Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Race Day

Since we had to get to the shuttle by 5, we decided to get up at 4. Neither of us slept well, and at 3:45 I got up and showered. Huh?! Yes, I showered before running 13.1 miles! You can't run a race with bed head after all. The best part was that I had time to dry my hair!!!! Of course, none of it mattered since I threw my hair into a ponytail for the race anyway.

We drove over to Manteo in time to get on the first shuttle bus. One fear gone - we wouldn't miss the start of the race! We arrived at the start at 5:30, a full 1 1/2 hours before the start of the race. The highlight of being so early was that the port-a-potties were still really clean, and we didn't miss the start!

As 7 am drew nearer we headed down to the corrals. The corrals were marked by mile times. I chose the last one - 12 minute miles or slower. There was a time that pride would have kept me from stepping foot in that corral, but reality would bitten me all too quickly if I had tried to run faster than that! It would have been so ugly! I knew that I had no right to think I could even finish this race. After all, the longest distance I had run in the weeks preceding the race was only 3 miles. My thinking going into the race was that it would be a good day if I finished in under 4 hours.

The race began and I ran. I ran until I saw the first mile marker, and then I walked. Then I ran for a few more minutes before walking another minute. I continued on this way as we ran along the highway and wound through neighborhoods. The mile markers went by fairly quickly. At some we were provided water or Gatorade, and at some medical care was available.

The only true hill we had to face on the course was the Washington Baum Bridge. This was between mile 8 and 9 of the half marathon course. The bridge itself wasn't really that bad, and going down the other side was actually fun!

I ran with young woman from Maryland from about mile 7 until near the end of the race. She was a lifesaver. Not only did she not mind my sharing her watch for the timed walks and runs, but she also gave me some kind of gel thing when I became dizzy and disoriented during the race. Thanks to her the last half of the race went by fairly quickly.

The weather was cold but not awful, and periodically it would sprinkle for a little while. At mile 9 the rain was steady and by mile 12 we were running in a downpour. With only 1.1 miles to go, the rain wasn't going to stop us.

We ran through historic downtown Manteo. The town was really pretty and it would have been nice to stop and gawk had we not been on a mission. Maybe another day when the weather is cooperating. It was at this point when I saw David in the distance. What sight for sore eyes!

We had about 3/4 of a mile to go at that point. We wound through the town and to a school, and then had to run halfway around a track to the finish line. It was on the track that my legs decided they didn't really want to run any further. I think if the race had been longer and the finish line had not been in sight I would have been fine, but my mind processed that finish line and sent the message to the rest of my body, "we're done here." It was only through sheer stubbornness that I made it across the finish line.

At the finish we received a medal and a Mylar sheet to wrap around our frozen bodies. The worst part of the finish was having to bend over to untie my shoes so that I could remove the timing chip from my shoelaces. That done, I found David again and we headed over to the Gatorade and bagel tent.

I had no idea of my time. I don't even remember seeing a clock when I crossed the finish line. At that point, I just did not care. I only wanted to be warm. We had brought dry clothes to change into but with it being so wet there really wasn't a good place to change. I did manage to change out of my dripping wet shirts and into dry ones and wrap myself up in the Mylar while we watched for our friends to finish the marathon.

After we caught the shuttle back to our car, we drove back over the bridge to Nags Head. As we drove we saw the last of the marathoners still running. The last ones were just passing mile 20. By then the sun was coming out. Those people were sure to be dry by the time they finished their race.

After sleeping all afternoon we went to Awful Arthur's for dinner and ate seafood. Then we slept again until morning, when we headed back to Charlottesville. Once we were home and had hugged all the kids, we checked our times on the website. It turns out that I had finished the race in under 3 hours!!!


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