Where oh where do I even begin?! I thought a lot during the race about how I would approach writing a recap and decided to break it up into 3 components: pre-race, the first 13.1, and the second 13.1. And…no worries, I’m not going to give an exhaustive play-by-play. Nothing screams “mark all as read” in Google Reader like a lengthy race recap! Here goes…
Matt and I drove up to Allentown on Saturday, went to the (lame) expo, and headed out for my standard pre-race dinner (pizza). I was surprisingly calm, cool, and collected. A funny thing to note: Matt was flipping channels in the hotel on Saturday and he caught a quick snippet of a bad music commerical…ya know the ones where the songs scroll on the screen while the singer sings in the background? The only words Matt heard were “come visit Boston in the Springtime”. He asked me if I heard it (I didn’t…I was busy laying out all my race day clothes like a psycho). I pretty much took that as a sign that Sunday would go well and I would get that BQ. As for visiting Boston in the Springtime, we’ll see how that goes.
Race day weather was perfect, at least for early September. Overcast the entire time with just a touch of humidity. There was even a nice breeze at some points. Sorry, Mother Nature, for calling you a bitch last week.
I was all ready to go.
I wrote some mantras on my hand to keep me focused (sidenote: this was the first time I ever did this and found it very helpful during the race).
The First 13.1
My goal was to run even splits; keeping my average pace around 8:30 for the entire race. During the first 5 miles, 8:30 pace felt ridiculously easy. It has never felt that easy! I knew it was going to be a good day right then and there 🙂 But I held back knowing full well 8:30 pace would feel hard eventually. The first 5 miles were re-routed due to flooding and they were some beautiful miles. We ran on back roads in Allentown past these gorgeous houses. There were some rolling hills but nothing substantial.
Then we moved on to the towpath. It wasn’t as muddy as I though it was going to be but I couldn’t wait to get back on paved road. It was narrow so I had to dodge a few runners and I just felt like I was working a bit harder to maintain my 8:30 pace.
I passed the halfway point around 1:50-something and smiled. My half marathon PR is 1:49 (from September 2010). I can’t wait to crush that PR in November!
Splits for the first 13 miles. Pretty consistent. I was a slave to the Garmin but it worked! I was still feeling very good.
The Second 13.1
We entered another towpath in Bethlehem for an eternity. I think we stayed on that same path for 8 miles. No spectators, just you and a few runners, and lots of labored breathing. At Mile 17, negative thoughts started to creep in. I quickly ignored them and checked my “objective” legs. They felt alright, no different than my 22-miler 2 weeks ago. So why was I suddenly doubting myself? I kept looking at my hand, where I wrote “believe”. I knew I could do this. I just needed to hang in for 9 more miles. I just focused on the mile I was currently in. I didn’t worry about the future. I also took 2-10 second walk breaks. I would stop, count to 10, and then resume running. It was such a short break but it helped tremendously.
Finally, at Mile 20, we exited the towpath and climbed a hill to paved road. I checked my pace band – I had a 2 minute cushion. I decided that once I reached Mile 22 I would allow myself a 20 second walk break (I know, I was getting a little crazy here). I looked forward to that walk break like you would not believe. It was heavenly…but extremely brief. I also thought about seeing Matt, my sister, and Hawk at the finish line. I was starting to hurt but there was NO WAY I was going to let 22 miles of hard work (and a BQ) slip away. I wanted it too badly.
Mile 23 to 24 were rather interesting. I was faced with a monster hill. My pace – no lie – slowed to a 11:00 minute mile climbing that hill. I didn’t freak out because I knew I had a cushion. I just wanted to get “up and over” that damn hill. Once I reached the top I saw and equally steep downhill. Ahhhh, thank god! As you can tell from my splits below, the only time I went outside of 8:xx pace was Mile 24.
During Mile 25, I got an awesome surprise. Some of the Mains (who? what? see here) came out to cheer me on! I couldn’t believe it! I hear all these people calling my name and then I see an orange sign saying “Cams, Cams, Cams!” (a nickname). I was floored and shocked. AND, on Friday before the race, I received a gift card for a post-race pedi from the Mains. I am blessed to have such amazing and caring friends.
The last 0.2 miles were slightly uphill. At that point I knew I had the BQ in the bag and it was so surreal. Soon I spotted my sister, Matt, and Hawk on the sidelines. My sister was screaming. I may have done a fist pump or jazz hands as I approached the finish line. I’m not sure what I did but it caused the announcer to say “here comes Kristy…she looks very happy”. I crossed that finish line in 3:43:46 and was FINALLY a Boston Qualifier. I have DREAMED about this moment for years and it was finally coming true.
I immediately start to cry, or attempted to cry. I was sobbing but no tears were coming. I guess I was dehydrated. Volunteers thought something was wrong and I just kept saying over and over “I (sob) qualified (sob) for (sob) Boston”. They couldn’t understand me so I just gave them a thumbs up. These next few pictures are priceless.
Almost forgot…my split times for the second 13.1.
In addition to the awesome orange sign, the Mains also made BQ letters for me. I later asked them what would they do with the letters had I not BQ’d. They said they would have hid them from me. How great is this?!
division (F 18 to 34): 28/90
There is still a permanent smile on my face. I think it will be there for quite a while!
I cannot thank you enough for the encouraging comments, tweets, and messages. The blogging community is really incredible and I’m so happy to be a part of it.
To my family and friends…I am so lucky and fortunate. You have all been an amazing support system and I could NOT have done it without you.
Now comes the hard part…registering!