My half marathon was probably the most fun I have ever had in my life!!
My sister, Jill, came in from Wisconsin to run the race with me. We've been running partners from afar. On Saturday night, instead of having heading to the race's pasta dinner, I had my own. I thought it would be better to have dinner with our fan club, than some strangers. My mom was there, my best friend Kate, my most supportive friend Jenny, and Steve and the kids. Plus, I wanted to guarantee we got to eat! When Jill did the Green Bay Half in May, they ran out! She got some salad and a soggy breadstick. Plenty this time!
That night we got to bed early and I slept like a rock. For some reason I wasn't nervous at all that night. I had worked so hard for so long, not a lot was going to happen at that point that could change the outcome.
I did the early start at 7am. Since I was doing the half, I really didn't have to worry about taking too long and needing the extra hour, I just knew that there was a pretty good chance I would be the slowest person there, and I didn't want the clean up truck on my butt for three hours. My sister was doing the 8am start so that we would have a chance at finishing together, so she and my mom were able to walk me to the starting line. At that point I didn't really start getting nervous, just that fast heart beat feeling right before something is going to happen. I was near the back of the pack and once we took off, the front of the pack was out of there. The large group I was with were walkers. Walkers that walk faster than I can run. Seriously, they were walking, I was running and I couldn't keep up. It isn't something that bothers me, if anything, I was kind of disappointed that I wasn't going to have anyone around me that I could talk to. Lucky for me I wasn't alone for long. I spent the first 9 miles with Karl. Karl and I didn't talk, we just kind of kept each other company. He even said something to me at the beginning that really got me through the miles. "Just keep going, we'll get there". Simple and obvious, but doesn't that usually describe the best things? Oh, and did I mention that Karl was 82? Or that he walked the half? Come on, you've seen them though, the older people that walk in the malls crazy fast? He was cool :)
I forgot my Nike+ Sportband, but I think that worked out for the best. For the entire race, I never knew what the time was. I also never had a point of wondering when the next mile marker was finally going to turn up. I was out there for a really long time, but the miles really flew by. I don't think I would do another one without time, but for my first one, it worked out for the best.
I never saw anybody I knew out on the course, the spectator areas were a little tricky to get to so I had told Steve to just have him and the kids at the finish line. I did have one friend pass me, though, and that definitely perked me up. My friend Nick was a guide for a blind runner, so it was cool when he wheeled up on his bike when they passed me. His guy was in the very front of the pack, so it didn't take them long to catch up with me. Once the main mass of runners caught up with me, I couldn't stop staring. It was so entertaining to just watch all of the runners zoom by me. And they were all so encouraging. Lots of very genuine words of encouragement. Once we were into the Kent Trails area, a bike trail through woods next to the river, a woman touched me on the shoulder when she passed, looked back at me and told me that I was doing great. I had another older guy that looked back at me after he said "good job". That's a good mental note. Someday when I'm more swift, I'll look back at the people trucking along after I say something. I had a lot of people say things to me, but those two people I remember so distinctly, and I remember how much it meant to me at the time.
My sister caught up with me at about 11 - 1/2 miles and then finished with me. I'm really glad that we got to finish together.
Probably the best part of the race was coming up to the finish line when I heard the kids screaming my name. Once we got up to them, Nathan ran right out onto the course, right up to us, super excited. He had something to tell me and it just couldn't wait. "Amy! We're taking you out to lunch!!"
And I wore my medal to the restaurant!