My alarm went off at 3:18am and up I got to get ready. I made it on my bus, even though I was almost 15 minutes late (they decided to close my on ramp to the freeway, so I got to drive, cursing, up to the next one). I was dressed in shorts and a tank top and when the bus got to the top of the canyon a half an hour later it was 37º.
Luckily, we were all let inside one of the buildinga and we had access to a full bathroom of 12 flushing toilets. I tell you - it was a luxury that I won't find again at another half marathon start line soon.
After waiting for almost an hour and a half for the race to get going (and after I helped my self to some free swag for running more than 10 half marathons, and after getting my legs warmed up by a massage therapist), we all headed out in the cold about a quarter of a mile down the road to the starting line.
It was pitch black. And cold. And, I didn't get in my last pre-race tinkle, so I was a little keyed up. The horn sounded and down we (me and 175 other runners) went!
It was dark, but they had several cars heading down with us, so there was a little bit of light around us. By mile 3 it was plenty light. Also at mile 3? I had to stop. To tinkle. So I lost maybe 90 seconds. But I got right back on the road and kept going down.
I was running solid 8:20s the whole way down and I didn't stop again until mile 9 to take two sips of water (maybe 10 seconds of walking) and I continued on my way.
(coming down from a leap that the photographer didn't catch)
The last mile was actually much more, but when I rounded the last turn and saw my husband and daughter waiting for me just before the finish line - well, I can tell you that I was happy. More than happy. I was finishing my best half marathon ever and my husband and daughter were there with smiles on their faces (and a "Go Go Mommy!"), despite the early hour and the chillier mountain-bench temperatures.
Finish time: 1:55:48. Almost a full 6 minutes faster than my previous best set in March (2:01:41). After 14 half marathons I have FINALLY made it below 2 hours!!
Yes, it was a downhill course (almost 3700' of elevation loss), but I was pushing to keep up that pace and not fall back to my "normal" run pace of about 9:30. I would say that since I was already hobbling at the finish line, my legs had given what they could.
Today? I honestly cannot walk. I'm going down the stairs backwards and even then it's with a grimace on my face. My lower legs are SO tight. I was expecting that my quads would be shredded (and they are), but this lower leg stuff is surprising. Hopefully I can get them to loosen up tomorrow morning before work.
This was the race's inaugural run. And I was pretty impressed. I had to provide my own GU (which wasn't a big deal, because I always bring my own to all of my races), but they had water and EFS at the aid stations. There were 4 aid stations with water, EFS and 2 port-a-potties. Mile 3, 6,9 and 12. I didn't need more than that (since I only used the ones at 3 and 9).
The course was BEAUTIFUL. We've had a VERY dry summer and because of it the leaves in the canyon were already changing to orange and red. Once the sun was up, the views were incredible.
It was really well organized and the volunteers at the stations were full of smiles. The girls at mile 9 were especially great because I ran passed the EFS and grabbed water, thinking it was the EFS. Because of the steep downhill I couldn't get my legs to stop moving forward and one of the girls "ran" me down a cup of the "good stuff" (which was NOT good tasting).
I loved this race. Even with the early hour. I loved how small it was, I got a great quality shirt and a medal. The finish line had free Jimmy John's sandwiches and Creamies and fruit - what more could you ask for?
Loved it. I'll be back next year. And this time I'll have an empty bladder.