This past Saturday Scott, mom, and I all ran the United Cerebral Palsy Life Without Limits half marathon. I think I’m STILL on a high from how awesome it was!
We woke up at 4am and by 5am we were on the road. Mom’s boyfriend, Alvin, very kindly offered to drive us there so none of us racers would have to worry with the stress of navigating. It was a COLD morning. When we arrived at the venue the sun hadn’t come up and it was 29 degrees. Scott, who was wearing shorts, jokingly said something along the lines of, “I might just DNF today because it is just TOO COLD!” After we picked up our packets and got our bibs, the sun had come up and warms things up a little, but not nearly enough for my tastes.
About 20 minutes before the start, we set out for a warm up jog. It still felt ridiculously cold and I was immediately hit with a seemingly never-ending snot waterfall out of my nose. I was nervous about my injury and tried to take the warm up extremely easy. I ran 1 mile and then finished with some typical pre-run dynamic stretches– butt kicks, high knees, grape vines, and the like. Soon enough, we gathered at the start line. I was struck by how small this half seemed. I figured with a field this small I would be among the back of the pack, so I made my way to the back so I wouldn’t be an anyone’s way. After a few minutes of standing, we took off!
Throughout the entire race I was continually struck with how beautiful the course was. The first mile had us crossing over the Wilson Dam– I was still miserably cold but didn’t mind as much because the view was incredible. After that, the route took us over a paved path through a wooded area– there were some gentle hills but it seemed flat for the most of the first half. I was surprised at the number of aid stations in this race– it seemed like they came almost every mile or at least every other mile! The volunteers at all of them were fantastic and always greeted us with cheers and smiling faces. At mile 3 my run still felt effortless, and I continued to slowly reel in the miles. Somewhere around mile 4 I walked for a minute to take my Honey Stinger gel, and mom passed me. When we race together I almost always finish ahead of her, and rarely we will finish at the same time… but she has never beat me before! I felt a slight push of friendly competitiveness as she passed, but knew I needed to stick to my pace if I wanted to finish the race without making my injury worse.
At mile 8 my lower back started to ache. Up until that point it just felt slightly off– maybe a little tight, but nothing too bad. But when we turned the corner to a part of the course that runs along the high way (the only part of the course I didn’t like), it felt like someone had taken a 20 pound weight and attached it to my sacrum. I slogged through the long, straight mile and found myself a rabbit to chase. At this point I knew it would just be about slowly ticking off the miles, and was surprised at the number of people I was passing. I made it to mile 10 and felt a flood of relief– only 2 more to go! Sadly the last part of the course was also the hardest part. For a mile and a half we ran over a bridge. I was close to the edge and looking over made me feel nauseated. I averted my eyes and tried to keep my head down. I was thankful for my clothing choice– tights, gloves, short sleeve shirt, a pull over, and an head band. I never felt too hot and the only thing I ended up needing to strip off was my gloves. Mile 12 was the best mile crowd support wise but the WORST mile effort wise. It was a gradual uphill all the way to the end of the race. My lower back and hip were hurting terribly at this point, but the people cheering and doling out high fives kept me going. It was at this point that I looked down at my watch that I had been mostly ignoring and was surprised to see that I was on track for a PR. My body was tired and I felt like I was barely shuffling, but I pushed with all that I had. I saw mom ahead of me, and eventually passed her, giving myself a mental pat on the back– you’ll have to get me next time, mom! Finally the finish line came into view and I saw Scott and Alvin, both cheering loudly. I ran as hard as I could. After I crossed the finish line in an all out sprint I had trouble stopping to a walk, and almost ran straight into the lady that was trying to put a medal over my head! Ha…
I finished with a new personal record: 2:27:51, beating my previous time by 6 minutes! Not too shabby on a bum hip!
Scott finished with a time of 1:58:23 and scored 3rd place in his age group! I am so darn proud of that guy. This was his first official half marathon race, too! 🙂
The post race festivities were great– instead of the usual greasy pizza, a catering company provided awesome sandwiches and snacks. We sat around soaking up the sun and waiting for the awards to be given. It turns out that I was right about the small field– only 377 finishers! Overall it was a great race– beautiful course, awesome volunteers, cool medals, good food, super organized. I literally have nothing bad to say about it! After Scott got his award we headed to grab lunch. I had beer battered chicken fingers with honey mustard. I ate them so fast I couldn’t even get a good picture. Typical post race voracious hunger!
How was your weekend? 🙂