Well, I did my fourth half yesterday. I call it 3 hours of quality alone time.
Before the race start, this one, like most, was PACKED with people. It was dark and cold, but everyone was relatively happy, anxious, nervous, ready to go! I wondered what the scene looked like to the person flying the helicopter overhead; a sea of people below. When the race gets underway, however, and you cross that start line, you are on your own. You become very alone. Not in a bad way, but alone, nonetheless. It’s all you, baby. Nobody but yourself to rely on.
At about mile 2 I was feeling great. I had my iPod this time and what a difference music makes! I ate more snacks this time too (Goo, Chomps, chewable tablet things, I even choked down a partial banana at about mile 9, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
At mile 4 I was still feeling good. At mile 6 I ran the farthest I think I’ve ever ran at once without stopping…of course I don’t really know because I don’t have a Garmin, but I know it was FAR.
About mile 8 I really had to start talking to myself. I told myself that I only had a little over 5 miles to go and 5 miles is nothing. I could do this. I just had to stay strong.
At mile 9 I choked down the banana…nasty. It just kept growing in my mouth, but I swallowed hard and drank some gatorage. I drank gatorade and/or water at every stop, which is very important.
At mile 10 I felt great mentally. A little over 3 miles left and I could probably do that everyday. No sweat. But then my left leg just pretty much stopped working. I couldn’t run three steps without pulling up like an injured horse. Not cool. Up til this point, I was 3-4 full minutes ahead of my goal! I couldn’t stop now!? I figured out that I could walk fairly well, but the muscles used to pick up my leg to run were just spent. So I walked as fast as I could for a couple miles, just hoping I could run across the finish line.
When I hit mile 12, I knew I only had a little bit to go. So I started running again. Full out. I’d run until my leg stopped working, then I’d walk again. I did this all of mile 12. When you hit mile 13 in a half marathon, you’re exhilerated. And I was. I could see the finish line by then. I timed it right and was able to run across the finish, a full 4 minutes ahead of my goal and a full 15 minutes off my best ever time. I really pushed it and came in at a respectable 2:54:53. WOW! I was so happy. I was limping, but happy!
I kicked ass and it felt GREAT. I put my medal around my neck and headed for the after-race area. It was packed with people and I managed to pick up a piece of an orange, part of a bagel and a water, as I scanned the crowd for Carl and Bev. They’d cheered my across the finish (35 minutes after Carl’s PR finish of 2:19:01).
We found each other and after a few minutes we started to get really cold, so we headed back to the hotel to take showers and rest. All in all, it was a great race day. Weather was in low 40s. No sun to speak of, so no need for sunglasses. I was a little disappointed in the medal itself — not enough bling for me, I guess.