All week, the weather report showed that there would be a downpour on Saturday morning. Ick. I was worried enough about completing the distance and the thought of adding a level of difficulty with cold, wet rain was very unappealing. Very. I was going back and forth about actually competing in the race. Finally, late Friday I decided that I would at least start the race and if it started raining, I would reassess.
Saturday 6:00am I got up. I was extremely tired but made some coffee and oatmeal and put on my kit. You'll see from the photo that I basically ran the marathon looking like a bag lady. I was wearing a long sleeve wicking tee, running tights, running shorts, a pink running jacket, a spibelt, an iPhone armband, a sweat wicking hair band, non-matching gloves and a hat. Ridiculous. To be fair, the hat and jacket were due to the threat of rain, but definitely next time, I will pare down.
I got to the race site at 7:00am and was really overwhelmed by the sheer mass of humanity already congregated at the corner of Independence and 7th. I had a bag to drop off at the bag check and as I approached the school buses that were serving as the bag depots, my heart sank. Each bus stood for one letter of the alphabet and there were massive lines at every bus. I worried that by the time I actually got to the front of the "D" names line-up, the race would have already started. Still I trudged up Madison passing the buses for names starting withe the letters Z, Y, X, W...F, E and then D!! By some alphabetical miracle, there was no one waiting in line for D. No one. So I walked up and dropped my bag off as the Cs and the Es eyed me rudely. Then I went to find my corral.
I was actually in Corral 32 of 34, so I didn't end up starting the race until 45 mintues after the first runners left. I had set my time goal as 2:45 and although I was raring to go, I decided that I would respect the time splits of 13 minutes per mile that would have me finishing in the 2:45 ballpark. That sounds really slow, doesn't it? Well, it feels really slow too. I actually felt like an idiot running that slowly because it feels like it would be more efficient to walk at that pace. I was also doing one minute walk breaks for every ten minutes of running. Weirdly, I was able to pace myself almost perfectly and hit the first mile marker at 12:56. The next five miles went by relatively quickly as my mind spaced out . At the end of mile 6, though, we hit a massive hill going up to Woodley Park. The worst. My instinct was to start walking but since it wasn't walk break time, I simply ran up the horrible hill.
My colleague Jeanette, whom I had been training with but who got injured at the last moment, met me at the top of the hill to cheer me on. This made a huge difference in the run! I was flagging at that point and it really encouraged me to go further. The real turning point came at mile 9. I hadn't run more than 9 miles in any of my training runs (or in any of my life for that matter), so once I crossed that marker I felt like a super star. I took a Gu at that point (this kind of gelatinous energy packet) and that made me feel a lot better. At that point, I knew in my heart of hearts that I would finish the race, so I just took it easy, looked around and enjoyed discovering new parts of the city.
Finally, I reached the finish line. I was very, very comfortable when I finished, so I realise that my goal time was not ambitious enough. That said, I'm glad I took it easy. Now I know that I can complete the distance and that was the real concern for me.
Plus, I got an awesome medal and get to brag about being a half-marathoner from now until FOREVER!