I ran in the 15th Annual Air Force Half Marathon this past Saturday, for the 3rd year in a row. I was really worried about it this time around because just one week before the race my groin decided to rear its ugly head and hurt itself (the nerve). After a tear-filled 2 mile walk (limp), back to my home, I sucked it up (pouted and sobbed some more) and stuck to the stationary bike (torture) until the race.
The morning of the race was pretty chilly and partly cloudy. But, thanks to a hot-blooded mom who was more than willing to let me use her as a personal heater, I kept from getting frostbite before the race.
About an hour before the race started, I tried running a few steps to test how the groin felt. Big mistake. It felt horrible and I started to get pretty worried. I kept berating myself for testing it since I knew that the pain feels the worst in the first few steps, so why bother when I knew it could only be bad? But torturing myself is a talent. So, with less than an hour to go, I knocked back some Advil and Shot Blocks and headed to the start line.
START LINE: When the gun went off and I took my first few running steps over the start line, I felt…nothing! I didn't have any pain in my groin! I knew immediately that it wouldn't be an issue and I might actually pull this off. I was still concerned that I'd have to take breathers or walk a bit after hills, but I knew I'd finish (just the idea of not finishing a race was something that would have been completely unheard of to me before this injury-filled year).
Mile 1: I HATE PEOPLE. After a mild panic attack that my ipod didn’t work I realized I had only accidentally hit pause and it wasn't broken. Phew. With my traditional 1st song for a race blasting (“No Line On The Horizon” – U2) I happily continued on my merry way until I came up alongside: THEM. I had found myself running next to a pair of yappy running buddies. As the right ear bud on my headphones has long since died from my toxic sweat, I had the pleasure of listening to them shoot the breeze like they were sitting on a back porch swigging beers. I desperately tried to figure out ways to pull away from them..(or push them over the construction barrier)
Mile 2: Finishing the first mile in 7 min. flat (and with a hill!), I started to warm up and dumped my arm socks to be trampled on by the rest of the herd (this is why I buy $1 knee high socks and cut holes in them instead of buying the pricey ‘official’ arm socks. Works the same and you can cover your hands, too)
Mile 3: Rid of the two middle-aged chatty cathys and passing a sort of metal detector station while running alongside 4-wheel driving soldiers (the base is on a higher security level this time) I'm feeling good and settling into cruise control.
Miles 4-7: Feeling great, doing good, keeping my pace between 7:10-7:25...passed a soldier doing the marathon in full gear AND an eye patch...pretty badass.
Mile 8: The Onramp. When was including an on ramp in a race ever a good idea? Ugh, I knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make me hate it any less. As I climbed up the hill, an old man in front of me slowly started biting the dust, I took advantage of his weakness to give me a boost and picked up my speed to pass him and reach the top.
Mile 9-11: Because one hill in the final miles of a race is never enough, lets throw in 2 more! At this point, my shoes (which I was only wearing for the 2nd time since May) were starting to make the little ball under my pinkie toe on my left foot numb and tingly. It was horrible. Visions of chucking them to the side and running barefoot the rest of the way danced in my head. But, after a guy I knew from the gym, smuggly sipping his hot cocoa from a comfy lawnchair, called my name to cheer me on, I continued trudging up the hill like Sysiphus. I knew I couldn't just start walking now that I had an audience. Damn him.
Mile 12: WHO SETS UP A FINISH SO YOU HAVE TO RUN PAST IT!?! Again, I knew this was coming, but seriously, these race organizers are sick and twisted . As I made my way thru the first part of the U-turn I tried to force myself to look down so I wouldn't see how much progress I wasn't making. But, my watch told me I hadn't slowed down at all, so high five! Coming in to the final stretch towards the finish, I couldn't wipe the biggest grin off my face. I sprinted in and basked in my glory...and congratulations from the 20-something guy next to me who thanked me for letting him use me as a pacer (to which I responded, "I did? Well, er, no problem" ....then poured my whole 'I had to limp home in tears a week ago' story to him. Heh heh.
It was an awesome race. Made better by beating my brother by 24 minutes. I went to watch for him and ran him in (and the people in the food tent said once you left you couldn't go back...mwahahahhaha).
My final time: 1:38:20....My 4th fastest 1/2 marathon. Not too shabby considering it's my 10th one! And best yet, I get to keep my ‘Elite’ status.