Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fredericksburg Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon Race Report

Garmin Details can be found here (check out the HILLS!)

As I have struggled through my foot issues (and less so my couch) over the last few weeks, I was really worried about how this half was going to go. For the Gasparilla Half, we trained and did 10+ miles for 6 weeks and included a 13 mile run. So, I set out to do something similar, but I did a SINGLE 10 mile run and then had the whole “Is it Plantar Fasciitis?” injury. Since then, in the 4+ weeks, I had done two 6 mile runs and a couple of smaller ones. That is it. So, two weeks before the race, I set out to do a 4 miler, an 8 miler, then an 11 miler. Then, I did a 6 and a 5 the week before the race. Was it enough? The biggest worry is that this race has hills. For those of you From Tampa, you know how flat the training is usually.

Travis was set to go with me, and he did the 11 mile training run the Sunday before the race. On Friday, he texts me that Lisa is in the ER. Oh no. I am sure he won’t be coming and that it will only be Courtney and I running. Since he missed Gasparilla, I am sad, but I know he needs to be with Lisa and hope that she is ok. She feels better on Saturday morning, and he can go! Yeah! We fly to Baltimore on Saturday morning, and Courtney picks us up. It is so good to see her. I love her laugh and one liners, and we were off to a hysterical car ride immediately. She then says that she has to confess that she accidentally booked us in a hotel that is 25 miles away. She booked the race headquarters hotel, but apparently that is not in Fredericksburg. We decided to go pick up our packets and see what we could find. None of the hotels by the race start had rooms, but we did find one 12 miles away – better than 25 so we take it.

The expo was pretty good, and we got our numbers, shirts, and other race goodies. Travis is number 25 which completely freaks him out as he thinks he accidentally got an elite number or something. We ask and they say that it is randomly assigned. I was number 5084, and Courtney was 5109. We went to the hotel where I tried to calm Morgan down. For some reason, every time I go out of town and Mike and Morgan are there, they have an episode. This time was no different, and I tried to work through the pre-teen tears. Mike had gone to take Katie to get her hair cut, and that was probably good to give a break to both of them.

We went to the Outback down the street, and I got grilled chicken and a baked potato. YUMMY for pre-race meal. After dinner, we went to the store to get some water and other stuff like nutragrain bars (real ones – not generic), advil, bananas, etc. As we are checking out, the self scanner says, “ Move your bananas onto the conveyor belt.” It sounded so hysterical being told to move our bananas, and we all got a case of the giggles. Then, as we got back to the hotel, JUST as we walk in the door, Travis informs us that his race belt could hold a small specific type of baby, and that just set us off giggling again. I had a very difficult time going to sleep after talking to Mike and Morgan. I sent out some info about the race finish being broadcast on the internet, and I settled down for some boring TV. As I turned on the TV, The Hangover movie was on. I cracked up at the end of it, and then put it on some other weird movie. It took me at least an hour to finally fall asleep.

I got up at 4, and I started getting ready. We left at 5 and got there with PLENTY of time. They had warned about difficult traffic and parking, so we were happy to be there early (well Courtney and I were – not so much with Travis). We went into the Wegman several times for a bio break before the race, and Courtney checked her bag. We hit the port-a-potty one more time before the race began. The national anthem was sung, and then the wheelchair participants began. Then, they shot the gun from the 1800’s to start the race, and we were off! Travis kept wanting to keep up with the crowd. I must have said Slow Down Travis at least 30 times.  The first thing I notice is that the elevation chart from the website is very deceptive. It makes it look like the first 9 miles are mainly downhill. HA! There are some pretty good hills for that first 9 miles. There is downhill, but it is after going uphill first. There was one BIG downhill that made me nervous for “hospital hill” which is in the 10th mile and is supposedly enormous.

The first four miles FLY by. The 5 min run and 30 sec walk is going well, and I can’t believe how fast the beeps are coming to walk. The race did this whole “green” thing with the bibs and you supposedly can plant them to grow flowers. Well, I am all for green and such, but these were awful. Mine had torn in the first mile, and I had to stuff it in my water belt. It was shredding the whole time, and I was just trying to make it with my beer coupon and my massage coupon. I text Mike and Morgan at mile 4 to let them know where I am. Miles 4 – 9 weren’t too bad, but I was conserving some energy as I am still very nervous about this “hospital hill” I have coming. 4 – 9 had some hills as well. Around mile 7, Travis went ahead, and I was glad as I could see he wanted to go faster. I knew I couldn’t, so I was happy he got to run faster. I got some jelly beans around mile 7, and they were pretty good. Along the way, there were gymnasts, several bands, radio stations, people dressed in colonial clothes, a confederate cemetery, some cool houses, a bagpipe group, and elementary school music group, lots of kids giving high 5’s, and LOTS of people. At Gasparilla, the road thinned out after a while and you had a lot of room around. That never happened at this race. There were always lots of people around. I guess with 7000 people, that is what happens. We did see quite a few people getting aid from the medics, and there was one guy who took a nasty fall behind us at one point.

As we go from mile 9 – 10, I am so nervous. I hope I can do this freaking hospital hill thing. My legs are getting tired, and my foot is hurting. Lovely. However, that only lasted a few minutes, and then I felt good again. As we start up the hill, I think, ok, you can do this. I ran up quite a bit of it, and then I decided to walk. I was so happy when 5 seconds later my watch beeped for my scheduled walk time. I walked an extra 30 seconds and then ran again for a while. Then, I walked a bit and wondered if this hill was ever going to end. I was really happy to get to the top. There were lots of people encouraging and cheering us up the hill, and almost everyone was walking that hospital hill. I actually passed a lot of people when I was running it. There was a sign that said, “Detour to ER” which was pretty funny.

Mile 11 – 12 also had a pretty big hill. I ran almost all of it, but I took a walk break for a minute near the top. Then, I went back to my plan for 12 – 13 and pushed a bit at the end. I thought a lot about Matt (and the Chick Fil A at the finish). When t was over, I was so happy to break my Gasparilla time – barely. However, I think that it counts as a big difference since this one had hills! Time was 2:35:45.

I had a marine put my medal on. I loved that. My friend Liz has a brother in Afghanistan, and I was thinking about him the whole race. He has had some difficult times lately with friends of his getting killed, and I cannot imagine what that is like. I figured if he could do it, then I could. I thanked every Marine I passed, and it was quite humbling to have them cheering us on, passing out water, etc. They were really awesome and inspiring. So, Matt Humiston, I dedicate my 13.1 to you and thank you for all you do. Please be safe and get home to your family.

As soon as we finished the race, Travis found out that Riley had falled from the swingset and needed stitches. So, we went straight to the car. Just a tip, if you don’t have to sit in a car just after finishing a race, don’t. It makes your legs worse. We rushed to the hotel, did a quick shower and change, and headed back out. I tried to get a flight on the 1 something flight Travis got, but there was only one seat available. Bummer. So, Courtney was nice enough to drive Travis to Dulles and then to take me to Baltimore. We stopped at a Wendy’s, and I had a chicken sandwich that might have been the best I have ever had.

At the airport, I had two double Maibu and Diet Coke drinks. Well earned. YUM. I am not on the plane headed home feeling proud, wearing my medal, and sporting my new shirt. :) Mission accomplished.
Thanks Travis and Courtney! I had a blast! Thanks so much Courtney for taking care of us and for driving all over the place.

Next plans:
Olympic Triathlon in Nashville in July
Half Ironman in August in September
Women’s Half Marathon in November
Jacksonville Half or Full Marathon in December (will decide later)

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