The picture is of my cousin, Stephanie and I before the race started. Steph's longest training run for this half marathon was 5 miles so I was a bit concerned as to whether she would be able to pull through. It was her first half marathon and she had never run a distance longer than 7 miles in her entire life.
Steph, Andy (my bf), and I left the house around 5:25 AM. I told Steph the night before that we needed to leave by 5:15 but that didn't quite happen. Needless to say, we still made it down to the Depot with plenty of time to spare. As soon as we parked the car, I needed to use the restroom pretty bad. We made it over to the Depot and I spotted an enormous line for the porto pottie. Steph and Andy spotted Brian, another NF Endurance Team runner, and chatted with him while I waited in line.
After using the restroom, I joined Steph and the other NF Endurance Team members that were starting to arrive. We chatted for a bit, took a team photo, and then headed over to the start of the race. I had been battling a cold since Friday and decided to start the race with Steph (who runs about 2 minute/mile slower than me) seeing as I didn't think it was going to be my best race with the nasal congestion. We agreed on a middle ground and started just before the 11 min/mile pace group. A few more NF team members showed up in the same pace area and we chatted for a bit before the start of the race. As soon as the race started, Steph put earplugs in her ears for her Ipod. I tried to stay back with her for awhile but I found myself consistently pulling ahead. I finally realized that it wasn't really worth staying back since she was in her own music world anyway. I eventually just charged ahead as I was having a hard time running at her pace anyway...
It was rather inconvenient, but I had to use the restroom really bad again. I don't believe we had even made it to the first mile! There was a row of porto potties with no line and I dived into one of them. I quickly got back on course and found Steph just ahead of me. I came up behind her and patted her on the back and she said, "How'd you get back there?" I told her I stopped for the porto pottie and she waved me on.
The first 5 miles of the race seemed to fly by. I had no idea what pace I was running at because I didn't bring any of my pacing tools (Garmin or Ipod). The course was beautiful and I was just taking in all of the scenery. Right around mile 3, we went over a bridge near Broadway Ave. This is where I saw Andy's parents standing. I gave them some quick hi-fives and thanked them for coming out. Andy's dad said, "Get back out there!"
Somewhere around miles 4-6 the sun decided to come out from behind the clouds. Steph had convinced me to wear a shirt underneath my NF jersey and I was really starting to regret it. I was burning up!! I kept envisioning a maneuver of taking off my shirt while still somehow keeping my jersey on. It never happened.
The sun finally ducked behind some clouds as we crossed over the Stone Arch Bridge. This was also an area where lots of spectators were gathered. I seemed to get renewed energy somewhere around this area.
We went back past the Guthrie and race announcers were shouting "Next time by, you will be finishing". (We crossed the Guthrie 3 times during this course). It seemed like there were a few miles of downhill right after we crossed the Guthrie. Shortly after, we saw the lead motorcycle for the race with the half marathoners coming behind it. My first thought was, "Oh no, someone was hurt." Then everyone kept clapping as the lead runner passed us. I still didn't put two and two together. It wasn't until the 2nd runner passed that I realized that the lead runners of the half marathoner had already made the turn around on the course and were headed back (there was a turn around at mile 9).
Eventually the downhill went away and it seemed like were climbing uphill for miles and miles. I think this really only amounted to about 2 miles of uphill but I thought it seemed like forever. I took a sports bean on one of the uphills to try to keep up my energy. There were water stops at what seemed liked every half mile or mile and I took in as many as I could while still running the entire way. I kept telling myself, just make it to mile 9, you saw the lead guys running downhill--it will be a nice downhill run to the finish. Boy was I wrong on this.
I was so happy when we reached the turn around at mile 9. We had a few uphills and downhills through here but I had a new thing to focus on. I was looking for my cousin Stephanie in the crowd that was still coming out. I saw Brian and high fived him. Still kept looking for Steph. About 10-15 minutes passed after I'd made the turn around and finally I saw Steph. I gave her a quick high five. She looked like she was in the zone but not quite hurting yet.
After passing Stephanie, we had a short distance of downhills. I pushed all of my energy into the downhill to maximize on the advantage. I thought for sure that the entire rest of the race was downhill. (This is what you get for not looking at the race elevation map!) At the end of our glorious gift of downhill which lasted about a mile, we started to head uphill. The hill was steep and windy but I figured it should be short lived. I was wrong here. I pushed through, wanting so badly to walk. A man on the sidelines was shouting "Only half a mile left...you can do it!" I felt weak and started to walk a bit. A woman came up behind me and said, "Don't walk now, you can pull through!" I started slowly running again. I saw the 2 hr 20 min pacer pass me. She was booking it and looking at her watch. I wondered if she might have been a little off on her pace as she seemed to be really speedy all of a sudden....
I continued to try to run up the hill. This was the most brutal hill for the end of a race. People were shouting "Don't let the hill win! Don't give in!" I had had enough of that hill. Eventually I ended up walking for about 10 seconds again before I trudged ahead. The spectators were shouting "Just around the corner, you'll see the flags!"
"Just around the corner" seemed like forever!! Eventually I saw the finish line but I had no energy left to do any sort of sprinting. I passed Andy and my Aunt Ellen cheering me on and waved. I passed Murray, Kari, and the rest of the NF Endurance Team on the right and gave them a wave. Then I heard a shout from the left from a coworker who had come to watch some friends. "Rachel!!!" I quickly gave her a wave and went into the finish. The clock read 2 hrs 26 min but I knew that my chip time would be much better because we didn't start the race til a while after the clock.
The food line was pretty far away from the finish line so I circled back to try to find Andy and my aunt. I never did find them but I did run into my coworker and talked to her briefly. Murray came over and talked to me as well. He asked when I would be expecting Steph to come through the finish line and I said I wasn't entirely sure since she hadn't ever run this distance. She looked okay when I saw her earlier but that was before the massive hill...
Murray returned to the NF Endurance group right across the road and I sat down with Kristia and watched for Steph to come through. Kristia let me use her phone to call Andy and told him where we were located. Before long, I heard Murray shouting, "Rachel, she's coming!!" I looked up and Steph was coming around the bend. I ran up to meet her and high fived her. She came through just before the 3 hour mark. Way to go Steph!
Andy and I tracked Steph down in the finishing chute. We went down to the food line and rested at a picnic table for a short while. Overall....a great race and so glad to have taken a part in this race with my cousin!!!
Chip Time: 2 hrs 22 min (No PR....but still a good time considering the course and the cold I had!)