Finally after such a roller coaster of coming back after pregnancy, then all the time off when Megatron was sick and recovering, the weight loss, gain and then loss again and then falling apart at the Cap City half in May, everything seemed to fall into place. Saturday was a wet, cold, dreary day but Sunday's forecast was dry and cool. I fully expected it to be overcast and dreary again but it turned out to be the most beautiful racing weather. I couldn't have asked for better half marathon weather! Though the forecast confused me in terms of what to wear. It always does. You would have thought I'd never done this before because I was texting with friends the night before asking about what to wear. Will I be too hot? Too cold? Do I wear a trash bag at the start? Do I need a throw away shirt or gloves? So many options! I opted for short sleeves and took old tube socks to keep my arms warm, along with a trash bag to keep my core warm while waiting for the start. Capris were really my only option for my legs because capris are the only bottoms I have that fit currently (downside to losing weight is I keep finding that my clothes are too big and I don't have time or money to keep going to shopping) and have been "tested" for long distance runs.
|I didn't even bother to cut the toes off the socks...but realized the flaw in that was that I couldn't give the thumbs up with my sock on my arm. First world problems.|
I met up with my friends around 7:30 am. We all ended up parking in the exact same place so we wandered over to the starting area to find the bathrooms. Here was the first hiccup. There are two public restrooms in the park where the race was held. The women's restroom had 4 stalls. Four stalls for who knows how many women, all of whom need to use the restroom at least once before the race started. Yeah. Not enough. If I would have noticed the men's restroom before we got in line, I would have suggested we just use the men's because there was no line. It wouldn't be the first time I've done that before a race. I think the number of bathrooms would probably need to be quadrupled (if the same number of people are expected) in the future. We were early enough that it wasn't a problem. We waited in line and made it out with a couple minutes to spare. I think all of us are used to much larger races so we kind of stood around, unsure of where to go. There weren't any corrals or signs indicating paces so we weren't sure where to line up to start. We opted for the back half of the crowd. Someone sang the national anthem and the race started right at the advertised time (which I point out because there is another racing company in town that always seems to start late). Since there wasn't chip timing, I made sure to start my Garmin right as we passed by the flag indicating the start line (no giant, fancy and probably expensive inflatable arch like most races). I had no idea how they were going to time the race since it wasn't chip timed so I knew I was going to be relying on my Garmin in case their timing plan didn't work or was significantly off what I had.
There was the usual fanfare at the start, a DJ playing music and lots of cheering as we crossed the start line. The person next to me got really excited and threw her arms in the air. As she brought her arms back down though, her elbow came right down onto the top of my shoulder. It had to have hurt her because it left a heck of a bruise and a sore spot on my shoulder. She apologized, I shook it off any we headed out of the park.
My friend Kim was recruited to pace me for the race but ultimately, there 3 others who joined us just for fun. Well, to totally call her out, my friend Meg came armed with a cow bell and the intent to just cheer/spectate but when we realized we had an extra bib, she put her cow bell in my car and just decided to run it with us. I'll also add that she ran a full marathon last weekend. Who does that?! My friends. Haha. Anyways, Kim had instructions to keep me between 12:30 and 12:45 for the first two miles. I didn't want to get swept up in the excitement and go out too fast. Yeah... despite their best efforts, it didn't quite work. I was the one setting the pace and I felt great. They kept randomly yelling, "breaks!" and putting their hands up to get me to slow down. Haha. We finally settled into a comfortable (for me) pace though. I knew I wanted to stay around the 12:30 pace in order to just beat my previous PR but knew I had it in me to go faster. I was hoping to go slower in the beginning and gradually pick it up but that's mentally hard to do and I just haven't practiced that very much.
|Lots of smiles less than a half mile in! :)|
We also saw some of my favorite spectators! The Pilot and Megatron came out! We saw them a couple times and it was so cute to see Megatron holding a tiny sign that said "go go go!" Which when he says it, comes out like "doh doh doh." He says it a lot when he's running around the house or sitting in the run stroller, heckling me. The second time we passed by, he ran right out onto the sidewalk but instead of going to me, he ran up to Meg. I didn't have time to stop though so I kept running. Then we realized he totally thought Meg was me. Pale skin and dark hair, yup, must be my mama! He didn't realize it wasn't me until Meg started to hug him. Haha. He hugged her anyways because he's sweet like that. The pictures crack me up though because there's me, buzzing right past my own kid while Meg squats down to hug him.
|There are a couple photos like this and everyone seems to be smiling at him. :) I have to say, he is pretty darn cute.|
|Who knows what I'm doing. The lady in the white vest ran with us for the first half and I think she enjoyed the running commentary we had going on.|
|See ya, kid. Mama's got a PR to chase down!|
|At least Auntie Meg loves you!|
I think if I had run this on my own, I wouldn't have run as fast. Even though I was setting the pace, the girls kept my energy up and kept me from slowing down too much. When I whined, they countered with singing, positive thoughts...or told me to shut up. All of which I needed. They even "threw me the rope" when I started cursing (loudly towards the end) when I would see a hill. Taking advice from a dear friend Krista, our teammates frequently throw each other an imaginary rope that they can use to pull themselves forward so they keep moving. Our entire team has a rope so you can grab on whenever you need it. I was absolutely using Meg's rope to get up those last couple of hills.
|Proof that Meg was trying to throw me a rope to pull me up that hill!|
The last 3 miles were into the wind and while the breeze kept us cool now that the sun was getting high, it was definitely pushing into us. I was starting to lose steam too. My girls talked to me non-stop in that last mile. I don't even know how far we had left but all of the sudden Kat told me I had 2 minutes to finish. Two minutes? What?! Since I was pretty fried at that point, I thought she meant two minutes until my previous PR time (2:49:44....completely forgetting that before the race I finally admitted to them that I was aiming for 2:40). All I could think was "oh hell no! I didn't work this hard to miss my PR again!" I found another gear. But like a slap in the face, there were two more inclines. One of which was right at the finish line and actually had two very sharp switchbacks to navigate. I wheezed out a couple more obscenities as my girls all started screaming my name and telling me to go. Right as I was cursing the last hill, I saw The Pilot and Megatron, along with my mom, my training buddy, Katy and several other of our amazing teammates who came to cheer me on. Everyone was screaming. All I remember is another runner saying, "I don't know who Amber is but she's got great friends." If I didn't feel like I was about to pass out and vomit, I would have laughed and responded, "I have THE BEST friends."
|Just my security detail and we came in toward the finish.|
|These lovely ladies were cheering at the finish.|
|The couple that cheers together stays together. Haha...I think they were just happy to NOT be running considering they ran a half marathon last weekend. :)|
|Screaming me towards the finish line. :)|
|Kim, thanks for pacing me. Now I think I'm about to puke on your shoes.|
|Nothing like giving your mom a sweaty hug! I was so happy to see her cheering me into the finish...and for holding me up after the finish! :)|
|Taking a load off while having a drink. Spectating is hard work!|
|Seriously, some of the most supportive people I have ever met and I feel so lucky to call them my friends.|
|I'm really glad this guy came up with the "Big Time" PR goal and supported me until it happened.|
Naturally though I'm sort of wondering what kind of time I could pull off on a flat course.... ;)
|Not exactly what I had in mind for my splits but I got it done so I'm not complaining!|