I got up at 5:00. I had a cup of tea and a bagel with peanut butter. I practiced my running form.
My friend Kathy and her husband Mark picked me up at 6:15. We made sure to get a picture this year as we both completely spaced it off last year. We had a chilly morning to deal with--around 42 degrees. I'm thinking last year we started in the the 60's or 70's and it was humid. This year was quite a change!
The anticipation--driving down there, waiting around in a crowd of people for your chance to cross the starting line--it always makes me a bundle of nerves. I know I will be fine once the race starts, but I don't enjoy those nervous feelings.
Here I am around maybe mile 4 giving you all my Miss America wave. ;o) On the left side of the picture you will see my new bff forever "Pacer" (whose real name is actually Mike). Running with a pacer was wonderful! It totally freed my brain from checking time--I just followed his red shirt. Pacers are amazing people, maybe part machine? They carry their little pacing stick for the whole race and they nail those splits with impossible accuracy.
Over on the bike trail somewhere around miles 7 or 8? I'm still a happy camper and can definitely tell I feel better and stronger than last year. I love seeing all the people I know cheering me on. Josh and the kids found me in five different spots. I saw my parents, sister/nieces/nephew, sister's mom-in-law all right before the big mile 9 hill. I love all the people in their houses on the big hill setting up their own "aid" stations--oranges, chips, popcorn, jelly beans, etc. Favorite handout? The lady with the tub of "free bacon." It actually didn't sound too bad, but I didn't want to risk it. ;o)
Around 11 or 11 1/2 miles I couldn't quite hang with the pacer anymore. My legs were definitely "feeling the burn." Stalking Mike came to an end. ;o)
Heading up the last little hill to enter Memorial Stadium. I always think I'm going to have enough left at the end to really power up there, but I don't. No smiles, no waving, just determination to get across that finish line so I can stop moving.
Utter delight--met my 1:55 goal (plus 18 seconds . . . but that's okay)--four minutes faster than last year!
Nothing says "real runner" like getting wrapped in a foil blankie. ;o) Kathy and I had joked about that prior to the race thinking those were probably just for the marathoners. You can only imagine my excitement when I got one! And it was needed! Really the weather was perfect for running--I have no complaints. But once you stop moving you realize how cold it is, particularly when all your clothing is drenched in sweat. Those breezes cool you off quickly. I got really, really painfully cold.
Overall, compared to last year I felt so much better! My legs didn't get as tired early on. And the feeling of accomplishment is something akin to birthing a baby. I can't really explain it, but it is thrilling. There's so much I don't enjoy--all the lonely training, mileage I know I must get in, the snowy runs . . . When I'm doing all that I think I'm not interested in ever training for another race. And then I do it and I love it and I think "Hmm, maybe again . . .?" We'll see. ;o)