The night before I followed my usual pre-race routine of showering and laying out all my things for race morning.
I tried to watch a movie in bed and relax but I was extraordinarily anxious about this race for some reason. I eventually fell asleep while watching tv but as soon as I actually tried to go to bed my heart started racing and I started crying.
I don't know why I was so worried about this race. Maybe it's because I knew the course was full of hills or because my shin splints prevented me from training.. Either way I was a mess.
I got up at 4 a.m. since my dad was picking me up at 5:45 to make the hour and a half drive to Concord. My mom didn't want to come for the start and couldn't find anyone to ride with her to catch the finish so she stayed behind and met us later.
I had my typical pre-race breakfast: coffee and a peanut butter bagel (hey, when you find something that works don't mess with it)..
..pinned on my bib and tied my timing chip onto my shoe..
My dad picked me up right on time and we arrived at the race area around 7:15 for the 8:00 start. I had gotten a bit carsick after driving over all the rolling hills that we would later be running but luckily we got there in plenty of time for me to relax and start feeling better.
It was a very small race. There couldn't have been more than 200-something people running the half marathon, I think the 5k had more though. Maybe that's something else that contributed to my anxiety.
There was a group of half marathon walkers that started about 30 minutes before we did. The temperature was a lot hotter than I expected (I think it was around like 80 when we finished). Miles 1-5 were perfect. The course was flat with a few gradual downhills and we were holding a very consistent pace around 11 minute miles. I felt amazing and started feeling silly about how worried I had been.
I assure you that I'm not as much of a heel-striker as it looks in this picture, I think I was slowing to a walk when my dad took this.
Then we hit mile 5.. the temperature was still rising and running through the woods on the bike trail really took a toll on my asthma. I was having a real problem breathing. The course changed around this point too. The uphills weren't bad but the downhills were so steep that my bad ankle and my knees started to bother me.
I started to get slower and slower and had to walk a lot more to keep my breathing under control. At mile 7-ish the course changed again to very intense uphill climbs with few downhills, and at mile 8 I couldn't run anymore. As soon as I would start running my heart rate would increase and my asthma would act up. I kept trying to use my inhaler but it wasn't helping.
This was just what I had been freaking out about. I wasn't going to finish and I would disappoint people.. I couldn't breathe, but I couldn't quit. So I resolved to walk the last 5 miles. My dad looked at me and said "If you finish this, it will be the most deserving medal that you've earned."
Beginning at mile 8.5 there was a hill that seemed to last forever. Actually, I don't think it stopped until between mile 9.5 and 10. And yes, I took a picture of it..
Around mile 10 the hills stopped and the course flattened out again until the finish. Too bad I couldn't run anymore.. At 10.5 we started running through a more residential area and a group of people had set up an unofficial water station for the racers.
As we approached my dad yelled "Got any beer?!" To both our surprise they actually did and handed him a glass of beer.
He downed it and we were on our way again! I was strictly a walker at this point. And my hands and fingers were so swollen that I couldn't bend them without getting sharp, shooting pains through the backs of my hands!
But I finished, and I was very proud that I didn't quit. I successfully crossed the finish line of my 3rd half marathon!
Once we finished and got some cold water, we jumped back in the car and met my mom and brother at Cracker Barrel for a post-race breakfast.
I was exhausted! I went home, showered and took a little nap on my couch =)
This race was rough, to say the least. I was miserable and I kept thinking about this quote that I had read before:
"You're running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You're delirious. But you keep running because there's no way out of this hell you're in, because there's no way you're not crossing the finish line. It's a misery that non-runners don't understand."
I don't know who it's by but it really applied to this race.. and I'm already picking out the next one I want to do.. but that's another post for another time =)
I really, truly appreciate all the support you guys have given me, I couldn't do this without you =))