The Big Day!
The day I have been preparing for since January 19th! The day that will show me the results of my hardwork. I have been so excited for this day that Friday April 3rd actually felt like Christmas Eve! The race was very exicting and I did very well. I was really pleased with everything and now I am nore motivated than ever to keep training and stiving to get better. The whole weekend was great – Mom and Dad were with me and we had a wonderful time, as usual. If Katheryn was with us the weekend would have been perfect. Hopefully one year she and I can run it together!
Just to save your from the suspense – I finished in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 39 seconds. I officially finished in 16, 367th place (of 38, 500 registered runners)
So, here is a play by play of the event…
Friday – got to Charleston and found the Expo where we stood in line for the packet pick-up. I got my number and a really nice tee shirt. The lines were long, but moved fast. Afterwards we ate at a great resturant called Joe’s Pasta where I had a spinach lasagna. It was deliciious and hopefully a good pre-race meal! We checked into the Marriott – it was nice, but I was disappointed that it was so far out of downtown. I thought I spent the big bucks to be close to the action. I should have payed more attention – next year will be the Embassy Suites – it is front and center! The Marriott was nice, but on the third floor we had some serious party girls that disrupted our sleep the ENTIRE night. It calmed down a bit after we called security at 1:30, but even so, sleep was difficult. I got a couple of hours anyway….
Saturday – the big day. I woke up at 5:00am and went down to the lobby for some coffee and a bite to eat. They did not have much at that time so I got some yogurt. I wanted some protein first and I was going to have more carbs later. I got some yogurt, which cost a fortune, but it was all they had. I went back to the room and drank lots of water. The shuttle to the starting line was to leave a 6:30. Plently of time for me to eat, get ready and hop on the bus. The shuttle was nice and took us right to the starting line. I sat next to a girl who had run it a few times before and told me that the bext advice she has was not to worry about the time.. just run and have fun. She, like many others, have said that in a race this large you cannot hope for a fast time. There are simply too many people!
Arrive at starting line – I got off the shuttle and immediately hit the port-a johns. the lines were not long at that time so I took advantage. I am happy I did because it turned out to be my last chance! The race didn’t start until 8:00 so I made my way down the massive starting line to find where my group would start. When registering I had to select my expected finishing time and I estimated a time of “over an hour”. People were lined up according to their expected finish time. The invited “elite” runners started first, then the people who could prove that they could finish aourn 30 minutes, then the “under an hour” people, then the “over an hour” people, then the run/walkers and walkers. My group was easily 15 minutes back from the starting line. There were throngs of people already lined up by 7:15. I did NOT want to get stuck in the back of my already long starting line. But, I wanted to try to go to the bathroom again. I got in the line about 7:20 and thought I would TRY to get to go. No luck. About 7:40 an announcement was made that they are moveing the groups forward. I looked over and saw my group moving up. I did not want to get further behind so I ditched my place in line for the toilet and entered the starting line. I was back pretty far when I saw and older man and woman snaking their way through the crowd. I decided to latch up with them and see how far I could get. I made my way to the front of my section and stopped. I was happy with my position.
The gun went off – right at 8:00 the gun went off after an exciting countdown. It was great and I was ready to run. 8:01….8:02…. 8:03… no movement. We were no where near the starting line yet. About 8:05 the announcer told us that the elite runners were already rounding mile one!! haha – she told us to try to catch up. It was pretty funny thinking that they were so fast and we had not even started yet. Finally we moved into a slow trot and crossed the start line. (I have since learned that I officially crossed the start line at 8:16!) Even after crossing the start line it was so crowded I could barely move. It was more like jogging in place for the first quarter mile.
Mile One: By the end of the first mile I got into a good pace – about a 10:50 min mile pace (really good for me)! There were obstacles along the way with mediuns in the road and people sharply cutting in front of me to gain a better position. Then there were the walkers. The walkers were supposed to be behind my group, but there were many around. They were hard to get around with all the people. It took a lot of energy to try to dodge people and sprint around them.
Mile Two: Approaching mile 2 was very exciting because I could see the bridge. It was really awesome to see the throngs of people ahead of me already going up the bridge. I was filled with anticipation as I approached it. I have been so nervous about this part becuase it is one mile uphill and I have not been training uphill at all. I set my expectations low and even contemplated that I may have to run/walk up it. The approach to the bridge got very crowded – 4 lanes of people-filled road had to condense to two lanes to enter the bridge. Once again it was very slow. I could fell the evelation as I approached the bridge, but felt strong. My method throughout the whole race served me well.. I stuck to the lane lines in the road and stayed focused. I did not want to exert a lot of energy constantly dodging people. I stayed focused and manage to run all the way up the bridge without walking – AND maintained a good pace. I averaged about an 11-11:15 min pace all the way up the bridge. It was harder becuase of all the people. This time the “run/walkers” were a problem. I would approach a walking person and just about the time I would go to pass them they would start running again and throw me off and I couldn’t pass. I was impossbile not to run into other people, and them into you. Most people were considerate and most of us understood that running into each other was inevietable.
Mile 2 – half way up the bridge! It was getting harder, but my breathing was good and I was focused. I could see the top!!!
Mile 3 – TOP!!!! I made it! I was so happy and it was thrilling to look over the bridge as I ran over it. Just about the time I got to the peak two Marine Corps recruits ran by – one carrying the U.S. flag and the other carruing the USMC flag. People starting clapping – it was really a cool thing!
The decline on the other side of the bridge felt so great. I picked up my pace again – a bit faster, but controlled. “Controlled” is the key that many peolple missed. They let the decline sweep them away and came barrelling down the hill. It was really hazerdous at times. There was a really large black man that hurled hiimself at my and clipped my shoulder causing me to stumble. He looked back and apologized only to run full-body into another woman. He hit her dead on. Lucky the man she was running next to caught her from going face down on to the bridge. The crowd gasped and a few yelled out to the man, who, oblivious, kept barreling down the bridge.
Mile 4: approaching the end of the bridge. As fun as it was to cross the bridge it was equally exciting to be getting off of it and move into the next leg. I was really looking forward to to crowds cheering (my favorite part:)!!). The first part in town was in a run-down part of the city. There were a few people on the streets who were not so much race fans – they just happen to be on the streets as we were running by. I happened to be running next to a couple of pretty girls dressed only in shorts and sports bras when we passed a group of men. They let out a bunch of hoots and whistles… even though they were not intended for me I pretended they were and used the motivation to speed up (haha).
Mile 5 – getting exciting as the crowds were pretty good at this point. People everywhere were cheering. I was really startng to feel tired and the sun was now beating down on us hard. I was really thirsting and looking for the next water table. I finally found it, but my ineptness at drinking and running was apparent and I got about a quarter teaspoon of water in my mouth. I didn’t want to stop and lose any time so I kept plugging along. I could feel my legs getting really tired and my throat was terribly dry. A really good song came on my I-Pod but it could not make me run faster. I was over a mile away and my ultimate goal of finishing in one hour slipped away. My realistic goal of finishing under an hour and nine minutes was still possible.
Approaching mile 6 and 6.2 – the finish – It was really exciting as I approached the finsih line. I could see the big finish line display and I willed my legs to move faster. I gave it all I had the last few 10ths of a mile and crossed the line. The annoucer kept telling us to keep running until the stop light… uggg.. how much farther to I have to keep running – I was gasping for breath in the crowded road. Finally we past the stop light and could walk. It felt so good to start walking but then it hit my how incredibly thirsty I was. It was hot and crowded and I just wanted water. I remember seeing the water bins the day before and how they seemed so accessible, but withing the thousands of people they seemed impossible to reach. I finally found them and water never tasted so good. I also got a banana and a muffin and made my way through the crowd to the meeting place to find Mom and Dad.
Post Race – We decided to meet at the statue after the race – bad choice. About 5,000 other people made that their meeting place, too. I finally found a decent place to stand and finish one water and my banana. Then the second water and my muffin. I could barely get a few bites of that muffin down. I felt kind of nauseas so I gave up on it and just stood there. I was hoping that if I stood in one place that my parents would fine me – they did. It was exicting to see them and tell them how I did. I immediately tried to call Katheryn, but the phone lines were jammed. 40,000 people were apparently all trying to call their loved ones to tell them how they did. I could not reach her until nearly an hour later!
We walked around the festival a bit and found the Charleston Running Club tent where my Spartanburg Running Club was to meet up. Only a couple of people were there – we came a bit late. Brian was there and I was happy to tell him how I did – he created the plan every week that I diligently followed. THANK YOU!
We walked around the expo and I finally got to talk to Katheryn and John. It is so fun to tell everyone how I did!
After a bit more around the festival we left the city and found a restaurant at Shem Creek. We sat out on the deck and enjoyed margaritias (I had two). It was wonderful!!!!
The rest of the day we lounged on the roof top deck of the Marriott and enjoyed martinis and sun shine!
Some pictures – these are from the internet – not my pictures.
In this picture I am probably far, far off in the distant part of this crowd:
Here is a good idea of how it was running the entire time – a massive amount of people!!
Over the bridge:
Mom got a picture of me running that I will have to get and post… but here are a couple from after the race.
Me enjoying a margarita…
Me on the rooftop enjoying a martini…
Mom and Dad.. thanks for coming with me!!!
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