I. DID. IT. I. DIDN'T. DIE.
my. knees. hurt.
We woke up early.
And, did I mention that it was EARLY?
I won't even get into the long back-story, but I got about 5 hours of sleep last night. Basically because I'm an idiot, but I learned a good lesson in the process.
Ensure that you have your race bib prior to leaving the race expo. Especially when the race is 45 minutes from your home.
You know...so you don't have to turn around and drive all the way back to the race expo again. At 7PM. When you haven't eaten dinner. And you have to organize your race STUFF. And you need to go to sleep.
Lesson learned. The hard way, as usual.
Back to our story.
It was early.
These are all of the important things that happened last month at the Frederick Fairgrounds. I was immediately sad about missing the silverado gun show. And the MD Christian Home School what-have-you.
But I didn't miss the 1/2 marathon! This is Carol, Robert (my running coach) and me. We were cold.
There were a lot more people there than I thought there would be.
It took me almost 3 minutes to get from here to the start mat. Crazy.
In terms of challenge, this race was a good way to begin my marathonning fun. There were very few ugly hills. Mostly just slow, steady inclines. I like slow, steady inclines better than steep hills. The total elevation ascent for today's race was only 1315 feet. Compared to my 10.25 mile training run last week, with an ascent of 2054 feet, this was pretty manageable. Since I didn't check the course terrain prior to running it (woo...go planner!), I kept "waiting" for the big hill.
There was no big hill.
Thank you baby Jesus.
Miles 1-4 were basically warm up. It takes me a long time to get into my running groove. I had that cute Nike hat on at the beginning of the race, but at mile 4, I decided that I had enough of the hat. I felt like my head was on fire.
Miles 4-6 were pretty uneventful.
At 6.5 miles, it started to rain. I wanted to walk, but I held off until the next water station and just walked through the water station. That was my strategy for the race. Stop at every other water station, and don't walk unless you're drinking or Shot Bloxing through the station.
From 6.5-9 miles, I was having a hard time keeping my head in the game. I just wanted to get to 10. I knew that when I got to 10, I could convince myself that it was almost over. It was somewhere within that timeframe that I jogged past a walking man who farted loudly like 4 times in a row.
Farts make me giggle.
It was some necessary comic relief.
At mile 10, I still didn't feel like it was almost over. It was raining, and my knee--the one with no history of pain--was hurting. That is never a good sign. I just kept telling myself "only a 5K to go". .."only a 5K to go". It seemed a little more manageable when I thought of it that way.
I did a lot of this in my head:
"left, left...left, right, left".
It kept me in the rhythm, and I got to the point where I knew how fast I was going by how long it took me to say the words. It sort of became a game to distract myself.
At least 3 times along the way, I almost cried. Not from pain, but from the knowledge that I was running my first 1/2 marathon. And I wasn't really suffering. It definitely wasn't a walk in the park, but I wasn't ready to quit...or even close!
At 11 miles, I knew I had it. I was almost done.
The last 2 miles of the race brought us down a windy country road, past a couple of farms. At one point, we passed a field of cows, and I heard them moo. I felt like I was back in Central New York, and almost cried again. Such a sappy sap.
Then, all I heard were people yelling ahead of me, and as I got closer, they were yelling "you're almost there, the fairgrounds are right around the corner!" I got pumped. My mind wanted to sprint the last mile of the race, but my body wasn't feeling that idea. I looked up and realized that I was right in the pack of 5:00 marathon pacers. Directly in front of me, there was a woman who was about 75 years old. Then I almost cried again.
When I reached the gate of the fairgrounds, I also passed the "13 mile" sign. Elation is not even the word. We rounded the corner, and made a right into the fairgrounds.
Sidebar: I laughed out loud when I just re-looked at this picture. As I've previously mentioned, I was a little chunker growing up. The kids used to call me "BEEF".
That's me behind the 2 guys wearing black. I was pretty tired, but according to my Garmin, between the entrance of the fairgrounds and the finish line, I was running 7.5 mph. For me, this is like Gazelle speed.
Trying desperately to put one foot in front of the other and not face plant in front of all of the spectators. They sit in the bleachers at this race and watch everyone cross the finish line. Weird.
Wouldn't it have been a better story if I face-planted though?
Damn. Maybe I'll do that next time.
Ahhh...that sweet sip of victory juice.
Official (first) 1/2 marathon time: 2:28:32.64
And I still have my life.
And sort of my knees.
I'll take it.