We headed over to Jen and Jeff's house as was Jeff so nice to drive us to Hickory for our race, which is over an hour from home and starting at 7am! We piled into the car with all our gear and hit the road. We got there earlier than expected and were among some of the first to arrive to pick up our packets. Our swag included a blue moisture-wicking t-shirt, running socks, and a tote with a bunch of coupons inside. I like that we got socks- will totally use those!
We met up with Michelle and Gibson, who live close to one another and who had also carpooled to the race. We all stood around nervously and anxiously, waiting.
My leg felt ok, but not 100 % pre-race. I stretched and tried to make myself as prepared as possible.
Around mile 5 we entered a paved running trail. It was a little hilly, but not too terrible. I started eating some of my Sharkies around this point and eagerly drank water and/or Gatorade at the water stops that I came across. After the trail portion we got back on the road. At this point it was starting to feel hotter and I was starting to feel the toughness of what I was doing. Around mile 6 it became apparent I was getting a blister on the side/ball of my left foot, a spot that I haven't previously gotten blisters with my new running shoes and hadn't thought to tape that spot (I'd taped the same spot on my right foot, since I knew that was a problem spot). I trudged on. At the halfway mark I was glad to be halfway, but still knew it was going to be ROUGH to make it through the same distance I'd already done. The course also got less scenic. We were running through unshaded more industrial parts of Hickory, with gas stations and road construction. Blah.
Finally, at mile 9 we came back through the center of Hickory where the race had started. I looked around and saw Greg and Clyde!
Greg handed my my water bottle and I handed him my sunglasses, which were bugging me from all the sweat pouring down my face. It was great to see his face and know that I only had 4 miles left.
This time thinking that it was like doing the Common Market loop actually helped me, unlike last week when Gibson had said it. I pressed on. I'd say the last four miles had the MOST HILLS of all of the race, which sucked!! I definitely walked portions of some of those hills. At mile 11 I knew I'd run further than ever before. I also set my IPOD back to the beginning of my running playlist where some of my favorites runnings songs were and it helped a lot. I got to mile 12 and was excited to only have one mile left, but OMG, it was the LONGEST MILE EVER. There were two hills. Big hills. And I never would have thought that I would walk at all on mile 12 knowing I was so close to finishing, but I did on those hills. Finally at the top I could tell I was close to the finish. I kept going. Finally I saw the finish and sprinted in!
I saw all my friends and Greg and Clyde on my left near the finish line and they all cheered me on! I saw the clock said 2 hours and 16 minutes, which was actually a lot better than I thought my time would be (I was thinking 2 hrs 20 min or 2 hrs and 30 min maybe)! My official time was actually 2:15:57, whichi is a 10:22 pace. I was so glad to be done!! I got my medal and put it on. One of the first things I said to Michelle and Jen, was, "There is no way I'm running a full marathon". I seriously can not imagine running much more than I did in that race. MAYBE I'll get crazy and change my mind, but I'm thinking no. At the same time, I quickly decided that I would definitely do a half marathon again. The experience was very cool. That distance is kind of perfect because it's really challenging but still do-able.
We all recapped on the race and my three buddies, who have all run a couple half's before, said this was the worst one they'd ever done. They all hated the hills and said it was really really tough. I have no basis for comparison, so I just thought it was hard because it was a half marathon. They all said they think our times would have been faster on most other half courses. Also, according to Jen's Garmin, we actually did MORE than 13.1 miles. She showed it at 13.2. Interesting.
Post race with one of my biggest fans! (my other biggest fan spent most of the morning as photographer hence why he's in like non of the photos, thanks Greg!)
Jen did awesome as usual and got second place (again!) in her age group. She got a bobble-head trophy :)
I would like to thank Gibson, Michelle, Kelly, and Jen for being my running buddies throughout my training. You guys are awesome. I loved having you all there to motivate me and keep my company. I would also like to thank Greg and Clyde for accomodating my running schedule and being supportive in general.
The biggest thanks goes to Jen though. She's the one that planted the seed in my head to really do this, and was there from start to finish for my training, giving advice, motivating me, teaching me things I didn't know about running. She's completely inspiring too because of her PASSION for running. I'm so glad we met and became friends and running buddies. It's seriously been life changing :)