All week I debated on what to do for the Bentonville Half Marathon. I have done this race every year and I didn't want to miss a year. The race had posted photos of the race medal and it was huge...and you know I love bling! Around Wednesday I decided that I was doing the race for sure. I talked it over with friends and debated on what strategy to use for the race. One 8-miler in the 8 weeks leading up to a half marathon isn't exactly the best training plan.
Race morning dawned and the temps were perfect for running in the mid-50's. I got a text during the night from my friend Mike Rush who was the race director requesting tutu assistance. My first order of business on race morning was delivering a tutu to him at the finish line.
|I'm lucky to call this crazy man my friend and running coach!|
This task threw off my plans for meeting with my friends. I headed to the porta potty line and then set about trying to find them. I wandered around the start line looking for them and should have known that they would be running late! I ran into my sister and her running group and wished them good luck. Finally I found my friends and we had just a few minutes to snap a picture before the crowd started moving forward with the starting gun.
|Cathy, me, Rhonda, and Maja|
We wished each other luck and split up based on our paces. Rhonda and I were together and talking about our friend Renee who we couldn't find before the start. All of sudden she ran up behind us and found us, said hi and then dropped back to her pace! The first 1/2 mile of the course is a sight to see...the crowd of runners is just amazing for our small town. There were over 2500 runners signed up for the race!
Before we knew it we had passed the first mile marker. My foot was feeling fine and we were just taking things easy. Near the church between mile 1 and 2 we watched the crowd ahead part and move to the side. One of the runners had fallen and was having a seizure. It was a very scary sight but the runners around were providing him with emergency assistance as best they could. (The runner was taken to the hospital and ended up okay just really scraped up from the fall.) One runner was on her phone calling 911 as we passed and I was thankful that I was running with my phone too. You just never know what will happen in a race and I will be ordering a new RoadID after this.
Rhonda and I talked about the incident for a minute and then began a set of rolling hills over the next 1/2 mile. We talked with some other runners around us and encouraged them that soon we would be in the flat section of the course. At this point in the race, everyone was in good spirits! The next few miles were very uneventful and we just kept trucking along until just before mile 5. We were passing by our office building and it was a flat section of road and I naturally picked up the pace. Rhonda called me out on my little giddy up moment! We were expecting to see her boyfriend around mile 5 and our race partnership split up there. We thought we saw his car pulling into a lot that we had just passed so she wanted to stop and let him know we were passed that point. Turns out it wasn't him and he was in a different spot from the previous year.
I was sad to be without my running buddy so I started to make new friends along the route. I became that super annoying girl in the race talking to everyone. I was so nervous that my legs would fall apart on me so talking to other people helped me focus outward and not on myself and lack of training. I talked to several first timers, complimented another runner on their Balega socks, chatted with a fellow Rush Runner's mom, high fived the race volunteer coordinator Mark, and just had fun running along. I didn't pay much attention to my watch or my pace. I was running by feel and running strong for as long as I could.
Around mile 7 we passed by the local cemetery and I swear they were playing Thriller. They also had some funny signs up advertising plots available...yes runners have a sick sense of humor! I kept chatting with those around me and before I knew it was near mile 8. I got the biggest blast from my friend Kyla who was working a water stop there. It was so much fun to have my own personal cheerleader! It was just the thing I needed since I was entering uncharted territory from mile 8 on. It had been over 2 months since I had run more than 8 miles and I had to trust my heart to make it through the next 5 miles.
|I called out to Mark before he realized it was me so this was a very fast response photo! \|
I was still smiling even though this was near mile 9.5.
I reminded myself several times to Run with Heart...that was my motto over the last few miles. This race was about heart for me...I knew it wouldn't be fast but I knew I could do it. My goal was to go as far as I could before exploding and then trust my stubbornness to carry me over the finish line. I passed by mile 9 and I still felt good. I ran through the PowerBar zone and mile 10 and still felt good. The inclines started and my pace slowed slightly but I still felt okay. I told myself that I had to run to see my friends at mile 11 and 11.8 water stops. I cheered for the band along the trail and joked with some of the other runners near me about who was whose rabbit. I got a huge kick running through the F5 water stop and kept telling myself to run with heart.
|Photo by Podium Images|
I hit the base of Crystal Bridges hill and my pace slowed considerably BUT I kept running. I'm going to own that hill this year...it's my goal for 2013! I took my only walk break after that hill and walked about .15 until I got my head back into the game. Other than walking through water stops this was my only walk break on the course. I caught up to a co-worker running her first half marathon and chatted with her for a bit. There is a second sneaky hill at the top of the trail system and I put my head down and tackled it before making the turn to finish the race.
|In these photos, I had no clue that Mark was at the finish taking them. And he couldn't get a clear shot because this lady in front of me thought he was an official photographer for the race.|
I couldn't believe that I had made it through the race without exploding. Bentonville knows how to put on a finish. I felt like a Tour de France cyclist as I was running through a tunnel of people cheering in the street. Mike Rush was yelling out my name and I was running as fast as I could to pass those last few people possible. It hurt but it was worth it! My finish time was 2:24:23 which turned out to be my best time on the Bentonville Half course.
I walked back down the finish chute to watch for Rhonda to finish. As soon as I stopped moving and stopped to cheer my legs seized up and my calves got really cramped. It was painful and had me worried. I drank some Gatorade recovery shake and did some toe touches and that seemed to help. After all my friends had finished, we grouped up for a photo and then enjoyed the rest of the race festivities. Everyone had great runs and did really well.
Photos from Rhonda's sweety Mark Frentz and PodiumImages.com