I was at a conference for work all week, so I had to meet Shane and Andrea in Richmond. We all arrived around 4pm, headed to packet pickup and then out to a local Italian restaurant to carb load! We were wiping our plates clean with lots and lots of bread! It was so fun to meet up with our friends Meghan and Paola for dinner :)
Andrea and I also bought these super cute headbands :) We weren't sure if it was bad luck to wear them before the race, but couldn't help ourselves!!
We were in laying in bed by 9:30pm at our hotel and probably asleep by close to 10pm. Although I think we were all pretty anxious for the day ahead. We woke up at 5am (early!!!) and ate a little. My breakfast of choice before a long run is a banana and an Odwalla bar. It was 34 degrees out, so we bundled up! Shane had gone to Goodwill last week to buy some "throw away" fleece pullovers and gloves for us - genius! (It was amazing to see all of the sweatshirts and gloves along the side of the road during the first few miles. They had people come along to collect everything and donate it to charity.) We left a little after 6am to make sure we could find parking. We didn't want to be frantically searching and late for the start, especially since we'd heard there were about 25,000 people running. Luckily, our first pick parking lot was almost completely empty. So, we decided to get a little greedy and find a spot a little closer to the start. By 6:30am we were parked about 2 blocks from the start line for only $2! What a deal!
So we wandered around a bit, trying to stay warm and loosen up. I don't think I'll ever understand those people who are out running before the race?! But I get the need to keep your muscles warm. Shane hung out with me in the half marathon lineup and we walked almost to the start before he peeled off to get in the marathon line (his race started about 15 minutes after mine). And then I was off! I had no idea what time/pace to expect. In all of my training, I run a certain distance, but never wear a watch or calculate my pace. I had decided before the race that my goal was 2:30, but when I started doing the math, I wasn't sure that was feasible. I estimated that I ran 11 - 12 minute miles. So when we ran by a timer at the 10K split and I saw that I was at about 1:04 - I was really happy! I felt great the whole way. I was definitely a little tired and achy after about 8 miles, but never once did I feel like walking or stopping. They call it the "friendliest marathon", and I can see why! There are people with hilarious signs cheering you on all along the way! There were lots of aid stops (one even had beer - gross!). I decided that when I got to the 11 mile mark, I would pick up the pace. It's so funny the things that go through your mind when you're running (or at least mine!) I was envisioning the 2 mile loop I do here in Blacksburg during those last miles and telling myself it was so short and I was almost there! I would love to know how fast I ran the last two miles -- it felt like 8 minute miles, but who knows?! All I know is that I was bookin' it! I definitely passed quite a few people and my hamstrings were tightening up a bit, but it felt great! For some reason my favorite part of running has always been speeding up at the end. It makes me wonder if I could have/should have been going faster earlier if I still had that much energy? But my goal for this race was to just finish without walking. I ended up finishing at 2:15!! Woohoo! :)
It was pretty emotional for me, crossing the finish line. A few times in the last half mile, I felt myself tearing up - and I'm not even sure why?! I guess I was just really happy and proud of myself. It was a strange feeling crossing the finish line and being sucked into a swarm of thousands of people. In a way it was good - I know if Shane or Andrea had been there to give me a hug right at the end of would have broke down in tears! Haha - but by the time I found Andrea, my emotional feelings had gone away :) I was just so happy to finish and to beat my first half marathon time by 52 minutes - yay! Andrea also set her PR. By the time we finished it was in the mid-60's and sunny! Such a beautiful day.
We were able to head back to about a tenth of a mile shy of the finish line and cheer Paulette on! It was so great to see her cross that finish line! Once we all ate some more pizza (I had at least 3 pieces and was still hungry :) ) we headed back to the finish line to watch the marathoners roll in. It was so much fun! We weren't sure when to expect Shane, but knew he was hoping to come in under 4 hours -- big goal for his first marathon! And sure enough at 3:51, he came around the corner!
I was soooo proud of him!!
I could tell his legs were hurting from the way he was walking, and as soon as he had his pizza and powerade, he found a nice sunny spot on the grass and didn't get up for a good half an hour :)
We realized why we had no trouble getting a parking spot near the start of the race.... it was about a mile and a half from the finish. Poor Shane had a little trouble walking back. It was hilarious to see everyone moving after the race compared to before the race. It looked like a zombie world with everyone moving in slow motion and waddling a bit :)
Overall - we all had so much fun and can't wait for our next race! For Shane and I it's the Turkey Trot back in Ohio on Thanksgiving!