Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hans' First Half Marathon

Can I just say I'm super proud of my husband?  I'm SUPER PROUD of my husband!!!

Yesterday was the day of the Richmond Marathon, Half Marathon, and 8k, and Hans ran his very first half marathon.

Hans first mentioned the thought of training for a half marathon after my very first marathon.  It was a joke.  He really didn't have any interest in training for a half marathon.  Then, by the following summer, I was started training for my second marathon and Mom started training for her first 5k.  Hans decided to go for it too.  He signed up for his first 5k, a small race in his hometown the day before I was to run my second marathon.  He challenged himself, and he did quite well.  I don't want to necessarily speak for him, but I think he started to seriously consider a half at that point. 

Then,  he decided to train for the Monument Avenue 10k.  He signed up for a training team, and stuck to the program quite well.  I trained for that one on my own since I was pregnant at the time, but I ran every step of the race with him.  After that race, he was almost ready to sign up for a half marathon.

Then life got crazy.  I gave birth to Anna, and then Mom got her diagnosis.  I was just getting back in to running, and Hans was just trying to make it through the day.  The day before the half training team started neither one of us had signed up.  That was also the day Mom had to go to the ER.  When we came home, we had a decision to make.  Do we do the half marathon?  I knew my answer was yes.  I needed to do this for me.  Hans, however, was considering just doing the 8k.  Somehow, though, he decided the half would be alright.  I mean, he'd already done a 10k.  Why would he take a step back?  So, he signed up for the half marathon training team.  He'd train on Saturday mornings, and I'd train on Sunday mornings.  This way one of us would always be available to watch Anna.

His first 8 mile run was scary because it was a new distance for him.  The 11 mile run was problematic because Hans was supposed to work on Saturday.  So, we both got up early on Friday morning and I pushed Anna in the stroller while Hans ran next to me.  Eleven miles later, we finished just as the sun came up.  Then we both showered, got dressed, and headed into work.  The twelve mile run seemed like such a long distance, and it was the closest Hans would get to the half marathon distance until race day.  I expected him to come home beat and tired, but he did quite well.  He rested just a bit, but then he met me at work and we went out for pizza together.

This entire time, I continued training, working on my speed and rebuilding my distance.  I was pleased to find that I was starting to improve.  The long runs were a little easier than they'd once been, and my shorter runs were definitely getting faster.  In just a couple of months, I'd gone from 11 minute miles to 10 minute miles, to the occasional 9:45 minute miles.  I wasn't super fast, but I was improving.

Then came race day.  We'd had beautiful weather in the weeks leading up to race day, but the actual day of the race was COLD.  Well, at least for Virginia it was cold.  When we woke up, I checked the temperature: 27 degrees Fahrenheit...brrrrrrr!  We went about our usual morning routine, and then my dad and his girlfriend arrived at our house.  We gathered everything together, piled into the van, and went to the race start.  I think we timed things perfectly, because we arrived just as the race was waiting around in the cold for us! 

We started things out at a nice slow pace.  I told Hans I'd stick with him for the first half mile or so, but since we'd agreed ahead of time to each run our own race, I'd take my own pace after that first half mile.  At the half mile mark, I sped up just a bit, and Hans made sure he was on his target pace for that point.

One thing I noticed was how long it was taking my legs to warm up.  The cold weather was definitely affecting me, but I had no other choice but to just keep running.  I focused on lifting my legs and how my feet were striking the ground.  Around mile 4 the course made a big loop, and I realized I might get to see Hans.  I kept searching the sea of runners heading the opposite direction, and then I spotted him.  He looked great and had a big smile on his face.  We exchanged some happy words, and then we kept on running.

There were some happy moments for me along the run, and I hope to tell you about them in another post, but the important thing I'll note is that I finished under my goal time.  Yay!!  Then, I found my family, snuggled Anna, and waited for Hans to finish.  The race ends at the bottom of a tall hill, so I kept looking at the top of the hill, hoping I'd see Hans as he ran down.  Then, after a little bit of time, I saw a blonde head and a green shirt.  Yes!  There was Hans!  He was coming down the final stretch!

I held Anna over my head, pointed Hans out to my family, and screamed his name over and over.  GO HANS!!!  GOOOO!!!!!  He still didn't see me.  I watched as he came in strong and finally crossed that beautiful finish.  HANS!  HANS!  OVER HERE!  He was finally at a decent angle where we weren't back lit by the sun.  He looked over, grinned, and waived.  I brought Anna in close to me and told my family that I was going to go meet up with him.  I ran down to the end of the chute, and there he was.  "How do you feel?" I asked.  "Hurt."  "You poor thing!  I'm so proud of you!"

The 13.1 miles he'd just run did not go as well as his 12 miler.  He was technically within his goal, but it was hard.  The cold had gotten to him, the week leading up was hard, and the end result was simply that he was tired.  He walked...slowly through the photographers.  I'd ask him if he wanted to have his picture taken and he'd say, "OK." We'd stop, take a few pictures, and then he'd practically beg to keep walking.  I sent my family over to the training team tent, and I led him to the food.  Ah, beautiful post-race pizza! 

A tired, but happy post-race family.
After a long race, we all walked back to the car and then to local diner where we had sausage gravy and biscuits.  Oh, and bacon.  Glorious bacon.  When we got home, Dad used his phys ed training to really stretch Hans out.  Hans gave this amusing grimace which I remember so well from my first marathon.  That grimace that says, "Oh, this hurts so good."  Then he went up to shower.  Once he got out, I left him with Anna so I could shower as well.  After that I was all for letting Hans rest.  He laid out on the couch, while I held Anna, and we all watched TV.  Hans wasn't the only one who was tired from the day:
Post race exhaustion.
So, it was a good day for all of us.  This may not have been his best race, but I know it won't be his last.  In case I haven't said it enough, I am so proud of Hans.  He rocked this race out!

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