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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Race Recap: Journey's Half Marathon

I'll freely admit this, my heart wasn't really in this race.  I knew I'd be running in Eagle River but until about two weeks before the race I thought I was going to run the 5K rather than the half marathon.  My decision to run the half marathon came because on the way home from the Oshkosh Half Marathon I realized that I'd been a little under two minutes off a personal best.  Given how hard the winter was that was impressive but I really thought I could do better.  Hence the decision to enter another half marathon so soon after running in Oshkosh.

See?  On the bus to the start
No stress.  Hell I was even smiling!
I felt uncharacteristically stress free the morning of the race.  I got up, had my usual breakfast before a long run (peanut butter on a sandwich thin with a banana) and some coffee.  I'd laid out all my gear the night before so I was ready to roll.  We got to the high school to pick up our bibs and swag, use the bathrooms and board the buses to the start.  This race is a point to point race so they bus you out to the middle of nowhere.  Seriously, it was an intersection.  With port-a-potties.  It was a gorgeous day for a race though and I had good friends with me.  Alex (my brother-in-law) and Kristi were both running the half marathon!

We waited only a few minutes before the starting horn blared.  There was no muss, no fuss, just running.  I did well maintaining my pace the first few miles so I was really pleased.  There is such beauty when running in the middle of nowhere -- just before I got to mile 3 I had 3 deer run across the road right in front me.  That was a first on a race day!!  I really wish I had gotten a photo but it happened so fast that there was no time to get my phone out.

The course was about as hilly as I thought it would be.  Lots of rollers but nothing that made me want to cry.  I did wish that I had done more hill training but that's normal for how I feel when I see a hill.  (I'm definitely going to run some hills before I head to Napa though!)  Overall the course was nice.  I was able to find shade in most parts of the course which was really nice.

My knee started bothering me around the 10K mark.  And I walked.  And it sucked.  I cried about that fact a little bit.  Then I saw Dan.  He stayed at the start to see my sister off at the 5K start but he'd brought his bike so he could come and find me on the course after he left her and I was really glad to see him.  He brought me half of a banana and a fresh Bondi Band.  I told him that I was hurting and he told me that it was going to be ok.  I told him to meet me around mile 9-10 and he biked off.  I needed to be alone to figure out if I could start running again.  I ran when I felt I could.  I walked when my knee hurt too much.  I may have also cried a little in there, too.

I'd just gotten knucks ... gotta run after knucks.
I think that is a running rule.
As I rounded the corner around mile 9 I saw a police officer.  Apparently this is my new tradition because I ran up to him and asked him how he felt about "knucks" and he responded by holding his up and we smacked knucks and I thanked him for being here and then ran away.  I continued to run when I could.  I met up with a couple of girls who were doing their first half marathon.  They are college students going to school for teaching.  God Bless 'em!  They were doing a run/walk routine so I walked with them during the walk but then they were off.

I saw Dan again and he asked me what I wanted him to do.  I asked him if he'd stay with me and he said yes and began to bike along side me.  I wasn't running so much at this point so it was great to have a distraction.  He made me laugh and forget that my legs hurt or that I had over a 5K to go!  He also stopped at the water stop and filled my two empty water bottles for me (I'd drank ever single gulp of them!) so I could just keep moving.  After we passed the airport I finally realized where I was I told him that I was ok and he rode off for the final time.  I think I had about 3/4 of a mile to go - and I started to run.  Slowly.

I saw Brenda, Alex, Kristi and Dan cheering for me as I rounded the final turn and headed for the finish line.  It wasn't my best race but they can't all be PR's, right?  I did get to have an AMAZING weekend in the Northwoods with some fantastic people.  I consider that a good reason to run (or walk) a half marathon!