The day of the race: The race was on a Saturday morning. I was pretty nervous but was ready to get it over with. Josh had decided to run it with me for moral support. He hadn't been training but he was consistently running 4 miles several times a week at a much faster pace than me and had also been running 8 miles once a week. We had our ipod shuffles loaded with songs to keep us going. We had our energy bars and coffee for breakfast and lots of water. We had our energy gummy chews for mid-way through the race. We were ready.
We got to the race and signed in and got our shirts. Our extremely bright, neon green shirt. Hmm, so much for wearing that around to proudly proclaim I ran a half marathon! We looked at the map of the course and then waited around for the start. I hate the waiting. The nervous excitement, wondering if I should try and go to the bathroom again, I just hate it. We finally started and it was going good. I was running the pace I wanted to run. It was a bit crowded at first because there were 3 races going on - a 5k, 10k, and half marathon and all of us had started at the same time. At some point, the 5k runners turned around and went back. I inwardly scoffed at how little they had to run and how great I still felt. Then the 10k runners turned back and I was a little envious but still feeling pretty good.
The course was a bit confusing but there were people standing there, pointing out the direction we should go. Sometimes there would be arrows on the ground and we assumed those were for us. There weren't many runners after the 10k group turned around. We stayed just behind one runner for quite awhile and passed some others when we would loop around the course. We were never in a big pack after the first few minutes. I thought it was nice not having other runners to worry about but later I began to re-think that.
Josh was having no trouble keeping up with me. It was a bit annoying at times. I ran out of things to talk about and he's never really been one for small talk so he decided to listen to his shuffle. I never really knew this about him until that day but he's really loud when he has headphones in. He tried to tell me what song he was listening to but he was shouting it. Then he even started singing along.
Right around mile 9, I started dragging. I didn't want to do it anymore. We were all by ourselves. I was tired. Josh made the comment, "Huh, it looks like the it's a gradual increase along here." I told him that was NOT helpful. Then he walked beside me. I had slowed down so much that he could walk next to me while I was jogging. This was a tad discouraging, too. He tried to rally my spirits but for some reason, it had the opposite effect on me. I even stopped running and walked for a bit.
That was the opposite of how I wanted the race to go. After a couple minutes of walking, I decided to turn on my shuffle. I'm not sure why I didn't turn it on sooner. I guess I just didn't want to mess with it and wanted to stay focused. It helped immediately though. I heard the music and started jogging again and was focused on finishing. We headed back into the woods that we had gone through at the beginning of the course but this time, there were no helpful people pointing us in the right direction. There was one runner ahead of us that we followed for awhile and then passed him. After we passed him, there was a fork in the trail, and we took the one less traveled, which was the wrong one. Or maybe we took the one more traveled - either way, it was wrong. We had to backtrack a little bit to get on the right trail and I was discouraged.
I started walking again and then we saw the finish. Right there! It was so close! We could see the flags! And then Josh pointed out we had to go all the way around the parking lot and I wanted to stop. It just felt too cruel. We still had to run a half mile, which seemed so much farther, when we could see the finish line!
Josh had his GPS watch on and said that we would technically finish 13.1 miles before the finish line so I told him to stop the watch when it said 13.1 because I wanted to know the real time, counting our extra distance for backtracking because of a poorly marked course. It still wasn't a great time. 2:21.30, which averages out to about 10:45 a mile. It's certainly not bad for someone who ran a 5k (3.1 miles) 2 years ago and did that at an 11:00 minute mile pace. But I had been training at a 10:00 minute mile pace and was hoping to do around there or better. So my first thoughts when I finished weren't full of pride and accomplishment. I was unhappy with my time and upset that I had walked. It wasn't the race I wanted to run. I said afterwards that it was just too long of a race for me.
We went to get a drink but all the water and food were gone. Another major disappointment. So we drank the water we had brought ourselves and then went through a drive-thru to get a chocolate milk. We came home and a friend called me to see how it went. I told her my time and that I had walked part way and wasn't super happy about it and didn't plan to run another race that long. She was very encouraging, reminding me of how far I'd come in a short amount of time, and said she wouldn't be surprised if I changed my mind within the week. I took a shower and realized that I wasn't that sore. I didn't actually feel too bad. I JUST RAN 13.1 MILES AND FELT OKAY! And that's when I realized, I was going to run a half marathon again sometime. I was going to run one that was better marked and better attended so I was never wondering which way to turn. I would turn my music on sooner this time. I would know what to expect and would train harder and I would run it faster. Because I am a runner!