Monday, November 10, 2014

Thirteen Point Fun

Race weekend in Raleigh is officially in the books and I can now say that I've run 13.1 miles. Running my first half marathon was an incredible experience! I cannot fully put into words the excitement and energy that we all felt on race day as we made our way to the starting line.

When we stepped out of our hotel at 6am on race day it was cold. Really cold. I started to rethink my decision to wear shorts but there was no turning back now! As we arrived on NC State's campus, the sky was clear and the sun was rising. It was so beautiful! We were so lucky to have a big group there with us to cheer us on. My parents, my grandma, Mark's parents, Danica's husband Bryan and even my little sister's boyfriend made a surprise appearance all the way from Florida State! The surprise of the day for us, though, was seeing our amazing neighbors cheering us on! We had no clue that they hopped in their car at 3am to be there to see us start and finish. They are the best! Will was in good hands while we ran. 

As the starting time approached and we all lined up, it was terrifying and exciting. Mark went ahead of us and the girls stayed together. Before we knew it, we were off! The sun higher in the sky at this point and the view was beautiful. The trees were all shades of Fall loveliness and leaves were crunching beneath our feet. Despite the winter chill in the air, it was the perfect fall day!

We started off slow and steady, which was key. I always say that longer runs require finding your happy pace and settling in for the long haul. The miles seemed to go by so quickly. Running with friends is always better and it helped that we could encourage each other along the way. We pointed out the mile markers as we passed each one. The course was very hilly, but not much more than what I'm used to running around Charlotte. I purposefully chose hilly routes when I was training and I really think this helped to my advantage. 

By the time we hit mile five, we started to split up. Andi and Danica were cruising ahead and Natalie close behind them. Bryce and I stopped for a bathroom break and then kept going. Around mile six or seven, we passed the 2:30 pacer, which we were trying to do. The race volunteers and spectators were wonderful! Everyone was cheering so loud and the signs were hilarious. I wish I would have taken pictures of some of my favorites because I'm still laughing thinking about them. "If you haven't pooped your pants yet, you're winning". Need I say more. 

Bryce and I remained running buddies throughout the rest of the race. We kept a steady pace and cheered louder at each mile marker. We saw our families around miles eight and nine and this was a huge source of encouragement! Will was snoozing away in his stroller and I waved my hands in the air like a crazy person. As we approached mile ten, the end was truly in sight. This was my favorite mile marker and a lady standing there said "you've been waiting for this one all morning!" We knew at that point that there was only a 5k to go!

We looped around at mile eleven and passed Andi and Danica and then Natalie. We high fived and we were all smiling so big. Though I was starting to get tired, I never felt like I was struggling and I started to amp up the pace. Once we passed mile twelve, we could seriously hear the finish line. By the time we hit 12.5 we could see it and it was the best feeling ever. We ran straight downhill the last half mile and at the bottom of the hill, my family and everyone was there cheering and my eyes got watery. Bryce and I sped through to the finish and threw our hands up in the air when we crossed that line. Our official chip time was 2:18 and after factoring in a five minute bathroom break, we are technically claiming 2:13 which I'm super proud of! My goal was to finish under 2:30 so coming in well under that felt great.

We found the rest of the lovies and huddled up as we anxiously awaited Mark the marathoner to finish his 26.2! It was freezing but we were huddled up together and still had the finish line glow. 

As marathoners crossed the finish line, more and more excitement built up. Danica predicted that Mark would come in around 3:48. We kept checking his status and pace online and looking up at the hill towards the finish line for his orange zip up! When we finally saw him, we were screaming. We ran to the median and all high fived him as he finished his final .2 miles. It was more emotional than I thought it would be! He crossed the finish line at approximately 3:48...just like my marathon veteran sister knew that he would. 

This was, without a doubt, one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. It feels so good to work towards a goal and dive in 100%. I may still be riding the race day high, but there will definitely be more half marathons in my future.

Cheers to Team Lovie!!!

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