On Saturday, October 15th, I participated in the 6th annual Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. This was my second half marathon, so although I felt a little bit less nervous, it was still a lot different from my first. Biggest difference: weather! My last half was hot, and this one was cold and windy. This of course caused me to panic over my outfit, and apparently I didn’t learn after my last 5k that cotton is horrible.
This was my first race that I went to alone, and it was kind of sad. I felt a bit down during the week before because I knew I wasn’t going to have anyone there to see me off. Luke was out of town for work, and a couple other loved ones were unsure they could make it until the last minute, which they couldn’t. I woke up early, ate, geared up, and headed to the Lernerville Speedway an hour away from home.
Everyone was directed to park at the speedway, pick up numbers, and be shuttled to the race start. I decided to hit the port-a-potty at the speedway, and then hit another up at the starting line. I always try to go as close to the starting time as possible, because as soon as you skip the bathroom line, you WILL have to use it. It never fails.
Standing in the wind on top of the hill, I bumped into a former coworker. I knew he was a runner but I wasn’t expecting to see him! It was great to see him and say hello. He’s hardcore – 36 years my senior and he finished the half a full forty-five minutes faster than me. Badass! I also saw a current coworker who finished in just over two hours. I’m always so impressed with people faster than me, because I feel like I always struggle just to run my slow pace.
The weather almost promised cold & windy rain, and I had no rain gear. Lucky for me, the rain stayed away, and the wind died down once we got moving. The race started at the top of a hill, up and down a few rolling hills, and then onto the Butler-Freeport Community Trail. I had on a t-shirt and the same style of pullover from the Run Shadyside 5k, because apparently I don’t learn from my mistakes. Actually, since I had no rain gear at that point, I figured long sleeves soaking wet would be better than nothing soaking wet.
By the time we hit mile 1, I was too hot in my pullover. My race bib was of course pinned to my outer layer, but I didn’t want to stop and lose all the time required to re-pin it to my t-shirt. Next time I wear layers, I definitely need to pin my bib to my pants in the event that I need to shed that top layer. At the finish line, they were awesomely announcing people’s names as they crossed – and they were using the bib numbers as reference. Mine was hidden. D’oh.
I went into this race thinking a sub-2:30 time was possible, because the course was described as fast and downhill. Unfortunately, I was not expecting the few small hills at the beginning on the roads, so I took them too fast. Also, the trail itself really didn’t look or feel downhill very much at all. In fact, I remember comparing it to the trail I usually train on, and realized just how much more of an uphill grade the race was than the up-hilliest part of my training trail. Arg.
As usual the crowd thinned out around me quickly and I was running alone, with a few folks up ahead and behind. I felt pretty good through the halfway point, at which time the trail really seemed to gain more of an uphill grade. I was feeling the burn for sure.
I finally made it to the 12 mile marker, at which there was a water station with volunteers cheering us on. I knew up ahead there was a SERIOUS hill to climb, as the trail was under construction and we had to get up to the roadway in order to reach the finish line. I definitely walked that hill because it was like this: /
Since I was in the home stretch I tried to give it my all, but I was beat. My last mile was pretty slow but not my slowest, and I was just ready to finish. I was looking all around for my friend Meghan, but unfortunately with all the road closures she couldn’t get near the finish line. I was totally unfamiliar with the area so I had no idea where to tell her to park. I felt bad but fortunately we were able to meet up afterwards.
Coming towards the finish line, I saw the clock and saw that I had not made my goal time of 2:30 or under, but again, I did get a new half-marathon PR: 2:33:15. Pretty close! I knew there was going to be a photographer, so I was trying to smile as I ran towards the finish. Unfortunately they captured this.
Why is my face doing that? Gravity, you dirty whore. Whatever, I wore my awesome and motivational “Make yourself” t-shirt. I made myself train and complete my second half marathon. I made myself run when I wanted to walk, and run when I realized I was walking and I didn’t need to be. I made myself wake up early on countless Saturdays to train, skipped countless crappy (delicious) foods (even though my face doesn’t show it), and cancelled social plans all in order to be ready to run 13.1 miles.