Happy Birthday to me!
I turned 41 today. It was a great day, as most of my birthdays are…. this one started off a bit different. I started the day by running 20 miles. WHO DOES THAT ON THEIR BIRTHDAY!?
Scarlette, Leslie and I got down to Greenville around 7:00am and the temperature was in the low twenties (although with windchill it “felt like’ 18). We sat in the car and chatted a bit before the YMCA opened for us to get out bib numbers and go to the bathroom. The car was nice and warm and I learned that other people have the same pre-race worries as I do! I wonder when you are seasoned enough to just go with the flow and not worry about pins and bathrooms and how to hydrate and where to carry gels… There are so many little things that you learn when you run that you want to make sure everything falls into place on race day – or any long training run.
The plan was 4 miles in 43 minutes, get to the starting line and run 13.1 miles at “race pace”, then finish up with 3 miles to total 20 miles. We set out about 8:17 on the 4 mile pre-race run and realized that the course was hillier than expected. Not being sure if we could do 4 miles in the time AND make it to the starting line on time we cut the pre run short. The first 3+ miles were excellent for warming up and as soon as we could we lost the first layer. It was cold, but the pre run felt good. It gave me a false sense of security about the rest of the run!
The official half marathon started at the top of a hill and we raced down it… Scarlette cautioned us not to go too fast (a comment like this is always funny when you are 10 minute per mile runners!) in fact, I think her exact words were, “resist the urge to go to fast”. I apparently thought that was really funny on the run ( I am still laughing!)
Although our goal pace was 9:45, it was not easily maintained. I did my best the first couple of miles to hold it, but I soon let go. The hills and the wind were just too much – that is a pretty fast pace for me on flat ground.
This course was unbelievable (not entirely in a good way). It would through areas I never would have thought to run through under normal circumstances. The running crowd was thin and the mile markers scarce. It was good the three of us stayed together (at the end we saw one poor girl who apparently didn’t have support and took a wrong turn, there is no telling how far out of the way she went!).
The water was scarce at first, too. By mile 2 in the race I was ready for my first water stop… none to be found. Mile 3 – no, mile 4 – no. FINALLY mile 5 WATER, then I believe mile 5.75. By mile five we had already run close to 9 miles so I was thirsty. Even in the cold a person can get very thirsty while running their hardest and having constant wind in the face. I grabbed two cups at the first water stop fearing that I wouldn’t see any for awhile. After that they came pretty frequently. I stuck with water as I was downing power gel ever 4 miles. I have decided that combination does not make my stomach upset.
Next stop Furman University. The course ran through the very lovely campus of Furman University. It was pretty for a bit but I soon got very tired of being there. We were on a route that had many small turns and lots of stupid little hills. It was exhausting cold. it was the coldest I was until the end. AND, their mile markers were off. My Garmin was in sync with the first 7 miles, but by the time we saw the mile 9 sign my Garmin said 9.28. That is a big difference. It was off a 10th of a mile in a couple of the others but I gave up worrying about it. I figure the end would get here when it got here, regardless of what my Garmin said.
I think about mile 10 we entered the much touted “Swamp Trail”. It started on a muddy path under an abandoned mill of some sort. I would have been scared if there were not other people around. The only thing good about it was that it was flat and soon turned to asphalt. It was leading us to the end and that is all that matter. I felt a brief surge of energy and picked up the pace – then Scarlette kicked it in gear and blew us away. She was amazing… all that we saw of her was a trail of dropped jelly beans along the way. Apparently in her amazing speed she couldn’t hit her mouth. It was quite funny and gave me a couple of chuckles during mile 11. It was a nice diversion from the pain.
Mile 11 was the longest ever. I never thought it was going to end. The water stop was already shut down – not a good sign… were we THAT slow? WOW. I was waiting for the sweepers to come find the stragglers on the trail. It didn’t matter – I couldn’t go any faster. My legs just do not move that fast.
We finally made it up to the main street – the final mile before the finish. I thought it was never going to end. I ended up finishing the half in 2:29 – almost 15 minutes slower than Charlotte. (Granted, mile 13 was really mile 16.6, it was 20 degrees and windy).
BUT, we finished the half, but not the run. WOW, we had more miles to go! We had to reach 20. We headed back around past the finish line and back up the hill. On our way out we passed some people still working their way to the finish. It was good to see that we were not the last people to finish!
Well, I was going to post an amazing map from my Garmin, but apparently in my fatigue I forgot to to turn my Garmin off. As I uploaded my workout this evening I was shocked to see that I ran 67 miles today instead of 20 with a max speed of 74 miles per hour. oh well. Instead I found a copy on-line just to illustrate the craziness of it:
I came home to a lovely display of presents, a cake and a couple of cocktails and a beautiful spread of food. I spent the rest of the day being warm and catered to…. life doesn’t get much better!
I spent most of the night like this:
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