I did it! I ran an actual race, and finished with a PR!
The race was early, well early for me, with a start time of 8am. This meant I was up by 6 and out the door by 6:30 to meet up with my race buddies at 7. We had quite a pack, My usual Running Buddy, her recent training partner (who's done marathons before!), a friend of mine from college, his 6 months pregnant wife, and me.
I was super nervous before the race. This was my first race, EVER, so I had very little idea of what to expect. Also, I've been running at a relatively slow pace, around 12 minute miles, compared to my Running Buddy's close to 10 min miles, so I was worried about keeping up.
We headed up to the corral, with our two spectators in tow: My running buddy's Hubby (who happens to be my S.O.'s brother) and the marathoner's boyfriend (who is *also* a friend of my S.O.'s family - everyone knows everyone up here!) They both had cameras in tow, so we hammed it up pre-race.
Then it was go time. It was weird because I don't remember a starting gun or announcement, just everyone started moving slowly forward. The mob picked up pace and I fell into step behind my Running Buddy. We got separated from my college friend and his wife rather quickly by the crowd. I've never run in a pack that dense before, it was odd. It's hard to tell exactly how fast you're running until the pack starts to stretch out.
The group of us: My running buddy, the marathoner, and me, spent the first mile dodging around slower runners, and generally keeping a fast 10 min mile pace. I felt good, but it was a slight downhill, and I was still worried about how I'd handle the last part of the race.
Close to mile two we passed a friend of ours, who is a super awesome runner, but who was currently out of commission due to a pulled muscle in her hip. She was helping mark the course, she saw and recognized my running buddy and cheered us on as we passed.
Halfway through the course we turned into the uphill. It wasn't a huge hill, but by then it was incredibility muggy out, something I have never dealt with before. I was finding it hard to breathe, and by the time we were near the top of the hill, I found myself gagging and coughing, close to tossing all over the road. Someone who was running by me slowed down to ask if I was ok, and I tried to smile and nod, but I hope they didn't think i was being rude, I was just concentrating so hard on not throwing up.
I was still keeping pace with my Running Buddy, although our Marathoner friend had taken off somewhere near the bottom of the hill. Both of us called a surrender at the top of the hill to learn how to breathe again. I walked for about 30 seconds before deciding I was ok to run again.
I remember thinking the whole race "this isn't that far, this shouldn't be this hard" but each breath felt like it was half water, and I just couldn't seem to fill my lungs. It was tortuous by the end.
When we got to the big flags that had marked the starting line, I realized that we still hadn't crossed the finish line. I turned to my running buddy and said (rather loudly) "Where the F*%k's the finish line?!" Only to spot it a few seconds later a little way further down the road.
Pushing through the finish line took everything I had left in me, which you can see in these two pictures of me and my Running Buddy crossing the finish (Yeah my sunglasses are fly, I know ^_^)
I got our official results this morning: we crossed the finish line with an official time of 33:26, which gave us a pace of 10:47. That is by far a PR for me. I finished 56 in my age group (30-35 for those who care) out of 107, and 714 overall out of a pack of 1079. I can officially say now that I am a mid-pack runner ^_^
After meeting up with my parents, who had watched the race but hadn't seen me pass, we regrouped, and headed to get some food at a local diner. There was much talk about a half marathon that may or may not be in the cards for me in October, and much good food and camaraderie.
It was awesome hanging out and just enjoying the fact that we had just achieved a goal we'd been working towards for months.