Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Patrick Henry Hurricane Half 2011

Yes, we coined that phrase "hurricane half". Ha!

So I knew it was going to rain the morning of the race. A lot. As long as they didn’t cancel the race I had planned on going. I’ve been looking forward to this race for some time now and I felt really prepared. I was so excited. Our weekly emails from the head assistant coach and my team’s head coach were both about the rain in the half. Both talked about not being able to control the weather, so accept it and don’t let it ruin your race. I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. There are just some things you can’t control, and you can choose whether they will keep you from enjoying something or not. I wasn’t going to let it affect me.
I woke up at 4am ready. I did my regular pre-run routine and I was out the door a little before 5. When I arrived up in Ashland it was so dark and they were still setting up. I was told to get there early, but I got there maybe too early. My stomach had butterflies in it, I was nervous but excited. I finally found some other Silver team members and we chatted some before the race started. Some of us joked about the white van. In this half you had to finish in less than 3 hours. If you didn’t reach the half way point and the 10 mile mark by certain times the white van would pick you up and bring you back to the start/finish area. How embarrassing, especially since I had people coming to see me finish. My only goal for this race was to finish. And not be picked up by that van.
About 5 minutes before the race began it started to drizzle. Okay, we knew it was going to rain so here it is. It’s okay. The race started and I tried not to go too fast. That was the one piece of advice that everyone had given me. Don’t start out too fast. I ran with my team for about one mile then some of them went ahead of me, but I still had my regular running buddies. At the 2 mile water station I met G. I was pretty sure it was her so I just decided to say hi. That was really fun since we’ve exchanged emails and have read each other’s blog for some time now. It was so nice to finally meet her!! Then I was off again.
I loved the part of the race where it loops around. People who are in front of you are in the left lane and we were in the right. We cheered for other team members and others we knew; it was cool running past them. Around mile 5 I realized I was soaking wet. Every part of me was wet, including the worse part, my shoes. Although at this point it really didn’t bother me. We were out in the country, in the middle of nowhere. We talked about how if it wasn’t raining we would be complaining about the heat. That is the one universal complaint I have heard about this race. It’s hot and there is no shade. I noticed the lack of shade part, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t hot at all, temperature wise I was perfect. The cool rain felt great, and so refreshing. We finally hit the half way mark at 1:20. I remember thinking good we have 20 minutes to spare. I started eating my fruit chews for fuel which definitely helped.
It was around mile 8 I remember my shoes starting to bother me. The wetness part didn’t bother me, although I could hear them squishing every single step. It was the extra weight that the water added to each shoe including my socks. It felt like each shoe weighed 5 pounds. I just tried not to think about it. Before I knew it I was at mile 10, which was the last spot I had to arrive before a certain time for that van to not pick me up. That’s when I really knew I would make it. I always believed I would, but there was apart of me that kinda worried about not keeping pace and being picked up by that van. I remember thinking about my husband and family who had woken up early to come see me finish. I had to cross that finish line. I had to make it.  
When I ran past the water station at mile 10 I knew I was golden, but I also knew that hill was coming. The one at mile 11 that everyone talked about. I remember a course marshal telling us it was coming up too. And as soon as I saw the sign for mile 11 I saw the hill. And it looked big. The first part of that hill was steep, then it was a more gradual incline. Although the gradual incline didn’t feel bad at all after going up the steep part of it. When I finally made it to the top of that hill I kinda got emotional. I knew I was so close and it felt so real. Everyone kept saying your almost there, your at the flat part, the easy part. I admit, part of me really wanted to cry, for good reasons, for being proud of myself. I remember around 12.5 I started picking up the pace and passing people. That adrenaline kicked in and I felt great. I could hear the band; I knew the finish line was near. I saw my head coach who was a course marshal and she cheered for me. Another coach was standing on the side lines and she cheered for me too. I turned the corner and saw the glorious finish line. I looked for my family on the side and they cheered for me. I ran so hard across that finish line and it felt sooo good.
I was completely soaked after the race; it rained the entire time except for maybe 20 minutes. It was as if I had just gotten out of the shower with all my clothes on. But I felt great. My time was 2:42 which meant I had a 12:25 average pace. That’s about what I had been running in my training runs so I felt good about it. But I really didn’t care about the time. My goal was to finish and I did. I was proud for not letting the rain stop me. Not letting something that I couldn’t control stop me from doing something I wanted to do, and enjoying it. I will always have such fond memories of this race. It was not only my first official half, but I did it during a hurricane, which is probably a once in a lifetime event.
I took an ice bath when I got home, my first one ever. I felt sooo much better after. And right now I feel great. Well my body is a little sore, but I feel like the high from the race makes it not matter. I love running in races, and this makes me soooo excited for the marathon in November. While it’s great to have a fun race to share and experience my ultimate goal is the marathon. But, I feel I am on track to where I need to be to reach that goal in the fall and that feels great too. J


momof3 @ Neurosis of the Stay at Home Marathoner said...

YEAH!!!! You are AWESOME! Loved it! And loved LOVED LOVED that you said "hi" to me at the mile 2 water stop. It totally made my day! Can't wait to see you 'round!

Kelly said...

Congratulations!! I am so proud of you :) What an accomplishment.

I am sidelined right now but I am dying to get back in the game. Running is an addiction for me and only other runners seems to understand. I start PT this coming Friday and hope the end result is complete healing by the end of the month. Time will tell!