About two days before the race, I realized that there were not going to be a ton of people running the half (for whatever reason, total signups were down by over 1,200 people from last year) and without a full marathon going on as well, there was a very good possibility that I could be finishing last...now, I know that someone has to be last, but I've done that once, and it's not fun. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well the night before the race, but that's normal for me with races - just this time, I actually had something to worry about. As it turns out, I was the 900th person to finish, out of 920 racers. Yes!!! I wasn't last! Some people try to win their age group; I just try to not be last. Go me!
The good thing about this race was the weather - we finally got to run a half marathon in the cold! The bad thing is that it was REALLY cold at the start - 32 degrees. We were freezing while we waited for the race to begin, but once it did (and for the first time since I've been participating, it started on time!), fingers and toes thawed out pretty quickly, and it was very comfortable. Since I was wearing the same shirt I've been running in all winter (seriously, some weeks I end up wearing it three times...wear, wash, repeat), I treated myself to a new HooRag in their purple paisley pattern. It worked great for an ear warmer before the race, and once I warmed up, I pulled it down onto my neck, where I didn't notice it for the rest of the race.
I went into this race thinking it wouldn't be that difficult, considering I'd changed how I run long distances by using the 2:1 interval system (run for two minutes, then walk for one minute). I forgot one crucial detail: a half marathon is a LONG way to run! Gah! This route just kept going and going and going. There were rolling hills from about miles 7 through 10 - we'd get through one and there was another...it got a little rough for me around mile 8, and I took an extra walking break to get myself together. I also had a little trouble getting my fuel in - things that worked during training just weren't going down for me. I managed a GU around mile 3 and then finally another close to mile 9. There was a candy station around mile 10 with gummi bears, M&M's and Skittles, but no way could I eat at that point...so disappointed in myself. Free candy, and I couldn't partake!
The race had a lot of great aid stations - I think 8 in total. Lots of porta-potties along the route, lots of funny and encouraging signs posted, and even a few cheer stations (one had dogs, of course that was my favorite). The best thing for me was the ice-cold Gatorade - I had a few sips every at every other aid station and that really hit the spot. The rest of the time I drank water from my handheld water bottle, refilling it when necessary.
Our finish time was 3:04 - I'd hoped to get in under three hours, but we had one potty break, a shoelace-tying break (not easy while wearing gloves) and I ended up doing a few extra walk intervals during the rolling hills miles. Oh well.
It wouldn't be a race recap without pictures, right? And with the walking breaks, Jeff was able to get a few shots during the race, too. Here goes:
Before the race - some of our USAFit peeps - not everyone managed to get in the picture. L to R: Amy, Rebecca, Julia, me
Top pic: Amy and I ARE running past the couple who were walking the entire course (and yes, they beat us...sigh). Bottom left: walking interval on the bypass, going up. Bottom right: my "I'm not liking this distance anymore" face.
After - VERY happy to be finished!
After we crossed the finish line, we waited to watch another runner come in - we'd been playing hopscotch with her throughout the race, and at one point talked a bit. This was her first half marathon - and she has also lost a lot of weight - 160 lbs so far, all by dieting and exercise. Her in-laws were on the course the entire way - they had a red truck and every couple of miles, there they'd be, cheering Kelli on, and also the other runners near her. It was so nice to keep seeing them, and at one point, toward the end of the race, one man in their group said to me "you are doing SO good, you're almost there" - it was just what I needed to hear, as I was feeling pretty beat at that point.
Kelli and I - her sweet husband gave her flowers at the finish line!
We made our way to where some of our USAFit peeps were hanging out, and Jeff relaxed in his usual manner. Amy's younger daughter, who'd been running around, came up to our group, looked at Jeff and asked, "Is he dead?" - we all busted up at that. Love little kids and their complete honesty!
Not dead, just working on his tan...
A rainbow of USAFit peeps! Me, Jeff, Will, Julia, and Amy
My bib and medal!
Cleaned up afterward, wearing the race shirt - the colors don't come across in pictures very well, but it's a really pretty maroon heather. Love it, and wore it with pride!