Pre-Race/Race Prep: Getting EXCITED!
Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 6am and I got out of bed, full of anticipation. First thing I did: put on a great playlist of music to pump me up while I got dressed and ate breakfast, which was Nature Valley Oats 'n' Honey Bars, some water, and some Gatorade. M showed up around 6:40am and we snapped a pre-race photo:
so excited!We got to the start line around 7:05am - PLENTY of time before the 7:30 start. It was a little chilly, but we knew that we would warm up fast. The weather forecast for the race was PERFECT: starting out in the upper 40s, and should still be below 60 when we finished, with almost no wind and a decent amount of sunshine. We got a picture at the start line and said goodbye to Scott, who was planning to catch us next at mile 6.5.
Miles 1-3: What pace are we aiming for?
Mile 1 started off strong, but slowly. The race started on a slight uphill, but in all of the excitement I didn't notice! The road was also packed with runners, so we just sort of moved whatever pace the people in front of us were moving. It felt comfortable, and since we lined up by the 10:30 sign I figured we were probably right on track. But when we got to the mile 1 sign, my watch side 11:20. Oops! I told M it was okay for us to speed up a little bit if it felt comfortable. As the crowd started thinning we sped up and found ourselves some more open space to run. After the mile 1 marker we turned onto familiar territory: two streets that we have run on several times before during our long runs. However, we were running opposite of the direction we had gone in the past. Turns out when you run backwards, all the nice easy downhills become annoying uphills! Harumph! We got to the mile 2 sign and my watch told me that we were now averaging 10:30 again. I guess that makes our 2nd mile really fast? Oops. M and I are apparently AWFUL at keeping a steady pace, haha.
Miles 4-7: Friends are Fabulous (and make you run fast)!
Right after sign for mile 3 we turned down a street where our friend S lives. A group of about 5 friends had gathered at her house to cheer for us and drink mimosas! It was so fun seeing them (THANKS GUYS!). Next we ran back towards East Campus, which was also familiar territory - we run here multiple times per week! At the end of mile 4 we knew to look out for another friend J, and were delighted to see not only her, but three other friends! And J had signs! Running a race in the town you live in is great - we got so much support!
Around mile 5.5 we passed the first relay checkpoint. After the race, I found out that at the relay points, we also ran through a sensor that tracked our time. So, at mile 5.5 we were officially running at around a 10:02 pace. Faster than we had planned, but feeling great! We left East Campus and started down Campus Drive towards West Campus. It was eerily quiet! Luckily, Scott was there to cheer us on and snap some photos:
I fail at jazz hands, but at least we look excited!Shortly after we saw Scott we had to tackle a familiar hill on Campus Drive. Halfway up, M remarked "this hill sucks" to which I replied "did you forget?" since we have run up it probably a dozen times. Luckily for us, some of the crew from mile 3 were waiting at the top of the hill to cheer us on! It was SO appreciated after the hill and they gave us a great burst of energy post-hill. Before we knew it, we passed mile marker 7 and I couldn't believe we were more than half done. We also that we saw our friend Devin again - who was at mile 5 with some friends - but then rode his bike to several locations later in the race. HUGE thank you / shout out to Devin, I'm pretty sure he made it to about 4 different spots!
The second relay checkpoint was at mile 7.5 (very random / uneven legs for the relayers!) and although I didn't realize it at the time, we FLEW from 5.5-7.5 Some quick math tells me that our overall pace at 7.5 was 9:43, meaning we ran miles 5.5-7.5 at an 8:49 pace? THAT IS CRAZY. It did not feel that fast at all.
Miles 7-11: The Friendly Hilly Neighborhood
Right around 7.5 we entered a neighborhood we had never been in before. The people in this neighborhood were great. There were random neighbors outside cheering. Two different families were handing out water. One of the girls handing out water cups was probably only 3 years old, and she was ADORABLE. Some parts of the neighborhood had put up funny/encouraging signs on the side of the road. On one particularly awful hill, the neighbors had written "keep going" and other messages in side walk chalk! Overall, nice neighborhood. BUT IT WAS REALLY HILLY. I think the neighbors knew how hilly and awful it was to run through their neighborhood, so they worked extra hard to keep us going, haha.
Other things I remember about this stretch: sometime during mile 8 or 9, a girl ran up next to us and says "we are on pace to finish in 2:10!" I looked at my watch and tried to figure out what that meant. My first reaction was "YEAH LET'S DO THAT" but then she passed us, and I decided that attempting to keep up with her was not wise.
Around this point, I started feeling quite confident that I could beat my "A" goal of 2:17:39 and started pondering what time I actually might be able to finish in. I started to wonder about 2:15 or 2:14 (2:15 because it sounds cool, 2:14 because it would put me in a better seed for my next race). Right before the mile 9 marker, we saw Scott again and he snaps a photo:
Sidenote: While running with M, I don't usually think much about our pace. I try to run somewhere between "comfortable" and "a little bit challenging", and I use her as a marker... if she's struggling, I slow down. If she's pushing me to speed up, I do. Without her, I have to really think about whether or not I'm running too fast or too slow. So after we parted ways, I had to really to focus on running a challenging pace, but not one that I couldn't maintain for the remainder of the race.
Miles 12-13.1: Flying Solo
Before I hit the mile 12 marker I saw Devin again and tell him I lost M. Soon after, I saw the mile 12 marker and decided it was time to start pushing myself a little harder: only 2.1 to go! Around 12.5ish, I saw Scott for the last time, and he told me to enjoy the upcoming downhill, but not to go too fast because the race ends on a slight uphill so I need to save a little bit for that and really power through. He also informed me that I was ahead of my pace prediction and that he's proud of me. This gives me a HUGE boost of energy. I was feeling FAB as you can see in this picture:
I'm a TERRIBLE sprinter, by the way. I really have to focus every amount of my energy on reminding myself to keep running fast. At this point, my thighs were BURNING, and I felt like my legs might possibly buckle beneath me, but I could see the finish line and keep telling myself I can do anything for 60ish second. As I crossed the finish line, the official timer read 2:14:01 - but I knew I crossed the starting line late, so I can't figure out what my actual time was. Of course in my excitement I forget to press "stop" on my watch and didn't get to look at it, haha. I heard my name read over the loudspeaker as I finish (SO COOL) and was handed a water bottle and a medal. The women (Duke basketball players I think?) handing me these things kept saying "Congratulations Sara you did awesome!" which was fun - our names were on our bibs, so they knew my name!
Official time: 2:13:14 - an overall pace of 10:11 min/mile!!!!
Right after the race I remember that my legs were SHAKING, to the point where I wasn't sure if I could stay standing. I also remember feeling like I might cry, but definitely tears of joy/happiness/sense of accomplishment. (For the record, I didn't cry). After about 20 seconds of that, I decide to go back to the finish line and watch for M, who finished about 3 minutes after me.
Devin appeared at the finish line to congratulate us, and I also ran into blog friend Sarah before M and I headed to the finishers area for post race snacks and to check our time. I had more gatorade, some orange, and a bagel before we go check our times on the computer. I finished in 2:13:14. SO RIDICULOUS.
After that we walked over to to a grassy field so we could meet up with Scott, stretch, and take post-race photos: