Technically the race started at 8:30 A.M. on Sunday, 10/10/10 (perfect day for a race, eh?). I’ve been training for the half for over two months now so on Friday when I began my final prep (downloading new songs for the iPod, laying out my race clothes) it felt as though it really started for me. Obsessively Writing out lists of what I would be wearing/what gear I needed/reminding myself I needed to pick up a bagel for the morning and the like were all a part of this journey to 13.1.
Saturday brought the race expo and I was super excited- my first one ever! There were two exciting things about the race expo: 1) I ran into Jen and my friends Nicole and Michael and 2) my race bib had an odd number on it! A double odd number! I kind of have a thing about odd numbers. The alarm always has to be set to an odd number (Brian thinks I’m weird and yeah, I guess I am). Anyway, the number itself was odd (2383) and when you added all of the numbers together (2+3+8+3=16 and 1+6=7) it was an odd number. I thought that this bode well for the race
Saturday night I went out to an early dinner with some friends and looked longingly at their glasses of wine. None for me, no sir. I was taking this half-marathon seriously! Nevermind the wine and dancing at my friends’ wedding last weekend . I did carb load to my heart’s desire with some cheesy artichoke dip with french bread. Excellent pre-pre race fuel! When I got home on Saturday night, I reviewed my clothing checklist:
- Girls on the Run tech tee with lucky race number attached
- nike running capris
- purple sports bra (I developed a weird affinity towards this sports bra)
- thick balega running socks
- bondi band
- throwaway fleece from old navy
- sneakers with timing chip attached
- Road Id/iPod fully charged/garmin fully charged/glide for toes
I was all set to go so I set my alarm for 6:01 (heh) and 6:19. Originally I was going to have to leave my house at 5:30 (wah) to catch the bus to the start but my friend Nicole generously offered to take me to the start at 7:30 since she was bringing her husband anyway. Sah-weet! An extra hour of sleep could only be a good thing. I got a restful night’s sleep, got dressed and checked weather.com. 35 degrees. Awesome. There was nothing I could do about it though! Good thing I had my throwaway fleece! I had half of a plain bagel with maple peanut butter with three ibuprofen to stop any foot pain in its tracks (which would come back to bite me in the ass quite literally after the race but that story is for another time. Or for never). The temperature gauge on my car was not looking any more promising- 38 degrees. I received a surprise good luck phone call from Brian all the way from Afghanistan, giving me an extra confidence boost! I arrived at Nicole’s mother’s house and we were on our way!
The race literature indicated that the parking at the half was very limited. Not really. I was pleased to see that the start was at the Colonie Town Park. I spent many days in summer camp there swimming in the pool and jumping off the high dive (aside from one embarrassing incident where I climbed to the top of the high dive, walked out to jump and stood paralyzed with fear for a good five minutes before I climbed back down). We arrived with a half-hour to start time and I figured I should use the bathroom while I could. The line was around the building! I waited for 25 minutes and did my thing, arriving to the start area with three minutes to spare. Talk about a close call!
Miles 1-5: The starting gun sounded and we were off! The first mile of the race was very congested- it was kind of trail like and the space was limited so the runners were shuffling at that point. Still, we were running and I was so happy! We came across some bag pipers around .75 miles and that was neat! I was waffling between wearing my headphones or not, since I heard they weren’t allowed and you could be DQd. Yeah, that would have sucked! Tons of people were wearing them so I figured I was okay.
The first five miles passed in a blur. I had no foot pain at all and the weather had warmed up slightly. I was still wearing my fleece though! I remember stepping on a branch and it sounded like a gunshot- I startled all of the girls around me! Yikes. I told myself to just break it down into two 5 milers and one 5k- totally doable!
The half started on a pretty trail and then we ran through some roads and past a train track. Once I hit mile five I stopped off next to a gas station to take the first of two mint chocolate gus that I would take during the race. It didn’t slow my time. In fact, I realized that I was way ahead of my predicted schedule! I kept looking down and seeing my pace hovering around 9:40 and I felt great! I tried not to push it much harder than that because I didn’t want to fade out at the end.
Throughout the race there were mile markers indicating which mile we had reached, with sayings from a sponsor. One sign in particular really resonated with me- I think it was mile 4- it said “trust your training.” Damn right, I thought! I think it can be so easy to doubt yourself come race day but you just have to remember- you put in the time and the effort and your body knows what to do. Trust it!
Miles 6-10: Once we hit mile six I took off my fleece and left it on the side of the road. I heard that the race peeps come by and pick them up and donate them. I’m hoping that’s the case. This portion of the run was mainly on roads that were not closed for traffic- we had to stay inside the cones or else risk being hit! I began to understand why they forbade headphones and took them off. We were running next to a major highway (on the other side of a fence) so that was interesting. I actually drive down it on the way to work so now when I do I will look along the road and think about the half
Around 9.75 miles my foot started to ache a bit. At that point I had less than four miles left so I told myself to suck it up! We entered the bike path portion of the race and it was really pretty- right next to the water. Here’s a gripe: the bike path was not closed to bikers, which was fine with me. A lot of them announced that they were coming on your left, etc. However, this one woman kept riding around the runners without a helmet on wearing headphones, not announcing herself or anything. Who does that? She passed me going back and forth a few times (and she definitely was not affiliated with the race). So weird.
Miles 10-13.19: This part of the race was really nice but also challenging. I ventured off the path at mile 10 to take another mint chocolate gu. My foot was acting weird on and off but it wasn’t too bad. The weirdest thing was that I felt like I was running by myself. There really was no one around me. I looked at the river and felt at peace. I was running my first half-marathon, the leaves were crunching under my feet, the sun was shining. Life was good. Once I reached mile 11.01 I was at a new personal distance record and couldn’t stop smiling! I came across some runners and zipped right by them. I felt really strong! I got to the last half mile and started to get really excited. There were a group of drummers- my parents were watching them and apparently I ran right by them! I came down the chute and saw Amanda and my friends Nicole and Kristin I was so happy to see them, as you can tell by this photo!
As I approached the finish line I noted that the time read 2:14 something and I couldn’t believe it! After I crossed the finish line I felt a bit like a crazy disoriented person. I was like that with the Boilermaker too. A nice volunteer cut my timing chip off and I was handed my mylar blanket (cool! I felt official) and race medal. Final chip time: 2:13:33. Yippee!
(Many thanks to Nicole, my unofficial race photog )
I hurried off to find my friends and family. The word yay was tossed around quite a bit (by me. I have an extensive vocabulary). I found my friend Bekah and she and her husband and friend Sindy made these awesome signs- “toenails are overrated” and “run like you stole something!” Hilarious! And awesome.
Jen and I after finishing! (photo courtesy of Jen) Don’t we look legit in our mylar blankets?
Afterwards, a delicious brunch was had, which included a raspberry mimosa. That probably wasn’t a good idea since I didn’t drink much water during the race (race foul!) but it was delish
As I’m sitting here typing this, my feet are yelling at me (seriously, so many blisters dangit) and it is hard to walk around (ice bath and all!) but I am so happy! When I first started my running journey I always said my ultimate goal was a half-marathon. Now I am here (I can’t believe it!) and am incredibly proud of myself. At the same time, I can’t help but ask- when can I start training for a marathon?
Thank YOU for all of your encouragement and support- it truly means a lot.