As you knew from my Shamrock Shuffle post Saturday, I knew I was unprepared going into this half. I knew I'd finish, but it was going to be far from a PR. I also live on the fairly flat, northern part of Cincinnati and the downtown area is quite hilly which made me nervous.
We were out of town visiting Kyle's parents most of Saturday and got in and visited with my older brother who is staying with us for a few days to play in a big poker tournament down here. I headed to bed around 9 with a 5:30 alarm set for Sunday morning. Yes, it's early, but I get up for work at 4:30 so it wasn't too terrible.
I woke up at 4:30 thanks to last weekends time change and was awake on and off til the alarm sounded and I hopped out of bed, ready to go! I had my outfit laid out and expected cold weather despite the previous two days being 55 and 65 degrees. I was met walking outside to 27 degrees with 20 mile per hour winds making the windchill in the low teens! I was glad to have asked for a new hat for Christmas that I wore. I ate my very first bagel since marathon morning in October as I made the 30 minute drive downtown.
I work downtown but not where the race was being held and am not down there enough to be completely familiar with parking garages, so I spotted a 26.2 sticker on the car in front of me and followed it right into a parking garage near the starting line - score! I saw port-a-potties and headed that way. There weren't many people in line, but the faces people were making walking out of them plus hearing there was no toilet paper in any of them made me decide to walk across the street to the Westin hotel and search for accommodations. The bathrooms had key card only access but there were enough ladies heading in and out that I was able to get in and feel better about finishing the race without any...complications :)
I waited in the warm lobby for about 20 minutes and headed out to the starting line. It was sort of emotional not only seeing all the people with shirts in memory of or in honor of those affected by heart disease and stroke, but so many teams and families of patients I've cared for out there as well. I remembered my own journey to the start line of my first half marathon 3 years ago (where I finished and insisted I'd NEVER do that again) and how my marathon was half of this and I just knew deep down I would finish this thing.
I placed myself right between the 2:30 and 2:45 pace groups considering how much better I did at the 10K than expected and thought I may again surprise myself. The national anthem was sung and the gun was fired...we were off!
I started a lot stronger than I thought despite the cold and rolling hills. I kept an 11:30ish average through mile 5 and then the biggest uphill of the course I allowed myself to walk up. I maintained a walk/run til mile 10 on the bridge over to Kentucky and I walked the last 5K of the race. In mile 11 my co-worker Denise caught up to me and we finished together! My quads and hamstrings were on fire but we were so close I just knew it would be over soon :) Around mile 9 when the 15K split off I had a moment where I wanted to turn and just finish the 9.3 miles instead of 13.1 - but Katy Perry's "Roar" came over my headphones at just the right time and I powered through. There's always that inclination to want to turn and finish short, but I'm always glad I didn't. Just like at the Columbus Marathon when I wanted to turn at the halfway point and didn't - so glad I listened to my heart and head and not my legs.
We rounded the last corner, started to the finish, running past the 1 photographer and smiling for the camera. My time was 2:50! My PR half is 2:43 and I ran Little Miami in August in 2:46 so I was more than pleased with how well I had done. We got our medals, stopped for a photo op in front of the finish line, and headed for chocolate milk and bananas and parted ways.
Overall, a great race despite the weather! Good amount of water stops and bathrooms on the course and the medals were nice. I didn't get to go to the expo but they had a Zumbathon Saturday and wish I could have been there for that! I'll be back next year, for sure.
Next up? The Flying Pig Half Marathon with Kelsey from The Go Girl Blog and Brittney from Run, Brittney, Run! I'm so excited to meet these ladies from Tennessee and I'm pretty sure if they lived closer we'd be known as the Three Amigos in no time. Can't wait!