Ok, so I'm afraid this post is going to be really long and self-indulgent. You've been warned!! Read on at the risk of getting bored!
So I ran and finished my first (?) half marathon race today. Why I had so much anxiety leading up to this race - I'm not sure. After all, I've run 13 miles and more several times, so it's not like I was worried I couldn't run that far! Maybe it was something about timing chips and it being "official". Or maybe being that I'm slightly competetive and running with/against others made me nervous?
Whatever the reason is, I felt a lot of pressure headed into today.
I slept pretty well with a lot of running dreams. I woke up shortly before my alarm went off - Marc was already up. As the weather forecasts had warned, it was grey and rainy. My first order of business was to make some coffee to, well, help with doing some business.
Dark roast went into the Keurig and I started to get ready. I was a little hungry, but decided not to eat anything, because I usually don't on my runs and they say not to do anything different the day of the race then you do in training. Only other runners that have had issues totally will get while I was so thrilled when I was able to take a crap shortly before we left. I excitedly said to Marc "I POOPED" - like a toddler waiting for some praise while potty training!
Here we are right before leaving:
We loaded ourselves into the SUV at 7:10 AM. As we drove it started DOWNPOURING and I wondered what the hell was wrong with me - was I really up at the crack ass of dawn preparing to run 13 miles in cold rain? Was this really the same woman who just a couple short years ago used to drag herself out of bed at 10:30 AM on Saturday and sit at the computer playing games for a couple of hours?
We arrive and check ourselves in and get our timing chips. I make another trip to the bathroom and all seemed well, but I popped a couple of Immodium just in case. It was really chilly, so we sat in the vehicle with the heat cranked. Then it was time to get in line. Marc gave me a kiss and wished me luck (the 10K and 5K runners started one hour after the halfers). As I stood there shivering at the start line in the rain I again wondered what the hell I was thinking.
There were a couple of guys in front of me, one squatted down like a sprinter and when the horn blared, he took off like a bat out of hell, as did some others. I had my MP3 player on and kept reminding myself to just run my pace and not burn myself out. My goal was to finish with an average 8 minute mile pace.
Mile 1 was slow - 8:15 - so I let myself speed up a bit. Mile 2-3 went by fast and I started getting into the groove. At mile 3 it started downpouring again. But I started passing people who were fading and felt like I was really cruising through mile 4. We were right in the suburbs and I felt good despite the rain. We made a turn to head back out of the City.
I was soaked but ok until mile 5.5 as we headed out into farmland - big open fields and the wind started really blowing hard. So mile 6 sucked - and I was only 1/2 done. Fortunately the rain was tapering off and stopped by mile 7.
I was steadily passing both men and women at this point. However a girl that I had passed earlier suddenly passed me. She had a long ponytail that was dripping wet. I tried to resist the urge to race her, but we ran neck and neck for about .75 miles. It was then that we hit a steep hill. After running this race, you will never, ever convince me that weight training isn't good for runners. On some nasty hills it became very obvious which racers had weight training and which ones didn't by how quickly they could conquer the hills. I was able to once again pass ponytail girl.
Miles 8 and 9 were long straight stretches and during this time, I was chasing a girl in a tight blue racerback tank. I thought she must be FREEZING - I was in a long sleeve shirt that was plastered to me and I had to keep opening and closing my hands that were pretty stiff and cold. I had caught up to racerback girl but I was about 100 feet behind her and it seemed like she was suddenly running my same pace. I couldn't make any headway but was reluctant to push myself to run much faster still having 4-5 miles to go.
I was concentrating so hard on racerback girl that it actually scared me when ponytail girl passed me on my right. We started climbing yet another hill and at the top, racerback girl stopped running and pulled a pink concoction out of her fuel belt and began drinking. This was my chance! She resumed running before I got to her, but I passed her easily and left her in my dust. Ok, there was no dust, it was too wet, but I didn't see her again.
Ponytail girl began pulling away from me - she was really moving - the rotten bitch. Oops I mean good for her! I didn't think that I was going to be able to keep her pace so I was just hoping that she had turned it on too much and in these last 3 miles she would start fading. Mind you, I had NO IDEA what place any of us were in and how far back in the pack I was. I calculated that she looked much younger then me, so at least she wasn't going to be competing against me in my age group.
My left IT band was getting quite tight, but I wasn't in pain. I realized this might be from running on such cambered roads so I moved over to the right side of the road. Much better.
About mile 11.5 ponytail girl took a moment to look behind her to see how close I was, which was not close at all. I knew I wasn't going to catch her. Oh you rotten bitch part 2. BUT the good news was that I was feeling great and with only 1.5 miles left in the race, I knew I was going to finish and finish quite respectfully, so that brought a smile to my face.
At mile 12 we turned onto the last stretch and joined up with the 10 and 5K walkers and runners, so I was in a good sized crowd for the first time. I began dodging strollers and walkers. It was here that I took off my headphones and soaked in the atmosphere. I was squishy wet and received smiles and thumbs up from the 5 and 10K'ers who had started after the rain stopped and must have known that I had done the half.
Then it was there - the finish line. I made a mad dash and crossed the line and saw "1:39:09" - WOO HOO! I had done it! I had run an official half marathon!
My mother had came to see me finish and took a pic:
The halfers got a medal just for finishing.
I grabbed some water - although with conditions, I hadn't sweated very much and wasn't that thirsty. I sucked down a banana and Mom and I waited to for Marc to finish his 10K.
He came running across the finish line.
Here we are:
We waited around for the awards ceremony and for them to post results. Unfortunately, they had a problem with the timing chips and announced that they would not be having the ceremony, because they had no results other then the 5K'ers. Most people had left anyway, because the temps had dropped even more. I was frozen to the bone and we took off.
Later in the day, they did get everything straightened out, and posted the results:
97 people ran the half marathon
I placed 14th overall
I was the SECOND FASTEST FEMALE (behind ponytail girl - the rotten bitch part 3)
I was FIRST in my age group
Marc placed 2nd in his age group
Not too shabby, I guess. I would have like to have placed first since I was so close - thanks for the advice to "run faster next time", Mom - I wouldn't have thought of that. BUT, since I ran a mile outside for the first time ever almost exactly 2 years ago, I can't complain!
There you have it - now all I have to do is decide whether I want to go full on dork and get a 13.1 sticker for my SUV!!