I called for a wake up call at 5am which never came. Luckily I never trust hotels and set my alarm so I had no problems getting up. Quickly got dressed, talk to mom and dad shortly and left the hotel by 5:30 to walk to Paul Brown Stadium. It was raining. Just my luck. I curled my toes as I walked as if that would help them from getting wet. Ha, as if... I met a girl from a local chat board I'm on who graciously made me and another chat girl a sign for the race. Stevi's husband was running his first marathon and she had rocked a 5k the day before. I would end up seeing her twice more on the race course and love her dearly even though I just met her!!! After chit chatting with her for a few minute, I headed into the stadium to use the nice potties and made my way to the start. The rain had stopped, although it was dark and chilly. I was glad I brought a throw away shirt!
The countdown began for the race and I was excited. I placed myself between the 3:45 group and the 3:50 group. I knew I wouldn't finish there, but wanted to start at a pace I had been training at. The cannon sounded and we were off. I crossed the start line probably 1:30 after the cannon and pushed the start button on my Garmin. Nothing. Well, a timer, but no other data. I pushed the up and down buttons thinking I was on the wrong screen. Nothing. I pushed mode and got "searching for Satellites". Ugh... you've got to be freaking kidding me. So, that's how the race starts... Can you tell my joy at this point?
The first miles was crowded... like 10 minute mile crowded. :-( It slowly started to spread out. We went over 2 bridges within the first 4 miles. I already thought it was hilly, and this was supposed to be the flat part of the race! I knew my mom and dad would be at mile 5 and I was happy - I was starting to get hot and wanted to hand them my visor and gloves (yeah, I have a thing about $1 expo gloves, what's it to you??). I passed them around 43:30 which was right about where I thought I'd be. Look how cute my mom is and the sign she made me! I love their homemade signs!!!The "hills" would be starting right after I saw them so I braced myself.
What came next, I'll never forget. Climbs, climbs and more climbs! They were the kind of climbs where you would climb, turn a corner and climb some more, hit the crest of the hill and then run straight down meaning your legs were just screaming. My heart rate increased, I got dizzy. Would I be able to do this? What had I signed up for? I panicked. Somehow I made it through Eden park which was the 3 mile climb that goes up 300+ feet. I just felt like the hills were relentless. I ate some sport beans, my stomach started feeling a little better and I tried not to think about the miles. I didn't know what pace I was running, but felt like I was probably pushing it a little.
Miles 8-12 just kind of just went. They were rolling, the half marathon split at mile 9 so it started to thin out. I got in a groove. I hit mile 13.1 at 1:56:52. WOAH... way faster than I should have done those hills. And my legs were nice enough to let me know. Thanks for that. I honestly thought that I wasn't going to finish. My legs were screaming and I still had 13.1 to go. I knew that the second half was supposed to be a little more forgiving (yeah, right...) so I held on to hope that I would be alright.
I hit the 19.7 mile mark at 3:05:18. I of course had no clue that I was running 9:25's at this point but knew that I had slowed down considerably. I wasn't drinking anymore. "Dear Mr. Race Director. Don't fill the water glasses and the Gatorade with hose water. It takes like poo, not that I've ever tasted poo, but if I did, I bet it would taste like your water. Sincerely, the runner who REALLY wanted water that didn't taste like a hose." Yeah, it wasn't good. From that point on, I started to do a little run walk combo. I knew it would get me to the end. I ran to the next song, the next mile marker, the next water station, the next lady holding jolly ranchers or oranges, whatever seemed to be closest. I did a lot of stretching. The second half was not flat. I'm just sayin'...
With one mile to go, I had the whole "oh my goodness, I'm going to do this" feeling. Just one foot in front of the other. I turned my MP3 off and just took in the crowd. I found my parents about 100 feet from the "Finish Swine". My dad found me too... (Don't laugh... I was VERY happy to almost be done!)
I ended up crossing the finish line in 4:21:20 - a PR by 23 minutes and 28 seconds! I then proceeded to well up with tears. I HURT. Those hills definitely kicked my ass. I was not ready for them and if I ever decided to do this race again (it's not on my short list) I would train in southern Ohio because Delaware Ohio didn't prepare me. :) My medal was great. The finish line food was great (they had Swiss cake rolls - SCORE! Sure I could buy a whole box for $1.29, but after the race I had, they were little packages of heaven being handed to me). I found my mom and dad, cried to them a little more about how much I hurt and then gingerly made my way back to the hotel for a quick shower before our trip home.
Overall, I'm SUPER thrilled with the race. No, it's not as fast as I had hoped, but I now know that I had unrealistic expectations for the race. I can honestly say that I wasn't prepared for the hills. I thought that I could fudge my way through them and maybe that's what I did. In any event, I proved to myself that I am in fact a strong woman, capable of taking on challenges and pushing myself beyond my limits.
One funny thing though... I looked at the official race results and couldn't find my name in the Female 25-29 AG. They have me listed for some reason as a 50-54 age grouper! :) I wrote them and told them that was wrong. Where they got that, I don't know. My bib was right so I know I didn't mess up when I registered. This race kicked my butt, but I don't think it aged me!
So what's next??? I have 41 days until my first tri of the season. I think I'm going to back my running distance back, pick up the speed, increase my biking and start cranking out some sets in the pool. I have new goals to meet in June. But maybe I'll start Tuesday... these legs need to recover!