions of it all!

    You rock!!! :)

  7. Congratulations, Shelley. What an awesome achievement! Bet you never thought this was in your future three years ago? Amazing and empowering.

    I love your Kelly-bling and your medal as well. Soon you will look like Mr. T!

    What a difference a week makes, when I was in Galveston the week before, I felt like an Otter Pop the entire four days. Texas weather.

    Again, congratulations on your great achievement and personal triumph. I hope you are enjoying it. You deserve it!

  8. wow woman! you are my running hero!


    You are awesome. Awesome. My most favorite part of this: you call it "your FIRST half-marathon". Keep your eyes toward the future, my friend!

  10. I hardly have words to say Shelley. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes because I'm so damn proud of you! I've been thinking about you all Saturday.


    And you have given me confidence with this post, enough for me to sign up for my first half in April. I've been delaying that but no more excuses. I want to be like you!!!

    Well done my friend.


  11. Oh good Lord I'm bawling here!!! AT work!!! So very proud of you Shelley...I knew you could do it...and what a terrific friend you have in Kelly....such an awesome post. :)

  12. Joining the line of the criers here. I am so proud of you Shelley. So proud. You have beaten all sorts of odds and stereotypes to about what can be done in the weight loss world.


  13. And the tears came here, too!
    Congratulations, Shelly! You did great!
    Another role model for me!

  14. Okay. I either need more kleenex in my office or we're going to have to stop doing things like racing and accomplishing things and being so awesome. So proud of you! YOU DID IT! You did it! I mean, like really really!

  15. Oh. And LOL at Helen! I told you so. Hahahahahaha!

  16. Wow. You've reduced all of us to tears. What a wonderful report. And how great to have such good friends to support you all along the way (and I mean more than the race.)

    Thanks for sharing the experience with all of us, Shelley.

  17. Ooh, and I forgot to say, PRETTY medal!!!

  18. Loved this post Shelley! I have to admit, I got a little teary at the end with the present from Kelly - love it!

    Way to rock the race! You have come so far in your journey and I am so glad to be such a tiny part of it.


  19. This post gave me chills but then again it's very cold here.
    I love all the photos of you. You look so happy. Love the medal too. Such a huge feat and success to move through. I'm proud of you and your courageous spirit.

  20. Congrats, Shelley!!! I did my first half yesterday, too and I thought the same thing...13.1 miles is a looooong way! LOL! But, we did it! So happy for you!

  21. I'm so proud of you and so happy that I got to share the experience with you. Well, not the running in the heat experience but you know what I mean.

    Great job. Somehow I doubt that this will be your par but you always remember your first and that feeling of crossing that finish line. You are awesome!

  22. Congrats on the marathon!! I have an eventual goal of running in one, but I have quite a ways to go. :-)

  23. LOL @ Helen telling you "I told you so!" -- too funny.

    What an accomplishment! I went to the gym on Saturday morning and I was thinking of you while working out.

    I know you have a hard time hearing it but you do INSPIRE us!

    I want to be like you when I grow up! Teehee!

  24. I am really proud of you. It's kind of fun being the pit crew, especially when you can't finish the food!

    Now get ready for Austin, Runner!

  25. that IS a preeeeetty medal!!! You really looked like you enjoyed yourself out there! You're all smiles in all your pics =) congratulations girl! big HUG!

  26. Ahh congrats! What an amazing accomplishment. I can't wait to try my hand at a 1/2 this summer- after I'm trained and ready, of course.

  27. I am so so so happy for you and proud of you. You looked great and your time was great. I never realized that you were as height challenged as you are. I could see it in the picture of you w/ the club.
    I am still in the midst or Bar Mitz. guests, the last family leaves tomorrow, but I had to read your recap. come on now, priorities!
    How are you feeling now?

  28. You are so awesome! You did it and it is inspiring. How cool to have your friends with you and your running club. Great job! I'm glad you made it and had such a good experience.

  29. I LOVE this post! thank you so much for sharing and...CONGRATS ON YOUR HALF!!!! You are amazing and so truly inspiring to a new runner like myself. And, thanks for your comments on my blog. I appreciate them so much. someday I hope to do a longer run too!!!! for now...maybe a turkey trot 5k on Thanksgiving??? still thinking about it :)


  30. Found you from Robins blog. CONGRATULATIONS..Great job and enjoyed reading your post! have a blessed Thanksgiving!



    Congratulations on your first half, I knew you could do it!

  32. You sure have great supporters and congrats on doing the race. Cool medal!

  33. Totally awesome, Shelley! Totally awesome!

  34. Wow, Shelley (& Jenny & Marisa!) Way to go! Thanks for taking the time to spell it all out for us here too, very interesting.

    I thought the medal was so cool, a seashell! Perfect for our Shelley. The pics and story was perfect. You look like you are actually having fun,[despite the compression problemo!] but it might just be all that pride showing. And rightly so!

    Super pic of you and Jenny post race.

    I don't think I could have handled a bbq slider either, but I'll bet Jeff was willing to get you whatevvver you wanted on the way home!
    Congrats, sweetie.
    Happy Thanksgiving! Chrissy

  35. Speaking of late to the game - I just read this Tuesday morning and I'm actually all filled up with joy for you. What an amazing huge accomplishment, and while I know it must have been hard, your pictures belie that because you're smiling and upbeat in all of them. I bet you're STILL walking a foot of the ground today after such a great showing. You absolutely rock Shelley.

    I have your list you posted awhile back about "things I didn't know would happen when I lost the weight" posted in my kitchen and draw inspiration from it everyday. Congratulations.

  36. Awesome you!
    Of COURSE you did it!
    No doubt there...never was any!

  37. Tears here too!
    You're amazing!
    Thank you for sharing your accomplishments here. It's a beautiful thing.

  38. Great race, great medal! Congratulations--the half is such a huge accomplishment.

  39. Hi Shelley! I just ran across your post while googling the Seawall Half...I ran it too! And yes, it was HOT! I thought it was never going to end after we turned off of Seawall onto 83rd! Congratulations on finishing! Isn't it the best feeling ever? I did my first half in Feb this year (California's Surf City) and then my 2nd in May (Illinois) and now this one. It's a fantastic addiction, I think! ;) Welcome to the world of medal earning 13.1's a great group to be a part of! :)

  40. Congratulations! What an awesome run and recap! Love the pics! You look so happy. Great job!

    Winks & Smiles,

  41. Congrats! You have made an amazing journey and I have loved "watching" part of it.
    You did great.
    Love the necklace idea!

  42. Congrats! You have made an amazing journey and I have loved "watching" part of it.
    You did great.
    Love the necklace idea!

  43. Congrats! You have made an amazing journey and I have loved "watching" part of it.
    You did great.
    Love the necklace idea!

  44. Congrats! You have made an amazing journey and I have loved "watching" part of it.
    You did great.
    Love the necklace idea!

  45. That was so amazing to read! Thanks for the awesome account! It's so motivating. My first half marathon is coming up in a couple of weeks and I was starting to get cold feet and doubt myself... until I read this. Thank you!!

  46. I went back to read this post since you told me you ran the inaugural race last it really makes me sad that it was canceled this year.

    Isn't it so tiresome to have that awful heat even in November?! It's hit or miss, I suppose.

    Sounds like you had a great race!


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