I woke up at 4:50am this morning to get dressed and ready for my 7th half marathon, and my 11th race in the span of 3 years. As I thought about what this race meant to me, I looked back at all the races I have done this year. I couldn’t believe it would be my 3rd half marathon in one year. This is the first year I have run that many!
As I got ready, I felt the usual excitement for the race, the nerves in my stomach, and the hurried excitement about getting ready quickly so I could be out the door, on the way to the race by 5:15am. Most races start at 7am here, and I didn’t want to risk being late. That is my worst fear out of all things that could happen to a runner. I have dreamt about it often, and do everything I possibly can to get there well in advance of the recommended time. It’s often to my benefit because I have plenty of time for my usual warm-up run and sprints and stretching.
There’s always that one last potty stop before the race starts, and the quick swallowing of a salt packet. I eagerly chat with whoever’s beside me in my corral, anxious for the race to start as the sun is starting to peak over the horizon. What’s even better than finding a buddy to pace against during the race is to run with your best friend and training buddy. Rach wasn’t too appreciative to get up and go at such an early hour, but she could appreciate my fear of being late, and need to get warmed up.
It was definitely an interesting change to be at the very front of our corral, both of us leaning into the rope that blocked us off from the corral in front of us, both of us itching to get going. As we got closer to the starting line, and they stopped us, waiting for the corral ahead of us to get a good minute start before we took off, we were getting antsy. One of the ladies even told me to back up! I was staring that clock down, wanting to be sure that I knew the exact moment when my foot with my tracking device crossed that line. They let the rope drop and we were off! What an interesting, yet strange feeling it was to not have a lot of people in front of us as we took off… we didn’t really have anyone to pace us yet, but we had people cheering us on already! We got to the 1 mile marker, and I was shocked at how quickly we’d run that first mile. I was starting to get into my pace, and felt comfortable continuing. We got to mile marker 3 and I decided I needed to slow down. For someone who normally runs 12-13 minute miles in training and 10:30-11 minute miles in races to complete 3 miles in 27 minutes was unheard of! If I’d have kept it up, I would have easily burnt out half way through this race.
It was about this point that I felt my calf muscle start to seize. I slowed up significantly, took a big swig of cytomax at the next station, and pushed through it. In my head, I heard my own voice saying, “I will not stop. I will not quit on this race because of this calf muscle. I will not give up because it has decided to get tight. I WILL finish.” As I got to mile marker five, it seemed to have let go a little, and I kept pushing through. As I ran, I overheard one of the Team in Training coaches yelling about how 99% of Americans cannot do what we are doing today. They cannot and will not run a race, they cannot and will not try, they cannot and will not be active. We need to make examples of ourselves by trying, succeeding, and pushing forward. It was at this point, I was contemplating a quick walk. I opted to continue running.
I ran until just before mile marker 7. It’s funny how when you walk, you see all the people run past you that you have just passed, and you get mad. Every single time, it makes me run again, and every single time, I make myself pass those people again. I will not quit, I will not quit, I will not quit. Despite the obvious tightness in my calf, I kept going, and probably only ended up walking less than half a mile out of the entire 13.1 miles.
This has to be one of my absolute favorite races every year because of the people throughout the course, the bands, the cheerleaders cheering you on and giving high-fives, the people off General Booth who spray you down and leave the sprinklers on throughout the race for us to run through, and sooo much more. This year’s weather seemed to cooperate much better than previous years, as it was easily in the high 60s when it started, and was just starting to creep into the low 80s when I finished the race, which was WAY cooler than the 90s for the past two years.
I love the cheering at the end of the race. I can’t help it. It’s crossing that finish line that makes each race a personal victory, and having people cheer makes it that much better. No matter how much effort I have put forth throughout the race, I always push myself to not walk the last miles and to run even harder as I get close to the finish line. It’s the adrenaline rush at the moment of spotting that finish line that always pushes me to sprint that last block or so and fly past all the other runners to cross that line! 🙂
This race always ends with water, banana, medal, popsicle. And I love that they hand them out in that order. Oh yeah, and the ice cold towels for the back of your neck! Success! Another race under my belt, and I couldn’t be more pleased! Even though this race was not my personal best time (2:39:41), it was a consistent run, and competitive enough from my other two halfs this year- 2:42:40 at the Shamrock Half in March and 2:30:36 at the Chesapeake Dismal Swamp Stomp in April. It’s nice to say that I am finding consistency in my runs, and that my training is paying off. Rach is reaching the same consistency with her running, which just proves further that our training together, and pushing each other is beneficial to both of us. The other realization is that I am consistently within ten minutes of Rachel’s race times… which inevitably means I am getting faster! 🙂 All in all, this is good news. Rach and I are rocking our training and have a great start to our marathon training! I ❤ my bestie and running buddy, Rach! We rocked the race, and I am so proud of both of us!!!! 13.1 is DONE!