Half Marathon… mission accomplished!

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WE DID IT!!!!! (Check out those awesome shirts my sister made for us!)

I did it!  On Sunday, I ran the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with my sister and it went better than I could have imagined!

Let me rewind a bit to make up for my recent absence on here.  I wanted to post earlier but it is hard to write about your feelings when you don’t know what they are or they change every five seconds. (And yes, I know writing about it can help you figure it out, but it still isn’t easy to do.)
The end of training was decent.  The mid-week runs were iffy.  I would sometimes just do a shorter loop than what was on the plan or sometimes skip them altogether.  I made sure to do the long runs on the weekends.  By the time I did my 10 mile run, I felt really ready for the race.  I was even surprised by how my pace was starting to pick up.  That might be because the end was in sight and that made it easier to push harder.
So race weekend arrived.  I went out to Penn State (where Teresa goes to school) on Thursday and spent two nights.  When she was in class on Friday, she sent me to a store to pick something up that they had for her.  Surprise!  She had t-shirts made for us for the race!  They were black t-shirts with gold glitter lettering and said “We’re only half crazy” on the front and “Team Gio” on the back.  So cute!
We headed into Philly Saturday morning.  The drive in was gorgeous with all the changing leaves.  We went straight to the expo to pick up our race packets.  Once we got our bibs and shirts we wandered around the expo for a bit.  We met our dad at the hotel and went out for dinner.  If you are ever in Philly, I highly recommend Zavino.  The pasta is all made in house and everything is so delicious.  They have a bunch of small plates so we got a meat and cheese taster, some pastas and a few other things. YUM!
After dinner, we hung out at the hotel for the rest of the night.  I laid out all my stuff for the morning and tried to sleep.  I fell asleep quickly but woke up a bunch of times through the night.  My alarm was set for 6 but I was up on my own by 5:30.
Teresa and I got ready and triple quadruple checked that we had everything we needed.  Bibs pinned on and timing tabs attached to our shoes, we stopped at Starbucks before our dad drove us to the starting area.  I got nervous that I hadn’t eaten enough so I had one of the extra gels that I had packed in my bag.  We found the back check, checked our bags and wandered around til we found our corral, all the way in the back.
After a while, the first corral went out.  It took almost half an hour until we finally started.  We set off at a decent pace. I know you aren’t supposed to start too fast but between the weather, flat roads, cheering crowds and exhilaration of passing people, it was easy to go faster than normal.  I saw the 2:30 pace group and told Teresa we should try to stay by them but as we wove through the pack, we wound up ahead of them.
A couple miles in, the course looped back towards the start line.  The first leg was done!  What surprised me was that I was pacing us. I had been worried that Teresa was going to be the one pushing me too hard.  Weaving through people meant that I would cut ahead and hope that she would stick by me!  Every runner for herself when there are that many people around!
After passing the starting area, we were running next to the river.  Teresa heard there was going to be a hill around mile 8.  After mile 7 I noticed a slight incline and asked her if this was it.  She insisted there was a killer hill and this wasn’t it but there was nothing else remotely like a hill the rest of the way so that must have been what her source was referring to.
Every few miles there was a water station. I grabbed 1-2 cups of water and/or Gatorade each time and felt well hydrated the whole way.  I had my first gel about 10 minutes in and then one every 30-45 minutes after that.  I grabbed a salted watermelon Gu at the gel station at mile 8 and had that.  I should have used the last gel I had around mile 10 but didn’t want to slow down to get it so I just kept going towards the end.
I was going strong for almost the entire race but around mile 10 I started to fade and Teresa took the lead.  I was trying to work through my head the best way to tell her that we needed to really slow down.  Approaching the mile 12 mark, I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into or how I was going to finish this thing.  And then I hit the mile 12 mark.  1.1 miles left.  A switch went off and I just booked it.  My lungs were getting tight but I ignored it.  I was starting to get a side cramp but I ignored it.  My legs/feet/knees/arms/body was starting to hurt but I ignored it.  The crowds got thicker.  Teresa and I grabbed hands and crossed the finish line!
Our official time was 2:20:55 and I could cry tears of joy looking at how beautiful our negative splits were.  I am so happy with how well it went and so proud of all the hard work we put in to get here. You can tell how addicting running is because as we sat icing our knees in the hotel that night, we were already thinking about which half marathon to do next year and looking up training plans to do in the meantime.
I’m taking this week off to recover, and possibly next week too depending how I feel.  I think I will be ready to run again by Monday except for my one black-and-blue toe.  Now that I’ve run farther I want to start running faster, so I’m going to train for a 5k.  After that, I found a good winter training plan to maintain, a spring training plan to build up to race training and will decide what race to train for/how intense I want to train when I get to that point.  I also want to add more yoga and strength training to my routine.  I say it all the time, but I swear I mean it this time!
As for the rest of my life… I am quite content with how things are going!  I’m still looking to move but I’m not in such a rush as I was a few weeks ago.  I don’t want to let myself settle in CT because it’s the easy thing to do but I also want to make sure I set myself up with opportunities where I know I will be happy.  I had two phone interviews with a certain company that would be so cool to work for.  I didn’t get an in-person-interview but the fact that I got that far was a nice confidence boost!  It was also nice when they asked if I had a location preference between Austin or CA that I could say I could go wherever I wanted!  Just two months ago I wouldn’t have even applied for the job, let alone been able to pick up and go to any location.  I get to be 100% selfish nowadays and it feels FANTASTIC!  I’m going to spend the next week or two coming up with a more solid plan of what I am looking for.
Now for a little gossip… I haven’t spoken to by ex-bf in a few weeks now so this really is just gossip I’ve heard but supposedly they are still seeing each other.  I can’t really let it bother me though when you look at the whole situation (like how much better off I’ve been lately).  So I guess I wish happiness to them?  (Although I can’t imagine how healthy that relationship could be…)
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