This race was my first half-marathon, and it was definitely quite the experience!
Since Holland is almost 2 hours away from where I live, and the race started early in the morning, we drove up the night before. We actually booked a really nice room and decided to make a weekend get away out of it. Holland is a beautiful town and has a lot of sight seeing to enjoy. When we got into Holland, the first thing we did was go to the expo to pick up my packet. As luck would have it, my BFF (co-blogger Misha) was there at the same time to pick up her packet for the 5k. We looked around a bit and then since it was down pouring and we still had to check in and get settled, we headed out.
After checking in, we decided to head into Downtown Holland, which is a really historic and beautiful town. They had a “mannequin night” going on that night, where all of the little shops had actual human beings act as their mannequins and act out different scenes. It was really neat and they all did a great job. We stopped in at a local bar, and thankfully didn’t have to wait long. I obviously ordered some delicious pasta, but didn’t eat as much as I would have liked to. I’m not sure if it was nerves or what, but I decided it was best to not force myself to eat more than I could handle. I sipped down about 3 waters and then we headed back.
Since this was my first long distance race, I was incredibly nervous and had major OCD about checking to make sure I had all of my gear, my bib, and that everything was working for the morning. I honestly probably checked all of this and set it out about 10 times. I think that’s normal though for a first-timer!
I woke up honestly ten times throughout the night, and every time I was in panic thinking that I slept through my alarm. Finally I just decided to stay up at around 5:30. After waking Jordan up with all of my hustling around, we went downstairs to get breakfast so I had enough time for it to settle before the race started. I had a piece of toast with peanut butter and then sliced up a banana to put on top of it. I had just a few sips of some coffee to make me feel more awake, then filled up my water bottle before heading back to the room. We went back upstairs so I could pee about 10 times (It’s not the greatest thing to have a nervous bladder when you’re nervous before embarking on 13.1 miles of running…). On the way up I had a really neat experience in the elevator.
A girl, I’m going to guess about eleven years old, asked me if I was running in the race today. When I said that I was, she said her mom was too and that she couldn’t believe we were running for that long. I asked if she was a runner, and she said just for gym class but wanted to run just like her mom when she was older. Before she got off on her floor, she wished me good luck and said if she saw me on the course she’d wave to me. I obviously that that was never going to happen since this is a giant race, and the chances of her picking me out of all the runners was very slim. But I said thanks and that I looked forward to seeing her out there! For some reason that conversation calmed me down a bit, and turned my nerves into excitement, at least for the time being.
Obviously being a newbie to the whole race thing, we got stuck in traffic and definitely did not plan accordingly for traffic. We finally made it to the starting line with literally 3 minutes to spare. I unfortunately wasn’t able to see Misha and my close friend of the family, Cami, off for the 5k, and I had to go the bathroom but of course the lines were outrageous, so I did what no runner wants to do, I started the race about having to pee my pants. I knew that there were facilities set up along the course, but I had made up my mind that I was not stopping, that was my goal. As the gun went off and I waved to Jordan and my mom who were on the sidelines… I literally thought to myself… this is it. No turning back now.
The miles actually went really quick, and I found a girl that seemed to be at about the same pace as me and decided to try and stick with her for majority of the race.
I was using my RunKeeper on my phone to keep track of my pace and what distance I was at. I honestly love that app and have found it to be fairly accurate. Plus I had created a 1/2 marathon playlist that I can play during it 🙂 I was moving at a pretty good pace, quicker than I had ran during training season which is to be expected on race day. I was feeling great too, and at some point I didn’t have feel the need to go to the bathroom anymore (I’m assuming it’s because I sweat A LOT). Believe it or not, that little girl spotted me around mile 5. Sure enough she waved at me and I waved back and ran over to high-five her since she was right along the street. That definitely made for a great distraction!
The weather was a concern going into the race as race day called for storms and lots of rain, but when the race started it was hotter than expected and the sun was shining with no clouds in sight. As I got to about mile 6, which was around the lake, you could see the sky on the other side was pitch black, and it was definitely rolling our way. But still at around mile 9 there was just a sprinkle, nothing drastic. That was when my phone kept going off like crazy, and when I realized it was Jordan I decided to answer.
He told me that they were closing up shop down at the finish line and that times would not be recorded. They had sent police out to bring any runners back to the finish line as extreme winds, rain and hail were heading straight towards us. I began to see the police cars driving around, and runners quickly getting into cars with their spectators. But I also saw runners keep going, with no intention of letting some weather spoil their race. I honestly contemplated calling it quits as it began to rain harder and the temperature was quickly dropping. I knew I was asking to get sick as I was previously sweating, and was covered in wet clothes. Then I thought, “Are you crazy? You just trained hard for 3 months for this one day… all of the hours, pain, money and effort you have put into this will all just go to waste.” I told Jordan I was finishing and I’d see him at the finish line. Seriously, there is something so motivating about running through terrible weather. Literally, I felt like Rocky running on the streets. At times it was difficult to see, and we had to run sideways as branches were flying off trees and the hail was hitting our faces at an angle… but we made it work. Jordan, being the trooper he is, met me at every spectator spot, even the ones with hail and rain. I seriously love that man for putting up with me and all of my shenanigans 🙂
I kicked up my pace the last mile, since I knew I was almost there, and it was mostly downhill at that point. As I got to the finish line, I saw my mom, Cami, Misha and Jordan all waiting. Cami, being the rock star she is, started running with me at the finish line which put the biggest smile on my face; that woman was my inspiration to start running, so it meant a lot to see her stick out the weather to watch me cross the finish line. I threw my arms up and finished with a big smile on face at 2 hours, 9 minutes and 26 seconds according to my RunKeeper, I averaged a little under a 10:00 mile. Definitely better than I expected, and the only goal I set for myself was to finish without stopping, which I accomplished!
I grabbed some water after and congratulated and visited with all of my spectators and other runners for a bit.
Then the soreness and shivering set in as my body settled down for a few minutes. We quickly went in and picked up my metal, and then Jordan and I headed back to the hotel. He had a shoot that night that he had to cover, so we went and grabbed lunch real quick at Buffalo Wild Wings (coincidentally it was located right next to our hotel…) and I smashed 8 wings, some fried pickles and a draft beer. It was heaven. Then I made the biggest mistake of my life (okay drama queen… but of that day), we went back to the hotel and got in the hot tub as I was still cold and all I could think of was warming up. It felt great in the moment, but as the day went on and I laid in the hotel room, I was in so much pain. My head was pounding so bad I could barely open my eyes, and my body was physically so drained and sore that it took everything I had just to get out of the bed. After doing some research, I realized that getting in the hot tub was the worst thing I could have done for my muscles. Rather than rejuvenating my muscles with an ice bath, I literally fatigued them more by getting in hot water and my muscles were so irritated, I could barely move. Live and learn right?
The next few days I didn’t feel as bad, as I made sure to drink gallons of water to try and re-hydrate myself.
This race was really important for me, I had some of my closest family and friends there to support me, it was my first long distance run (my 2nd race overall), and I completed the goals I set out for on that day. Plus, I really think that’s when I found my passion for running. I am so happy that I didn’t quit and that I stuck it out, plus I was able to order a sweet finishers shirt that said “I survived Park2Park 2012” to prove it 🙂