My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

The County Half-Marathon (2015) – race recap

on October 8, 2015

Fair warning, this will be a long post.

Sorry it has taken me so long to post this.  I definitely needed some downtime after the race just to recharge, both physically and mentally.

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I woke up Sunday morning with the typical pre-race nerves.  I’ve done enough races now that I knew I’d have them.  Truth be told, I’d been feeling them for a few days.  Although this time, the nerves were much stronger than they had ever been before.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering this would be the biggest race I had ever done before.

I was up earlier than would normally be for a race day, but I had to be.  It was going to take about an hour to get to the location, and they close the roads, so we had to be out there before that.  I showered and dressed, and then made my way downstairs for breakfast and coffee.  I added a few last minute things into the bag I was taking to the race.  And I made sure I had everything I needed in my race vest.  I took the time to do some stretching as well.  I like to do some stretching before a race because it helps calm me a bit.

Soon enough Karen arrived to pick me up.  We stopped on the way to race for coffee (for me) and tea (for her).  We made sure we had plenty of time to get there, just in case there was traffic.  As it turned out, there really wasn’t any, which meant we got to the location pretty early.  The way this race works is everyone parks where the finish line is and then you are transported by bus to your start line.  This race is a full marathon, half-marathon, and relay race.  Karen and I were both doing the half, and several other people we know were too.  One friend was supposed to do the full, but he injured himself and had to pull out.

The full marathon and relay start 2 hours before the half, which I think is a little weird.  If you think you will take over a certain amount of time for the full, there is an early start option.  There is no option for the half.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, it was finally time for us to board our bus.  As we were getting ready to get on the bus, I realized I left my belt bottle in Karen’s van.  I decided not to go back for it, thinking I’d be okay since there would be a water station about every 2 kms on the course.  We took the first one going to our start line.  Karen told me to go ahead of her, and we joked that she was going to block me from trying to run away LOL.  So we get to the start line, and we have over an hour wait until we run.  It seems like a ridiculous amount of time to wait! And all it did was give me more time to freak out.  I talked to other runners and paced around trying to keep calm, but it didn’t help that much.  I really was freaking out.  More and more runners were arriving and all that did was freak me out more!

As I was pacing around, I saw Tyler.  I didn’t know he had planned to run.  It was actually a great comfort to see him there.  We chatted for a few, and then he left to do his warm-up.  Finally it was getting closer to the time.  I checked my bag, as all the other runners were doing.  The first runners in the marathon were passing by, and everyone cheered.

The sun was mostly shining, which I was happy about, but it was very windy.  The wind made it cold.  Thankfully, I had gloves and a buff on.  I wasn’t sure if I would need to keep the gloves on throughout the race, but I was happy to have them at the start.

It was finally time to line up.  I stayed near the back, as I always do, out of respect for the faster runners.  Finally it was go time.  I was happy to finally going.  I had been going a bit crazy! All that wait time I had been questioning everything from my training to my sanity.

As I crossed the start line, I reminded myself of a few things:  This was my race, not anyone else’s.  Don’t out too fast.  No matter what, I had to cross the finish line.  Don’t worry about the time, worry about finishing.

There were a few people along the road cheering for the runners/walkers as they passed by.  I thought that was pretty cool.  There was a family with their dog, and as I went by, I said hi to them and the dog.  The dog seemed to want to join me in the race.  Everyone laughed.

The first part of the race was relatively flat.  I was totally okay with that.  I slowed to a walk at the first water station, grabbed a drink, and moved on.  The scenery was pretty.  I thought about pausing a couple of times to snap some pictures, but I never did.  As the course moved along the water, the wind really picked up.  I pulled my buff over the back of my head so my hat wouldn’t blow off.  It was mostly a head wind, which kind of sucked, but nothing I could do about it.  Slower marathon runners and relayers passed me.  We shared words of encouragement.  That’s always nice.

I paused at each water station I passed.  I was very happy they were there.  I thanked all the volunteers as I continued on.  I had to stop a couple of times to use the porta potties too.  Happy to see them there too!  I followed the fueling plan I had worked out in training, taking in a gel about every 2 kms. I made sure I had plenty of them with me, in case I needed extra.  Plus I had some chews as well.

Pretty soon, I was alone on the road.  And I knew I would be.  I was okay with that.  By most standards, I’m a slow runner, but I don’t care.  I had my music to keep me company as I was running, as I almost always do.

I continued to thank each group of volunteers I passed, and even the cops that were keeping the roads blocked for the race.  Buses continued passing me as they continued to take relay team members back and forth.

As I was going along, it seemed to me that there weren’t as many water stations as there should have been.  I figured maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the kms as much.  I didn’t really think about it too much to begin with.  But as I neared the halfway point, 2 large trucks passed me with their backs open.  One I noticed had tables in it, like the ones at the water stations.  As I neared what should have been a water station, I saw the trucks stop.  A guy got out of truck, picked up the KM sign that was ahead and put it in the truck.  I started to freak out!  I pulled out my phone and sent a text to Karen, who I knew had already finished and was waiting at the finish line.  I explained what was happening and she went to  find one of the race people.

I also sent a text to my friend Jeff, who had been sending me texts since the race started.  I told him what was going on and that I was freaking out.  He did his best to calm me down, but it was difficult.  This was my worst nightmare! I was being left alone on the course!!

This was also about the point that the hills started on the course.  I had begun walking because Karen and I were texting back and forth.

A couple of kms later, I finally came across another water station.  It was being manned by a woman and her kids.  They were really nice.  I was so happy to see them!  Two of the kids decided to walk to the end of the road with me.  I thought that was really nice.  After I had passed them, the woman closed up her water station.  She gave me a bottle of water, which I greatly appreciated.  As I continued on, a cop came by in his car to tell me that the roads had been reopened and to remind me to stay to the side of the road.  I thanked him and continued on.  A little bit farther down the road, there was a guy stacking wood in his yard.  He asked me how I was doing and I said I was fine.  He asked me if I was going to finish, and I said “Hell yeah!” He laughed.

About another km or so, the woman from the water station came by in her car.  She offered me another bottle of water.  She said all the other stations have been closed up and she wanted to make sure I had enough water.  I took the bottle and thanked her.  I told her I was very upset about the water stations, and she said she was too.  I wish I had gotten her name.

I was pretty much only walking at this point.  I was really upset and trying not to completely lose it.  I was on the shoulder of the road, and it was hard to run on the gravel and dirt.  A few times, I wasn’t even sure I was going the right way.  Karen was going her best to keep me calm too, but she knew I was having a hard time out there.

A couple of times Karen texted me to ask where I was at.  I didn’t always know, which of course freaked me out too.  I told her at one point that there was a large hill just ahead of me.  I was beginning to wonder if the road ever ended.  I was pretty angry at the race people.  I did my best to use that to keep moving.

The lady from the water station came by one more time, just to make sure I was okay.  I thanked her again.  Another lady drove by, asked if I was okay and if I wanted a ride to the finish.  I told her I was okay, and no, I needed to finish.

I had to go up another hill and the road was curving, so I hoped that meant I was getting close to the final turn onto Main Street.  As I was heading up the hill, I saw Karen walking towards me.  I was so glad to see her! At least I knew I getting closer to the finish.  At least I hoped so.

My back was feeling a little sore.  And I thought I could feel a blister on my foot.  But I wasn’t going to give up.  I knew I had slowed down quite a bit, but I didn’t care.  I was determined to finish the race.

As Karen and I walked, we talked about how the race had left me out there alone.  What really made the both of us mad was that we had talked to them the day before at packet pick up.  The guy we spoke to guaranteed me that they would not shut down the water stations as long as someone was still out there.  But that’s exactly what happened.

As we got closer to the finish, a guy came up to us.  He was from the race.  He said that they had shut everything down at the finish line, and that they would contact me about getting me my finisher medal.  I became even angrier! I asked about my backpack that I had checked.  They said they had it.  I told him I needed it, that it had my glasses in it.  He called the lady who had it.  After a couple of minutes, he came back to us.  He said that he will go meet her to get it and my medal and meet us at the finish line.  Then he left.  I swear, I could have spit nails at that point!!

Thankfully, it wasn’t too much farther to the end.  As we finally neared where the finish line should have been, a man stepped out and started clapping.  I didn’t know who he was.  Once I crossed, he came up to me.  He said he was one of the bus drivers and had been watching me all day.  He said he stayed there waiting for me.  He said “everyone deserves to have someone cheering for them at the finish line.”  I was crying.  I thanked him repeatedly.  I told him he has no idea how much that means to me.  I wish I had gotten his name.

Finally, the other guy arrived.  He gave me my backpack and my medal.  Karen took a picture of me.  The guy asked me what my finishing time was.  I told him what my running app said, and he wrote it down.  He said it would be entered into the stats.  And he once again said that one of the race directors would be in contact with me.  Karen ran to the get the car,  I slowly got in, and we drove home.  I repeatedly thanked her for coming to my rescue and helping me finish.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done — both mentally and physically.  It was not the way I had hoped the race would go.  It was not the finish I had pictured.  I missed out on the post-race food, beer, and celebrations.  I missed getting an official race photo.  I’m angry that I was lied to and abandoned on the race course.  I had plenty of chances to give up, but I didn’t.

I crossed the finish line.  And had someone there to cheer for me as I did.  And that’s what matters.

 

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2 responses to “The County Half-Marathon (2015) – race recap

  1. cigarjerry says:

    You should find that bus driver and send him cookies! Great Job Jenn!! I’m very proud of you for not giving up, and finishing what you set out to do!

  2. HOW DID I MISS THIS POST??!! I just came here after seeing your post today, about what the race coordinator said. So steamed. So happy that Karen was there for you and that there was someone clapping at the end. The race organizers ought to be ashamed of themselves. Seriously and for real. I think you should tell this story to runner’s magazines.

    That all said, you’re a freaking ROCK STAR, my friend. You DID IT!!

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