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Monday, November 10, 2014

Runner's World Half Marathon 2014

I made it! I made it all the way through half marathon training to my goal race even though I have a kid! I've known very few new moms to manage that, so I really should be proud of myself just for that. I can't say that my training was 100% perfect, and a lot of times I was doing the minimum or less, but I would still give myself a solid B+ for training this year.

After years of running the same goal races, this year Todd and I have two different races planned. That way, one of us can watch Owen while the other runs. First up is my race, the Runner's World Half Marathon. I've had this race on my bucket list since its inaugural year in 2012. The timing was right this year for this one, so I signed up.

Todd, Owen and I headed up to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday afternoon. Todd had a long run to do before we left and we had the nonsense of getting a toddler ready to go also, so we didn't get out the door quite as early as I would have liked. We made it to the expo in the last hour that it was open. It really didn't matter since there was very little that I was interested in there. It was a mediocre expo at best, just not a lot of stuff to choose from (and no sunglasses, which is what we were after).

Sadly, I ordered my shirt in a size too small and the size exchange wasn't open when I was there. I thought the sign said to come back after the race to exchange sizes, but it wasn't open then either, so I ended up with a shirt that is too small. It's my old, pre-baby size, so it can join the rest of my too small race shirts that I own.

After the expo, we headed over to our hotel and checked in, then headed back out to Wegman's for dinner. Dinner at Wegman's had gone so well when I ran the Wineglass Half in 2012, I thought it would be good to continue that tradition. It made it easy, also, to deal with feeding a tired toddler. Then, back to the hotel and to bed early.

Race start was at 8am, and I had set my alarm for 6, but at 5:15 I woke up and started getting nervous about traffic or other problems and decided to get up at 5:30 to get ready. This ended up being a good choice since it allowed us to easily find street parking and avoid paying the $10 for parking in the paid lots. We were really close to the finish line and parked in a location where Todd could easily get back to drive around if he needed to.

The race was starting and ending at the SteelStacks Campus in Bethlehem. This is the former Bethlehem Steel campus which has been made over to be a conference center, dining, shopping and entertainment district with the Steel Blast Furnaces still in tact and lit up. It was actually a very cool atmosphere, and very nice. The three of us hung out in the nice and warm ArtsQuest building for a while, and I checked out the bathrooms and decided the line was too long. At about 7:30, I decided to go ahead and make my way toward the starting line up the road in the hopes that I'd pass a bathroom with a shorter line on the way. Sure enough, at the Outlet mall, I found a bathroom with 50 stalls (!) and no line at all. Note to future participants - THIS is the place to get your pre-race pee on!

As I was heading up to the starting line, I heard someone calling my name. It was my friend Lynn, who moved to the west coast but came back for the race. We chatted for a few minutes and I was so grateful to talk to her. That conversation really calmed me down!

Then, I was at the starting line waiting for the race to begin. The national anthem was done on a violin, which I thought was really nice. Then, we were off. I saw Todd and Owen as we passed the SteelStacks campus. Owen was on Todd's shoulders and gave me a kiss! :) I love that little guy.

The race itself was hard. I was doing 1:1 intervals, which is what I had trained with. I knew that the course was hilly and it definitely was. Very early on (mile 2, I think), we passed over a bridge and into what I am pretty sure was the more "downtown" area of Bethlehem. Up, down, up down. The course was very hilly, but I was doing just fine. We passed through Main Street, which was beautiful and my favorite part of the course. We also headed through some residential areas. The trees were changing colors and Bethlehem is a pretty little town. I was doing my best to make my goal, which was under 3 hours. However, I knew I needed to use the bathroom at some point.

Finally, at mile 8, when I had just passed the Skirt Sports Waterstop,  I saw 3 potties with no line and a person had just come out of one so I knew it was empty. Yay! I went right in. Now, I'd been running my absolute best and I was not thinking clearly. The locking mechanism was some kind of crank and I was used to the sliding kind. I thought I just needed to turn it to lock it. It seemed like that worked, so I started to pee... Then, the door opened. Whoops. I sure surprised someone. I yelled "I thought it was locked, sorry!" as she moved on. Then, I looked at the lock and realized how it worked and felt like a moron. Oh well, first time for everything.

After that, I felt better, but I had lost time. So, I started doing by best to keep my speed up. It was rough. The hills were hard and I was getting tired. People were on the course with signs sponsored by Runner's World saying that there were no more hills. There were more hills. That's a dirty trick to play, RW..

Finally, we were back over the bridge with about a mile and a half to go. I was HUNGRY and TIRED. That last mile was so tough, but I was determined that I was going to make my goal. Finally, I was heading down the home stretch, with Todd and Owen cheering me at the finish. Final time, 2:55:29, my worst half marathon time ever, but under my goal of 3 hours! So, yay!

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