When I started running a little over a year ago, I had no idea where my feet would take me. A half marathon may as well have been a walk on the moon. But like most things, running is progressive. I ran my first 5K one year ago today. During the past year, I've run several races ranging from 5Ks to 10Ks. And if you're a follower, then you've read about most of them. You've read about how the nerves show up and I have to talk myself through these things just to get to the start line. Knowing this, why on earth would I run a half marathon, you may wonder. Well, I can't explain it. Something just gets inside you and you can't be satisfied until you do this gargantuan thing. So, I signed up with the Grand Strand Running Club's half marathon training program. The coaches promised they would get us there. Honestly, I had my doubts. We began in July and ran through the hot summer. There were sweltering days, humid days, painful days and then there were awesome days. And lo and behold, the coaches followed through on their promises. Before long, I was running double digits. I can't tell you the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt the day I ran 10 miles.
And then today, I did it! I ran my first half marathon! It was the Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge 13.1. Same place that I ran my first 5K last year. It was awesome! I had all sorts of emotions. I never really got nervous, but the gut is on a different plane than my brain....so of course, the gut acted out this morning a couple of times. I knew you were wondering about that. So I figured I might as well get it out of the way. But as always, when I stepped foot at the starting line, all was well....not to mention I had many friends running the race today and we just had a good ole time before it began and at the end.
That's me under the Start sign....the pre-run pose.
My friends and me...L to R: Cammie, Me, Elizabeth, Sue
Here we are chatting it up before the start.
Notice in the background the remnants of the buildings that caught fire a couple of weeks ago.
Oh and the smoke in the background...that's the paper mill.
Remember, there was a huge fire on Front Street a couple of weeks ago. You can read my post about it here. It was so sad to see the rubble still there as we lined up at the start. But like most tragedies, people and communities pull together to help fellow brothers and sisters in their time of need. Money was being raised at the race to help those affected by the fire. Not only was the fire a tragedy for Georgetown, but the Bridge 2 Bridge Race had some sadness as well. Last year's overall female winner, Misty White, who by the way is also a member of the Grand Strand Running Club, was hit by a car a little over a week ago as she was training to come back to Georgetown to defend her title. She sustained multiple injuries....many broken bones and some internal bleeding. She is extremely lucky or I believe blessed, to still be alive. Although she still has a long road ahead of her, she is healing now. And in similar fashion, money was being raised at the race today to help offset Misty's medical expenses and any other expense she may incur on her road to recovery. It is truly awesome how Georgetown and the running communities come together for their own.
Now on to the fun stuff.
We began promptly at 7:30 a.m. in the beautiful picturesque town of Georgetown, SC. The start was at the Town Clock. We ran down tree lined streets that opened up to East Bay Park. Running around the park you could see Winyah Bay in the distance and two of the three bridges that we would run today. Advancing on towards the bridges, I was feeling good. I settled into my pace pretty quickly. Down the road a little ways, I met my husband Cliff at a corner near the bridges taking pictures. He was on his mountain bike and tracked me like a hound. He was all over the city....at every corner....grinning like a Cheshire cat and snapping that camera. He had help. Our friend Tom brought his bike, too. Tom was tracking his wife and our friend, Cammie. This was just so cool to see them out there supporting and cheering us on. I got many encouraging words and then some words like "speed up, go fast or pick up your pace". I nearly wanted to smack the daylights out of Cliff, when he told me that. But if you know him, then you know that's just how he rolls. It was pretty cool that he followed me all over Georgetown. I really did feel special....
Running down the tree lined streets of Georgetown.
I high fived my friends Cammie, Sue, Tim and Robert (the ones that run way faster than me) as we passed on the bridges. I made it over both bridges, did a turn around and if that wasn't enough, had to run back over the same two bridges again. Oh but wait, it gets better later in the run. There's a monster, a beast and it's called the Sampit River Bridge.
Running back across the first bridge. The Georgetown Marina in the background. Beautiful!
Back to the story.....I took my first gel, Espresso Love, at mile 4. Well then...good Lord...that cup of coffee I had this morning started speaking up. P.P. visit! Yuck! Cliff has pictures.
Now, I just want you to know what I'm dealing with here, ok.
Cliff posted this to Facebook, "Law breaking woman!! I swear, right in front of the No P'ing sign!!"
HaHa! Yeah, he's slightly retarded but, I love him anyway!Next, it was on to Prince Street.....my favorite part of the race. It is beautiful with a capital B. Hundred year old homes and oak lined streets...the whole way. I was tempted to just stay there and run back and forth until I reached the 13.1 miles. But, decided that I might miss out on something further down the road. And sure enough, I would have missed an old friend, Mona, at the next water station. I was now at mile 8 and Mona's cup of water and my next Espresso Love was just what I needed before summiting the Beast. It was coming sooner than later. I rounded the corner and there it was. Gah, it looked awful! Treacherous! Steep!!! Looked like I was going to go vertical for a while. And that's just what it felt like, too. Bridge number three was a monster. I met Cammie and Sue coming back over the bridge and they were running a little slower and looked a little like....'OMG, it's a beast!' Uh oh, then that means I'm in for it. Anyway, made it up and over and never walked, I might add. Then came the badlands. The subdivision from....well, you know where. It may have been called a subdivision, but it was barren. No houses, nothing. Just orange cone after orange cone. Finally, I saw a water station and tried to get this cute little girl to trade places with me and y'all, she looked at me like I was completely crazy. I mean what's up with that? Oh well, I journeyed on and on and on. Finally, my Garmin buzzed and said I was at 10 miles, but I didn't see the 10 mile sign. I kept looking and still no sign. What the heck? Did I go the wrong way? Oh....someone is going to be in trouble for this! But then, the 10 mile sign showed up. Either my Garmin was off or someone moved that danged sign. But never-the-less, I had made it to 10 miles. Only 3.1 one to go. Woo Hoo! I could smell victory! Or was that the paper mill? EEWWWah!
Mile 11 came quickly and then guess what? I had to go back over the Beast, again! At this point, I was alone. Well, wait a minute.... I was alone for most of the race. I'm granny slow. Anyway, I had decided that if I needed to walk, I was saving it for the bridge. I tried to walk, but it felt awful. Can't explain that one. It felt better to run it. So, I did.
Now, when you're running for over two hours and mostly alone, you have time to really think about things, like...where your running journey began, all the hard work you put into it and now almost reaching the pinnacle and receiving the coveted 13.1 sticker for my car and a nice bling, bling medal for my neck. And if you're me.....you get a little emotional. I have to confess, I cried a little going up the back side of the Beast. I couldn't believe how blessed I am to be able to run a half marathon. But knowing Cliff would probably be on the other side with camera in hand, I dried up the tears and took in the view of the Sampit River and Front St. just beyond. It was a sight to behold. When I got to the top, I saw a bike coming up the bridge. It wasn't Cliff, but Tom. He came with words of encouragement and offering water or gels. I asked where Cliff was and he said, "Waiting on you at the finish. He has a surprise and company." Hmmmm, with this man...there is no telling what he's up to, but I had a sneaky feeling I knew what it was. So, Tom phones Cliff and tells him that I'm about to take the turn for the finish line. OMG, I can not describe the feeling I had when I saw it! Running towards the finish, I saw a lady off to the side taking a picture. She looked familiar and I may have shouted, "Is that my sister?" Yes, it was! It was my baby sister, Mandy. I thought that might be part of the surprise. I was right. And I was thinking, where there's one, there's two. Still heading for the finish, I saw my friends start running towards me. Cammie just came straight down the middle of the street while Sue and Tim were off to the side, but seeing them all was a welcoming sight. I knew I had it in the bag then! Oh and yes, where there's one, there are two....another of my sisters, Carla, was also waiting at the finish line. I can't say I was surprised....I sort of knew they would be there. You know....it's that sister kind of thing.
Crossing the Finish!
Cliff, Roses and my bling, bling Medal.
There it was....the finish line. I picked up my pace and ran as fast as my tired 13-mile legs would carry me. I crossed the finish and headed straight into the arms of Cliff...waiting there for me with a big ole hug and roses. And get this, I may or may not be on the news tonight because there was a t.v. camera recording everything.....my finish, Cliff's hug and the flowers and me asking....."Did I cross the finish line?"
Lastly, one of the sweet little volunteers took my timing chip and hung that glorious medal around my neck.
It was official.
I'm A Half Marathon Runner !!!!
I could end this here, but I just need to say how much I appreciate everyone's support and help along the way. Words can't come close to telling the tale. I made it! And I live to run another day!
My accomplishment today was Powerful. Sharing it with my family and friends.......Priceless!
I'll be back soon...Gotta little resting to do,