This is like a week late, and I could make excuses, but I've just been too lazy to write it. There were so many parts of this race that I hated that I was not eager to relive it. But, now I'm doing it. So let's get started!
Jake drove me to the high school which was supposedly near the start, and I went in to go to the bathroom. Needless to say, the line was long, but I was happy to not be using a porta-potty. However, I started the walk to the start with about ten minutes to spare. I didn't think this would be a problem, since it was SUPPOSEDLY right there, but they lied. It was a long walk to the start - especially because once we got there, they routed us in a big loop to get to the BACK of the pack and this took an extra few minutes. Everyone was starting to panic that it might have started, but I got there during the singing of the national anthem and had a few minutes to hop up and down to stretch out before it started. Then it got started.
My problems started early. After the race the weekend before, I was thinking that pace wouldn't be a problem. For the four miler I kept my goal pace with no problem - this race I was alternating between a 9 min./mile pace and a 14 min./mile pace and I couldn't seem to get control of it. The first three miles were all over the place pace-wise, and I knew that that did not bode well.
(Mile 2. Trying to figure out what's up with my pace.)
My favorite part around this portion of the race was the guy blasting the Rocky song from his house for the runners. It was HIGHLY appreciated.
Around mile four, the pavement ended and the dirt road began. This was, by far, the best part of the race. The dirt was easier on my legs, there was lots of shade from the trees, and I made a friend to talk to for the next several miles. This is also where the hills began, but they were mild at first.
Once we got back on the pavement, the real hills began - and they didn't let up until about mile 11. To say that the hills were brutal would be putting it mildly. I was walking much more than I wanted to, but I was keeping up a fast walking pace (at least there's that). Around mile 9 I lost my running buddy because I just couldn't keep up the pace anymore. I fell back a little, and would up talking to an older woman for the rest of my time. She was a walker but a freaking FAST walker, and I had to jog to keep up with her. This was a good thing because jogging was actually easier on my knees than walking quickly was. Whenever I started to fall back with the woman, I'd kick my butt in gear to catch up again and keep up.
The race was well run, and the water stops were frequent enough. However, I really should have gotten a hydration belt before the race. I was desperate for refreshment - so desperate that I ate snow for the first time in probably 16 years. I also shoved it in my bra and down my back to help cool down - that direct sun was really getting to me after about ten miles!
The worst part of the race, by far, was when I turned the corner at the 11 mile mark, thinking "we're so close! it's easy now!" and encountered a REALLY long stretch of absolutely nothing. I should've been happy that it was flat, but I was just miserable - it was the road that wouldn't end. It was an out and back 1.8(ish) mile stretch, and it was awful. The only good thing about it was that on my way back, I was able to see how many people were still behind me. I was starting to get the "I'm dead last" feeling, and seeing that there were still dozens of people behind me made me feel a little better.
After the out and back, we were in the home stretch. We were almost on Main Street, and Main Street was where the finish was. We had less than half a mile to go, and then we turned left - and looked in the face of another hill. ANOTHER FREAKING HILL. We thought the hills were gone! We thought we were done! ONE MORE HILL. This was the first time that the woman I was running with showed that it was getting to her. She started yelling about how ridiculous the course was, and I couldn't stop laughing. We slowed to a near crawl in getting up that hill, because our bodies were just giving out. We ran the rest of it, though, and finished with a time of about 3:10.
My goal going in was sub-3 hour, and considering the hills, I'm ok with my time. Talking to the elites after the race, it was made clear that the course added at least ten minutes to even the best runners' times. That made me feel a whole lot better about my time.
What was made clear to me in this race was that I am capable of a sub-3 hour half marathon, I just need a flatter course! I'm definitely doing this race again next year, though, just to see how much I can improve in a year.
Needless to say, what saved me was the woman who ran the last portion of the race with me. She kept me on pace and didn't let me give up. I love her.
Well, if nothing else, I'm officially a half marathoner. I won't talk about how I could barely walk for two days, because I don't want to relive that. I WILL relive how awesome it felt to get that finisher's medal, though. And how amazing it felt to pin up that bib on my bib corkboard. Happy. ...Especially now that the pain is gone.