Alright! Four days later and finally a chance to sit down and process Sunday's big race! I've just finished my lunch here at Panera, asking myself why I had to order the soup in a bread bowl. You know, when there's like nobody in line and they're just waiting on you? Well, I tend to get ordering anxiety and just ask for whatever happens to look good at first glance. Not only was it just entirely too much bread, but somehow I managed to spill a spoonful of black bean soup all over myself trying to eat the thing. Nice.
Switching gears. Sunday. 10-10-10. I first heard about the WWFoR on The Runner's Round Table podcast, and was kind of confused about the whole thing. After checking out the website, I began to get the feel of what this race was all about. "Think global. Run local." Very cool. It's not every day you get to run a race with people from around the world. Plus, I was really intrigued with the idea of seeing photos of where all these people run. At the time, my husband Tom and I were training for our first half marathon- the Philadelphia Rock N' Roll in September. So we decided, "Hey let's do the World Wide Half in October, too." This will be the first race where we stick together for the whole thing. Tom and I always train together, but on race day, he's wayyyy ahead of me.
Tom mapped out our run (mapmyrun.com) to cover ground that, for the most part, we had never really gone over before. We left the car at Swartswood State Park, where we've actually run a 5K or two several years ago. The temperature was nice and cool and the sky was perfectly clear. We took a bunch of pictures before heading to the 'starting line,' and planned to come back later for a picnic by the lake when we returned to pick up the car. The course would take us 13.1 back to our home neighborhood.
We synced our iPods to listen to Phedippidations "As the World Cheers" together at the start. Being cheered on from both new and familiar voices was so incredibly amazing! It pushed us forward, encouraged us, entertained and inspired us and made us laugh. Though, somebody called back with a joke, something about a comedian? Tom and I just looked at each other and shrugged. Haha..maybe we missed something. I really enjoyed the music- Black Lab and the special running song at the beginning..hehe. Chris Russel's entry on the Mid-Packers was awesome. Oh, and whoever said to give the next car a goofy thumbs up- I so did.
Our course through Sussex County was beautiful. We passed lakes, hills, horse farms and just amazing fall-foliage mountain views. The first, and only, other half marathon we've run was pretty much flat the entire way. This course was not, but we've done the distance before, and we weren't really pressuring ourselves for any particular finish time. We ran the entire thing, though, and only stopped to give a couple drivers directions.
We really enjoyed ourselves, but there are a few things I've taken away to learn from. Somewhere, probably about five miles in, I felt blisters coming on. I've discovered they're only a problem on the inside of my left foot, and only when I run hills. First half marathon- no blisters, but then I can run 5 miles on a hilly road and have several of them. Maybe this is a shoe issue? Or running form? I have no idea, but wow are they painful to run on. Then there was the thigh chafing..oh my gosh. Again, sometimes it's a problem and sometimes not, even in the same shorts. It has seriously never been this bad. I just had to keep my mind outside the pain. Going to have to get some other kind of shorts or try some anti-chafing products. Actually, yesterday I tried something from the last race goody bag.. it kind of helped. Probably not so affective since my skin is still recovering from Sunday.
It didn't really occur to us till the morning of the race that we would need to bring our own water or sports drink with us. We typically never feel the need to bring anything, and for our longest run yet we had just taken water and Cytomax from the aid stations. Tom decided to wear a shoulder bag type back pack and said it was comfortable the entire time. We packed a bottle of water and a bottle of fruit punch flavored Cytomax, which was another goody bag sample. The lemon-lime flavored Cytomax was great in Philly, so we didn't think twice about the fruit punch. I asked Tom to pass me a drink around mile 6 and took a big swig. How do I describe this? All I can say is that for the next quarter of a mile I was seriously questioning whether that was laundry detergent I mixed with water or if it was, in fact, a sports drink. I asked Tom, "Why does it taste like flowers????" And the taste stays with you for a bit as if you were drinking perfume. Needless to say, I stuck with water the rest of the way..
Most of our run was on the road, but around mile 10 or 11, we headed into the Sussex Branch Rail Trails. We run here all the time, but not typically 10 miles into a run. The change of scenery was nice, but with the blister and chafing pain, my legs were not at their best. I felt a little lazy and actually tripped and fell once. Gotta pick up your feet a little more on the trails! We exited the trail, back onto the road probably less than a quarter mile from our finishing line, but Tom had the course take us like half a mile or so the other way first before we turned around. Then it was a mile from the middle school to the post office- our blessed finish line, which we crossed at 2:24:36 (1 minute and 28 seconds longer than my first half marathon- not bad, considering the hills!)
From the post office, we walked all the way up the hill to our home. So many times I have walked up this hill, cooling down after a run, while beating myself up at how out of shape I've let myself become or just asking myself, "when does a person start to enjoy running?" All the while my husband has encouraged me," You look great" or "You just ran 3 miles. Not everyone can do that, you know." It's so neat to look back and see how far you've come.
By the time we got back to the house, the exhaustion set in. We were totally beat. I looked in the mirror and told Tom, "Wow, I look like death." Never has a shower and a nap been so refreshing. Then after waking up, I discovered the sunburn! October in northern New Jersey, and I got a sunburn. Unbelievable. Everything is a learning experience.
So, Branchville, this is where I trained for my first 5k over 5 years ago, and now, on the same stretch of road, I've finished my second half marathon with my husband and hundreds of other runners around the globe! What a thrill! I've enjoyed so much looking at all the pictures that have been posted. Thanks to all of the entrants for their encouragement and thanks to Steve Runner and all you other running podcasters that have done so much to bring us together. Already looking forward to next year!