Six months of training finally ended today when I crossed the finish line with a friend at the GRU Augusta Half Marathon.
My plan from the very beginning was simple - finish the race with a smile on my face. That's exactly what I did Sunday morning.
It wasn't easy.
If this is your first half-marathon, here are a few things you should know.
EAT CARBS BEFORE THE RACE
Carbohydrates will be your fuel during the race. Your body will perform just fine for about an hour with the carbs already in your system. When you start feeling tired and need to slow down, that's when your body is using fat reserves as fuel, which is not as efficient as burning carbs.
Don't forget, pick up your race packet Friday, February 20 from 3-7 p.m. or Saturday, February 21 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Julian Smith Casino in Augusta. Check out the vendors' booths while you are there.
My ankle is sore. I haven't been able to run in two weeks. It's supposed to rain during the race. These are all challenges I will have to overcome. I've trained. I'm ready. Let's do it!!!!
After twisting my ankle a few weeks ago, I keep reinjuring it during long runs. Now I'm wondering if I can actually run 13.1 miles. Maybe 7-8 miles is my limit.
On Sunday I attempted a 13.1-mile practice run along much of the GRU Augusta Half Marathon course. After 7 miles my ankle began to hurt. I had to stop after running (and limping) 10 miles. My ankle pain was too intense.
This is the same ankle I broke almost two years ago.
On Sunday everything seemed to fall into place - the weather was nice, I didn't have to babysit, and my asthma symptoms cleared up.
For three days I loaded up on carbohydrates and water. I was completely rested, fully hydrated and ready to go the distance.
I parked my car at Savannah Rapids Park in Martinez, Ga., popped some energy chews into my mouth, washed them down with lemon-lime energy drink and walked downhill to the main Augusta Canal trail known as the Towpath.
The Augusta Sports Council posted some good news for procrastinators on their Facebook page:
"Don't forget to use the code MLKHALF to get $15 off your entry fee to the Half Marathon! The code is good for Monday only!!"
That drops the entry fee to $55 from $70.
To register, go to the GRU Augusta Half Marathon general info page, click on the registration link and sign up.
Scrolling through my old running app, I noticed I did a lot more mileage when I trained for the Augusta Half Marathon in 2013.
I ran 3-4 miles every other day, and did one long run on the weekend. I followed a schedule that had me add one mile a week to my longest run.
One month before the race I was able to run 10 miles. I did it, but I was wasn't happy. Doing that extra mile each week was exhausting.
Sure, it's cold outside. That doesn't stop me from training.
With the temperature outside at the freezing mark, and a wind chill that makes it feel much colder, I just put on a few extra clothes and start running. The hard part is figuring out what clothes to wear.
On my run Monday morning, I regretted those extra clothes after the first mile.
Gloves, hat, sweatband (to keep my ears warm) and a T-shirt under my usual long-sleeve athletic shirt were overkill. I probably could have comfortably run naked.
For many years I have been looking for a healthy alternative to sports drinks.
I've tried bagels, nuts, raisins, trail mix, chocolate milk and protein shakes. Nothing seemed to work as well as a bottle of sugar water. I'll take a couple of gulps before a run and I'm ready to go.
Last week I read a story about how eating a banana and drinking water provides about the same energy boost as a sports drink.
America's favorite fruit can help fuel an endurance run. This is not news to many runners. It is news to me.
I do my long runs on weekends during daylight hours. If I want to run during the week, I have to run in the dark.
I find running at night to be disorientating. I can't quite tell how fast I'm running or if I'm keeping a steady pace. The flash of headlights from passing vehicles doesn't help.
Two years ago I learned to be very cautious while training at night. I had to twice dodge a vehicle to avoid being hit. It didn't matter that I was in a crosswalk and had the right of way.