Monday, December 31, 2012

October - the BIG one!

I am running a half marathon. What was I thinking??? 13.1 miles?? The best thing about this race was my support. My long distance running buddy was in town from Ohio. She was training for a marathon, so this little run was just a training run with a medal at the end. (she was very gracious about this!)

I also had a TON of family support. My parents planned their trip East for Columbus day weekend, so they could have another day that the kids weren't in school. My Dad is a marathoner, having run both the LA and Long Beach Marathons. This was slightly nerve racking for me, as he RUNS marathons and I cover distances. :) Anyways, their trip happened to fall on the same weekend as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half.

I had also given my Husband fair warning that this race was the one race he had to show up for. I wasn't sure how that was all going to go as now he had not just the kids, but my parents as well. Needless to say, he hit it out of the park, but more on that later. 

So the race is a point to point race from Mt. Vernon to National Harbor. You spend most of the time on the GW Parkway and then cross over the bridge, make a loop around the harbor and finally past the Awakening to the finish.

This was my first "big" race, in that it of course was the longest distance I had ever completed, but I also knew there was a cap at 3,000 runners. I hadn't really paid attention to the number of runners in the races I had done up to this, but I fully expected a big expo and all the trimmings. I had been getting emails indicating I hadn't completed my registration and had been communicating with the Race Director. He assured me everything was fine, but in the end I didn't have a preprinted bib - Boo.  As for the expo, there were only about 5-6 vendors there. I bought a cute water bottle with a handstrap that has come in handy.

The weather report wasn't doing my nerves any favors. Could be a downpour, could be just wet.  Got to love DC, never know what you are going to get. Of course, with all my good weather at the races up to this point, I would have traded for this day in a hot second! We lucked out in that it drizzled, but never all out rained - or maybe it did and I just never noticed! It did cause me to grab a hat last minute.

Laura's husband, who is also a runner, took pity on us and drove us to the starting point. Because it is a point to point race, and there isn't any parking at the start, you could park in Alexandria or at the National Harbor and take a bus. We were dropped off right at the start! I had purchased a throw away sweatshirt at the good will, but ended up having more then enough time to check it (and my throw away ponchos again!). It was dark!

The race was smaller then I thought in that I could see the start line. They started the blind runners and their partners off (so cool!) and then we were off. Laura had moved ahead before the startThe Parkway isn't very easy to spectate from, so I didn't plan to see my family until Mile 7. We had tons of space to run our own race without having to jostle each other.

I kept thinking I had to use the porta potty, but each time I was at a stop, the line made me want to keep pushing on. I was too worried about my time. The race had a cutoff at 3:16, and I had a stretch goal of finishing in under 3 hours. My A goal was to finish and be with the race cutoff. I was running/walking at a good pace and was feeling great when I saw the first glimpse of my family. (Hey I was over halfway done at that point!) Rob said later, I was right on my predicted time that I had laid out on the map I gave him.

I had fallen in with a group of folks that were going the same pace and soon we were headed into Alexandria and over the bridge. There were 2 ladies that were particularly chatty and keep me heading forward. When we were on the bridge at mile 9, we all realized we had a chance to make the 3 hour mark. Boy was I excited and motivated then! The rain was coming down harder and we were on the pedestrian part of the bridge. (I realized my dreams of running over the actual road part of the bridge were just silly with the traffic in DC, but it would have been nice) and I was ticking off the states. First leaving VA, just a few minutes in DC and then into Maryland.

Past mile 10 and then I knew I was going to see my family again soon.

Then came the Hill. My friend from work, who ran the GW Birthday Run had warned me about this hill. I thought of him and kept moving. I knew I was going to walk this hill and just powered up it with my arms swinging. I had lost my ladies, but knew I had to keep going.

Then you enter basically the back of National Harbor, employee entrances and the like. A nice downhill and then this gravel area. I knew it had been a hated part of past races, but early on they had said they were going to change the route to eliminate it. Unfortunately, they did not.

After that we hit the "boardwalk" part that led up past the restaurants and then around what seemed like a thousand bends to the finish line. As I was coming up to the finish they were making announcements, so there wasn't even music to keep me going!

I finished! And it was under 3 hours!!! Elation!! Official time was 2:54:24.

We had some Mexican food at a local spot after changing into dry clothes and saying good bye to Laura. I even got to wear my medal most of the meal!

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