Last week was extremely hot. Like, not just hot for North Coast wimps like me, but hot for normal people everywhere. Thursday it was 86 degrees! With about 2000% humidity. I think that's the highest it's ever been here ever. I stayed in and ran on the treadmill all week because just walking outside felt as though I was trying to breathe underwater.
Hot weather doesn't last very long around here, so I assumed it would cool off by the time race day rolled around. Of course, the forecast was rain. We don't get rain in weeks, and the first time it's supposed to is the day I want to run a race. That's how life works.
I decided to suck it up, since it was a 50% chance, and I shouldn't be such a weather baby. Boyfriend and I drove down to the packet pick-up because since I had waited way too long, online registration was closed. I spent the rest of the day doing close to nothing because I wanted my legs to be ready for the big day. My only goal was to beat last year's time of 1:52:32. We arrived at the race about 30 minutes before the 8:45am start time. My mom parked in this mess while I did the runner ritual of porta potty visit.
It was time to line up before I knew it. My mom took the obligatory pre-race photo of me being way more nervous than I really needed to be. Yes. The arrow was purposely pointing at my head. My mother said, "Stand the other way so that we don't get the porta potties in the background." I told her they had to be there.
After someone sang The Star Spangled Banner, the air horn was blown and we were off. While standing at the start line, I made a new friend. He asked me how many halves I had done and I told him this was my second. He told me this was his fourth and he just wanted to beat his best time, which was 1:53. Then I asked him how old he was. He's 14. He was adorable!
The first few miles flew by. I was running right next to a woman about my age. I didn't mean to pace with her, but she was keeping a good pace. I wanted to talk to her, but I am always a little concerned about bothering people. Sometimes they just don't like to talk while they run. I eventually pulled ahead and started running with an older woman who was extremely fast and ended up leaving me in the dust. I made the mistake of not running with water this year, so I was extremely thirsty by mile 5. I started grabbing water at every station on the way back.
My mom met me at mile 10.5 again this year. She actually saw me and did not have to sprint ahead of me to get photos. It's always such a nice pick-me-up when I see people I know. I also passed by a few friends on the course while I was heading back and they were heading to the turn-around point. I always cheer for them and they cheer back and we all get a good morale boost.
When I passed that sign in the background, all I could think was, "Thank God I'm not running to San Francisco." This was my favorite photo of the entire race. It shows just how thirsty I was. I almost mowed her down for her cup of water. ;-)
When mile 12 finally came, I couldn't believe I was almost done. As much pain as I was in, I still didn't feel as though I had been running that long. I will be honest and I did walk up a couple of hills during this mile. My favorite part about this mile was passing two 10-year-old boys who were doing the 10k. I heard one of them say, "I can't wait be done and collapse!" My thoughts exactly, kids! I didn't really finish strong, but I was beat. My legs were throbbing and my mouth was dry. I know my mistakes for next time. I did head into the finish chute very strong and sprinted to the end.
My mother had driven back from meeting me on the race course and she was running her own marathon from the car to try and see me finish. She missed me, so I had to pretend I was finishing again so that she could get a picture.
My dad and step-mom were there at the finish! It was so exciting to see them and high-five. It meant a lot that they drove down to watch me finish. They also got to see the winner of the marathon. He blew by me when I was at mile nine of my race. He finished in about 2:20ish... yeah, he blazed by. My mom is always at my races, and boyfriend was, unfortunately, working today. I told him he should bring the ambulance and park it at the race. No one would question it!
Someone was looking out for me because the rain didn't start until about 10 minutes after I finished. We still had to walk to the car in the downpour, but at least I wasn't still out on the course. I did stop under the bridge for a finish picture.
About my goal. I kind of blew it out of the water. I was just trying to beat 1:52:32. I would've been happy with a one second PR. Turns out, my official time is 1:41:23. It's really amazing what a year of training can do! I came in 7th in my age group (out of 133), 21st woman overall (out of 764), and 88th out of 1155 runners! I am so happy with my time!
Avenue of the Giants is a beautiful course. There's not a lot of crowd support, but the ones who are out there are amazing. The big trees and big PR made my day.
Does anybody else wait until the very last second to sign up for a race, or is that just me?