My pre-race week was extremely hectic, but the day before the race was chill. On race morning, I woke up super early, took a quick shower, and had a nice breakfast of toast with peanut butter and banana. Of course, I drank coffee :P
We drove up in the pitch-black darkness, and I felt pretty calm. We found rockstar parking in a garage close to the start/finish of the race. Score for free parking! The start area was pretty calm at 6am, and the portapotty lines were fairly short, too. I checked in, but they'd run out of bibs. So, I got a timing chip but no bib :( I was bummed about not getting a bib but went about my pre-race business. As per my coach's raceplan, I did a solid one mile warmup with three speedy bursts. At one point, I wondered if I should save more energy for the race :O I hugged my hubby, and then I took a gel about 10 minutes before the start.
The start was on the road, and I couldn't really hear the announcements. So, I got freaked that I wouldn't notice when the start happened. Fortunately, I heard the gun & started...I was weaving a bunch at the start, and people were clumped together on the road and sidewalk. I made to sure to average around 8:10, which felt fine. Then we were on a fairly narrow path, and I could tell that I was slowing down behind people and had to accelerate around them. The first few miles on the path were uneventful. I felt in control when running around 8:10 pace. I noticed some hardcore runners around me, which made me wonder if I belonged up there. And then I'd remind myself to just stick to the race plan :)
I took my first gel at mile 4.5. I grabbed a cup of water at the next aid station and probably only got in a gulp or two. Around mile 5, I challenged myself to speed up a bit. It kept me focused, and I could tell that I was working harder at 8:07 pace. I still felt strong. A few miles of the path were gravel---rather than paved; this made the running tougher.
Around mile 8, I started feeling tired. I think I got a side stitch. I tried concentrating on my breathing. But Garmalade was letting me know that I wasn't quite on track for a 1:47 halfie. I told myself to buck up and keep going & keep pushing my legs. I was running next to a man who was extremely encouraging and knew the route very well. He was giving me tips about where the aid stations were, etc. I took another gel at mile 8.5. My tummy wans't too happy after that gel, but I reminded myself that I needed the energy. I grabbed water & electrolyte drink at aid stations and even walked through one station to get some extra fluids. During mile 9, the doubts got louder, telling me that I lacked the endurance to do this. I forced myself to stay present and somewhat positive. At the same time, I felt like I wanted someone to scream at me to run faster!
When mile 10 hit, my legs were mad, or sad, or something :O I tried convincing myself that I was starting a 5K, and then spent a lot of time convincing myself that I just had to run one more mile, another mile, etc. Every little, tiny uphill felt insurmountable. And there were these tiny hills up to bridges that went across the creek/river. Yikes, I even groaned (moaned?) while running this segment of the race. Several other runners encouraged me by cheering me on, and the volunteers told me I looked great (I'm certain they were lying!). When mile 12 hit, I just concentrated on driving my legs, but they felt SO weak and eeked out a 9 minute mile. I wanted to race to be done, with a capital D. When mile 12.5 arrived, I attempted to trick myself into thinking I was on the track. When I saw the finish line, I kicked and ran the last .2 miles in 7:48 pace!
According to the race results, I finished in 1:50:48, which was 38/289 women!!