The excitement for an event like this is indescribable! The atmosphere can be comparable to the pre-opening of the Rhinebeck Fiber festival. Everyone is eager and enthusiastic and the place is charged with 1000 volts of electricity! As you look around, you see people from different backgrounds come together for one single purpose: to prove to themselves that they can do it. Some faces look a little worried, others have a huge smile from ear to ear, others are quiet and yet others are loud and boisterous. The atmosphere is one that I will never forget!
We boarded the buses at 5:00am (ungodly hour!!!). After being in the bus for what seem an hour (probably 20minutes!) we arrived at the starting line. The sky was still dark and the air had a slight chill that made us all wish for our blankets and beds. We weren't cold for long though, they had provided bonfires for us to stand around and warm our butts up before the race. Sam and I didn't have to walk around long before we found our friends Mo and her friend Sheena gathered around one of the bonfires.
As we gathered around the fire chatting and making new friendships, the excitement just kept rising. Just like when we knitters get together and chat about differences in needles, you know bamboo versus metal, or crystal palace dpns versus plymouth, I found out what runners talk about when gathered. Can you guess? Shoes! One of the top topics is shoes and the models and why they don't work for someone or why they work for someone else. It felt so great to finally have found someone to talk about my sneakers! It may sound silly to someone who doesn't know about running shoes just like when you talk to a non-knitter about needles but to finally be able to talk about it felt great! It took me a long time to find my perfect shoe match and I finally found some souls that shared the same feeling. Talk also involved previous races and how they had performed in those. One gal in our group has a goal to run a half in every state in the US! Isn't that great...that's 50, 50!! Wow, amazing goal!
At the Starting Line
I knew my pace so I was ready to go to the back of the line. I had trained at 10 or 10:30 minute mile pace and running etiquette tells you not to bug those who are faster than you. So I left my Sam at the beginning of the line and I kept going to the back with Mo, her being a bit faster than me, I was prepared to leave her at her "pace spot" too but she nudged me to stay there with her. We were scheduled to start at 7:00am and I was ready, I had taken one GU ten minutes before and I was all ready, 7:05 and no gun went off! I was antsy and ready to get it done. Finally at 7:06 we started and off we went. I tried to keep a slow pace...it is key to start slow so you don't burn out (words from Jeff Galloway's book). As we started, there were people everywhere! I felt claustrophobic...people everywhere...in my personal bubble! Mo and I were concerned about the number of people around us but soon we saw a little hill and we knew that that was the spot where we could take off and gain some bubble space.
As we climbed up the hill, we wiggled to the left side of the road trying to get ahead and gain some little space. Step by step we gained some space, a few minutes later and we were done with the only hill in the course and we had plenty of space to more around. After this point, we never had a problem with overcrowding. It was so great running alongside Mo but I was a bit slower than her and as such she took off and I stayed behind. I felt a little lonely but then I found that almost everyone was running by themselves so finding comfort in that, I gave it all I had. Next thing, I was already on mile 7! How in heck did that happen?
At mile 8, I took one more GU and sloshed some water on my head and kept going. I was feeling so great that the next two miles flew by. When I reached mile 10, I was giggling with joy, I only had a 5K left and my watch was telling me that I was almost 1 hour ahead of my estimated time! By golly, if I kept the same pace I could finish in 2 hours, I got even more excited and I sloshed more water on my head on the next stops.
The Finish Line
I had no idea where the finish line was, I read in the book that I would be able to see it from far away and sure enough I saw something but despite the big letters on the banner I couldn't see them (I am a little blind when it comes to seeing things far away). I still kept going, I was so excited and happy that I had a huge smile on my face...then when I could actually see the banner from two blocks away and read clearly FINISH, I got butterflies in my stomach and the butterflies got little wings on my feet and I gave it all I had. My little legs went faster and faster and once I saw the clock at the finish line and I was 1 block away and I had just seconds before the clock hit 2:00 hours, I thought of all my training, of my children's faces, of my hubby who was already past the finish line with the finishers and his face when he saw me coming 20 minutes before my estimated time and a surge of energy came over me! I had done it! I crossed the finish line in less than 2 hours! I really wanted to cry but the joy was too much and my smiles couldn't be contained. My wonderful Sam was there trying to take pictures of me coming through the finish line. It was fabulous! A wonderful occasion! Being in the "Finisher's Circle" with my hubby and friends was absolutely amazing! Seeing my hubby's face when I came in and then my friend Mo really brought me almost to tears. I was happy. I was proud. I was contented to have seen my training pay off.
Hubby and I now have one extra thing that we enjoy together: our love for running. He has been my inspiration in all my training and in yesterday's triumph. Hurray for running!
It is a day later and I am still giddy from all the excitement. True, I am sore, really sore. The downhill course killed my quads big time. Then yesterday afternoon as I was walking around with regular clothes I realized that my n!pples felt sensitive and sore and realized that the water sloshing soaked through my top and I guess it irritated me, next time, I'll make sure to put some Vaseline or Glide on before the race. By the way, a huge thank you to Nora for giving me the Glide advice; it worked wonderfully for both hubby and I! Despite the aches and pains, I had a wonderful time and I am looking forward to my next half!
Actual Time by Milliseconds
Pictures: Only 4...so sad :(. Hubby is making a face in the last picture...he doesn't like pictures and he always sticks his tongue out during pictures.