We headed downtown shortly after my mother-in-law arrived to take care of the girls at 6. By 6:25 we were at our gym's tent, huddling to stay warm and dry with the rest of the running team Wilson's had put together for the event. It had been raining since about 4AM, and showed no signs of letting up. In fact, my husband checked weather radar on his iPhone shortly before he lined up for the half, and we discovered that not only was it going to continue raining - probably through the entire race - but that it was going to get worse before it got better. Ah well, better rainy and cold than already 85 degrees and humid by 7 AM!
The half marathoners - about 650 of them - started at 7, and the rest of us - another 450 or so - lined up shortly thereafter for the 10K. The starting line is a lot of fun, and I love the 'buzz' that's in the air as everyone laughs and jokes and waits for it to start. I quickly made friends with another woman from our gym, and listened in amazement as another woman told us about flying in from the MU game mere hours before the race started!
Perhaps I'm a bit short on the draw, but when my trainer, Meghan, had first asked me if I would run this race I hadn't realized that she intended to run it with me. In fact, I didn't realize that until maybe a couple of weeks ago. It's the first time I've ever had anyone to run with, and I LOVED it! Of course, having her there to encourage me during the one or two really tough parts of the course was a blessing, but mostly it was just fun to have company.
Our race started downtown, wound through MU's campus and around the football stadium. We then had one scary steep hill to go down, followed by a really tough trip up a major hill. I'm proud of the fact that I only broke to a walk at the very, very top of that hill. (Providence - heading towards Stadium, for you locals.) Then we got to go across a bridge and back down the other side. At the bottom we cut over to a running trail that led us to the MKT, which took us back downtown. Right as we made the transition to the first trail, we came across a band playing live music at one of the aid stations...so much fun! (The half marathoners had several more bands along their route!) More beneficial, though, was the fact that the last half of the race was in the woods and so we were protected from much of the rain for the rest of the race. The last two miles on the MKT were a gentle - but noticeable - uphill grade, which made me VERY thankful for all of the incline training I've been doing on the treadmill. The only real problem was that we had to go through a flooded underpass, and so we finished the last mile or so with soaking wet feet and legs. (I'm very sure that helped along the cold.)
Meghan knew my goal time, and shortly before we got to the finish lane she told me I was going to beat it. I was thrilled, and was able to finish with a big smile on my face! In fact, I was very surprised at exactly how good I felt when I finished.
Even better, though, was the surprise waiting for my at the finish line. Two of my very best friends in the world - Jenn and Aimee - were there to cheer me on! Honestly, I almost started to cry when I saw them both. Beyond just general conversation about the day, they hadn't let slip a single hint that they planned on being there, and so I was caught completely off guard when I saw heard them both screaming my name and waving for me. As soon as my time chip was off of my shoes I was swept up into big hugs by two of my three biggest supporters. They stayed with me to watch Sean finish a while later, and the three of us had a lot of fun sharing in the general atmosphere of the finish line.
One of my PEO sisters was also at the finish line, and she took a few pictures of us for me. I had to laugh a bit when I saw them because we look like drowned rats! However, we're very happy drowned rats! You can't see them clearly, but we are both clutching our finish prizes - pint glasses with the festival logo. I'm betting the organizers weren't planning on wet and cold when they chose that award, though, as every few minutes you heard one hit the ground! Most of us were so cold and wet that we could barely hold on!
I couldn't let the morning go without a picture of Meghan, too! After all, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have been there! She's a wonderful trainer, and an even better person, and I couldn't have asked for better support as I prepared for the race!
Afterwords, we stuck around for a bit, enjoying the BBQ provided for the runners. (Although, it was odd to be eating BBQ and slaw at 9AM.....) We also went to a coffee shop for something warm to drink before we headed home for much-needed warm showers. It was a very nice ending for a perfect morning.
So how did I do?
Well, my goal time was 1 hour and 30 minutes. I felt like this was all very reasonable given my last big training run at Watkins Mill State Park, my speed on the treadmill over the last few weeks, and the overall hilliness of the course.
My actual time was 1:14:47.