3:45 AM--Oh good grief! WHY exactly is the alarm going off in the middle of the night? Oh yeah...so I can hit snooze until 4:15 when I actually have to drag my still half-asleep self out of bed, drink some coffee, get ready, and be in the car by 5:10. Ah...coffee! Thank goodness we had gotten everything together Friday evening. I'm sure something would have been forgotten otherwise.
5:10 AM--out the door and in the car. When did Rock Hill get so far away?!? Darn 6:00-6:30 packet pickup!
6:00 AM--We arrived as volunteers were arriving...in the dark...in the cold...Got a little nervous when they couldn't find our packets, but they finally did. Whew! Back to the car to wait somewhere that was slightly warmer than outside. When did it decide to be 43 degrees on an April morning?!?
6:45 AM--Time to head to the starting line...which turned out to be a bit of a hike. Sure wish we could have started on that awesome downhill we had to walk down to get to the starting line!
7:00 AM--the starting time of the race...which was delayed due to a possible train. Once the train possibility was cleared, the starting siren was sounded.
Rounded the corner after the first 0.1 mile that was slightly downhill to face an uphill. Really? So soon? Head down and up we go! Brian left me pretty quickly. And I found myself settling into my run at a comfortable pace, sooner than usual. Usually I fight the first mile and hate most every step. Not this time. Yay!
Mile 1, Mile 2, Mile 3, Mile 4, Mile 5...They all all clicked by pretty easily. Brian and I kind of leapfrogged back and forth past each other. (Thanks to different intervals) I hit the five mile mark just under an hour. Wow! I was not expecting that today! That's when I started doing runner's math...which just never works out really well most of the time. But I figured out that at that rate, I could finish around 2:40. I had to work really hard over the next several miles to forget about that and not look at my Tom-tom very often. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other!
It was a perfect morning so far. Great weather for running with blue sky and sunshine. Wide green fields, tall green trees...
And depending on who you ask...
Horses, cows, and either sheep or goats (but he wasn't sure which)
Worms, a fast moving beetle, and the dead possum and raccoon, along with a shaggy black
Mile 6...I think that's when I passed Brian for the last time.
Mile 7...still going strong...
Mile 8...I started feeling sick...like throw up, upset stomach sick. That's never happened before. What's up with that?!? Refilled my water bottle from my fuel belt at the water stop, forced down a few peanut butter pretzels, and kept going. Fortunately, the feeling passed pretty quickly.
Mile 9...I could hear a train, and knew I was getting back to where we had to cross the train tracks again. Was I really going to have to stop for a train? And what do I do about my Tom-tom? Do I pause it? Let it keep going? The train was gone when I got there, so it was a non-issue. Whew!
But then I realized that I could make 10 miles in two hours! Again...Wow! But no! Don't do this! Don't play this game! Just enjoy! But Wow!
And that Wow factor won out and I started chasing that 2 hour mark...until...the hill. Oh what an ugly hill it was. I guess we had run down it almost two hours earlier, but it never registered that I would have to run back UP that same hill. It killed me to end up running so slowly that walking became the better choice. Up the hill, around the corner, and GO! Make that 2 hour mark!
And I did.
But then there were still 3 miles left.
And I had given all I could give.
Plus, at that point, you are running past the area where the race finishes, passing lots of runners who racing toward the finish line while you are heading another mile and a half out before turning around to come back for the same finish line.
Talk about torture!
And I got grumpy.
And grouchy with myself for letting the stupid time clock get to me.
And I was tired.
And my feet hurt.
And I could feel a blister starting.
And then...there were daisies.
Lots of daisies.
Growing wild along either side of the sidewalk.
And "Hakuna Matata" came on my iPod.
Followed by "Happy."
And I got my happy back. :)
And I got through mile 11.
And I saw Brian...who took the action shot of me...
Back past the daisies.
Back towards the school...where I could hear the awards ceremony taking place...and see lots of people leaving...
Down the hill...
Around the corner...
Onto the track...
And I couldn't run another step.
I had to walk around the track.
But I pushed through the last 50 yards to cross the finish line in 2:39:58...under that 2:40 time that my runner's brain had calculated 8.1 miles ago! (And actually my second fastest half marathon time ever!)
I was able to go back out and see Brian coming in for the final leg of the race...
And cross the finish line...
I love the finisher's medal for this race! (even though you can't see it very well in this picture...)
It was a beautiful morning. And I was happy with my run. And even better, my brain wasn't going a million different directions. I wasn't writing lesson plans or thinking about how to help a struggling student. I wasn't trying to plan menus and shopping lists for the upcoming week. I wasn't imagining conversations with people, rehearsing what I needed to say. I was just out on the open back roads of Rock Hill, feet pounding the pavement, listening to my breathing (and my music...which all seemed to shuffle into the perfect playlist for the morning), and enjoying myself.
I hope I can return to this race again next year!