Monday, October 8, 2012

Towpath Half Marathon Recap

Since I signed up 3 weeks ago, I have thought of little else but this race. I was putting so much pressure on myself to make this my Redemption Race, to make up for those extra 2.02 miles! Though I didn't want to say it out loud, my goal was to place in my division. The Towpath Marathon races are small, with about 1,000 people (there were 1,092 finishers for the half yesterday), so placing is completely reasonable and I've done it before (2008, when I last ran in it).

Annnnd... I really really wanted it. It was super important to me to prove to myself that I could still place since getting married, that married life hadn't washed me up (and yes, I realize I am very fast to a lot of people, but I put unreasonable expectations on myself).

So, no pressure, right?  Thanks to all that and my usual race nerves, I spent a lot of the weekend getting to know the bathroom extremely well. Well, at least I'll be lighter on race day!

Mom and I headed out at 6am, after I gleefully assaulted her with boxing gloves as her complimentary wakeup call.

Morning person
Since the road to the start closed an hour before the race began, we had 90 minutes to kill waiting for the 8am gun (cowbell). We hung out in the car until my twitchiness couldn't take it anymore and we headed to the race start to the tune of.....James Taylor?!?! Really!?! Who's in charge here!?!

As mom and I headed to the portapotty lines, we considered sabatoging the sound system. Thankfully they switched over to techno shortly after.

People were scurrying all over, huddled in their fleeces and coats. It was a crisp 44 degrees, a whopping 8 degrees warmer than predicted. Phew! But I was still reluctant to hand over my coat to mom while I shivered thru the National Anthem.

My Mary Catherine Gallagher impression

I'd positioned myself right at the front of the pack so I didn't have to deal with weaving thru the masses, as most of the course is only on a 12 ft wide trail. The 1/2 and 10k racers start together, and after MUCH pouring over the course map, I knew exactly where I was going. No extra miles this day, not this girl!


And we're off!

Yes, I always grin like a maniac at race starts

Mile 1: The first 3.5 miles are on the road and a potholed, rutted road at that. I successfully manuevered my way down a particularly rutted and gravely dip that had almost wiped me out in previous years. Score! I was feeling good and finally warming up.

Mile 2: As I approach the first water stop I see a woman topple to the ground. OMG!!! Oh. No. Wait. It's just Flo. Progressive was a race sponsor and life-size cutouts of Flo were everywhere. This Flo obviously couldn't hold her Gatorade.

Mile 3: A short girl in a tank top and tie-dyed socks slowly passes me and cuts in front of me. Let it go, Tink, let it go. It's only mile 3. She'll wear out soon enough.

But, blast it! Once she got in front of me,  Little Miss Thang dialed it down to exactly my pace so we were running with a perfect 10 feet between us. Oh, this is going to get old fast. We made the turn to the towpath and LMT was totally ruining my groove. Rarrrr!

Mile 4: Side stitch! Crap! I knew I should have taken one more gulp of the Powerade before I tossed it. I tried leaning to the left a little as I ran to stretch it out and prayed it would please, please, please go away! 5 minutes later it was gone and I was back to focusing on LMT.

I couldn't help but notice she'd started to slow down. Ha! That's what you get! But I wasn't sure I wanted to pass her so early on, knowing she'd be right on my heels for the remaining 9 miles. However, good sense never seems to be around when you run, so off I went, leaving her in the dust. Then I tossed off my gloves for good measure. That's right. I threw down.

Mile 5-7: Mwahahahaha! Mile 5 and still going the right way! Yes!

Mile 8: Closing in on the turnaround...finally! Time to start thinking about this race being over! The turn-around is a bitch. It's just a cone plopped in the middle of the trail that you scoot around. You have to come to almost a screeching hault to cut the corner without taking yourself out! Definitely screws with your flow.

Mile 8.5: Damn it!!! Gatorade to the eye! That stuff stings!

Mile 9: Heading back, I'm now passing 1/2ers still making their way to the turnaround (and man do they hog up the path, single file people!)
Suddenly some girls shout at me "You're the 5th woman!"


Awesome!!!!..........oh shit...............

That means LMT and the women behind me have 4 miles to catch up...Dammit! I do not need to be thinking about this! Talk about pressure! I couldn't help but notice at the turn around that LMT was only about 1/4 mile behind me, with 2 women 1/4 behind her. Grrrrrrrreat. Now I get to feel like I'm being chased for the rest of the race.

Mile 10: Get me off this crazy train! I'm tired! The stress of knowing I was so close but also so far from doing so awesome (coupled with it being mile 10 for goodness sake) was wearing me down. Every person that passes me (which aren't many) I frantically check for gender. OMG, just get me to the finish.

Mile 11: I could really go for some chocolate milk. Surely they'll have some at the end. Mmmmmm....chocolatey milk. Yummmmmmmy. Drrrrrrrooooooool....

Mile 12: As usual, the last 2 miles or so I've been running in a bubble with no one really close to me at all. This always happens to me in races. I might have been doing a regular everyday run from the looks of things!

Finally the home stretch comes into view. Thank goodness. Linkin Park switches on and I'm pumped as I obsessively start checking my Garmin every .05 miles. About 1/2 mile before the finish, a woman cheering on the side shouts at me that I'm the 4th woman.

Whoa, really? But I didn't pass any girls since I was in 5th!

As I reached the finish line I spot my mom and sister in-law (yay, she came!) cheering me on and shouting that I was in 4th. Wahoo!

Almost there!

I crossed the finish in 1:35:22:14, chip time. That's a 7:17 pace (though my Garmin said it was a 7:15 pace).

Annnnnnd....I only ran 13.1 miles! Success!

My mom, sis in-law and I snapped some pics and huddled in our coats for the next hour as we waited for the Half Marathon awards ceremony to begin. I stumbled on a fellow AF Half Marathon runner (survivor) and another round of "How far did you go?" followed. Seriously, this game will never get old (he clocked in 14.5 miles).

Runner's high going strong!

When the 25-29 women's age division got called, my breathing stopped as I listened for my name. 3rd place....not me. My heart sunk a little. 2nd place......not me. My head hung low.

And the division winner is........................ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I jumped up and ran to get my award (a framed picture of the Towpath) faster than you could blink! I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not washed up after all!

I am so so happy! If you would have told me this would be happening a year ago, I never would have believed you. I am beyond ecstatic!

My loot

And as soon as we got to our car, the heavens opened and it poured all the way until I left for Dayton that afternoon (poor marathoners still had to truck thru that). On my drive home, I passed by a fellow racer who spotted my new towpath marathon sticker on my window and held up his race medal for me to see! I, of course, was wearing mine, so we waggled our medals at eachother before we continued on our way. How cool!

And when I got home, I had a hero's welcome!

Isn't he sweet!!!

And best yet? My mom's coming in tonight to keep me company while the Turtle is away for work. Wooop! I see a week full of DWTS, TLC Channel and mom-touraging!

Oh yeah, and that 1:35:22.....totally qualifies me for Corral A in the Disney. Disney World Half Marathon 2014, here I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Looks like it was a great event...and congrats on the qualification!

  2. WOW! You are super speedy!! Great job and nice work!!

  3. Oh my gosh congrats!!!!!!!!!!! How exciting!!!!!!!!!! Maybe by 2014 I'll have worked my way up a bit and can see you blaze by at the turnaround. ;)

    1. That would be so great if you did Disney in 2014 too! Just wait, after this year you'll get hooked!

  4. That's a super time. You should be very proud of your 'podium finish'!!!!

  5. COngrats! You are such a stud and I love your socks. Hilarious recap! Yay for corral A! You earned it girl!

  6. Great play by play! Haha! Wow.