I tried to go to sleep early, but my mind was racing a bit. I read my book for a while, put 'The Holiday' DVD on and dozed off. I was up just about every hour to empty my damn bladder since I was really pushing the fluids all day. If it weren't for that, I think I would have slept okay. I was up before my alarm at about 4:45am. I felt pretty calm, considering how I felt the day before. I got on the computer after making my vat o'coffee and checked Facebook. All of my friends and family were great with their encouraging comments. It does help knowing ALL of those people are thinking about you and wishing you well when you're in the thick of it! I ate half of a red velvet muffin the size of my head and brought along a huge protein bar to nibble on in the couple of hours I still had before the race. We left the house around 5:35am, and wouldn't you know it, the damn tire pressure light was on?!? Son of a bitch!!
So, now we have to stop at the gas station to put air in the tires and hope to God we make it the almost hour drive on 3 parkways to the race start before the park closed their parking lots and then have to go to the local hotel to park. Thankfully, the tire held up and we made it in plenty of time. I had horrific scenes playing out in my head of us on the side of the road with a flat, missing the race, or God forbid, having a blow-out in the middle of the Southern State Parkway and the unthinkable happening. We parked and walked the half a mile to the start line and wait.
Waiting is the worst! I made 2 trips to the potty to make sure I was empty. I knew there were going to be bathrooms along the way, and if I needed one, I wasn't going to hesitate to stop. At about 7:55am, Charlie gave me a kiss and headed off to the start line to see me begin this adventure. I got choked up a little watching him walk away, leaving me on my own! It was a slow start with all of the corrals in front of my 11:00-12:00 pace group. A lot of women just ignore this and wind up in everyone's way. That is just not very nice race etiquette. It's also not nice to stop about 50 feet passed the start line to stretch, right on the side of the course. Get off and get on the grass! I almost plowed a woman over and I would have been PISSED if I got hurt from that!
|51* start. I wore mittens until my hands were pruney, then I took them off. I liked my hand-held bottle since I knew I would have my Gatorade, even though there were 8 hydration stations.|
I had the big dream of finishing my first half in under 2:30, but my main focus was to finish 13.1 miles strong without falling apart before OR after the finish line. My first 6 miles were great. I was actually running 6 minutes ahead of schedule. It felt great to have a nice cushion to fall back on. I actually wrote out on a tiny piece of paper where I should be with my time, mile by mile, along with the percentage of the 13.1 miles I completed. There's actually a temporary tattoo that can be made with your projected splits that you can rub on your forearm and have it handy to keep track of your numbers. That would be a nice thing to do for next time. I also wrote on the course map all of those projected numbers for Charlie to find me at various viewing spots.
|Here I'm running with Lynda and Dawn in their pink tutus.|
Some time after mile 5, I actually spotted my girlfriends Dawn and Lynda just ahead of me! This was Dawn's 1st half as well and I was so inspired to see how hard she was pushing herself. I ran with them for a couple of miles, but after about mile 8, I needed to start taking some walk breaks. I felt good with my decision to walk a bit since my original plan was to walk a bit after every mile, and I hadn't needed to do that. I saw Charlie at several different spots and it felt so good knowing he was knocking himself out to zig-zag across the course to find me and cheer me on! He even managed to find a kids coloring book on the ground, borrowed a pen and made me a sign. Unfortunately it was pretty small, so I had to ask him what it said as I ran past! That made me laugh and gave me a much needed boost.
|He has "the handwriting of a serial killer."|
There were some hills in the form of overpasses that I wasn't expecting. The course was described as "flat and fast." It should have been "nearly flat." I have to say that running on the asphalt as opposed to the concrete sidewalks with all the ups and downs WAS a lot easier. That might have been the difference in how I felt and why I seemed to not hit the infamous "wall." I had rough moments when I thought my calf would lock up on me, but I just slowed it down even more and got through it. Charlie found me at about 12.5 miles and started to run with me towards the finish line. I loved him being there, but I was afraid he was going to stay with me and not be at the finish line, waiting. He only ran with me about a tenth of a mile and peeled off to get to the finish before me. I just thought he was so sweet to do that since he still had a blister on his foot from our 11 miler the week before.
I looked down at my Garmin and I was approaching 2:29 with about a tenth of a mile to go. I was pumped to see I could actually achieve my goal of coming in under 2:30! As I was coming into the finish line I looked up at the time clock and it said 2:32-something, but I was hoping that was the gun time and not my chip time. I pretty much knew this since it took so long to actually get to the start, but even if it weren't the case, I wasn't disappointed. Could I have pushed myself a bit harder the last 5 miles. Yes. Am I sorry I didn't? No, because I was able to finish that run strong and not collapse after the finish line, needing medical assistance. Nor did I poop my pants. (I SO wanted to yell "THANK YOU ROB THOMAS!" at the finish line, but I forgot all about that!) Oh, and of course I forgot to stop my Garmin!
The finish line was very disappointing. I had envisioned Charlie waiting for me with arms wide open, waiting for me to jump into them. Sorry. I'm a bit of a romantic. The spectators were held back by a fence and it became a real cluster f*ck right after the hunks draped your medal on you. There were several photo stations set up for finish photos with lines rambling this way and that. There was one guy in a tuxedo handing out roses and another with flutes of champagne. Then, just a couple feet beyond them was the food tent, with bagels, bananas, oatmeal cookies and Luna Bars. I grabbed what I could get to all while walking parallel with Charlie so as not to lose him. After I got my medal I teared up a bit, but the moment lost a bit having to navigate through that sea of people. I couldn't even digest it all by myself! There was no where to stop and let it all sink in.
|Charlie's on the other side of the fence!|
There was finally an opening in the fence and I got to Charlie and he gave me a kiss and told me how proud he was of me. I managed to snag a glass of champagne and a ginger ale, so we toasted and shared that moment. Then we managed to find my girlfriends just a few feet away from us! They finished 1 minute ahead of me. I wish I could have kept sight of them and finished with them! We did manage to take a couple of pictures and then the weather finally made that turn and it started to drizzle, so we headed to the bathrooms for one last pit stop before driving home.
|Bernadette (Lynda's friend), me, Dawn and Lynda|
I changed my clothes because I didn't want to funk up my car (nor get any nasty infections!) in one of the stalls. I was soaked through, so it's always a pleasure trying to wrestle myself out of my sports tank, in an itty-bitty stall, no less. The best part was trying to get my tight yoga pants on. Every time I pointed my foot to slide it through the leg, my calf would lock up. I had to sit down to shimmy them up my leg. It seemed to take me forever. I passed on trying to contort my way into a bra so I just pulled my hoodie over my head and called it "good enough."
(My FFTFL teammate Allison shared this video with us today and it cracked me up! I SO could relate to the girl putting on her socks!)
We got to the car and I finally got to adorn my car with a '13.1' magnet! I picked out one that was tye-dyed with a blue in it that matched my funky car. I LOVE IT!!! Next, maybe a tattoo?
I can't tell you how many women commented on my From Fat To Finish Line t-shirt and would yell up to me from behind, "Linda, you're an inspiration!" A couple of times I shouted back "75 pounds!!" The spirit of encouragement and sportsmanship was running rampant on that course yesterday. It was a joy to witness it and be a part of it. I will definitely be putting the Diva Half on my race calendar again next year.
So I survived. No dizziness, nausea or grippers. My quads are pretty sore and now my left knee is clicking, but there's no pain. I'm taking it easy today and hoping the clicking will go away. Now I'm looking forward to The Dash To The Finish Line 5k with Jen and Katie on November 3rd and finally, the Ragnar Relay in less than THREE MONTHS!
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot! When I got home at 12:30 pm, the results were already posted. I finished in 2:29:51!!!!!!!!! I DID IT!!! Under 2:30. 1636/2608 women, 303/451 in my age group. I'll take it!