Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carmel Half Marathon Review

Second half marathon is in the books, and wow - what a different experience from my first. I had an absolute blast this race. I can honestly say that I loved every minute of it, and finished feeling like such a winner!

As I've mentioned before, our friends - Dawnan and Corey - came up with their two girls for the race. It was Corey's first half marathon. They are dear friends and I was almost more excited for Corey to run it, than I was for myself. I had been watching the weather for ten days, and it had gone from being sunny and warm, to cold, to cold and rain, then finally back to just being cold. I was really dreading being cold and wet - so thankful the rain cleared out late Friday night.

Corey and I woke up at 5:45 on Saturday. I decided on wearing capris, a t-shirt, and a new long-sleeve running shirt. After pouring half a cup of coffee, I realized I was pumped full of adrenaline already. I probably could have gone right out and run the race, but knew I had to eat. I managed to get down an English muffin with peanut butter and honey, and a greek yogurt. Corey and I left before Ray, Dawnan and all the kids. We found our parking spot, then began a 10 minute walk to the race area. It was around 40 degrees, but felt about 37 with the wind. I was a little nervous I didn't dress right after all - I was freezing! We hit the port-o-potties, and hid behind a wall to avoid the wind and stretch. We saw some of our friends from Nolensville and talked to them before the announcement was made to line up. On my way to my spot, I saw Ray and the girls. It always gives me a burst of energy to see them cheering!

Unlike my first half, this race did not have really specific corrals. My plan was to run behind the 2hr pace runner, but I didn't see her anywhere. I figured I would just get in with the 9:00min/mile group and see how I did, as my dream was to finish in 2 hours. A couple days earlier, I did an online pace calculator and found that in order to finish in 2 hours, I needed to maintain a pace of 9:09. Finally, the pacer came and stood right in front of me - I was glad to see her, and to know that I was in the right spot! I didn't introduce myself, but she seemed very friendly and was already encouraging other runners.

I remember last year, I was full of nervous energy being line up to start - this time, I was just excited. Cold, but eager to start. The National Anthem was performed, then people were running! I don't remember if there was a gun or just someone yelling go, but off we went! I happened to catch sight of Ray, so I looked over and waved:

When I looked forward again, I realized the pacer was way in front of me now! She was going fast! I sped up and Garmin said I was running an 8:43 pace. Yikes. If she was going to run this fast the entire race, I didn't know if I was going to make it. But I felt so good, I just kept up. The crowd seemed to stay together for a couple miles which was tricky, but fun - I think that might be one of my favorite times of a race. I love hearing all the feet hitting the road, and the conversations going on around me. Everyone is so excited in the beginning and having fun.

We passed a water station a little before mile 2, and I noticed the pacer veer off the course to get a drink. I wonder if they are required to do that? She was an experienced runner and I couldn't imagine she really needed a drink that soon...Anyway, I didn't see her again until mile7! I didn't need a drink, so I just kept running. I kept two women in my sights who had been lined up behind the 2 hour pacer as well. We were still running under a 9min/mile. And I still felt great.

I had driven the first 7 miles of the course a couple times earlier this year, and was worried about this big hill before mile 4. Turned out to be nothing to worry about. It took me a few feet to recover after I got to the top, but I quickly regained my pace. Coming down the road towards mile 5, I was surprised to see Ray and the girls standing on the corner cheering! Actually, it took me a minute to realize it was them - didn't run with my glasses!

I see that video and I'm surprised at my form - I'm not so sure that would be considered "good form". I look like I'm shuffling! But I would be scared to change the way I run - it works for me! I honestly felt so good this race. I kept looking at Garmin, seeing a sub-9min/mile pace and thinking "surely, I'm going to bonk any second now!" I couldn't believe I wasn't winded, or my legs weren't sore and tired. I think I only stopped quickly for water at mile 3 and mile 10.

It was at mile 7 where I heard a large group of runners coming up behind me - the 2:00 pace runner, and her group! I was a little pissed that now she shows up, but then realized I didn't need her - I was doing just fine. She ended up getting past me, but I just ignored her.

I don't mean for this to come off as cocky, but at mile 10, I remember being amazed that I felt the race was going by fast. There were a few hills on the last few miles of the course, but I just kept my head up and carried on. I came up on the pacer at mile 11 and took great delight in running past her (she was a nice person - I just made it a challenge to beat her). Mile 12, I looked at Garmin and saw I was at 1:50:xx. I had a moment of doubt that I wasn't going to finish in 2 hours - I still had that feeling that I was going to run out of steam. I was sooooo close though, and U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" came on - that's a song that gets me moving. I told myself to dig deep and push it until I had nothing left.

I did push it, ripped my earphones out, and got more and more excited as the crowd noise got louder and louder. On the way to the finish line, we went up a bit of an elevation, but got to go down to the finish line. I gave it a final kick. I can't even describe the feeling of seeing 1:57 on the clock right before I crossed. I let out a dorky "whoooo! whooo!" as I ran across, feeling like I had just won an Olympic event, or something.

That is the feeling I wanted when I ran my first race, but was so disappointed it didn't end like that. This time, it was amazing to finish with a huge smile on my face and automatically having the sense of accomplishment. Amazing. My official time is 1:57:53 - thirteen minutes faster than my first half. I even had a negative split - I had always read about those, but never thought I would be able to achieve that! It wasn't by much, and probably due to me sprinting towards the finish line, but whatever. Ray and the girls ran over to me - Ray was so thrilled for me, "You totally beat your goal!" I was on such a high - I certainly hope I can run like that again, but if not, I will always treasure this race and how I felt.

After I got my chocolate milk and banana, I met up with the others and watched as Corey finished his first half - under his goal time! It was so cool to be there and see him do it. So thrilled for him.

Paige and Charlotte were the next to run. They were signed up for the 1 Mile Family Run/Walk. I went to the bathroom as Ray took them to the Start. When I came out, I couldn't find them, so I went with Dawnan and the others to get warm in her car. I was so cold from my sweaty clothes, I couldn't stop shaking. I borrowed her phone and called Ray.

M: "Hey - where are you guys?"
R: "(puff, puff) I don't see Paige! (puff, puff) She's way ahead of us!"
M: "Are you running?"
R: "(puff, puff) YES! (puff, puff) GET TO THE FINISH LINE!"

I hung up and flew out of the van to the Finish Line. It wasn't far, and by the time I got there, I saw a little boy come up over the hill and cross the line. Next came Paige! I couldn't help but tear up - she had the biggest smile on her face and looked so happy. She flew down the hill, got her medal and ran over to me. She was so excited and proud - couldn't stop talking about how great she was feeling. It was thrilling for me to see my daughter feeling like I did earlier. Not long after Paige, I saw Ray and Charlotte come over the hill. Ray let go of Charlotte's hand and she ran across the line. She got her medal and ran to me, crying. She was so overcome with emotion. I don't think I've ever felt so proud! I found out later, she fell hard at the beginning of the run, but she got back up crying, pulled herself together, grabbed Ray's hand, and ran the rest of the race. I think she really surprised herself with what she could accomplish.

It was an amazing day for us all. It's Sunday now, and I'm still exhausted from being on such a high yesterday! Wish I had pictures, but I didn't take my camera (of course) and Ray only thought of video, which I'm happy to have. We were all too frozen after the kid's race, we just wanted to get back in the car and didn't think to take any pics with Ray's phone. Oh well. I'll never forget any of it.

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