Before I went to bed I was incredibly nervous. I kept envisioning the race and my stomach would "turn over". I was REALLY unsure of myself. I know that might sound ridiculous to some of you, but here's where I'm coming from. I hadn't run over 8 miles since New Years Day. I hadn't run basically at all for 2 weeks. Now mind you, I have been working out doing strength training and other cardio classes, as well as the elliptical, but none of that REALLY prepares you for running. Let's face it, 13.1 miles is a long way no matter what, and I was scared. I knew I would make it, but I was scared I'd disappoint myself. With all that on my mind, I was afraid I would not be able to sleep. So I took a heavy dose of Benadryl and went to bed by 10:30. I don't recall a single thing until my alarm went off at 5:00 am (allowing for 2 snooze sessions). I slept like a baby, and for that I was incredibly thankful.
Julie and Mike (Julie's husband) picked me up bright and early at 5:55 am. Mike was kind enough to drop us at the start line. Since this isn't an out and back or looped course you had to be shuttled from the finish line back to the start. Getting dropped off was really nice, as we didn't have to worry about getting back to our car!
We arrived at the start line by 20 after 6 for a 6:45 start, which was a perfect amount of time for a porta potty run, and then lining up.
I also had a little time to mourn the loss of my favorite throw away sweatshirt, which has survived two other races. I tried to ditch it two other times, but when I got back it was right there waiting for me. I knew that would NOT be the case this time as the finish line wasn't even near the start. Bye bye Walmart sweatshirt, you've been good to me.
I lined up in the last available coral, which just so happened to be the 2:10 coral (my goal time, I hoped to finish between 2:10 and 2:14). Let me just say, it's ridiculous that they are lining up people who are running a 9:55 average with ALL the other runners. There are a LOT of people that run slower than a 2:10 half marathon and, in my humble opinion, there should have been more corals. Rant over.
Anyway, I was still fumbling around with my headphones and my Garmin as the start of the race began. I was taken off guard, but had no choice but to get in race mode real quick. My plan was to go out hard and hold it as long as possible. As soon as I stepped on the start mat, I started my Garmin and took off.
I was running a GREAT pace (for me) and feeling pretty good. In fact, at the start of the race I passed the 2:10 pace group who had obviously crossed the start mat before me. My goal was to keep them behind me the whole time and hopefully finish just under 2:10. It was a dream, and one I just knew would't be a reality, but as long as they were behind me I was going to be happy.
At just about mile two my breathing got a bit out of control. I couldn't believe at mile two, I was already having troubles. Just then I glanced up and right in my line of vision were two friends of mine running the race as part of their 20 mile training run for the Austin Marathon in February. They were less than 20 yards ahead, so I snuck up behind them and threw my arms around them to say hello. Everyone say hi to the Honey Badgers (aka I don't give a sh*t/bada$$ runners), Jennifer and Shannon.
The girls were hoping to run a 10:30 pace for their LONG training run, but they were ahead of me and I was averaging a 9:39 at that point. We held a slower steady pace for the next two miles chatting away. It felt good to see them because my breathing got under control and I enjoyed their company. However, at mile four Jen decided to use the porta potty at the water station and I went on my way alone. And that's when it happened.
The 2:10 pacer passed me. I got literally stopped at the water station behind stupid people that don't know how to grab water and go (or at least move out of the way). I was there literally stopped surrounded by people. I was so frustrated and to top it off the 2:10 pacer was now at least 50 yards ahead of me.
It honestly didn't take me long to catch up to her, but she was always a steady 10 to 20 feet ahead of me and I just couldn't get past her. The thing is, she was running a 9:15 to 9:30 pace the whole time. Even though I knew that would result in less than a 2:10 finish, I just couldn't let her get too far ahead of me.
I spent between miles four and seven on the tail of that 2:10 pacer (as you can see in the above picture, I was literally right behind her). At mile seven, I think she realized she needed to back off her pace and I easily crept past her. To me, it seemed too good to be true. I prayed (literally) that she'd just stay behind me and I'd never see her again.
Miles seven to twelve are pretty much a blur. I was just ticking away at the miles trying to keep a great pace. I will tell you, 3M is a very generous course with lots of flats and lots of downhills. So I'd be sailing along smoothly on a downhill or flat and would then come upon even the slightest incline and it felt like a mountain. Funny how that happens. Anyway, on these said mountains, my pace would increase and my average pace was dropping slightly.
Every person that passed me from mile seven on gave me a slight heart attack as I'd cringe hoping it wasn't that 2:10 pacer. I'd actually be surprised, as my pace dropped, that each runner that passed was NOT her.
By the 11.5 mile or so I pretty much knew I was on pace to do something really good. My average pace was right around 9:44 and I knew unless something drastically bad happened, I was going to set a Personal Record (PR). I hadn't even bothered to look up my PR for a half marathon because I HONESTLY didn't think I'd come close to setting a record today. I knew my record was a 9:53 pace and 2:09:something. I didn't know what the "something" was so I just had to finish in less than 2:09 to insure victory. Regardless, I was so happy, because this race was exceeding all my expectations.
Just past the 12 mile mark I was starting to celebrate in my mind. That's when I saw him-- The Banana Boy. There was some guy up ahead standing on the sidewalk dressed up as a banana. He was cheering loudly, jumping up and down, letting everyone know how great they were doing. I was saying to myself, "that's right banana boy, I'm 1.1 miles away from a PR." I'll give him a high five, I thought to myself. So I stepped two steps toward the curb and stuck my hand out. As I was inches away, ready to slap the banana boy's hand in victory something tripped me up. I'm not sure if it was a bump in the pavement or I just tripped over my own two feet, but I tripped and fell.... on my FACE!
I remember as it was happening I thought, oh good I scraped my knees. The I thought, oh crap now that's my face. Your mind thinks so quickly as those type of things happen. The banana was right there asking me if I was ok. As quickly as I went down, I stood right back up. I didn't even turn my head to look at the banana, I just shouted, "I have to keep going," and I did.
I felt like everyone who saw it happen was starring at me so I just ran. I think adrenaline kicked in as I looked down at one point and I was running an 8:00 mile. A very kind girl came up behind me and handed me a wet Cottenelle wipe. Blood was dripping all into my eyes and down my face. I kept looking at those on the sidelines to see their reaction to me to try to gauge how bad it was. The girl who gave me the wipe said that my face was swelling. I didn't care, all I cared about was getting to the finish line.
I texted Geroge that I had fallen, I was bleeding, but still running. I didn't want him to freak out when he saw me. Before I knew it, I was making my way down the finishing shoot, toward the capital and to my victory. (I didn't say I was doing it looking pretty).
Nicholas actually finished with me for the last 300 yards and I crossed the mat in 2:08:34. My previous record (I looked it up when I got home) was 2:09:20. Luckily I didn't waste any time when I fell.
Nicholas and I headed directly to the medical tent. They cleaned me up a little there and told me I need to go to the hospital for stitches by my eye. I still had to wait for my girl Julie, so I headed back to where George was waiting. I was surprisingly in REALLY good spirits.
It wasn't long and Julie rounded that last corner smiling all the way to her new PR. GREAT race Julie, I'm so proud of you and how far you've come. Julie beat her old person record by 6 minutes! That's huge!
By the way, how cool is that finish line? If I hadn't have been so beat up, I would have loved running in seeing the capital in front of me. Also, how cool are my favorite sweats? You don't need to answer, I already know!
George dropped me off at the ER and Julie stayed with me and Bianca came up and met us. It meant a lot to me to have the girls by my side. It's no fun being alone in an ER (and trust me I KNOW!).
It turned out because of the placement of my wound, the doctor said he could put in a couple of stitches, but he felt that it would heal equally as well with or without. Who wants a needle in their face if they don't need it? NOT ME!
He wanted me to have a CT of my face, but I felt pretty confident I hadn't broken any bones so I decided against that too.
Basically I paid a gazillion dollars to have my wounds cleaned and get a tetanus shot. I NEVER would have gone to the hospital had the medics not told me I needed stitches. Oh well, better safe than sorry I suppose.
And there you have it, the
story saga of the 3M Half Marathon personal record. This is certainly a day I will never forget, and for the next several days, I doubt my face will let me.