I just did a half (and a 5K) 2 weeks ago. AND I turned my ankle a week ago - a twist that sent me to the ground on pavement on my opposite knee. I am learning what my body can do :-)
But I wanted to do a Valentine one... and to get away with my hubby. And I have drooled for weeks over the course. It was along the canal in Richmond, VA...and full of historic sights (AND a double loop course so I could take photos and then come back and catch what I missed!). I think this excited me the most. Oh - AND a 4 hour time limit so I KNEW I could complete it nicely since I have about a 3.5 hour average.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for!
I was fine the night before - we located the sports store for packet pick-up -I' looked like a fun place BUT I really felt like shopping.. but there were no specials - or displays to grab me :-) The only thing that caught my eye was the race nutrition selection - but I was already well supplied. If I had seen the gloves or running pack I was looking for, I would have added a new flavor or two of gel to try. But as it was, I'm afraid they didn't get my money.
so - off to dinner at Panera's . Just a little mental twinge when I ate a chicken salad on a Lenten Friday night. Reality check for me was that I have had tummy trouble at races since I got back into the game last November. And I don't know why - could be excessive cardio effort that my body isn't prepared for... could be some new tummy delicacy that I have developed.... or could be inadequate preparation with food and liquid. So THIS time, I decided that I would eat my normal fare - nothing really different or weird.... and drink a LOT of water. So I had a basic grilled chicken salad thing with veggie soup and bread. Basic - how romantic :-)
But all in all, it was a quiet night. I was a bit troubled by the weather forecast of lowering temps and potential precipitation but I resolutely set that aside and got a decent night's sleep.
And I was successful! I didn't wake until 6am.. unheard of for me :-) Especially in a room that wasn't mine.
My husband scored big time with his hotel choice. We could walk to the start and he could come back and get us checked out at his leisure. Also we could leave the car there until I was completely finished...solving another problem.
At any rate - so I was up in plenty of time for the 10 am start. I had told myself that I needed to finish eating by 8-8:30 to make sure my tummy was easy.... so we headed to the restaurant for breakfast. 2 cups of coffee & whole wheat bread with peanut butter and honey.... added to a bowl of cut fruit. Plenty of fuel.... but all accompanied with a window view of rain and snow. Oh my goodness.... NOW I was beginning to freak about the weather!
I am not afraid to be outside... but I am definitely concerned about the fact that I am NOT prepared to be outside in cold and wet for 4 hours. And I am worried about the slick roads, cobblestones and steps that I will be on. As I sat there nibbling my bread.... I couldn't keep my eyes off the window and I worried more and more. Am I being silly? Am I too old for this stuff? Should I back down? If I DO back down, am I backing down from fear or caution? Will I be angry with myself for NOT going through with this?
My husband and I decided that we would walk to the start and make a decision there. That way, I could actually see what the weather was doing and how I would respond during the 5 minute walk.
|at the start... yep - gonna give it a try!|
I was nervous but okay! Since the sleet and snow had stopped I decided to give it a go! Of course I was freezing but I knew that I would warm up when I started moving... and my trusty cell was in the fanny pack! I promised I'd call if it got to be more than I wanted to handle and I promised I'd send texts of mile markers now and again so he wouldn't worry.
So - OFF I went! A brisk walk so as not to stress the ankle too much (Okay, yeah I know - AS IF 13.1 miles wouldn't stress it :-)... but it was a little tender so I didn't want to push my luck!
I have to say - this was a HARD race! One of the gifts of being at the back of the pack is that you get to meet people and you get to talk. I met up with a lovely woman ( a REAL runner :-) who was not supposed to run because of an injury. We kept pace for a bit - but soon her walk/jog left me in the dust.
I met a great guy who can't run due to injury but did a 15 minute mile walking. I was good with him until mile 8.... he is training for a tri-athlon and plans to walk the marathon part. Amazing - and inspiring! I was really hurting by now and completely miserable... but I did enjoy the stories. I have to apologize for sure for my whining!
The volunteers were amazing! As miserable with cold and damp as I was - I can't imagine what they went through. At least I was MOVING! They were standing around helping us with traffic, etc.
And then I was on my own and the demons came at me. SO hard! But the honest truth was - at this point... while I was miserable... and the snow and wind had picked up.... had I stopped, I would have been a quitter. I was not injured or unable... just miserable. So I HAD to keep going. I had voices in my head of my friends - runners and not - urging me to keep at it. I KNEW I could do it - I simply didn't want to.... but deep down.... well, I had to finish.
And God left the best gift for last.... as always when you just keep plugging along! I came upon a young man who was really hurting. I slowed my slow pace to keep him company. Several others passed us but I got to hear how this was his very first race. He didn't know anyone who even ran but wanted to be an inspiration to his family and friends. What a gift! To hear this story right then :-)
A couple of blocks from the end, his mother met him - so I went on. I entered the chute.... the volunteers were already taking it down.... oh my, how late was I? I saw my beloved husband waiting for me to catch a photo at the finish line.
What I didn't see was anyone else but the photographer. Thank goodness he was still there so he could tell me where to get my finisher medal! I don't even know my time because the timer had been shut off. My poor husband was about to have a fit because he tried to tell people that there were still people on the course.
And then - my friend came in - dead last (of course, that makes me next to last).. but triumphant! I got his medal and put it on him and he went off to work. I wish I could hear the rest of the story!
btw - while I don't have an official time.. I was eating the second piece of bagel at 1:40... which means I definitely beat the 2pm deadline and, despite the weather, my ankle and my attitude - I must have still done the half marathon in my usual 3.5ish hours!
I guess it was just so cold that the volunteers decided to pack up. The race was well managed except that last bit at the end :-) The earlier participants were partying it up in the heated tent so it seemed like all was well except for us last stragglers.... my only regret is that my friend's name is not on the finisher;s list (mine either but it was SO not my first race!)
|the home stretch.... you can see people packing up in the background....|
ps.... I DID finally get an 'official' time.... 3:20:55 so almost a minute FASTER than Tybee.....