Holy smokes, the race is over. This all consuming event, which has been sitting in the back of my mind… is all done. I literally feel like a rock star.
I slacked on my training for a few weeks as I traveled, but this week I did not drink, I upped my water, and slept as much as I could every night. I did my best to “carb up” on Friday, so had Subway for lunch (brrreaaaad) and my all time favorite frozen meal treat, an Amy’s Country Cheddar Bowl. Pasta. Potatoes. Tofu. Covered in cheese sauce. With broccoli. Does food get any better? I should seriously investigate how to make that meal on my own, I LOVE it. Oh, and I had a side of fries with that.. 😉
Race day. Woke up around 7:30. Had some water and decided to make coffee. I usually skip the coffee, but thought I would have a bit today. Made a piece of toast with peanut butter, 1/2 banana and some honey. Ended up making another piece of toast too and I’m glad I did because I ended up not being hungry during the race.
Otherwise, this was the race of the over-prepared. 🙂 I packed a bag with: coconut water, gatorade, altoids, a power bar and water. And another bag with jeans, tshirt, and a jacket. I had gel blocks, I had altoids and pepto in every pocket, i had ginger candies… apparently i was expecting this to be the race of the nauseous….
Michael Ann, one of the most generous friends in the world, offered to be my chauffeur for the day, and picked me up at about 9:20. I have been talking her ear off for weeks about my “plan.” When I will walk, when I will run, what if I don’t finish, OMG WHAT AM I DOING?!” and she has always been the best about listening to my freakouts! She gave me an awesome pep talk and shooed me out of the car. Now, it’s just me and a few hundred other runners. In the cold. I immediately got in line for the porta-potty. The last thing I wanted on this run was to have to pee before there was a bathroom…
When I got in line, the first person I saw was Dani. Hi Dani! We’d never met, but I recognized her from Twitter. It was great to say hello, and see a familiar face. Dani completed the run in under 2:10:00, with a sore knee AND a cross-country move planned for the next day. WTG, Dani! I saw a few other people from my CARA Winter Half Marathon training group too, including a woman named Julie. We had run maybe 5 times together, and I wasn’t even sure of her name before Saturday. But (and this may sound cheesy, but it’s true) I don’t think I could have done this race without Julie…
We started chatting before the race started, we were headed towards the back of the group for the start of the race, and I had a moment where I wanted to say something that would indicate that I wanted to be on my own. Like “Have a great race” or “see ya when we’re through.” But once we started, I realized how helpful this would be to have a “buddy.” The first two miles flew by. Literally… because we were running a 10:23 minute mile…
Having a buddy: Helps you keep your pace. Helps you slow down your pace. Gives you someone to talk to. Gives you someone to NOT talk to! Helps you remember to stop for water and Gatorade. Reminds you that this is not impossible. Gives you confidence. Gives you encouragement. Gives you a fist-bump at Mile 11. Waves at the photographers with you. These were my favorite moments of the day. Thanks, Julie!
We decided to stop at the CARA trough (a big water fountain along the running path that is kept on all year long) to stretch out and get more water. This was the 5 mile point. Here we met up with Andrea and her host mom. Andrea was an exchange student who also ran with our group this winter, so all of us ran together to the turn around point. We hit some ice on the path and things got a little slippy at that point! This was the first place where I knew I would have some “people” too. Yasmin (best roommate ever) was at the North Ave. water station, with my baggie of pretzels! I figured I wouldn’t want to be running on just gel blocks all day, so I grabbed some water and gatorade, and a handful of pretzels from Yas (and grabbed Yas a handful of gel shots from the race… :). Yay for friends who brave the cold to come and see you run!
We passed the 7 Mile mark and the wind really picked up. It was cold and really windy. Did I mention there was wind? It was windy. Miles 7-10. They were really hard. I’m not gonna lie. We both put on our music and didn’t talk much, this was a mental struggle. When we hit Belmont Harbor, Julie pointed out that we were in home stretch. We hit familiar territory that we’d been seeing every week for all of our training runs. We HAD THIS. Mile 10 there was a water station, so we stopped and refueled.
Once I hit Mile 11, I knew I was going to finish strong. Julie ended up walking, and I decided to keep going. Then I started seeing more of my lovely people. Liga and Grant were just past 11, then a few yards up, Mik and Jeremy were there, then the way the course curved, they all were able to see me at multiple points at the end. At the last curve towards the finish line, I ran in to Andrea again. She was walking and when I passed she caught up with me and we crossed the finish line together.
I LITERALLY felt great. All the boys were waiting with their great signs, and a dozen roses, and I got my medal, and Michael Ann had my chocolate milk (thanks Mama!) and I just DID it. I walked around a bit because I felt a little sick just stopping like that, and when we got to lunch I was a bit shaky, but over all I am surprised at how well I did.
So, congrats if you made it this far in the post… and thanks for reading.
I need to mention that my online group of newbie runners, the C25k Turtles, have been a HUGE part of my success. These amazing women have been like the best support group a girl could ask for. I have vented so many frustrations, voiced so many anxieties and shared so many victories with these ladies. You are THE BEST.
Also, a big thanks to F^3 for making my first half marathon such a good experience. The volunteers were encouraging, friendly and nice, the course was well marked, and I had water and gatorade at every stop. Thank you thank you thank you!
Official Race Time: 2:39:22. 12:10 minute mile. (!!!)