Things that weren't so perfect before the start? I got about 3 hours of sleep (I swear I must have some deep subconscious anxiety the night before a race even though I really do *feel* fine), there was no coffee to be found in the Hilton lobby/breakfast area at 5:00 am, and the mini-coffee pot in my room exploded when I tried to make my own (really crappy) coffee.
Nevertheless, I pressed on with my morning!
My hotel was 2.5 miles from the starting line... Just long (and dark) enough for me to need transportation via the metro light rail. I tucked $2 into my shoe for the return fare and grabbed my "Guide" just in case I got lost on the "7-minutes-and-4-stops-until-we-get-there" transit. HA!
Yes. The money was still there at the end of the race.
Side note-This was a solo race for me as are pretty much *all* of my out-of-town races because it really is easiest if I just go by myself instead of dragging the boys with me. They just aren't at the ages yet where it's enjoyable for it to be a family affair, and my husband would end up frazzled (can't blame him) trying to keep everyone in sight in a large race/spectator crowd.
I got to the start about 35 minutes before the race began. I had a Gatorade Prime + another 3 oz. of water from a water table that was set up, then I headed to the porta-potty. You know how that goes. I ran a 1-mile warm-up with 3-30 (or so) yard pickups at the end, then got in line for the start. The gun went off and I settled into a nice pace. My coach's instructions to me before the race were simple: Run the first few miles at around a 7:38P (1:40). Remember that any fool can run a fast couple of miles at the start. Run the second half of the race faster.
When my Mile 1 split came in at 7:33, I knew it was going to be a great day. Usually how it works for me is that the first 2-3 miles of a race just feel ROUGH. It's like my legs need time to catch up to the pace I need them to run. I end up having to give myself a pep talk and reassure my mind that it's all going to work out in the end. Not today though... I cruised through the first half of the race. While I stayed below a 7:38P for almost all of my miles in the first half, I felt relaxed, smooth, and full of energy, so I gave myself permission to go a little faster.
This was the first half marathon I've ever run that didn't offer sports drink at the aid stations, so I was a little concerned. Normally I'd just do 1 gel around the 1-hour mark and alternate sports drink and water at the aid stations, but I decided that I'd take 1/2 a gel before I got to the aid station around Mile 6, then I'd take a few sips of water and finish off the remaining 1/2 of the gel. That seemed to work out well.
It was right around the 6.5 mile point that I knew it was time to increase my effort and subsequently, decrease my comfort level if I wanted to PR. Mile 7 was a 7:27 and then I believe it was right around Mile 8 that we turned around to head for the finish. At this point, I had my eyes on 5 girls ahead of me that I wanted to pass.
Mile 9-7:08 (passed 1st girl)
Mile 10-7:12 (hung with 2 girls until I saw I was slowing down when I matched their pace... picked it up and then passed them as well... had another gel)
Mile 11-7:08 (caught up to the last pair of girls and passed them)
My lone race photo purchased at the bargain price of $8.95. I tried to pick the one where I looked the least constipated. This was definitely during the second half of the race.
Right around Mile 12 is where we merged with the 5K walkers and the kid's mile participants. I was so incredibly uncomfortable at this point in the race. My hamstrings both felt like they were about to rupture and that combined with having to weave in and out of people motivated me to run as fast as I could to the finish line.
Last .2 on Garmin-5:39 (OMG!)
I finished with nothing left. I don't know about you, but the finish line for me is almost an emotional release that is just too much. I felt like bursting into tears because I was so tired and could finally just relax. Of course I told myself to calm down, and I avoided making a scene. It's not like it's the Olympics already, drama queen. I caught my breath, grabbed some water and forced myself into an immediate 1-mile cool-down. My legs were fried. Seriously, that was the hardest 10:31 mile ever.
My final time was 1:36:39. Good enough for 6th female overall and 1st place in my AG. And it was a 2-minute PR!
After that, it was time to pack up, shower, eat, and hit the road. Made a pit stop first, however, at the nearest cupcake place for some delicious treats for my support crew back in Yuma!
Nearby Urban Cookies... Heaven. Peanut butter for me, Pumpkin for the hubs, Vanilla for the boys (didn't want to get too exotic!)
I'm honestly surprised these made it back to Yuma. :)
Closing with a car self-portrait. Shame on me for playing on my phone whilst driving!
I'm just so happy about this race and what it potentially means for my January marathon.