We successfully finished the half marathon, and I am so happy and sore today :)
As you can tell from my pre-race post yesterday, I was nervous and excited and didn't know what to expect. We got to the race about 45 minutes before it was supposed to begin, and walked around downtown. The start line was right near a Catholic chapel that has 24 hour Adoration, so we went in for 5 minutes to say hi to Jesus, and I prayed for peace and strength for the race. Then we waited in line for about 20 minutes to use the porta-potties. They were disgusting! Let's just say it was obvious that everyone had nervous bellies - blech!
We walked over to the start line, and decided to line up with the 9 minute milers. We usually run about 10 minute miles when we run long distances outside, but we thought we would try and stay with the 9 minute milers for a bit to set a nice pace. The race was delayed 15 minutes, and there were 2700 runners. Yes, it was packed! As soon as we started, my left knee was giving me grief. But after about 2 minutes, the pain went away.
We ran the first 2 miles at about an 8:20 pace, which was crazy fast for us, yet it didn't feel that fast because there were so many people cheering, and running, and the adrenaline was so high. The hills started in from miles 2 to 4, but I would just look down at the ground and run at the same pace until I got up each one.
Around mile 5, my friend Laura was there cheering us on, and then we ran by the police station where my friend Ann Marie works, and she was cheering for us too. That was great - the support makes such a huge difference. We got to mile 6 and we were still keeping up our fast pace. In fact, we were running so much faster than usual, that we weren't even talking. Normally we run and talk the whole way, but yesterday we were just running - I was so in the zone and in my own head. I was playing games like "Guy or Girl" where I would try to figure out the gender of a runner in front of me (scary!) or I would pick a runner ahead of me and try to catch up to them.
I kept thanking God during the whole race for giving us the beautiful weather, the wonderful scenery, the supportive crowd, and the ability to run. I was so grateful and felt so amazing! By mile 8, our time was 1 hour, 8 minutes (an 8:30 minute pace) and Phil started saying his legs felt like jelly, and he had a cramp. We slowed down to about a ten minute pace from miles 8-11, which was also when we were running along the ocean. I could've kept up a faster pace, but Phil was fading fast. He is usually the one who slows down his pace to run with me, so something wasn't right. I was trying to talk to him, saying things like "Only 5 more miles to go, that's nothing!" "We have to finish no matter what, so let's go a little faster and get it over with" and on and on. But it wasn't helping and he could tell he was holding me back, and kept telling me to go on ahead. I really wanted to stay with him and finish together, so miles 8-11 were very difficult for us. I kept seeing people pass us that were much older or heavier, and I was feeling so frustrated because I knew I could and should finish before them.
Finally at mile 11, Phil said "Seriously, I am so proud of you for running this race so well - please go ahead of me", and this time I listened. Mile 11-12 was tough because I felt so guilty for leaving Phil behind.
At mile 12, there is a huge hill that is a killer and while I was running up it, I saw a priest that I used to know who had just finished saying Mass and was out on the sidewalk supporting the runners. I yelled out "Hi Fr. Rich" and he started running after me to find out who I was (I had on a hat and he didn't get a good look at me). So he ran on the sidewalk in his full vestments while I was running in the road and we chatted for about 30 seconds. A guy running behind me yelled out "Way to be supportive, Father!" it was nice and funny.
I can't say enough how great the crowds were. Towards the end, they were all yelling "You're almost there, less than a mile left, you look awesome!" etc. It was such a boost to my spirit. I kept thanking people and waving, giving the little kids a high 5. When I saw that finish line, I sprinted through the end and finished in 1 hour 56 minutes (8:54 minute pace)!! I was so happy with my time, and waited for Phil to finish, which he did at 2 hours, 2 minutes. We figured out that he was completely dehydrated, and after downing Gatorade and water, he felt much better. He wishes he could have finished faster, but we're both pretty proud of ourselves for running the whole race and finishing ahead of the 2 hours 10 minutes we thought it would take.
We got a nice medal and t-shirt and headed home to see the kids. Today I am really sore, but it was so worth it. Who knows, we might do it again one day, it was much better than expected, and now I have to go order the stickers for our cars!