What an awesome day! I couldn't be happier with the outcome, but let me start at the beginning.
I went to bed nice and early last night (9:30 pm) so when the alarm went off at 4:51 am I wasn't too angry. I snoozed once (as per usual) and was up at 5:00 am sharp. I fueled with a piece of peanut butter bread and a glass of Sunny D. What? I didn't have any Gatorade (my normal pre-race drink).
We arrived at the capital after a potty break by 6:30 ish. I tried to hook up with fellow Austinites and blog friends Amanda and Jennifer, but the place was packed and I never got to say hello. Even without my well wishes, both ladies finished well before I. RUDE ladies, just rude!
I wasn't without company as I arrived with Julie, Bianca, Karla and Kelley.
I thought I was going to have to run this race alone. I had texted Kelley about running this race WITH her, but apparently, due to modern technology, both of us missed text messages and thought the other didn't want to run with each other. So today I decided to do what I wanted to do all along (run with a friend) and I decided to run with Kelley and hopefully push her to a PR (I'm not sure she knew that was my plan).
Anyway, we "dropped off" Karla and Bianca in the 9:00 corals and we headed back to the "cheap seats". Ha! As soon as we got there Kelley and I both felt the urge to use the restroom again. So we said goodbye to Julie and headed to the porta potties. When we got there the wheel chair races were being released and the lines for the bathrooms were HUGE. Soon enough the gun was sounding the start of the race and we were nowhere near our turn. Typically during a marathon it will take me 20 to 25 minutes to cross the start mat so I figured we had plenty of time. When there were just about 8 people in front of us, the number of people heading to the start mat seemed to be dwindling, but we were so close to our turn, we decided to stay. By the time we finished and headed out the announcer was stating, "if you are running the marathon or half marathon you should have already crossed the start mat." Whoopsie. We started 21:47 after the official start.
What a way to start a race, we spent a lot of time passing people including a lot of lackadaisical walkers. Nevertheless, by the third mile we were in a nice groove and caught up to runners who were running more our speed.
The Austin marathon and half marathon course are challenging hilly courses, but I felt like I was running the hills pretty well. They were not as hard as I remembered them to be last year when I ran the marathon. Running hills calls on different muscles, which I actually prefer and we were having a good time (well I think WE were, I know I was).
This race went by so quickly, it's kind of hard for me to recall all the bits and pieces. I was having a great time just enjoying the scenery, reading all the signs and listening to all the people cheer. Before I knew it, we were at mile 6 and totally cruising.
We had gotten through a lot of the hills and were headed into a beautiful view and an equally beautiful downhill.
We were happy.
Kelly had told me around mile 5 she'd like to take her Gu and that maybe she'd walk while she ate, but she never did. She just kept plugging away despite her knee and her lungs (upper respiratory problems) not feeling 100%. So, when mile 10 came along and Kelley told me she wanted to walk, I wasn't surprised but I told her she couldn't. Haha. I asked her why she needed to walk and tried to convince her to push through her physical pain. She and I both knew she had it in her mind to do it, she just needed to get her body to cooperate. I wanted her so badly to finish strong and with no regrets.
I started running just ahead of her hoping to give her some space and allow her to decide what was best for her. That's when Kelley spotted the "honey badgers", my friends Jennifer and Shannon who were running the full marathon.
Unfortunately, we were almost to the marathon split and while Jennifer and Shannon were turning left, we lucky half marathoners were heading right, and we didn't get much time to chat. I was happy that the girls looked GREAT and knew they'd finish strong!
I can't lie, it was pretty nice going right knowing I had about 3 miles left and not 16 miles.
I could tell at this point that Kelley was in a lot of physical pain and I knew there were 3 tough hills left (with the two worst of the whole course). I was the "time keeper" and knew Kelley had it within her reach to PR. I hoped that I could push her even more and hopefully beat her previous record by 2 full minutes (I was looking for a 2:20 finish).
Kelley powered up the hills and we were making some great time. We were less than a half mile from the finish when I glanced back at Kelley and saw a look of horror on her face as her knee buckled. Kelley limped a few steps, but I could tell she had made the decision to finish strong and power through. She asked me to say something to take her mind off of things and I froze under pressure. I don't know what I said, but I'm sure it wasn't the right thing. Soon enough though, Kelley spotted her family and it was just the push she needed to power through the last .25 miles and finish in 2:20:51. Booyah! PR accomplished for Kelley!
I knew I would never PR on this course today so I was really looking to run this race for fun. When I blogged last night I said I wanted to run the half in 2:15, but that was before I was running with Kelley. I much rather have run a 2:20:51 WITH Kelley than any other non PR time by myself. Racing for me is a lot of things, but sometimes it's about having fun and today was exactly what I wanted! Thanks Kelley!
To be continued.....
Part II tomorrow