I completed my second half-marathon! It was definitely a rough ride training for this race, but in the end I managed to run all 13.1 miles without stopping – and beat last year’s time to boot! 🙂
The expo for the event was held at The Runner’s Pace, a store located in the local mall. My mom and I headed over and picked up my race day packet, which included a shirt, bib, and a couple of small freebies from local businesses. This run had a chip system unique to any others I’d experienced; after checking in at the registration table they had me stand a foot or so away from a camera and computer that scanned the chip in my bib. Once it made a beeping sound my name popped up on the computer and I was officially a participant. I loved the countdown clock too – so exciting!
I was definitely nervous all night, mainly out of the fear that I’d oversleep and miss my start time. Like last year I had everything I needed for the run all laid out so that I could just wake up, get dressed, and head off. The morning temperature was predicted to be in the high 30s, so I’d brought my running jacket. Since it has zippered pockets, I was able to bring my ID, insurance card, credit card, Burt’s Bees grapefruit lip balm, and my phone. I also had my iPod shuffle (loaded up with an audiobook), patella brace, sunglasses, socks, sports bra, tank top, running pants, and, of course, my beloved Asics . In the morning I got dressed, put on my bib, grabbed a Luna bar, and headed back to the mall where the start/finish line was. As soon as I got there I hit the restrooms – between my nerves and the chilly air (it was 36 degrees!), I knew I would have to tinkle before too long anyway. 🙂
The event was comprised of three races: the full marathon, the half marathon, and a 5K. All three races had the same starting line, so the races were staggered by 15 minutes, with my race beginning at 7:15a, so after the national anthem was sung and the marathoners had left, the other 13.1-ers and I headed to the starting line.
This particular event is considered one of the most scenic in the country, and it did not disappoint. By the end of the first mile we had left the city behind, passed a “scenic drive” sign, and entered another world. It was as if civilization had disappeared. The sun had just risen and there were rays of light streaming through the trees. A light mist rose from a nearby pond. Ducks quacked. The air was crisp. And it was soooooo quiet.
The course certainly lived up to its claims. The country roads were absolutely beautiful.
Along the way there were horses…
… and moss-covered trees…
…and even cows. I just had to take a selfie with these guys. 🙂
Aside from the amazing scenery and stillness of it all, the race featured rest stops that set it apart from any other I’d heard of or experienced. The stops were spaced about 1.5-2 miles apart, and each one offered water, Gatorade, bananas, and gels (energizing snacks). They also had a port-o-potty at every stop, which was totally awesome – mainly because I totally needed one about 9 miles in. This is the face of a girl who’s trying to look like she doesn’t need to tinkle. 😀
At around 10 miles I started to feel the effects of the hills I’d been unable to train for, and I could feel myself dragging. But I pressed on, and before too long I came out of the rural part of the course and back into the urban. The course looped back to the mall parking lot where we’d started, and as I rounded the last corner the first marathon finisher passed me, escorted by the police. But I could tell that for my family it was even more exciting to see me coming – I just love this picture of Jay telling my mom that I’m coming (you can see me running to the left of the girl in the pink – as the police escort leaves 😀 ).
Seeing my family at the finish line was the absolute best feeling ever. The girls had made signs for me, and my mom was capturing everything on her camera. This was my 10th running event since my first 5K, and out of all those events it’s only the third time I’ve had someone waiting to watch me cross the finish line.
And cross it I did, with a finishing time of 2:34:13, a 12-minute improvement over last year’s time! I still average about a 12-minute mile, but considering there were about a gajillion hills, I’m so happy (and shocked) that I managed to maintain that speed. And yes, once I ran past my mom’s camera I kinda forgot that the event had its own cameraman… hence the awkward pic. But hey, I FINISHED!!!
This was by far my favorite race so far. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was perfect. I beat my previous time and wore my favorite color doing it. I conquered a new course and earned my 6th medal. I ran in a different city and crossed an item off my bucket list. But best of all, my family was there. My dad, my mom, my hunk of a man, and my beauties. Nothing could be better than that. ❤
PS – I loved the idea of getting another Pandora charm for my bracelet as a souvenir I could actually wear around town (not that I’m ashamed of my medal, but it’s kinda bulky). Last time I chose a crab because it matched my medal, but this time I went with a double heart charm – one heart to represent Jay and the girls, and the other to represent my parents. Their support meant the world to me, and I think of them every time I see it!