Saturday, March 03, 2012
It's been 2 weeks. I'm sad it's over. It was an incredible day for me and it was even sweeter because my family was there this time for me.
Our hotel was about 3/4 mile from the start line. Race start was at 6:30. We had driven the course the day before so that Hubby and I could pick spots for them to be along the course and I would know to look for them. At first the plan was for them to walk, but at the last minute on the way to the start line, he decided to drive so that they could hit more spots along the route.
My family dropped me close to the start around 6:00. A long distance friend of mine was running the half and we met up to say hello prior to the race start, planning on meeting up after to have a post-race victory lunch. Stood in the port-o-potty line, since I swore I'd not skip this step after last marathon's huge mistake of not doing so!
Half and full start separately, but then merge together within a few tenths of a mile. We said our good byes and good lucks and went our separate ways. Since there were no start corrals, I had decided to start between the 3:35 and the 4:00 pace groups. I was surrounded only by men. It was really odd! You could feel the excitement in the air- one of my favorite parts of these long distance races.
Temperature was 39degrees at start and still dark out. I had on a tank top, arm warmers, shorts and a fleece hoodie over that that I planned to ditch as soon as I was warm enough. Also had on gloves, but I realized I had already lost one of my gloves between the port o potties and the start line! I also had on my visor since I need something for the sun that I was hoping would come out later. had a fleece ear band wrapped around my arm incase I needed it.
The race started on time, and I have a distinct memory of everyone's GPS watches beeping at the same time as we went over the start line- it almost seemed deafening to me, but I loved it! It took me 34 seconds to cross over the start based on my clock and chip times.
Within a few minutes, the half and full runners merged together. Very odd that our group had to cut over a grass median with no warning that it was happening. All I could think of was, "oh no, it's been a few minutes and I'm going to twist my ankle." My first mile turned out to be exactly an 8:45 which was my plan for mile 1. At mile 1.75 I hear, "Renee!" in a deep voice- It's my hubby and kids whom I'd already passed and somehow he spotted me in the mass. We were all still very packed in, but the light was coming up. I had already ditched my fleece- was running on pace and feeling excited. Second mile came in at 8:22.
Crowd was starting to thin out a bit. There were approx. 1800 running in the full and 5000 in the half. I remember seeing everyone's breath over their heads and thinking that it certainly didn't feel that cold due to the adrenaline flow! :) That is, except for my frozen fingers of my un-gloved hand! I kept switching the glove from one hand to the other which actually worked out pretty well. I was carrying my handheld 20 oz water bottle which would make my fingers freeze up faster. I had taped a pace chart to my water bottle so I could check it against the time clocks on the course to try and stay on my goal pace. This worked out pretty well for me and I'd probably do it again in the future.
Around mile 3 a juggling runner passed me. I've never seen anything like it. He was juggling 3 balls to the rhythm of his stride. I followed behind him for quite some time because I was mesmerized by this! I still have no idea what his story was, though I was sure it would be written up later.
Around mile 4 we passed our first band of the many on the course. They were great- playing some 60's music. This is also where the course doubled back and the front runners of both the half and full started passing by. That gave a great distraction for a couple of miles because then it was our turn to double back by! Friends were high-fiving and taking photos of each other which was fun to see. Somewhere in here between miles 5-6 I passed another noteworthy sight- a dancing duck! This duck was dressed up in a costume, standing on a table with his owner next to him. There was music playing and the duck was bobbing up and down! IT was so funny and unexpected! :)
Around mile 8 we turned onto Ocean Blvd that runs along the Ocean with the high rise hotels arranged between the road and the coastline. This stretch went for 9 miles and was wonderful! The sun was out around 7am, the temperatures were already up around 50, and it is FLAT, flat, flat! :)
The crowds were wonderful. There were people along most of the course and really added to the experience. There were probably 7-9 bands/ DJs along the route which was a nice touch.
I'd been keeping a steady pace between 8:22-8:29 other than that first mile of 8:45. At mile 12, the half runners branched off and we kept going along the ocean. My family was around mile 12.5. My son ran along side me for a good 3-4 minutes before I made him go back, but it was so nice to see them! Probably around mile 14 or so is where the hotels got sparse and there were more houses. This was a quiet part of the course, but I really loved it.
Felt more like a training run here. My family surprised me showing up again at mile 16. I thought I wouldn't see them again until the finish line! It was great! I was able to toss my fleece ear band and my glove to my daughter and just seeing them got me rejuvenated.
Water/powerade stops were every two miles and the volunteers were fantastic and supportive. I had brought my Clif shots and was taking one every 6 miles. I alternated between caffeinated ones and non-caf. I just drank water the whole course since I felt good with the gels. I would fill up my water bottle with the cups of water from the volunteers. This worked out fabulously and I will definitely do it this way again for the next race.
Around mile 19 I was starting to feel tired. I had maintained my pace between 8:22-8:29 through this point. My family showed up again at mile 21 and boy, did that help! I told them that I was starting to feel it and later my Hubby told me he could really tell. HAHA. I hate all the photos after this point! :) I also had decided at mile 19 to kick up my pace because I realized now that if I did, not only would I be able to break my 3:45 goal, but possibly my 3:40 ultimate dream goal! I kicked it up a notch and began shooting for a bit faster pace. Around this point I really started passing people which I used to mentally help me keep up the pace. Mile 19- 8:18 , mile 20- 8:14, mile 21-8:11, mile 22- 8:17. My left quad had started feeling tight around mile 16, and my right one joined it around mile 19.
I took my 4th gel at mile 22. By mile 23, I was now really having to dig deep. I had put my name on my shirt in bright letters and it really helped to hear all the cheers specific to my name. Mile 23 pace was 8:25, and mile 24 was 8:23. I was trying to play the mental game of "only x minutes or x miles left". Thank goodness it was flat!
On mile 25 I noticed not only was I hearing a lot of, "Go, Renee", but also "Go, Emily". This is the first time I had heard another name cheered besides mine and I was very aware that this Emily was coming up from behind. I also realized at this point that NO one had passed me for at least 7-8 miles and I used that to gun me on because i didn't want someone to pass me now! I'm so ridiculously competitive and I can use it to push me. So when I heard "Emily" approaching, I picked it up. The cheers for both of us continued and then I hear, "Renee!" It was my son again running alongside me with words of encouragement! Hubby was with my daughter taking photos and I again increased the pace. However, so did Emily. Now she was next to me for the first time- the funny thing is I never once glanced over at her, I just used it to push me faster. Well, it's funny what a delirious mind will think at a point like this. I was sure she was some "young early 20's girl" and i didn't want to let my 42 body give in. I passed her, she'd pass me, I passed her and now we were coming down the chute. We were both breathing ridiculously heavily, but I kept pushing. My son had turned off before the chute, but now I saw the finish line, the finish clock and I saw the time of 3:39:xx. I knew that I had started approx 30 sec behind the gun so my goal was in reach. I pushed with every ounce of my being and crossed that line with nothing left to give. I was smiling from ear to ear! :) I heard my kids yelling my name and we did a hug over the fence. My Garmin time read 3:39:44 with 26.28 miles. I knew I'd have to wait for the official chip time, but I was hopeful!
I received my medal, got my photo taken, met up with my girlfriend who had run the half, and then hit the finish party area with all the yummy food and the time kiosks that gave you an immediate print out of chip times. Chip time was 3:39:37!!! Woo-hoo! I did it! I came in 6th in my age group (well, I guess 5th because one of my age group placed in overall so I was 5th in my category), and I think 52nd for female. Later, we were able to look up my running pal Emily in the race stats. I didn't know who had crossed the finish line first, but I had by 2 seconds! Woo-hoo! I owe Emily my time. The "young 20 something" turned out to be 32 Because of Emily, mile 25 split was a 7:36, and the last .2 was a 6:56 pace. That never would have been the case if it had not been for her. Thanks for the motivation, Emily!!! :)
I felt really good after this race. I took 3 Aleve immediately following, ate immediately and stretched back at the hotel room. Got in my ice bath and then leisurely walked around an outdoor mall area for the evening with my family. I still can't believe I did it. I hate that it is over, but I have the next one to look forward to! :)