I almost can’t believe I am a half-marathoner! A little over a year ago, when I weighed close to 300 lbs, I would have thought even the idea was crazy. But now not only do I have the race under my belt, I am busy planning all my upcoming races for the year and even into next year.
So here’s my recap of the event. My 3 younger kids and I left for New Holland, PA soon after they got home from school on Friday. We live close enough that it would have been feasible to drive there on race day but I didn’t want to add the stress of driving for my first half. We arrived just in time for the pasta dinner, which was free for my two younger ones. They ate their money’s worth and then some! Afterwards I picked up my race bag and we checked out the teeny expo. Oh yeah, we had to buy some Amish whoopie pies to eat for later.
I laid out my clothes for the next day and after some tv, tried to get some sleep. I remember at one point being very irritable because my girls would not stop talking and it was close to midnight! I think I slept well after that but in the morning I remembered my vivid dream of running the race and it was getting dark because it apparently took me the entire day to run a half!
I was paranoid about oversleeping and had set two alarms but I was quickly up and dressed after the first one and decided to head down for breakfast with my 8 yr old. He wanted a waffle and in a rash moment, I decided to eat the other half of his. In retrospect, this wasn’t the greatest decision. They say, don’t do anything differently on race day, and I certainly don’t make a habit of eating waffles for breakfast! The other not so great decision was to leisurely drink my coffee so I didn’t finish drinking it until 20 minutes before gun time.
Our hotel was only 2 miles from the race start so it was pretty easy to get parked and in the start area. A few words from the race director, the national anthem and a prayer, and we were off! I was doing it! Running a half marathon!
The first couple of miles were pretty easy. I was right behind the pacer for 2h30. Then the coffee kicked in and I had to make a pit stop. Fortunately there were water stops about every 2 miles, with porta potties, water, Gatorade, and even Gu/cliffs shot blocks at every stop. After that stop, I lost sight of the pacer group.
It was fun to see all the Amish buggies backed up at intersections, waiting for a break in the race to cross the road. Even though we used to live in this area, I still love seeing buggies. Mile 4 started a long uphill stretch and I had to start taking occasional walk breaks. I tried to limit them to about 45 seconds, just long enough to take a breather.
Mile 5 marked the end of the closed off roads and also there was a horse auction happening on the race route, so it got a bit confusing about which side of the street to run on, with big horse trailers coming down the road. More than once I had to cross from one side of the street to the other.
Heading into mile 6, the 1/2 marathon lead runners started passing us on their way back. They were moving fast! Especially since I was now on a downhill incline and they were heading up. Mile 7 marked a sharp turn with a steep downhill. I couldn’t enjoy it knowing I was soon going to be running back up it. Pretty soon signs advertising the 1/2 marathon turnaround appeared and right about then I saw the 2hr30 pacer group again. I would guess I was about 1/4 mile behind them at this point. It was sure great knowing that I was more than halfway through.
After running around the cone and heading back the direction I came from, I took some comfort that I was far from last, even though I was pretty far in the back of the pack. Heading back up the steep hill, I had to do a complete walk, although I tried to make it a power walk. Through mile 10, it continued to be a moderate but continual uphill. There were signs attached to cones along the way that made me smile ‘Toenails are optional!’ Or ‘Run like you stole something’ or ‘This doesn’t hurt as bad as a kidney stone’.
Finally I got to the 10 mile marker and the course official announced ‘the next mile is all downhill!’ Oh thank heavens. I picked up some speed and tried to make up a bit of time. I even passed quite a few runners, most of whom looked younger and fitter than me. I told myself it was only a 5k left. Easy, right?
Right at the 12 mile marker, the pace car and eventual full marathon winner passed me. He was moving at a good clip. Someone passed me on a bike and yelled ‘catch up to him!’ Uh, yeah right.
The very last mile was fairly flat and I felt myself running out of steam. I was still running but it was a slow shuffle run. As soon as I approached the end of the course, I could hear the cheering and that motivated me to find a bit more energy to finish strong. I ran through the finish line and was handed my medal and given a space blanket. I immediately looked for my kids, thinking they had seen me arrive. Um, no. They hadn’t even arrived yet! Apparently it took them an hour to walk to 2 miles from our hotel. 😦 At least they made it eventually.
There was a good spread of food in the race recovery tent and I took my time recovering and eating.