Now I promised a recap, and so here it is! Enjoy!
Once we arrived at the finish line (where the packet pickup was), and once I had gotten my packet (not a good sign when you're soaked before you even get to the start line...), we ventured to the start about 20 minutes away. It was kind of sketch getting there because it was foggy/rainy/windy and we were surrounded by forest, but there were no souls in sight. But we did eventually find it with plenty of time to spare. My stomach felt a little wonky which worried me, but after a quick trip to the restroom (taking advantage of the fact that there was no line), I felt fine and ready to run! That was, until I made my way to the start line and found that I was literally shaking and my teeth were chattering. Again that question of why did I get out of bed?! creeped in. But it also made me more excited to run because I just wanted to get moving so I could get warm! Since it was rainy, I wore my rain jacket. I though I might get hot, but I stayed comfortable the whole way!
We were set out in waves, and I hung back until the fourth or fifth wave (there were probably about 20 waves total, but that included the walkers). The first two miles were the quickest two miles I think I've ever run. Except for a big uphill at first, it was pretty much all a good downhill on the road. The only trouble was that it was slippery so I couldn't fly down like I wanted too. After about 1.5 miles on the road, we were one the trail and weaving around curves through the most gorgeous forest - ferns, moss covered trees, little streams. It was picturesque to the max! Even once I hit mile 4 (where I took my second round of Clif shot blocks, the first being about five minutes before I started), I still felt very fresh and couldn't believe how quickly this whole experience was going. Was I really almost a third of the way done?!
I didn't have anything to drink at the first aid station, but at the second one, I was thirsty. I took what they gave me only to realize that it had a pink tint, but it was too late - down the hatch it went. After one gulp, I threw the rest out. Had I known it was the electrolyte drink, I would have avoided because I read about how if you're not used to a specific brand, it can upset your stomach if you try it for the first time while on a long run/race. But thankfully, it didn't seem to have an effect. It did cause me to avoid the next couple water stations though! However, I did manage some water at the last two stations.
Mile five and six didn't fly by, but they were steady. Around mile six, we crossed a really long board-walk like bridge, and I would run the whole thing again simply to go over that bridge once more! It was almost like running over a tropical forest.
About half way through the half marathon, the trail turned from gradual downhill curves to being straight and flat. After this point, every mile got increasingly longer. We were no longer running through the forest, but first across a wide field and then along side the road. Luckily, thanks to the thick foliage, I couldn't actually see the road, but the trail didn't hold my attention like it did in the forest. (Though I did get distracted by the apples and blackberries growing on the sides of the trail and several times considered stopping for a re-fueling snack...).
At about mile 8 (where I had my final round of shot blocks), my body still felt okay, but it had begun to turn into a mind game. I fought pretty much the rest of the way to the finish line. At about mile 11, I could feel it in my entire body. Now, I was battling my mind and body, but I was determined to win. I knew that I could do it, I just had to convince myself continually that that was the case.
We made it into town pretty soon after mile 11, and that gave me hope that I was almost there. It also changed up the scenery which was nice! My body wanted to slow, but I wouldn't let it. People driving by in cars would roll down their windows to cheer which was so nice and really did help me to keep my motivation. I remember being in sort of a trance at this point where I was just running at the same speed as if I was a robot and not really going anywhere but like the scenery was being pulled by around me. But I could have sworn the miles were getting longer! At one point I thought that they had neglected to put up the 12 mile marker so that it would seem like more of a relief when you finished (or something like that), so it was a bit depressing when I found that was not the case, and the 12 mile marker gleamed before me. One part of me said, "oh you only have one more mile!" wile the other part said, "you still have one more mile?!" And let me tell you what, that last mile was the longest. of. my. life.
There were so many turns around corners that it was like the course was teasing me. And the officials/volunteers kept saying that we were almost there making me feel like it was around the next corner but nope! I remember thinking, "come on, where is it?! I just want to be done!" Finally, I saw the park, but of course, I had to make a lap around the park first haha. When I finally turned the final corner and was only about a tenth of a mile from the finish line, I saw that the time was just over one hour and fifty minutes. "I'm going to finish in under two hours!" flashed through my mind (that was going to be my goal for my next half if I did one!). And then, I ran. I mean ran, as in sprinted. I was going to finish this strong. And in the process, I managed to pass several other runners! Nothing felt better than crossing that finish line. It was over, I had done it.
We sopped at Whole Foods because by this time I was starving, and I got exactly what I wanted - pizza!!! And let me tell you what, it never tasted so good.
And finally, it's time for a bit of recognition. First, I have to thank my parents. They have shown me so much love and support throughout this whole experience, and although they couldn't personally be at my half marathon, I know they were cheering me on from a far. I'm so lucky to have parents who support me in everything I do. I don't know what I would do without them. Second, I've got to recognize my brother because any fellow who drives his sister to a half marathon in the rain at 4:30 in the morning deserves to be recognized. Having him there meant so much to me! Third, I have to thank Brittany, once again, for showing me that this experience was not a fantasy but could be reality. I probably would not have had this experience without her. And finally, I would like to thank each and everyone of YOU!! You have offered me so much advice and encouragement throughout this experience, and it meant so much to know that you guys were there for me. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this experience with you. Love you guys!
P.S. I've almost finished week one of training for my second half marathon. Yep, it's happening again. I think I'm addicted.