Truth be told- I'm feeling a little bit lost today. The race is over. I've accomplished my goal. There are no more squares on my calendar to fill in. I anticipated feeling this way, but that doesn't make the emptiness any easier. I have this huge training/goal oriented/running hole that I don't know how to fill. On to my recap....
We finally got up to the starting line. The announcers sounded the buzzer and we were off. The start of the race was a really gradual descent down a hill and around the corner to another up hill that was an easy, steady climb. I kept my sweatshirt on until I had finished the first mile and then ditched it on the side of the road. They have the Salvation Army come through and collect tossed aside clothing. It was tough to let go of my sweatshirt, but it was time for it to go.
The first 3 miles were easy, peasy. My pace was around a 10:20 mile and I was booking. People had already started walking, but I was going strong. I got an awesome text from a friend telling me that she was going to meet me at the 3 mile mark, but that they missed me because I was so fast. Not only did that make me smile, but it also kept me going when things started to get hard.
I stopped around mile 4 or 5 to use the porta potty. That would be my only stop along the course. At mile 6 (I think...) we were coming up to this huge hill and I knew that my training was going to come in handy! I was able to get about 3/4 of the way up the hill before I had to walk. I got a little cocky because I was able to pass so many people. The downhill of that hill was crazy steep. I had to walk the whole thing for fear that I'd land flat on my face. After we got to the bottom of the hill, there were more water stations (I swear there were 8-10 of these things on the 1/2 marathon course).
It get a little blurry from here. I love the point in a long run where it all starts to run together. I am no longer counting each quarter mile. I don't have to push for just one more mile. I am just there and I am just running. I refueled around mile 7 (Snickers bar to the rescue! I should have eaten more. Everything was happening so fast that I forgot to eat again.) We ran past a lake and were able to see the full marathoners coming up on their 18th mile. I watch in awe as they ran right past me. We ran up a huge hill where they had people holding giant American flags and there were pictures along the roadside of soldiers that were killed in action. We ran though the I-90 tunnel. THROUGH A TUNNEL! That was crazy. I walked quite a bit of the tunnel. The air was so heavy and I struggled to stay focused with the noise from above.
At some point my pace started to slow dramatically. I'm not sure where the time went, but around mile 10 my pace was up to nearly a 12 minute mile. I knew at that point I was not going to meet my time goal of 2 and a half hours. This 1/2 marathon was never about a time goal (of course I had one!) or even beating someone else; this was about me completing a 1/2 marathon. At mile 11, I realized that I was only 2 miles away from finishing. There was a part of me that didn't want to finish. I know that sound crazy, but it's how I felt. I didn't want it to be over so fast. All of my training. All of the runs. All of the "figuring out" of my running issues. It was all going to be over in less than half an hour.
I started to walk...to take everything in...watch the people...read the sign...enjoy the moment. I ran a bit during the last 2 miles. I walked a lot. I *could* have ran more, but taking everything in was a greater priority to me than posting a great time. I ran past a marathoner who was on the side of the road with an IV in his arm. He was only 2 miles away from finishing and his body gave out. I gave thanks for my body and how far it has brought me. I gave thanks for my amazing family and friends that have supported me through this journey. I gave thanks that the rain held out.
Before I knew it, I was at mile 13. Mile 13! The last .1 was down a hill and around the corner. As I rounded the corner and started up a tiny hill to the finish line, I was overtaken by emotion. Yep, I was that girl bawling her eyes out and she crossed the finish line. I couldn't stop crying. I had done it. I had run a 1/2 marathon in 2 hours and 49 minutes. See that? I ran faster than 3700 people! :) I was even faster than 400 other people my age! According to my Nike+ app I actually ran 13.67 miles with a pace of 12:22. I like those numbers better.
The race was over. I had crossed the finish line.