Finally, after 2 years of wishing, 1 year of half planning, four months of panic cause I actually committed, and three months of training (and complaining)...it was time to do it. To run the half that has been consuming my every thought for all this time.
On Friday my sister Amanda and I headed down to Olathe, Kansas to do this shiz-nit. On the drive down, she convinced herself to register for the Dorothy Dash, which was the 6k race starting right after the half and full marathon. I was (and am still) so excited she decided to do this. I never believed it until I did it, but there is something about running with so many people, and crossing that finish line, that I think anyone who runs should experience.
We got to packet pick up, Amanda got registered and then we were off. At this point, I was SO excited for this race. So so so excited.
We went back to the hotel and I went out to do a quick two mile run and then we went to get dinner. I was still pretty jazzed, but we were both still able to go to sleep fairly early. I had to be parked and ready to go by 630a, so I set my alarm for 530a.
I woke up at about 330a and my right knee was killing me. This all could have been in my head, but it was throbbing and I started to panic. I rubbed icy hot all over it and tried to go back to sleep, but at 430a I gave up and was up for the day.
We got dressed and packed up, and the nerves set in. I have ran this distance before, but I was getting all up in my head. People were blowing up my phone and my Facebook, so I had so much support and good thoughts. My dad normally texts me every single morning around 5a, but by 610a when we left to go to the Garmin headquarters, he still hadn't texted. Wtf Dad! Today is the day you forget?!
Of course he didn't forget. He was on his way to Olathe! He called me at 630a from the parking garage. And I instantly started crying. Before I even started the race.
He and Amanda hung with me and the starting line, and then I went to line up with the pacer. I have been planning all along for a three hour finish time. I don't care that it's slow, it's what I'm capable of and that's how I wanted to do it. I talked to some other runners, but mostly kept to myself because I was still pretty nervous.
And then we were off! I started off slow with the three hour pacers, but after about a half mile they stopped to take a walking break and I didn't want to, so I ran ahead and ended up with the 2:45 pacers. There was so much to watch during the first three miles - so many people running in costumes, so many people taking selfies and other people trying to photo bomb, so many conversations. I focused on listening to everything around me, taking in the sites and just experiencing everything. I felt really good, my knee was feeling fine. At three miles the marathoners and the halfers split off, so then I was just with the other halfers. I would play a game where I would pick someone in front of me and plan on just following them the whole race. But the. They would stop and walk, or stop and pee, and I wasn't ready yet so I would lose them and pick someone else. I was feeling great.
Then it started sprinkling. At first it was kinda cool...it felt awesome, and again, I was just soaking up the experience. Then the rain got harder, and the drops got bigger. Then the thunder and lightning started. Then the rain was hard and angry. I was soaked to the bone. No one was talking anymore, we were all just running head down, literally wiping the rain from our faces and ringing out our shirts and hair. It was terrible. The only things that were being said out loud was "fuck!" And "are they going to pull us off the course?" And at this point we turned the corner and found this hill. On the "wickedly flat" course.
But we kept going. It hurt, but I kept running because stopping to walk at this point made no sense. It rained like that until mile 8. By that time the route had split off the pavement and went through a dirt path in the forest. Now, if the weather was nice I would have been ecstatic about this, pretending to be Dorothy and company walking through the enchanted forest. However, in this situation I was fucking pissed. I dodged puddles and had to stop several times to tiptoe carefully through the mud.
At mile nine the rain stopped, but it had already done its damage. The wooden bridges were slick, the path was covered in puddles. I was COMPLETELY soaked. My feet felt so heavy since my shoes and socks were just drenched. I gave in and stopped and walked.
I found the 2:50 pace group at that point and hung out with them. I did a walk/run combo until mile 12. You would think that mile marker would give me a new burst of energy, but I was drained. I have never wanted to be done with something more in my life. I was miserable. I found a buddy and we motivated each other until the end.
And then the finish line was in sight. Leading up to it was the yellow brick road, but it was incredibly slick with the rain, so there was no sprinting. But I finished and it was OVER!!
I have one more entry to write about this thing, and then I promise to stop talking about to so much. And here are some pics.