Sorry to leave you on the edge of your seat before. It was time to pick up Ava from school.
Where were we? Oh, yes. Scared to death. I carbed up Saturday night, because that is apparently what you are supposed to do when you are going to run a long race. I had pasta and bread. And lots of water. I spent the evening making a new playlist, then getting everything ready for the next morning. We were lucky to be getting an extra hour of sleep since it was time to fall back, but I was too anxious to get great sleep. I think I did manage about 7 hours, though, so that was good.
I got up and had a light breakfast of toast with peanut butter and banana, along with a small cup of coffee. (You’ll forgive me if I don’t elaborate on why I didn’t want to have my usual 2 cups of coffee.) We headed out at 7am, got parked, took some pictures, and headed for the trolley line. The race started and finished at the North Carolina Battleship Memorial, and parking there is limited. So, they had water taxis and trolleys. Due to the sub-40-degree temps, we opted for the trolley.
Here we are waiting – that’s me on the left, Katie, and her friend (and now mine) Pam – in the Hilton lobby:
So, we get over to the Battleship, and there isn’t much time to kill before we start, which I think is a good thing. There were about 1500 runners, along with some walkers who had started an hour earlier than us.
We line up, and bam, it’s time to run. Immediately, my nerves dissipated, and I felt ready to run. We started out very slowly, because in a group of nearly 1500, it takes a little while for the crowd to disperse and spread out.
Immediately upon exiting the Battleship area, we turned onto the highway (421 maybe?) and headed up a long and hilly bridge. It was the first of 3. I took it slow and still felt strong. My playlist started out with “Like a G6”, which is just a great race day song. The good tunes kept coming. Like I said, the playlist was new, and it was great not to know which songs were coming up. I had 3 hours of music at the ready, and I was feeling good.
Before I knew it, I looked down and we had been running 25 minutes. I was nearly 3 miles in. At this point, we were running on cobblestone, which was a bit uncomfortable, but it didn’t last long. I was wearing long sleeves, with a tank top underneath, and by mile 4, I was hot. I somehow managed to unpin my race number, re-pin it to my tank top, remove my iPod arm band, take off my long sleeved shirt, tie it around my waist, and re-secure my iPod, all while still running. Sadly, while doing this, I somehow paused the timer on my Garmin (GPS running watch), and I didn’t notice it for about 1/2 mile. So, from 5 mile point on, my watch was about 1/2 mile and 5 minutes behind. Better behind than ahead, though.
We trekked on, and I just kept feeling so good. So strong. I couldn’t believe I was running a half marathon. There were several points in the race where I almost started crying, not because I was sad, or because it was hard, but because it was just that emotional. Or cathartic, maybe. Whatever it was, the whole thing was a pretty big deal to me.
Between miles 5 and 7, my feet were hurting. Especially my right foot. It had given me a few problems during my 10- mile run, and I learned on that run that stopping makes it worse. So, I powered through. After a little while, my foot either went totally numb, or the pain just went away. Thank goodness.
Before long, I passed the sign indicating that we had finished 7 miles. The second I saw that sign, “99 Problems” by Jay-Z came on my iPod, and I just took off. I could see from my time that I was on track not only to make my goal time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, but maybe even to beat it.
Miles 9-11 were the hardest, physically and mentally. My legs were tired, and I kept seeing people around me walking. And then, around mile 12, we had two big hills. BIG. But the end was in sight, and I was not about to slow down. “Empire State of Mind” was playing, and I was thinking about all those NYC Marathoners, the Chilean miner who was running, and I knew I couldn’t stop until I crossed the finish line. So, after 2:07:54, I finished. I was shocked that I had beat my goal time. And I beat it by almost 8 minutes! Aside from the 2 children I birthed, I don’t know that I have ever felt prouder of myself than I did after that race. It was truly exhilerating. And I loved it.
Here are a few post-race shots. Please note that in addition to our nice medals, we were also awarded beer.
While I can promise you that I will not do a full marathon, I will definitely do another half-marathon sometime. Which means that I’ll keep running. But I still don’t think of myself as a runner. Isn’t that silly?