I have to start with a recap of the race, which was, in a word, AWESOME.
I woke up at 4am the morning of, because I couldn’t sleep through one more half-marathon-debacle dream sequence. I dreamed I was in the port-a-jon when the starting gun went off; I dreamed that my team stopped to eat a brown-bag lunch at mile 8; I dreamed that there was a musical theater troupe performing at mile 9, and I couldn’t skip it and move on, because (a) I didn’t want to be rude and (b) I was afraid to leave my purse with the kind of people who STOP TO EAT LUNCH IN THE MIDDLE OF A HALF MARATHON. When I actually awoke at 4am, I was thrilled. I could cross race-day fear #1 off my list: Sleeping through the start.
Granted, the race was still three hours away at that point, but unless I nodded off at the wheel on my way there, I wouldn’t miss it. Nor would I miss the opportunity to see exactly what my bladder is capable of. You know the expression squeezing blood from a turnip? YES. LIKE THAT. My bladder is a bit of an overachiever. Highly motivated and eager to showcase its talents, it looks forward to races almost as much as I do. Every time I exited the port-a-jon, I could hear its nerdy little voice reassuring me, “DON’T WORRY, MRS. O! I’LL MAKE MORE!”
And it did. And did. And did. As it always has and always will until the end of my racing time.
Standing at the front of my corral, waiting for the start, I was convinced I needed to go just one more time, but recalling my dream from the night before I decided not to risk it. As soon as I started the race, the gotta-go feeling disappeared ... but the mob of racers ahead of me did not.
The hardest part of any race for me is the start. Depending on the number of participants, you can be boxed in for up to a mile, making it very challenging to establish your desired pace. The corral system helps a little, as long as you're placed in the right corral (and standing at the front of it), but in this case, I wasn't. My projected finish time was too slow, so I wound up in Corral 2, with 2,000 women ahead of me. It took me about nine and a half minutes to complete the first mile, at which point, the 8-minute-mile pacer (who had started in corral 1) was a mere dot on the horizon up ahead, and I knew it was going to take some serious effort to catch up with him—IF I could catch up with him at all. I (wisely, I must say) decided not to sprint, instead opting to keep him in my sight and gain on him slowly, mile by mile. Nine miles later, I was at his side and resisting the urge to ask him to marry me. A pacer's job is to be on pace the entire race--never slower, never faster--so once I was with him, I was pretty confident I'd finish in goal time.
At mile 11, my parents were there cheering me on, which was the kind of boost you’d think I’d be over at this age and stage of life, but it was just as thrilling as that time in first grade when my mom showed up to watch me eat latkes at our school's Hannukah festival even though we weren't Jewish. I was like, OH MY GOD HIIIIIII!!!! LOOKIE ME!! RUNNING!!! And then to have them joined by my brother Gordon, Larry, Gus and Patrick at the finish line … it was just … I wish I had a picture of how that felt.
Instead I have a web site with Official Marathon Proofs, which I am still talking myself into purchasing, because they are $13.95 per 5x7 print, and that just seems ohhh, a wee bit excessive to me, plus WOW DO I LOOK UGLY WHEN I RUN! Hoo-ee.
Anyhoo, my say-it-out-loud goal for this race was 1:49. My secret can-I-even-HOPE-for-that?-goal was to finish in 1:45.
And I finished in 1:44:13.
To celebrate (and keep the momentum) I signed up to run the Shelby Bottoms 15K Boogie on Saturday. It benefits a great cause that is near and dear to a great teacher, activist, and friend of our family.