On Feb 28th, I completed my first half marathon - 13.1 miles!!! Actually, the Garmin said it was 13. 42, but who is counting. I did it in 2:34 by my Garmin, but the official race time said 2:36. Whatever. I did it, and it was a blast! Not only was the Wesley Chapel Tri Team there in full force with Carmen, Stacey, Nicole, Heather, Amy, Monica, and Brian, but I also had fellow friends and coworkers come. Courtney came from DC to run the full. Nick from Iowa, Heather H from Michigan, and Julie from North Carolina came to run the half with me! And of course, our fearless leaders Holly and Jennifer were there to inspire us by running the Ultra Challenge - a 5K and 15K on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday!! Amazing!!!
I ended up staying in a hotel downtown (the Marriott Waterside was amazing and RIGHT by the race start). It was fun to be able to hang out with Julie, Heather, Courtney, and Nick (and Nick's friend from Chicago - David). We met at 5am at the convention center, and I was a nervous wreck. The temperature was 44, and I couldn't decide what to wear. Pants, shorts, two shirts, one? Gloves? Hat? Will it be windy? Will it get hot when the sun comes out? I changed my mind a million times, but Courtney convinced me to go with shorts, and Holly convinced me to leave the gloves and hat behind. Once we walked back outside for the race in my shorts, I was immediately glad that I was in shorts. I turned out to be very comfy the entire race.
We lined up after walking past so many people. I was nervous as we seemed to be getting close to the front. Since I am NOT a speedy runner, it made me nervous. However, it still took almost 3 minutes to get to the start. Amazing. It was an incredible feeling to be surrounded by so many people. I tripped and almost fell in the first few minutes. Geez. I also forgot to set my watch to 5 min run and 30 second walk, but then I remembered and fixed it. At points in the beginning it was so crowded that we had to walk. It is difficult to explain, but the feeling of power was amazing. So many people. The first mile went very quickly, and it is difficult to stay at a slower speed. It is easy to get carried away, but I kept monitoring it with my fancy Garmin watch.
We ran around Davis island, and we couldn't see anything in the dark for quite a while. I think it got light between miles 3 and 4. There was a guy carrying this HUGE American flag. There was a guy in a Viking outfit with NASTY shorts that did not look good on him at all. There were girls running in fishnet stockings. It was so fun to check out all the people. There were these guys around mile 4 or 5 who STUNK. We had to try to stay in front of them. We had the 2:20 and the 2:30 pacers pass us at one point, and that was fine with me. :) As we came off Davis Island, I looked for Mike, Morgan, and Randy (Julie's Fiance), but I didn't see anyone. We did pass Carmen's husband Sean, and I saw Julie from afar. We were very careful to make sure we went in the half lane instead of accidentally getting in the full line. Some lady was all confused and couldn't figure out which way to go. There was this evil hill somewhere around mile 7. That was not a nice welcome, but we did it.
Miles 9 to 10 seemed very long, but then we hit the turn for the last segment. WOO HOO!. At this point, we found our friend who had a sweatshirt (he had to be HOT) that said "Beer is your friend." Of course, that caused lots of "beer, beer, beer" chanting. We also had some "chocolate milk, chocolate milk" chants. :) We even nicknamed one lady chocolate milk and called her that to encourage her. She was cracking up.
I had so much energy still, and I was so excited. We saw Holly and Jenn around mile 11 or 12. Then, we ran hard for the last half mile or so. It really felt so good to finish, and I truly enjoyed every minute. I loved the blanket thing and the medal. I loved the crowds. I loved the salt on my forehead. I loved seeing my friends after they finished. I loved the beer afterwards. I loved the buffet breakfast. I had a fantastic day. I could have done without Morgan having a project due the next day - who cares about Beanie Babies anyway!! Why did she have to research them? LOL... We watched part of the hockey game while I scarfed down chicken fingers. YUMMMMMMM... The Wesley Chapel Tri Team had a party at Holly's house that night. It was so awesome to have some good food, good drinks, and good company with people who I have become very close with over the last 6 months or so. Plus, Julie and Randy came with Mike and I, and it is always good to hang with them. It had been so long since I had gotten to hang out with Julie, and it was awesome to see her. It is hard to believe that this group is the same group who couldn't run hardly at all in August. How far we have come! I truly had a BLAST at the race, and I can't wait to do another one! Who knew running is fun?