I woke up on race morning feeling extremely relaxed. Paul and I had stayed at the Courtyard Marriott for the night. I will give them a huge (not even giving me money for this I just really like them) shout out. We just about always stay at Courtyard Marriott. They are nice and usually not the most expensive thing in the world. They also are great with customer service (ex...Someone on the phone told me parking would be free. Long story short it wasn't. I complained a tiny bit, they added the parking to our bill, but dropped the price of our room so we paid same amount! Win!) They got bonus points for this race because the hotel entrance was the starting point for the race. This means no sitting in traffic, no waiting for a train, no searching for parking and running two miles to the start line, and the biggest plus of all not waking up at the crack of dawn!
I woke up at 7 am, had an english muffin with peanut butter and got ready to go. The whole outfit selection thing was out of control. I left the shirt I wanted to wear at home so wasn't sure of what to do. The weather said it would be 60, but it was freezing at 7am. I debated the whole long sleeve/short sleeve and sunglasses/no sunglasses thing for far too long. I ended up with short sleeves (good choice) and no sunglasses (bad choice). At 7:50, Paul and I headed outside to join the group at the start line. It took maybe 2 seconds to get in the pack of people. I can't even stress how huge this was. Another win for the Marriott, even though they really didn't do anything for this one. Paul and I shuffled to the half way point of the pack, he planned on heading further up but it was way too much effort to push through those people.
The gun went off and we all started to go. Paul and I crossed the start line together and then he took off to catch up with his pace group. I hung out in the middle/back of the pack. I watched people pass me and tried hard not to chase after them. I was overly cautious about going out too fast knowing that it could hurt me a lot in the end. I found a girl who looked like she knew how to pace herself and stayed near her. Once mile 1 was done people started taking off left and right to ditch extra clothes to the side of the road. Score one point for me being smart and wearing short sleeves. I lose points however because the sun was out in full force and I wanted sunglasses.
I decided to break the race up into 5 parts. Part 1: miles 1-3, part 2: miles 4-6, part 3: miles 7-9, part 4: miles 10-12, and part 5: the last 1.1 miles. I figured if I could set (and stick close to) goal times for each of these sets, the race wouldn't seem so big and unmanageable. The first part I felt good, I passed about 10 cameras and tried hard to take a good race picture (epic fail).
I tried to listen and enjoy my music and the sites around me. There were a few hills and I decided I'd allow myself to walk any hills. This mostly was because I knew if I tried to push my ass up them running, I would be in more pain and walk the entire next part. The down side to this plan was that there were so many hills. I thought it was crazy during it and then realized I had done no hill training so maybe that was why. I was sticking to my time during the first part and into the second. Some point after mile 4 some guy yelled "you're almost there!". Seriously? I gave him a dirty look and kept running. On the other side of the park I could see the super speedy first couple of runners for the half that were about to finish mile 7. I tried not to let this discourage me and instead was excited for the girl dressed in pink from head to toe who was keeping up with all the front runner guys.
My 5 part plan was working until around mile 7. I had just come off a huge downhill, only to be followed up with a very large up hill. My knee had been hurting for at least 3 miles and my feet had just really started hurting. I knew it was because I wore my old shoes, but just reminded myself it would of been worse if I had tried to break in the new ones during the race. At the end of the uphill I started running (mostly cause I had been waking for almost 2 minutes up the hill it was that big). I saw the cutest family sitting on their front steps cheering everyone on. I gave my "I know I'm not I first, but at least I'm not last" smile and they cheered even more. At the top of the hill was a police officer directing and also cheering. I'm not sure I've ever seen an officer cheering at the races, so I give this guy credit. He also informed all of us that was the last bad hill, all down hill from here. He kind of lied, but I don't think intentionally so I still like him.
We turned a few corners and were on the other side of the park from before. I was sort of looking at my watch during this time, but not anything serious. I was focused on getting through my parts and not the full race. I saw two brothers running together around mile 9. One was clearly hurting, and the other one was basically almost carrying him. It was probably the sweetest thing ever, and had I paid more attention I would of taken out my camera and got a picture.
Out of just about no where there was a huge downhill during mile 10. And by that I really mean just a gigantic drop. Running downhill kills your knees, and when they already hurt its worse. I wanted to take advantage and run down it fast, but I also didn't want to fall over and roll down it and kill myself. At the bottom of the hill you could see the 10 mile marker and I ran hard to hit it. We were along the water and I stopped to finally look at my watch and see just how far off I was from a PR and making sure I wasn't going to have a PW. I realized if I pushed it (and I mean pushed it) I could hit my 2:45. I got a little emotional thinking it was even possible, but was totally determined. I turned my music up loud and started running. I ran hard and felt good, and then surprise another hill. I cursed about the police officer who had lied and said no more hills, and tried to run up it. I was definitely slowing down a bit. I also saw some guy bring a girl a cookie at this point. I seriously considered using stealing the cookie out of her hand as motivation for me to run as fast as I could away, plus I really wanted that cookie.
Around mile 11 we met up with the marathon route. They started the marathon about a half hour before the half. I looked at my watch and realized these were all the marathon runners who were trying to BQ. I moved over to not get run down or in their way and just hoped some of their speed would rub off on me. We were along the water again and running through a park. The team in training group had put up signs along the way of people they were running for (mom who died from cancer, baby with cancer, dad fighting cancer and etc). I of course got a little choked up then too. There was another hill and I saw some marathoners walking it, this seemed like a good enough reason for me to walk it as well. I was starting to get really exhausted and the no training was really hurting me. I saw the 12 mile mark and looked at my watch. I realized to make it in at 2:45, I had to run an 8 min mile. I thought to myself if I could do this, and thought I sure as hell would try. For those keeping count at home, this is time number 3 I almost cried during this race. Back in the day I would of seen that I need to run an 8 min mile and would of been so discouraged and upset. I was very proud of myself for how far I had come.
I turned the corner and saw the finish shoot and people on either side. I ignored the fact that these people were here to see the marathoners who were killing it, and took in all of the cheering and excitement. My foot went numb again but I didn't care. I was scanning the crowd for Paul and my mom. I finally caught them right after the finish line smiling and cheering. My entire face lit up. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see them in my life. I crossed the finish and almost fell over. I grabbed my medal and moved out of the way for everyone else finishing. I finished in 2 hours and 52 mins. A 4 minute PR for me.
Finish Line. Ignore the clock, that was for the marathoners
I found out Paul killed it, no surprise there, and went out for lunch with him and my mom. I was so happy with the race being done and that I PR'd. I wanted the 2:45 so bad, but knew that wasn't the race for it.
With my mom after the race!
Half-marathon number 4 is done, and now time to get ready for number 5!
Happy Monday Everyone!