Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Race Recap: Marine Corps Historic Half

I'm pretty sure that if I don't do this race recap TODAY, it'll never get done. Everything has been like that lately (cough :: I need to write a recap of the Tarheel 10-Miler :: cough) and I can't catch up! Anyway. Let’s start at the end of this story. It looks like this:

13.1 DONE

My sister and I have been talking about running a half marathon together for a while now, but our schedules just never really worked out to be able to do the same race at the same time. When I heard about the Marine Corps Historic Half a few months ago, I knew it would be perfect – not too expensive, good time of year, and right in my backyard. All boxes checked – so we signed up in February and didn’t think twice!

Fast forward to April and everything that has been going on with my family. Obviously, training (or running at all) has not been a priority. I’ve only even made it to the gym a handful of times. So, last weekend, I told my sister that I was going to see if we could defer, and, if not, I was just going to bail. I didn’t see how I was possibly up to the challenge of running a half marathon, especially knowing that I was going to have an emotionally exhausting week in California and get home late Friday night. I was going to just scrap it and I figured she would be on board with that idea.

Little did I know. That sweet baby sister of mine pretty much told me to man up and get out there. She told me that there was truly no BETTER time for her and I to run our first big race together – it didn’t matter how it went; it just mattered that we did it. I knew she was right… so there I was on Saturday afternoon at packet pick-up, gearing myself up for half marathon #4, and telling myself that I only get one life, might as well run while I can! (There may have been some curse words thrown in, but what can ya do?) We were doing it, ready or not.

Race morning was standard – ponytail, running shoes, Garmin, half a bagel, one cup of coffee. We jammed out to Nat’s “pump up music” for her lacrosse team while we drove to the start, and walked to our corral. Before we knew it, we were crossing the starting line, and there was no turning back.

Long story short, the Historic Half was a great race, but it was not great for us. It was well-organized and a good course. However, Nat battles an old knee injury from high school, and she told me early on that pushing it just wasn’t going to happen for her. We got through the first four miles or so at a good pace, but then the hills were starting to get to her, and I could see that she was struggling. We slowed down, and she told me multiple times to just go on and leave her to do it slow. I told her it wasn’t happening. This was our race to do together, and it didn’t matter how it went to me – I wasn’t racing myself this time, I was running with my sister. The only goal for me was the finish line.

It was a beautiful morning, and the course was packed with spectators. There were plenty of water / Gatorade stations, live music, and lots of Marines lining the road and yelling encouragement. I enjoyed seeing some parts of historic Fredericksburg that I haven’t gotten to venture to yet, and didn’t even really mind the hills. I actually felt great – I was totally having one of those sappy “I’m so happy to be here and be alive!” days. I stopped looking at my Garmin except to give Nat updates on where we were. I stopped thinking about time and pace, and I just enjoyed the run and the morning. It was like no race I’ve ever run – just running for the fun of it and enjoying the experience. It was rather nice!

I sprinted for the finish line when the time came, and Nat came in right behind me. It had been a long, slow trek, but we definitely earned those medals. I’m so happy that I listened to Nat when she told me that we needed to do this, because we really did. We needed to fight a battle we could win; we needed to do something strong and powerful and have that sense of accomplishment.

This one is crucial because I totally chicked that guy in the hat -
I came out of nowhere and passed him right before the finish line :)

Lately, I’ve been feeling so much like I am useless – like there is nothing I can do to help my family, and especially my mom, when they are struggling. This race was a kind of physical representation of my recent challenge, and it was so rewarding to come out on top, with my sister by my side.

Silly and cliché as it seems, I am feeling like my “worst” race was really one of my best.

As far as the race itself went, here are my pros and cons.

  • Long expo / packet pick-up: two days offered (Fri and Sat), with lots of time (10-7 on Saturday) 
  • Many water / Gatorade stations 
  • Safe, well laid-out course: police and USMC guiding traffic away on busy roads, full road closures in many places
  • Great finish line: first race ever to actually hand out a bag with a water bottle so you didn’t have to have your hands full of stuff! 
  • Disheveled water stations: at several stations, there were volunteers standing around not holding cups, too much Gatorade, not enough water
  • Starting line volume: needed louder speaker at beginning – we couldn’t hear the National Anthem or the official gun start 
  • Medal confusion: I crossed the finish line, and there were lots of Marines holding medals… but no one actually stepped forward to give me one. I finally had to ask for one directly! 


Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats said...

Congrats on your run! It sounds like it was just what you guys needed.

Lisa C said...

Congrats on another race done!

Stephanie @ My Freckled Life said...

Way to go!!! I'm so glad your sister convinced you to do it anyway - I think it was just what you all needed after everything! I'm so glad that we were able to meet up afterwards for a post-race lunch!

Tammy Jo said...

So proud of you!!!! Glad you got out there and did it I know your family is so proud of both of you!!!!!

The Lady Okie said...

Great job! Way to finish strong. Love that pic of you passing that hat guy right at the end!