Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unofficially 2.04:36

WOOT, WOOT!  I am so excited to say that I finished the Half Marathon!!  I am so pleased with my effort and my time.  Overall I felt so happy and strong throughout the race. 

Today's race experience was just fantastic.  However, the day did not begin that way.  Unfortunately, I was up quite literally all night with a sick child.  My daughter began vomitting at 9:30 PM and proceeded throughout the night until 4 AM.  My alarm was set for 4:30 so after cleaning up the last episode I just went down stairs to get ready for the race.  I am not sure I would have gotten much sleep had she not been sick as I was pretty hyped up.  The poor girl has been lying on the couch all day, not eating much or saying much (and for those of you who know her that is quite unusual for my little Chloe bug). 

I arrived at the race site around 6 AM before the sun was up.  After getting a feel for the area, I made way for the toilets.  From the little road racing I have done in the past, I remember just how long one can stand in line to use the toilet.  I also know that when I'm nervous I just have to pee again and again. 

Then, I met up with two mates, Travis and Steve, who were also registered for the half.  Travis is the father of one of Anabella's classmates and Steve is a friend of his.  These blokes were going to begin the race with me, using me as their pacer.  Trav was concerned about starting off too fast so he figured staying with me would help (he was right!).  It was fun to have a couple of people around to chat with, stretch and start the run.  After one last visit to the potty off we went to the starting line.  And, then the rain began!  Yup, it rained throughout the entire race. 

We stayed together through the first two kilometers settling in to a 6 minute/km pace.  This felt comfortable yet a bit challenging for me.  I was feeling strong, but a bit concerned that the pace may be too fast.  I was basing that assessment on my training runs which during the long runs I typically paced around 6:30/6:40.  I decided to stay with it and told myself that I could always back off if needed.  After about 2 Km Travis had pulled away.  Steve was good enough to stay close by, checking in on me from time to time.  Steve's quite fit so I knew he could be up there with Trav or even beyond.  At around 6 Km Steve slowed down a bit to see how I was doing.  By this time I had made two friends, male marathoners, who were having a hell of a time chit-chatting away.  I started out eavesdropping and about a step or two behind.  But, after a bit I decided to get in on the fun.  The two were quite kind in letting me run with them for about 3 Km keeping that 6 minute pace.  Upon seeing that I had settled in to a nice pace and some good company Steve picked it up to join Travis up ahead.  One thing I noticed about the racers around me was that not too many of them talk.  I guess I may have broken some unspoken ettiquette because I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  I was really excited, felt great and just needed to share different observations with those around me.  I'm sure many of them were mumbling under their breaths hoping the chatty American would either pick it up or drop back. 

The course was two separate loops.  The first 10.5km took us around the national museums and other iconic buildings and old and new parliament houses.  Then we headed over the bridge crossing Lake Burley Griffin to the Commonwealth Bridge bringing us back to the start.  I got to see Travis and Steve when they headed back towards me after the completing the first 10.5km.  They were across the median (too far away to high 5) so I shouted their names and cheered them on.  I was definitely the loud mouth on the course!  Seeing them about 3 km ahead really gave me a boost.  I had to contain my pace.  I started pulling away from my marathon friends as we headed across the Kings Ave bridge.  The stretch between the two bridges was my most difficult spot.  This was through about 12-16 km.  Here I started feeling my ITB on both sides and my hips were quite tight.  Have I mentioned yet that it was pouring rain?!?  Well, it was.  The rain began just as we started the race and continued heavily throughout.  The rain was cold and making my muscles tight which I was really beginning to feel.  I relaxed my pace a bit and really focused on my stride.  Stopping for just a few sips of water at the next couple of water stations helped me get focused again.   

I was so happy when it was time to cross back over the lake on the Commonwealth Bridge.  I still had a ways to go but it was the home stretch. I got to high-five Steve and Travis just as they were getting onto the bridge.  Behind them about half a kilometer was our Ambassador and his contingency.  I heard that he was running, but this was my first sighting (16km).  I didn't want to bring attention to him so I refrained from shouting out his name or chanting USA (which was what I wanted to do).  Then, as I was making my way up to the bridge I saw my new mates, the marathoners, who cheered for me as I cheered for them.  All of this was quite motivating.  I couldn't help myself and began to pick up my pace a bit.  I was feeling strong again and able to handle the pace so I went with it.  Both my ITBs were quite tight, but nothing was going to stop me.

As I was getting to the last 3 kms of the race more runners around me were reaching out to others to give words of encouragement.  This was really nice as we approached the last stretch.  I caught up to the Ambassador at 19 km and said hello.  He shook my hand, but declined to finish the last 2 km with me. 

I felt so exhilirated coming down the last kilometer.  I was sad that my family was not there to cheer me on, but so happy that I was finishing the race.  When I crossed the line and shut my watch off I couldn't believe the time.  I immediately began thinking about where I could have shaved those 3 or 4 minutes to have finished under 2 hours!!

Travis and Steve were in the finish chute waiting for me.  They both had huge smiles on their faces as I did too.  We were all quite happy with our effort.

I was a little bummed that I was not going to have a picture of me racing since my family was not able to come watch, but then I saw the Ambassador's wife who told me that she may have gotten a picture of me finishing.  So, there may be a picture after all.  Thanks Becky!


  1. Great job, Sarah! I knew you were going to do great! I've run in the rain once and I thought it was kind of cool. Didn't think that until I was actually running in it, though. Thought I'd be miserable but it changed up the scenery a bit and really kept me focused. I love how you met friends along the way and were so excited and happy along the way. Excellent pace, too! Woo-hoo for you!!!

  2. Yahhoooo! So so happy for you and this incredible accomplishment. You did so well for your first ever half, and should be so proud of yourself. Sorry your family wasn't there to see you and hope you get that photo! :)

  3. Way to go, Sarah!! We are so proud of you! What a memory you have made for yourself - and under difficult circumstances. It sounds like you had fun along the way - sure hope there is a picture or two! Love you, Dad!