ORRRC Marathon Part Two: The Longest Half Marathon

Like I said in my earlier post, Xenia was scheduled to be my race to shine.

There’s that word again: scheduled. My plan for the spring was to drop back to the half marathon distance to focus on getting faster, without having to worry about longer mileage. Sounds smart. But it didn’t work. I was miserable. I wanted to run long forever. I’d finish the prescribed mileage and think “That’s it?”

Five weeks ago, I changed my tune. You can read about that here. That meant I had no nerves when I arrived in Xenia. None. Not one. I felt like I had forgotten something. After the race, I figured out what it was. I forgot to get nervous. What a great feeling!

I was happy to accept an invitation to carpool with a friend (Thanks Scott!), and we only had to turn back once…my phone is hard to find at 5:30am. The ride was relaxing, and I started thinking about Kate while drinking my coffee. She was running her first marathon at Xenia that day.

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And though I wasn’t nervous, I did have a plan:

I would run the first seven miles at an even pace with the group (Anne and I were running the half, and Kate would stay with Angie for the full) until the two courses split. Anne and I would finish the half, then we’d head back out to pick up Kate and Angie around mile 22, and run them to the finish. Knowing the last miles of the race would be the hardest for her, I was happy to volunteer for this task. That meant over 20 miles for Anne and I, which worked out fine with our 50k training.

Fast forward to the start. I still had that strange feeling…something is missing. I checked my supplies once more…time to go.

The neighborhood loop was nice. We did get to see Jamie, who was still recovering from injury and couldn’t run with us that day (She’s back to running as of last night!), and a few others who came to spectate. We talked with some local folks running the race, including Tylar, a guy I had met on Twitter the day prior, who was running his first half marathon. Congrats to you friend!
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Off to the bikeway…
Kate was in great spirits, and I stepped away from the group for a mile or so to think…or not think…let my mind wander. It was a great morning. It’s going to be hot. We can do this together. Back in the game.

The split came, and we said goodbye to Kate and Angie…See you at mile 22!
Anne and I took the turn, and my thoughts went to Andrea and Stuart. They couldn’t be that far behind us. I suggested that, since we didn’t care about time, when we saw them on this out-and-back section, that we turn again with them, and stay together. We did…and had a blast taking them back to downtown. No worries. No watch-glancing. Running, laughing, smiling. My kind of run.

The finish line brought tons of cheering from our group! And cookies!

A quick glance as the race clock meant Anne and I had about 40 minutes to kill before heading back out to 22. The club updated us on their finishes, and the status of those still running. Before we knew it. it was time to run…again.

With a promise to keep the crew updated, we headed for the bikeway. There was a steady stream of runners headed towards us, most of which told US we were doing a great job! Um…we’re headed the wrong way, but I’ll take it. We joked with a few, saying we couldn’t get enough, and, since the course was still open, we’d do another lap. I thought it was funny. They probably thought we were crazy.

By the time we reached mile 22, we had seen most of our friends…and it was hot! Over 70* now, which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but it was the first day with those kind of temps, and we weren’t ready for summer quite yet. What happened to spring?

The volunteer working the aid station at 22 was fantastic. He chatted us up, and was very encouraging. It helped to pass the waiting time. Anne and I had logged 18.5 miles at this point, and my stomach was starting to protest all this waiting around.

And then we saw them.

Still happy. Still running. After a quick refuel, we started the last four miles. This is the toughest point for a first-timer, and Kate was a trooper. Despite her apologies that we refused to accept, we pushed on, and she kept giving her best. With just over a mile to go, we picked up Goat and Mel, and then we neared the finish.

Four blocks…uphill. You’ve got this.
We dropped back and let Kate take the lead…and she kicked! Nice!

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Tears. Hugs. Mushy stuff.
It was a fantastic day topped off with soup and cookies, and a celebratory beer.

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Congrats to all…You did it!

And I had the best race experience to date.

And none of it was about me.

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