Today was a day of firsts. A lot of firsts. My first Half Marathon starting and ending on a beach. My first Half and visit to Connecticut. Unfortunately, my first race ever where I had to stop and walk. I always told myself I never wanted to walk during a race. It was just a goal I had set for myself. And I never have. Not during my full marathons and never on a Half. How many times did I stop today? Six. I was disappointed. I'm not going to make excuses. I know I didn't train well in the weeks since Minneapolis. That's my fault. I was also concerned about my foot. This was also quite possibly the hilliest race I've encountered since running San Francisco. It was tough. And each time I stopped was pretty much midway up these hills. I should have done my research and prepared for it. I didn't. So I've only got myself to blame. I finished in 1:53:14.
But, first a few details on my weekend. My sister Carla took the drive from DC to NJ where we stayed with my other sister Maria. Carla decided to accompany me on yet another Half. She does this because she's great. Now Jennings Beach in Fairfield is only 73 miles from Maria's house. That was the start line. So we decided we'd stay in NJ, get up early, and drive Sunday morning to arrive by 6:30 for packet pickup. Race start time was 8:30.
Once we arrived in NJ we decided to stop by my father's to pick him up for dinner. We settled on El Iman, my favorite Peruvian restaurant. If you're ever driving through Elizabeth, NJ I highly recommend you stop by. You won't be disappointed. We had a nice dinner and caught up on life.
Afterwards we headed to Maria's to settle in and chat a bit. This is always a pleasure as I don't see Maria often. However, it pushed close to midnight by the time we got to bed. Not the best idea. But - don't forget - I ran Cleveland on three hours of sleep after some wedding drinking and still ran it in 1:40. And it was also above 90 that day. So I thought I'd be OK.
Carla and I got up around 4:30 and headed out at 4:50. It was a nice drive. Saw a nice sunrise and got to the beach with time to spare. We walked around and checked out the Expo. We agreed this was a pretty cool start line for a race. Not only was it a very nice beach but today was gorgeous weather. If I wasn't running a Half you'd probably find me laying on the beach.
I started the race feeling pretty good. It was warm but not that bad. It wasn't until mile four that I started breathing heavy and my legs feeling heavy. Even my arms were getting tired from the back and forth motion. All of this was concerning me so my immediate reaction was frustration. How can I be ready to stop running by mile four??? Then came a hill that was so steep I knew I wasn't going to get to the top. I tried. But, eventually I started to walk. I was breathing heavy and my legs weren't doing well. I stopped at the next water stop for both water and Gatorade. I thought maybe I just needed to hydrate a bit more. It helped. But, then came the next hill. I'll be honest, I was getting a little mad. This was one hilly course. I just kept saying to myself, "Come on, really?!"
I'd stop five more times for about a minute each time. I won't forget the time I was running around mile 10 when someone stopped and said, "Keep it going. One foot in front of the other."
A great gesture and one that I really needed to hear. But, I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little mad. I was now in need of encouragement. I'm just being honest here. I didn't want to be that runner. I want to be the one that keeps going all the way through. But, it's OK. The way I felt in no way takes away from this very nice person's outreach to get me moving. And it did.
In the end I finished in 1:53. Carla was at the finish line screaming and cheering. You may have heard her. She's loud. She and I then walked over to the massage tent and then got some pizza on the beach.
I'm back at Maria's now. I'm going to rest up a bit and start training later this week. I've got Chicago in exactly one month, July 22. It's going to be a fun weekend with my good friend Amanda and I will come back to the 1:30s for my finish time. I'll keep everyone posted.
Enjoy the pics.