Well, its over and we did it! I wasn't sure how this one was going to go but it was MUCH better than expected.
We got up at about 3:30 and got ready to go. It was COLD outside and while I was making the bed I could hear the wind howling. I told Rick - this isn't going to be pretty! We finished getting dressed, double checked all our gear, and headed to the car. We were on the road by 4:04 AM. We got to Chris and Candy's about 4:45 (a little early, which is on time for us, lol) and went in while Candy got the kids up. The girls elected to sleep in their clothes so that they could get a few more minutes of precious sleep in the morning! We gave them the hats and gloves we had bought for them and headed for the car. By the way, Peyton looked so cute in his new "Superman" attire! After stopping for the traditional coffee (and juice and donuts for the kids) we were on the road to Ft. Worth.
Getting there was MUCH easier this year. In fact Rick was quite surprised when we first pulled up to the parking garage. There really wasn't any traffic to speak of. We all pulled on the coats and hats and bundled Peyton in the stroller with extra blankets and went to find the registration table. Got our bibs and headed to the shirt table to get the shirts, then of course Memaw had to check out the porta potties...did I mention we stopped for coffee in Lewisville, LOL. As soon as everyone was ready we went back to the parking garage to put on our bibs and D-tags. (The D-tags are the newest form of timing chips. They are disposible so there is no big back-up at the finish line waiting for someone to cut off the chip, and directors don't have to pay for those that are lost because someone walked off with it still on their shoe.) We went back to the garage to do this because it was about 40 degrees outside with a windchill in the 20's! It was COLD!
We waited in the garage until about 15 minutes to start time. Chris was running the 10K so his starting area was different from ours for the 1/2 marathon. We were also looking for Granny (Chris's mom) who was going to walk with the girls in the 5K. After another quick stop we tried making our way to the start. Can I say crowded. We got to a certain point - we could hear the speaker telling us there were only minutes to go, but we couldn't move at all. Rick could at least see and tell me what was going on, but I couldn't see anything but people's backs.
The gun went off and.......we waited. It seemed like forever. Then there was movement ahead of us, a parting of the crowd and I could see the people walking to the start in front of us...they were on another street! I was soooo confused. How close were we? Were we past the official start pad that we had to cross? Were we going to have to back-track? I was trying to ask Rick, but he already had his headphones in and couldn't hear me. We finally started moving and I saw that we had been stopped behind a barricade that had been pushed aside. Once we actually got onto the street we were almost at the start line and off we went! It was actually a pretty smooth start for the number of people running. There were over 3700 in the 1/2 marathon.
We took off at a fairly slow pace. I was glad Rick was staying with me at the beginning. We usually get separated pretty quickly. He runs much quicker than I do. I wanted to keep about an 11:00/M pace for this race. I knew if I did that then I would beat my time from the DRC 1/2 in November. Even though we didn't officially set any specific goals for this race this year since our training had been "off", you still ALWAYS want to beat your best time, LOL.
I remember looking down at the Garmin at the 0.6 mile mark and yelling over to Rick, "Only 12.5 miles to go!" There was another runner just to the right of us that groaned, "Don't say that, is that really true?". We were laughing and joking about how we were almost to the finish with only that little distance to go...runners are a fun bunch! He sped up and went around us, but we kept to our pace.
Then next "big" memory for me is just past that point, as we came to the top of that small hill, and crossing of a major intersection. As we topped the hill the wind came blowing right at us. It was hard (gusts of about 30mph) and cold. You could hear the crowd ahead of us gasp as it hit them...we gasped too....it literally took your breath away! We pushed on.
At mile 3 I took my first gu pack. I know I need to take them at about every 3 miles for the majority of the race to keep my muscles from locking up. This is where the Garmin really helps me. (Well, that and keeping my pace fairly steady.) At mile 4 there were people to call out the time...Rick couldn't believe we were only at mile 4! I was finally warming up a little and elected to take off my sweat jacket and tie it around my waist. At mile 6 I reached for my next gu and knew I was in trouble...ALL MY GU WAS GONE! I guess the bouncing around of the jacket tied around my waist knocked it right out of my pockets. Every single packet was gone. I yelled at Rick and told him what had happened (after he pulled his headphones out of his ear) and he offered me his supply of gu.
At mile 7.6 we hit another hill. The bad part of this one was that not only did we hit another hill, but this hill was going straight into the wind! Uphill and into the wind....NOT a good combination! The next vivid memory for me is on up the course about a mile or so when we hit "Hawkeye's Hill". Hawkeye is a local radio disc jockey who was running in the race. At the bottom of the hill there was a sign telling us we were at his hill. At the turn there was another sign...Hawkeye has already been by, but he wishes you the best of luck in the race. Then a final sign, Good luck from the Big 96.3.
I was really feeling pretty good, even as we entered mile 10. The legs felt good, my breathing was good, our pace was good. I was beginning to believe we were going to REALLY beat my best time! Then we came to mile 11.
Mile 11 was just around a turn in the course. Uphill. Into the wind. By now, as you can imagine, with only two miles to go, we were pretty tired anyway. As I bent forward to lean into the wind my back just locked up and started having spasms. It hurt sooooo bad. I looked at Rick and was about to cry because I knew I was going to have to walk up the hill. I wouldn't have been so crushed if we hadn't been having such a great race up to that point. If we had been having problems because our training for this one had been less than for the DRC I think I would have been OK with it. But I felt good! I felt like if it had JUST been the wind, or if it had JUST been a hill I would have been OK.....but the combination of the two, that close to the end of the race was just too much for my poor old back. We walked up the hill and once at the top took off running again. There was only one more hill and I had to walk just a little of it and then it was on to the finish line.
This is always an amazing part of the race for me. There were crowds of people waiting for their friends and family to come by and they were cheering every runner on. As we neared the last turn there was a group yelling out, "You are almost there...this turn and then the straightaway to the finish line. You can DO it!" Then we turned the corner and you could SEE the finish. I was really focused on the fact that we only had .17 miles to go when I heard, "GO CJ, GO RICK, YOU CAN DO IT!" I glanced over to the side of the road and there was Candy and Peyton. She told us she would meet us at the food tents.
Rick and I crossed the finish line together. Yes, he stayed with me the entire race - even though I know at the end it was all he could do not to keep going. I do appreciate that. I know it helps him when he stays with me at the beginning, because I can help him slow down his pace at the start....but he could also pick up the pace for the last couple of miles, and this race I just couldn't do that with him.
We finished with a time of 2:25:39. Close to a minute faster than the DRC. The medals are awsome! The feeling of finishing - even better!!