A recap of the Bay Breeze Half-Marathon:
It was a perfect morning for running. Temps were in the low 50s and overcast. Being that the course was along the Bay, I was a little worried about wind, but there was nothing but a slight breeze.
As I drove to the race, it dawned on me that this was the first local half-marathon I participated in. It was also the smallest one. Usually there’s an expo a day or two prior to the race to pick up your bib, timing chip and swag bag; so showing up to get this stuff just before the race was definitely a new experience. I wasn’t sure how many people were going to be there, so I got there early, about an hour before race time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was no wait time; I was able to pick up my stuff immediately.
The previous half’s I’ve participated in were very large races, we’re talking thousands of runners. This was by far, the smallest one I’ve ever seen. There were less than 200 people running the half. I have to say, I really liked it. A lot! It was very casual and relaxed.
When it was time to start, they called for the half-marathoners to come to the starting line. This is when I realized that the start of the race would be on grass. Although we weren’t on grass for very along, I’d never run on grass before and was nervous about it. All I could think about was, “I really hope there aren’t any holes in this grass.” Thankfully, there weren’t.
We were told that the first 3 miles of the race would be road, then the last 3 miles would be dirt, and then we turned around.
Running on road is fine, running on dirt is even better, but running on gravel? This was NOT dirt.
As soon as we got off the grass, there was road for about 20 steps, then gravel. And it wasn’t tiny gravel, it was big chunks of gravel. I kept praying not to have any end up in my shoes. The gravel eventually turned to road – for 2.85 miles – then gravel again. It was hard, but I guess I got used to it, although if there was ever a race to justify my new shoe purchase, this was it. This was definitely the last run in my ol’ New Balance 1224′s.
During the first 2 miles I kept reminding myself that this was just another training run for me. I wasn’t here to race or try to accomplish anything special. It was supposed to be just another LSD (long slow distance) run. Yeah, that thought didn’t last long at all. I got caught up in the hype of the race. Now I am not genetically predisposed for this running thing by any means, but the more people I passed, the faster I started to run. The plan went out the window. I kept telling myself was, “Just keep going and see how long you keep up this pace!”
I found a couple of people that I used as pacers. As long as I could stay a few steps behind them, I knew I could sustain the pace. Hydrating every 2 miles and a GU at 4.5 miles helped too. This race also justified my running with a fuel belt (or as friends like to tease, a fanny pack). There was an aid station at 1.5 miles (half way for the 5K), one at 3 miles (half way for the 10K) and then nothing until the half way point at 7 miles (yes, 7 miles). If I didn’t have my fuel belt with me, I would have died from dehydration.
After the turnaround, I must have got at second wind because I went on a tear, passing my own private pacers, and a bunch of other runners too. I think I was just so happy that it was half way over! The second half definitely went by a lot faster than the first, and I was able to keep up a pretty good pace – that is until Mile 10.
I hit the inevitable brick wall.
That GU I took at 9 miles didn’t last very long. Thankfully at Mile 10 was the 10K aid station. Being too tired to reach down to my own fuel belt to grab a drink, I walked into the aid station and downed one of theirs. I walked for 30 seconds, then continued on. I found a new person to pace myself with. She was dying too and we took turns passing each other.
She ended up walking into the Mile 11.5 aid station, so I did too. I walked for another 30 seconds, then continued on. I promised myself that with only 1.6 miles left, I wasn’t going to walk anymore. I told myself, “You can do this!”
Surprisingly, my legs, hamstrings and glutes (typical problem areas for me) were all feeling relatively okay; it was my feet that were killing me. It was numb; I felt like there was no cushion left in the shoes.
I picked up my pace (or tried to) on the last mile, passed the girl I was pacing against and just told myself, “You’re almost there, just hang in there.” I took a glance at my Garmin, did a quick calculation in my head and realized that I could potentially have a PR! So much for no time aspirations, huh?
I willed myself to reach 13.1 as fast as I could! When I got there, the Garmin said 2:14, which was a PR! Only problem was, there was no Finish Line. Let me repeat – at 13.1 miles, there was NO FINISH LINE! I thought I was going to cry. Every curse word passed through my mind. I wanted to throttle the volunteers who stood on the corner and told me, “You’re almost there.” I was THERE people, the Finish Line just wasn’t there to meet me!
The Finish Line ended up being at 13.35 miles – an extra quarter of a mile. The first person I saw at the Finish was Punk Rock Runner and the first thing I said was, “That wasn’t 13.1!” My Garmin didn’t malfunction, his read the same thing.
At least I can now say I’ve run my first “Half-marathon and Change.”
Shirt / Bib / Medal
I get to do this all over again in 13 days! I can’t wait!