Today Rick and I ran our first Half! My goal was to complete the run in under 2:30.
Our day started out early. We were up at 5:00 AM to make our way to the DART Rail Park and Ride over in Garland. We caught the train and made it to the White Rock station, then caught the shuttle to take us to the race. Once we got out on the road we determined pretty quickly that we had made the right decision in choosing to Park and Ride. The traffic was backed up for miles with people trying to get into the limited parking area around the lake!
We got to the staging area and quickly found the bag drop off. We went to the side of the fence and removed our warm up pants and put those in the bag. We knew we wouldn't need those for the run, although I chose to keep my sweat shirt/jacket and Rick kept on his long sleeved shirt...it was still pretty cool (the upper 60's). We went over to put our bag in the check in area when I heard a voice from my past. I stopped, swung around and sure enough there stood Mary Lewellyn - Cotton's first grade teacher! I taught with her for 5 years at Northlake Elementary! She was one of the volunteers at the check in station! We backed away from the entrance into the tented area to catch up a little. We were so excited to see each other! I found out that she has been running for years and is a member of a couple of the local running clubs, including the Dallas Running Club which was the sponser of this event. Retired now, she still runs when she can, although right now she is on the sidlines with a torn miniscus on her left knee. After chatting for a couple of minutes Rick and I went on in and dropped off our bag.
We walked around the staging area a bit and found the merchandising tent where we would need to go after the race to see if we could exchange our shirts. (By the time we signed up they only had small and extra small left - I had gotten extra small thinking we might be able to give them to the girls but they were WAY too big for them! We were successful in this endeavor after the race and we each got a shirt that fit!) We found a tent that was giving away bagels so we each got about a third of a bagel and a swipe of peanut butter and headed for the start line. Didn't want to start off on a totally empty stomach!
We found the pacers for a 2:20 finish and got in behind them and just ahead of the pacers for the 2:30 finish. We were both hoping for the 2:20 time... The announcer kept us informed about the time left before the start and it seemed like no time at all when the countdown began. On your mark, Get set, GO! and the gun went off at exactly 8:00. A little over 4 minutes later we crossed the start line! It was pretty slow going at first. Of couse you had to dodge the walkers that always seem to get in line ahead of you, and there were some slower paced runners, but after about the .75 mile mark the pace was pretty good for me. Rick and I were pretty close and going just slightly slower than we had planned. About mile 2 or 2.5 we were running along when I saw a guy come running out of the bushes along the side of the trail. I yelled out "MEN CHEAT!" The runners around me cracked up laughing and a discussion of how to politely go to the restroom on a long run ensued. It was quite funny! It was just after this that I got stuck behind some slow runners running together across the path...Rick got around them. I was trying to catch up to him yelling his name to get him to slow down - he was running at a faster pace than he wanted - but he couldn't hear me over his Ipod and I knew if I kept going at that pace I would die at the end so I let him go. He would have left me at about the 9 mile mark anyway - we just parted ways a lot sooner than either of us had planned :( ...
I was finally starting to catch up to where I thought I should be a little at a time...my 5K time was just slightly slower than I wanted - 32:22, but I knew that was because of the start so I just kept right on plugging along. My pace would vary - quicker when I was in the open, slower when I got stuck behind people...but I was averaging between 10 and 11 minute miles which is what I wanted.
We veered off our normal White Rock running path into a neighborhood and that is where the running really got tough. There were several hills that I wasn't expecting! I shortened my stride, straightened my back and just kept on pushing. Just the way we had trained for them... Actually felt pretty good and at the 10K mark I was at my "normal" 1:06:16. Seems I just can't get that 10K time any lower in a race, LOL. At the 1/2 way point (6.55 miles) I was right on pace for my 2:20 race. They called out the time as I crossed the line painted across the trail as 1:14 - I looked at my Garmin and saw 1:10. Whoo-hoo...I might just be able to do this after all....perhaps even faster, after all they HAD said the last half of the course was fairly flat!
I still felt pretty good, but I was tiring. At about the 8.5 mile mark I really started feeling the heat. We weren't in the 60's any more, THAT was for sure! About the last hill out of the neighborhood a very nice gal was running next to me and she said something about them saying this was a flat course. I answered that I had seen hillier (Tahoe), but this was one of the hilliest I had run and I was sure ready for the flat part! She said she was running this as one of her training runs because she was going to be running the White Rock Marathon in December for 57th birthday. I told her I was running this one for my 53rd! We decided we were pretty "BAD" ladies and she started yelling out to the crowd "Look at these BAD running ladies!" The crowd cheered and yelled us on as we left the neighborhood and veered onto the bridge at the spillway.
At the 9 mile mark my time was showing that I was slowing again - it was a 1:37:04...about 3-4 minutes slower than what I had been running in the early morning hours lately with the much cooler temperatures. Mile 9 was one of my slowest - 11:40. I think this was one of the last hills and included the bridge and the spillway. I had to walk here, simply couldn't run up that steep incline. This is where I lost my "BAD" friend. As soon as I got to the top I started running again though. It was nice running back on the path I knew though. I knew what to expect, I just couldn't make my legs go any faster. I would look at the Garmin and want to pick the pace back up, but my legs weren't cooperating at this point. When I looked down at the 10 mile marker and saw that I would need to do 10 minute miles to cross at 2:20 I knew I wasn't going to make that time. I was disappointed, but I also knew that crossing before the 2:30 mark WAS still doable if I kept pushing. Even though they said the last few miles were flatter - which they were - they still weren't FLAT and any hint of an incline at this point almost made me want to cry. I kept watching my time get closer and closer to missing that 2:30 mark. I prayed that I would make that mark...I had been working so long..."Please God, I'm not asking for 2:20 anymore, just let me finish in under 2:30!" Seems silly huh?
The last mile I started my normal countdown. It was so nice knowing we were getting closer and I was just urging my legs to keep moving one in front of the other...It was nice to have people along the way cheering for the runners and just after the 12 mile mark there was a whole group of the Team in Training supporters with music and bells and clappers just yelling a screaming for every runner going by. It really does lift your spirits!
With about 3 tenths of a mile to go my legs just gave out. I looked at Garmin and I was running at over a 12 minute mile pace. I knew at this point in the race and at this pace I wasn't going to make my goal. I was going as fast as I could and I was crushed. I staggered and slowed even further - my run was barely more than a walk when this nice girl in a red shirt came up beside me. She patted me on the back and said "Come on, we'll finish this one together!" She was so sweet. I told her not to let me slow her down, but she said - "No, we'll finish together - we've come too far to stop now." and she just started talking to me. I glanced down at Garmin and sure enough, my pace had picked up a little. She told me that she had turned her ankle at about mile 7 so she wasn't going to make her goal time, but was shooting for under 2:30. I told her that 2:30 was my original goal and she said "Well, lets go for it together then, see, I told you we would finish together. We'll either make it or we won't, but it will be together!" We kept running and chatting...we saw the 13 mile marker so I knew we were withing a tenth of a mile now...we turned a corner and there was the finish line. Rick and I had been working on sprinting to the finish so I told my new friend that we were going to go for it..."You mean we are going to sprint it?" she asked in surprise...my answer was "YES!" and together we picked up the pace even more. All of a sudden she said "Girlfriend, look at the clock, you are going to do it!" I looked over and saw 2:29:50 and I pushed as hard as I could. I knew it still said 2:29 when I actually crossed, but at this point all I could see was Rick's grinning face! I ran to him and he said "YOU DID IT!" I looked for the girl in red but she wasn't there - and Rick said he never saw her. You think what you want, but I think she was my personal angel - sent as an answer to that cry out for help to finish in under 2:30!
Rick's official time was: Clock time - 2:21:03:00, Chip time - 2:17:32:19
My time was : Clock time - 2:29:53, Chip time - 2:26:21:12