I've bee sitting here for hours trying to sting my thoughts together to form a coherent post....I don't think it's going to happen. So, I'll just do what I usually do--write to make sense of things.
I can not describe the feelings I had Saturday morning. I didn't have a goal, other than to finish the race. I was, strangely, NOT nervous at all. I got very excited, but I don't think there was a point in time when I became "nervous". I got to wear a KILLER running skirt thanks to my wonderful friend (I'll have to think of a good name for her) who also had shirts made up for everyone in our group of 13. I have never felt so stylish at a race....but this being a Women's Half, I knew that would matter so I tried harder this time to think about what I was going to wear. (Not to mention all the photo opportunities on the course!) ((In case you are wondering....the picture on the right is a continuation of a goofy tradition that I started my first race...)
I wish I had been able to strap a camera onto my hat so I could record every single thing that I saw. My Swiss-cheese memory is bad enough trying to remember a couple of things--this day was filled with things I didn't want to forget. I made the decision not to take my camera because I didn't want to have to keep up with it, but it sure would have been nice to have some pictures of my own of the actual race.
Speedy had planned to go "all out" for this race (also her first half), and she has some fantastic training under her belt from the 13.1 training group to back up her goals, so she lined up in coral three. I, on the other hand, had decided beforehand to be happy with finishing and lined up in coral four. My seasoned runner friend who loaned me the awesome skirt graciously lined up with me, even though she was slated to be in coral two. We planned to run/walk with a 5/1 interval...which we held for quite a while. At some point (I'll have to upload my Garmin data to remember when) I pulled away from my friend a little bit and then lost her. She had not run at all in two weeks, and the course was ridiculously hilly. I considered holding back a little bit, but I felt really good so when she told me I really needed to run my own race, I decided to just go ahead and run ahead.
The bad thing was she was my timer! She told me ahead of time to set my own watch in case we got separated, but I didn't. I thought I could watch the time even if I didn't have set interval alarms. I could have done that, but it was stressing me out trying to think about it, so I decided to let all that go and just run at a nice slow pace and gave myself full permission to walk at any time I felt like I needed to. I ended up running pretty much the rest of the time. I stopped once to use the bathroom (I should have waited until I really NEEDED to go instead of making a preemptive pee stop because once I was in the -nasty- port-o-let, I realized I barely had to go at all.) ...and I walked up a couple of hills (more out of fear than need).
I finished in 2:38:59, with a pace of 12:08. I came in 323rd in my age group (out of 620), and 2076th out of 3883 finishers. Speedy (who EARNED her name on this race) came in at 2:12:58, 927th overall and 208th out of 740 in her age group!! (Her pace was 10:09.)
After everyone in our group had their medals and had gotten some pictures made and had some water and bananas....the three of us (speedy, nameless friend and I) started over to our hotel room. Right at the point we had to cross over the home stretch of the course, there was an ambulance blocking part of the road. I would have been oblivious to what was going on but someone made a comment that made me look over. I won't go into details, but from what I have gathered after the fact, a woman (whose name I won't mention here because I don't want a Google search to bring up this blog with pictures of me smiling wearing my medal....) collapsed as she was going into the finish. She apparently had some known heart issues and had suffered a heart attack. Again, I won't go into details, but she passed away a short time later.
In case you're wondering, that is why the title is "bittersweet", and why I've been sitting her for so long trying to put my thoughts together. Writing hasn't really helped me process...so I'm sorry for the babble. I'll put together a real post in a couple of days....actually, knowing all the different thoughts swirling around in my noggin, most likely a series of posts.
Please, take care of yourself. Do things you love and don't live in fear....but take care of yourself. And, tell people you love them....all the time.
I love you guys...thanks for reading.