Let me just say, this half marathon went exponentially better than I ever imagined. In a nutshell: We ran. The whole time. With an average pace under 11 minutes. And finished in 2:22:45. WHAT!?
Basically, Sarah and I are amazing. And so is Michelle who ran with us pretty much the whole time until we abandoned her in the last mile (SORRY MICHELLE!).
Here’s the play-by-play:
As you all know, my back was a bit of a mess (although on the mend) prior to the race and I had only run 11 miles in the 3 weeks since Ragnar. Likewise, Sarah was recovering from a cold, a hurt foot, and jetlag from some epic travels in Europe and Miami. I flew down to North Carolina late Friday night and we hit up what was by far the weirdest dance party I’ve ever been to (story for another day…). Saturday, we woke up a bit sore from said dance party (when there’s only 20 or so people in a ballroom, there’s a lot more room for crazy, intricate, and dramatic dance moves) and did the usual adventuring (this trip included massive/endless antique stores). We also stopped by the race expo to pick up our bibs. This was my first indoor race expo and it was fun/overwhelming to have so many people and vendors in a room.
Sunday morning we woke up at 5:30 and were out the door by 5:45. Sarah’s Eric nicely dropped us off and I managed to forget my ipod in the car. It was still pitch dark outside and somewhat chilly, but the race directors did an awesome job and had huge tents and lights at the start. While in line for a last minute pee break, our friend Michelle managed to find us even though there were literally thousands of people (she must be magical). Snapped some selfies while we waited to start, and then we were off in the beginning glow of sunrise.
The first two-ish miles were on the side of a major road (closed for us), and the rest of the race was on the American Tobacco Trail. The trails are old, out of use railroad lines that have been transformed into recreational trails. Maybe that’s why my back felt pretty good? From pounding the dirt rather than the pavement? The weather was perfect – overcast and in the 40s. I started out wearing my new bright pink lightweight waterproof jacket, and eventually took it off and tied it around my waist. I was at a perfect temperature in my tshirt and cropped pants.
Even though I didn’t have my ipod, I never felt like I wish I had had it. Sarah played her music out loud, and not having headphones in allowed me to better interact with her and Michelle, as well as the other runners, volunteers, and spectators. I kind of loved it. At every mile marker, we would yell “SLAYED IT!” to congratulate ourselves on a mile well-run and keep ourselves motivated for the next one.
The final mile or so was some rolling hills, and since Sarah and I 1. still had some gas in the tank and 2. are great at running hills to begin with, we ran that last mile. An extra push was that an elite runner was finishing up the marathon and we knew he was right behind us. We wanted to finish before him, but, alas, the elite marathon runner ran at half our pace and we finished right behind him (you can even see us in the background of his finish line photos!).
We ran through the finish together, and waited for Michelle. Sarah and Michelle got to ring the PR bell because it was both of their first half marathons and therefore, a personal best. The race directors continued to be awesome and had pizza, soup, fruit, chocolate milk, and beer for the finishers (and we managed to try all of the things).
Looking ahead, I will not be running an official half marathon in April. Instead, I will be participating in the FIT Challenge and then running as part of the One Run for Boston. I might unofficially run a half marathon, but I’m also ok with keeping it low key for the next month while my back continues to get better. If anyone has any tips on easy weight training/back strengthening I can do from home with 5 lb hand weights (since, that’s what I happen to have at home), please let me know! Strength training is on my to-do list and I’m hoping that by strengthening my back, I’ll be better able to avoid the annoying back pains.