I've finished several half marathons this year at 2:08:**. I couldn't seem to get under 2:08. At least I'm consistent! I thought I had it beat at the Thanksgiving day half, but as the miles ticked away, I realized the course was long and I wasn't going to make it. I was really bummed. Besides that.. my younger sister beat me. Her husband said he thought it was 2 minutes. But when I saw the official results, I was slightly boosted to see that I was only 25 seconds behind her. I'm 3 yrs older and 30 pounds heavier. If there was handicapping, I won! Husband and I, post-race. Check out my super cute Turkey Viking Hat from my sparkpeep Maggie!
The race yesterday started out shakey, but in the end, I finally have a new PR! My friend was running as her first half so I registered to show support. Otherwise I would not have run this race again. It's boring, not enough aid stations and they increased the price from $20 to $35. She said she was doing it, the race director sent a discount code for $10 off for prior participants so I took that as a sign and registered. My friend is much slower and inconsistent in her training. She is doing well to get in a bare minimum for anything she trains for. She works full-time and has 3 busy boys on the swim team. By contrast, I am self-employed with part-time hours and a freshly empty nest. I have more time to spend following my training plan. Especially since I would rather run than vacuum. Anyway, we did a few long runs together. I would run a little with her, then run ahead, turn around and run back to her then repeat. It worked ok and she was locked into doing those runs.
I picked up my friend yesterday morning and we arrived 35 min before start time. We took off our sweats, prepped fuel belt bottles (there is not enough course support so I advised her that we should bring our own since we both have dehydration issues) then headed to the very long porta potty line. I stopped to chat with a friend for a few minutes and the line grew even longer. At 20 min until start, men were peeling out of line and going into the woods. Several women behind me decided to get in their car and go to the store down the street. You know, 4 porta potties are just not enough for 500 runners! At 3 min to start, my friend was 3rd in line as I ran up to her with several other women in tow and told her we were going to the bushes and she needed to go straight to the start and keep going. Luckily all of the men were long gone because there weren't any trees big enough to hide behind. Lots of white butts in the bushes! This race isn't chip timed. It's manual with one start for everyone and your time is when you cross the finish. I heard the starting horn sound as we were running out of the bushes and sprinting across the parking lot. Yes, the porta potties were on the opposite side of a huge parking lot from the start. To say that I was at the back of the pack is an understatement. The pack was long gone and it was just us late pottiers trying to catch up.
The course is constant low rolling anthills. Nothing that makes you work too hard for too long, but enough to raise your heart rate and slow you down a bit. I caught up to my friend at 1/4 mile, gave her some pep talk and said I would see her soon. I had told her that after I finished, I would come back to find her and run in with her. She called me the street sweeper. Hugged another friend I passed at mile 4 when we stopped for water at the first aid station. I wore my fuel belt with G2 because I knew they would only have water on the course (prior experience). Also, I have been working on my fueling plan and took a Gu at mile 5 and again at mile 8 instead of just having one at mile 7. Both were Salted Caramel which have extra electrolytes and a little caffeine. Definitely on the right track here because I wasn't fading in the final miles.
At the half-way turnaround on the out and back course, I looked at my time and knew that, if I maintained that pace I would come in 2:06 something. I had to stay focused. No getting distracted by other runner's footfalls or falling in with their pacing. No zoning out in total boredom. As I counted down to the last miles, I was doing an inventory check in my head. Feeling ok, energy level good, nothing aching... I knew if I didn't do anything dumb like misstep and fall then I would make it in under 2:08. The final 200 yd stretch was downhill on wet, cracked, uneven and bumpy pavement. Visions of me tumbling into the finish! But it didn't happen. I ran through the finish, stopped my Garmin, got my medal then went straight to the car to call my husband to tell him I finally had busted through that darn 2:08 wall... 2:06:24! I grabbed a bottle of water, hit the porta potty then headed back out on the course to find my friend right at the mile 12 marker.
She was struggling with a quad cramp, but still smiling as we ran/walked our way to the finish. I ran ahead to take a photo of her crossing the finish line. They ran out of finisher medals so I took mine off and put it on her. That medal meant so much more to her with it being her first half.
We grabbed seats in the food tent and I got us bowls of jambalaya, bananas and waters. She gave me the details of her race experience then said "Ok I have a confession. I skipped my last two long runs. If you hadn't run the others with me, I probably wouldn't have done them haha. Last week when you said you would pick me up, I thought well crap there's no maybe about this now. Thanks for doing this with me. I can put my 13.1 magnet on my car now!"
As we got up to leave, another friend said "Hey Lisa, congrats on placing!" Huh? HA! I was listening to her race story and couldn't hear the guy announcing awards results. My time was good enough for 3rd in my age group. Bonus!
So it's been a darn good week for me. I lost 1/2#, got a PR, took 3rd in the race and had my picture in the local paper on Tuesday.
The photographer was in the National Military Park looking for people "braving the weather to get in their exercise". It was a very cold day here with 30* and winds at 10-15 mph with wind chill of 23*. I know many of my sparkfriends would love that "balmy" weather, but around here, that keeps everyone indoors. He said he had been driving the loop for an hour and I was the first person he saw. It was fun having a bit of fame. People I see at the gym (but don't know) told me they saw my photo and a neighbor stopped his car (while I was walking my dog) to ask for my autograph.
Basking in my new found celebrity status will end today. Laundry has to be done, presents wrapped and eventually I have to vacuum. The dog hair is taking on a life of its own. I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season!