Saturday, September 28, 2013

Detroit Women's Half

Spoiler alert: I finished.

The short version of what I guess I could make a long story is that the Detroit Women's Half was great.  Fantastic.  And I'm so glad that I was my first big race.

It was the inaugural year of the Women's Half, so of course there were some minor issues, but overall they didn't take away from the experience. 
Just to get them out of the way, they were:
Not enough portable toilets (Um, hi? you have 1,500 women signed up for a race.  For 1,500 women you need a lot of portable toilets.  You need like.....1,500?)
Not easy to find the start.  Right before the race started a very nice man asked us to "clear the course" when we were actually trying to weave through crowds to find a start line. 
Race started late.  I'd say about 15 minutes late?  Probably because all of the women were still trying to a) pee and b) find the start line!

 Here it is.  The one picture I managed to take. 

Now, onto the goodness that was mah race! 

I took of like a maniac.  This was in part because I was trying to keep up with my friends.  I knew better, but it was hard to stop myself because I was SO TOTALLY HANGING IN THERE!  Before I knew it I looked up and saw that I was right next to the 2:00 pacer, which was completely bananas.  I slowed down a bit and tried to find a comfortable pace.  I thought I had one when all of a sudden I felt a swift smack on my rear and saw my friends settle in next to me.  I was ahead of them.  This was a huge problem as they are light years faster than me.  I slowed down again.

And then I felt the pain.  THE PAIN!

My legs - my shins - they hurt.  But my feet?  They were numb.  It freaked me out.  I stopped for a minute to tie and then re-tie my shoes and settled in again.  I still hurt.  I reminded myself of how I felt during the Crim race and how it passed quickly and then I took advantage of an aid station and walked a bit.  I wanted to be so pissed at myself for walking so early in the race, but I knew that in order to finish I needed to take it easy.  I was right, by mile 5 whatever the pain/numby thing was had worn off, never to be felt again.

I fell in with another (much more manageable) pace group and started to zone out.  I felt fantastic.  Even running past a particularly bewitching volunteer that yelled "have the best runners passed you yet?!" (Thanks, lady.  Suuuuuper motivational!") while waving her iPad in the air.  I even had a few conversations with other runners along side of me.  Thanks to all of the walking that I did in the beginning I knew that my hopes of a 2:40 were pretty well gone, but if I held steady I could finish at about 2:50. 

I knew that the 3:00 pacer was well behind me, so I made it a goal to keep my pace and make sure that 3:00 didn't creep to close.  I fully understand, of course, that there are plenty of women that run full marathons in less time that this, but for me - training for my first big race, what I really wanted was just to finish, even if I was barely jogging! 

Before I knew it I was at the final turn (even though I had run by it on the first two loops of the island!) and was almost at the finish.  I gunned it as hard as I could toward the balloons and the noise and the crowds that made up the fantastically lively finish line, and made it in 2:51.  I wasn't mad in the least that I didn't make 2:40.  Finishing at all, especially under 3:00 had me so pumped. 

I will say that I was a freakin' genius for those few longer runs on Belle Isle.  The spectators and cheer teams were mostly friends and family that had traveled for a specific runner and weren't so lively when strangers ran by.  Running loops around the island was nice and pretty the first time, but the second time around I was thinking really nasty thoughts when even thought I knew I was on mile 9ish I was running by a sign that said Mile 4.  The second time I saw that little red bridge I thought about just swimming across a pond and cutting a mile or so off the race.  Having the memory of running by landmarks on my training runs was off-the-charts helpful in estimating how far away from other big points I was.  I felt like kind of a genius for practicing on the actual course. 

I sure have babbled (typed?) more then necessary, so I can wrap up quickly.  The medals were cute, I found my friends, we ate some peanut butter roll ups and cheese and then I went home.  The next day I dropped some things on the floor and had to beg my coworkers to pick them up. 

I loved every single second of it. 

(And I'm definitely looking forward to the Free Press half-marathon.  I'll be wearing throw-away clothes.  I may have forgotten to mention how shiveringly cold I was at the beginning.)

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