Several months ago we saw an ad for a half-marathon in Davis CA. In July. Marathon in July in DAVIS??? Are you kidding me? That’d be like running Badwater! No thanks.
But we saw, it was ran at night. When it’s cool. Cool! Hhhhmmmm.....Then my husband pointed out, “That’s your birthday weekend!” Hhhhm. Maybe....then we saw the medals glow in the dark! We signed up. Kris said he’d run the whole route with me for my birthday and we’d even cross the finish line hand in hand.
We run races ‘together’. But that means Kris and I start at the same time, we run our own paces and Kris waits for me at the finish. I love coming in with him there to cheer me on but we’ve never actually ran a whole course side-by-side. This would be the best b-day ever!
I continued training with Team In Training for the full marathon in October. The half marathon came a little early in my training. But I consulted Coach April and she helped me adjust the training to best be prepared for the half marathon.
So my birthday weekend finally rolled around. I felt ready! It was nice to have an evening run. The day of the race we slept late, moseyed to breakfast, shopped around downtown. Then went back to the hotel and took a nap until it was time to catch an early dinner and get ready for the run.
I spent a bit of time contemplating my race outfit. Yes, a lot of us runners plan what to wear to a race. I’ve only worn my running dress on short runs since I wear my TNT singlet when I run with the team. So I thought this was a great time to wear my running dress. At the race, I saw a few skirts. (I don’t know why more ladies don’t wear them. They’re great!) But I was the only one in a dress! I felt very cute.
In the starting corral I was having fun making friends and then the gun went off!
The race was a 10k loop that the halfers run twice. It was cool because the first time around the course the sun is still up. So you got to see the scenery. They ran us through beautiful parks and neat neighborhoods.
As we passed a walker she said to me, “I love your Sheila Moon!” (The brand name of my dress). I was impressed she knew it by sight! I replied, “Don’t you love their stuff?!”
I didn’t look, but I could only imagine Kris rolling his eyes. You never hear guys complementing each other on their running outfits. That’s a shame.
Up the course about a mile or so we were running through a neighborhood and it reminded me of my sister Julie’s neighborhood out in Kansas. Along the path that wound through the neighborhood were the neighbors sitting out there in their lawn chairs cheering us on holding up there pitcher margaritas. Oh yes, just like my sister’s neighborhood.
We exited the neighborhood on a small uphill climb. There was another neighbor lady standing at the top. I saw her well before I reached her at the top. She called down to us, “Good job! Way to go!” I smiled and said “Thank you!” Then when we were passing by, she said, “I LOVE your outfit!” I called over my shoulder, “Thanks! I swear it makes me run faster!”
I have got to wear this dress more often! :) I think I’ll make it my official racing dress. :)
So we completed the first loop and we passed the “5 & 10K this way” sign. I had to close my eyes as we passed so I wouldn’t be tempted to take the short route. Right after passing the sign there was a mile marker. Kris checking his Garmin said, “We’re going to be short a mile.”
“That sign’s wrong. We’ve only gone six miles and that sign said 7.”
“They’re going to loop us an extra mile later.” I didn’t realize at the time that my reply didn’t make much sense. But when 99% of your blood is in your legs, it doesn’t leave much for your brain to work with.
“No Love, we’re going to be short.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just run!!!”
He shook his head. But we kept running. The sun set as we worked to run down the second loop.
Running in the dark was really fun. I ran in the dark several times last season. But it was neat to be in a new place and running through parks without the city lights. I forgot my flashers and left my headlamp (on purpose) back at the hotel. But I think it was nicer without them.
We ran over the interstate on a catwalk. It was cool in the day time because there were a lot of cars on the interstate and they kept honking at us. It was cool at night because it was quiet and you could see the flashers and glow sticks of the runners in front of us and you couldn’t see the interstate in the dark below you. But you could see the lights of the few cars come toward you and then disappear under your feet. That may have been my favorite part of the run for me.
My favorite part was definitely not mile 11 -12. That’s when the pain set in. My feet and my glutes were upset! I started talking to my body, “Come on, we got this.” My body talked back, “Yeah, we know. But it’s going to hurt!”
So I started chanting in my head the mantra of my favorite spin class instructor Mitch: “Don’t worry!!! It only hurts!”
That didn’t help. Sorry Mitch. So I reverted to my own latest mantra I used to get through tough training runs: “I am light, I am fast, I am strong!” That worked better. But it still hurt.
I was pretty happy when I realized we were in the last half mile of the race. I was ready to be done. I was disappointed as I was pretty sure I missed my target finishing time (3:00) by a lot. But I ran my plan, I didn’t wimp out (I never do) and I had fun (I always do). So I really had nothing to be disappointed about. I was happy with what I did.
So when a gal slowly passed me in the last quarter mile, I thought, “So what. Let her have the spot.” Then I saw the finishing clock. It said “3:00:23”. Holy cow! I was doing much better than I thought. While I missed 3:00, if I hauled to the finish I’d have a chance of getting in only a couple minutes past my goal time. So I did!
I took off in a sprint and passed the gal who just passed me, the crowd started screaming and I thought, “Whoa! What happened? Why are they screaming??” Then I heard, “Yeah! Way to finish strong!” and I realized they were screaming for me. How funny!
Kris and I came across the finish line in 3:02:48. I was ecstatic!!! That is, until Kris said, “Um I don’t want to ruin your fun, but...” he pointed to his Garmin.
Damn! No wonder my time was so good. We didn’t run a whole half marathon. We were a full mile short! Thank goodness my endorphins were hyper-active at this point otherwise, I may have cried. Instead, I shrugged. Oh well, I had fun, sprinted to the finish, and Kris and I got to finally run a whole course together. I had nothing to complain about. It was the best birthday ever!
PS. The race organizers sent an e-mail to all the runners post-race explaining how the mistake happened, offered an apology, and a huge discount to next year’s race. I know it was a pretty big mistake. But mistakes happen. And while runners hate not being able to compare their time from course to course, it is not the end of the world. I think they handled the mistake in the most professional way they could and I plan to run it again next year.