This post is going to have a lot of pictures, but you can just deal with it! Considering I think I've had maybe one picture in the life of this blog, consider this the make-up post!
I started the day with a half a peanut butter sandwich and a breakfast drink, and at 8:40 Chris (my racing buddy / sis-in-law), Mike (her hubby and our chauffeur) and I left to pick up Keighty (our other racing buddy and sis-in-law) to head off for the race. I was... nervous. NER-VOUS. Butterflies in belly. Not sure what to expect. As we approached Woodstock (the biggest town on the course) there was definitely traffic, a lot of cars parking and a bus ahead of us full of people. The closer we got to the start, the crazier it was. And then, we arrived - at about 9:30, with race start at 10:15 - and there were LOTS of people, and notably, LOTS of port-a-potties.
See them there behind us? Yeah, there were lots of them. Okay, so we first made a bee-line for said potties, since we all had to go. I get this nervous peeing thing before I run, I go about 10 times, convinced my bladder is full, but then it's like dribble, dribble, nothing. TMI?
Anyway, after that it was off to registration where we picked up our numbers and our timing chips. We then stood around watching all the "real runners" (as we termed them) stretching. It was our determination that it was too early for us to stretch, so we wandered around and crowd-watched a bit. With about 20 to go until start, we did some stretching, applied sunscreen and ultra glide, downed some shot bloks (I stashed some extras down my shorts) and we packed up our bag and stuck it on the gear bus (which took our bags to the finish line). Then it was time for one more stop at the potties, and then to the start line. Or, more specifically, to the back of the large mass of people at the start line. When the gun went off, it was 2 - 3 minutes before we crossed the line, and then we were off!
Chris and Keighty have always run a little faster than me, and we soon separated and did our own thing. I was probably right on pace in my first mile, but got a little worried in my second and slowed down more than I needed to I think. At about mile 3, you come to a part of the course where the route is doubling back on itself - and of course, by the time I got there, there were plenty of runners coming the other way (they were at about mile 5). The beauty of running slowly, you get the course to yourself, right?!?!? Just after mile 4, the course crosses a covered bridge and comes into Woodstock. That's where our team of supporters was waiting - so awesome and slightly overwhelming to see them!
Another nice thing about being near the end of the running pack is that there aren't a lot of people around to get in the way of photos, so Mike got plenty of shots of me crossing the bridge!
I look quite happy in that last one, don't I?
The highlights of the next 4 miles was a perfectly placed port-a-potty (they must have known when we'd need to get rid of all that pre-race water!) and some water stations and lots of very nice people cheering. If there's a race in your town, even if you don't know anyone running in it, go out and cheer for the people running by - it really does make them feel great! Starting at about mile 7.5, there were gatorade and water stations. I figured out that what I like is to take a cup of gatorade, drink 2- 3 sips, and then chase that with some water to get the taste out of my mouth. Running with that sweet taste in my mouth isn't fun - I'd rather flush it out with some water.
At mile 8, our cheering team met us at the end of a long dirt road stretch, right before we hit the biggest hill on the course. Here are a couple of shots of my son, Max, keeping busy while they waited:
And no, he doesn't know any of those people, he was just really enthusiastic about the whole event. Apparently, he was very upset that he couldn't run, so when I came along, he went out and joined me:
I paused long enough to give him a kiss, pick up a new pack of shot bloks from hubby, and then I was off again for the remaining 5.1 miles (after I trudged up the short but darn steep hill).
At about mile 11.5, when I was glad I had run the course before and knew the end was nearing, a sweet / funny / pathetic thing happened. There was a woman out on her porch, cheering us all on. As I came by, she looked right at me and said, very earnestly, "you've come this far, you're almost there. Look at what you've done! Now finish it!" What she said struck me and I got a little teary, getting excited about accomplishing this enormous feat that I never really thought I could do. Then, because I started to get teary, my throat started to close up, and suddenly, I couldn't breathe! I started to panic as I wheezed with no air, until I finally calmed myself down, mentally slapped myself around for getting teary, and resumed normal breathing. Basically, I got so emotional about finishing the race, I almost didn't finish!! Pathetic.
Speaking of finishing, here's the big moment:
My buddy crossed the finish with me. The time on the clock is my "gun" time, meaning the time from when the gun went off until when I crossed the line. My actual time (from crossing the start until reaching the finish) was 2:43, which is a good bit below my goal of coming in under 3 hours. And now I have a number to shoot to beat next year! Yes, that's right, I'm thinking I'll run it again.
Here are my partners in crime on their runs. They did great!
And here we are, happy to be done. (and stuffing our mouths with food, please ignore our chipmunk cheeks...)
A big thanks to everyone who turned out to cheer us on, especially Michelle, our fellow training buddy / sis-in-law who had to sit out the big day due to the baby inside her really wanting to come out (but it's not time yet baby, STAY IN THERE!) so she was there cheering us on. She pretty much did the race though, since she went out on the 12 mile day with us, so she deserves a big cheer as well. (YAY CHELLE!)
Thanks for reading along through this adventure. It's cheesy to say, but I hope this inspires you to set a goal and go for it. A year ago, I would have pulled a muscle laughing at you if you suggested I'd have just completed a half marathon today. But here I am! And i'm not a runner, or a fitness enthusiast - never have been. But this has made me a healthier and more confident person, and I'm glad I've done it. I'm already planning for my next race (a half marathon relay at the end of the summer) and I expect to keep training, so keep reading if you'd like. I'll try to be better about updating you all on my frustrations, fun, and foibles as I go along.