Okay, it’s been long enough. I could give you all the excuses about how busy I’ve been, but that’s boring. Let’s recap, shall we?
Like I said a million times, I threw out all goals for this race. I just wanted to have a fun weekend with my girlfriends. So I drank a lot on Thursday and Friday nights. I drank a beer on Saturday at the Nats game in DC. I woke up Sunday morning (race day) feeling pretty good.
I agreed to pace Jamie in the race and we started off in the 9-9:29 pace corral. Since 5 of the 6 of us had training cycles that were less than ideal, nobody was feeling confident about the race aside from Jamie. This year, the race went off in waves (THANK YOU NIKE!) and we were in the second wave. I asked Jamie how she was feeling and she said “great!” The worst possible thing for a pacer happened to me – my Garmin wouldn’t sync before we started!! I started syncing during the National Anthem, knowing we were in the second wave and in the 10 minutes I had before we started it didn’t work! Jamie has the same make/model Garmin and hers worked fine, but I didn’t want her to look at her watch too much. She even turned off the mile beeps because she didn’t want to overanalyze her data. It was supposed to be my job to watch the time and keep us on pace! Luckily I synced about 30 seconds after we started and estimated about .05 miles in. Looks like I was going to be doing math during the race! (It brought me back to my middle/high school years where I would do math based on my splits from my stopwatch) Another note – we started exactly 7 minutes after the first wave, so my watch would be about 7:30 off from the official race clocks we would see on the course.
Sarah, Traci, Jamie and I all started off together and I literally just felt like I was enjoying the day running around some monuments with 15,000 friends. I decided to take photos throughout the race and document my good time. Sarah took off about a half a mile in and we lost Traci around the one mile mark.
(Side note – mile 13 of the 2013 race was mile 1 for this year. Again… THANK YOU NIKE! Running by the Capitol was awesome and I didn’t feel like death like when I ran by it last year)
Jamie and I were running about an 8:30 pace, giving us plenty of wiggle room for a sub-2 (close to a 9 minute pace) Around mile 2-3 my shin started feeling a little sore. I thought “well this is going to be a long race!” but then it went away and I didn’t hurt the rest of the time.
I kept taking photos and let Jamie run at her own pace. She looked great and didn’t feel tired at all so I didn’t try to reel her in. (I by no means have pacing experience, but I like to stand by the fact that running on feel is not a terrible thing!)
As you can see from all these photos, we were surrounded by LOTS of people throughout the entire race. Now think about if we hadn’t gone off in different waves… it would’ve been SUPER congested.
This was an out and back portion so I was looking for Traci and Sarah on the opposite side but never saw them. Oh well. On the back portion we were close to the halfway point and I yelled out “halfway!” to Jamie and asked how she felt. She said she still felt good. At the halfway point the race clock said 1:05 or something like that so we had a couple minutes of wiggle room as long as we stayed on pace!
Also of note, Jamie and I both took in fuel for the first time here. Going into the race, I wanted to take in fuel at miles 4, 7, and 10 but we both had a heavier breakfast than intended. My stomach did not want to think about fuel at mile 4. I made myself take one at the halfway point because I knew it would come back to bite me later. I took one Clif ShotBlok and got a small cramp but otherwise felt rejuvenated. That was all the fuel I took throughout the race, whoops. Need to work on that…
The back half of the course is by far the toughest part. You run next to the Potomac River for close to FOUR MILES. There’s not too much race support there and frankly… it’s boring.
Nike placed one band right before we started on this section which definitely helped!
Gorgeous… yes. But monotonous! Jamie started to slow down at this part and I tried to keep her motivated. I was doing the math in my head and we were still on target. She was in the zone and never stopped. We walked through three aid stations and I think that really helped both of us.
My mom texted me while we were close to mile 10 and I told her I was pacing Jamie to a sub-2. Nike had an AWESOME tracking system where our “fans” could actually watch a dot with our name on it every step of the way. It also showed our splits and pace. From then on my mom was texting me splits and saying “2 miles to go!” and so forth.
Finally around mile 10 we popped back out on the main road. During mile 10, Nike adopted the “chocolate mile” that they do for NWM SF. I tried to grab two on my way for Jamie and myself but failed. Luckily there were several other chocolate stops along the way and after many tries I finally got one for her!
Mile 11 is where you run back through the tunnel. Inside the tunnel are drummers and a big glow-in-the-dark “we run” Nike sign. They also took the wall that we all wrote on at the expotique and placed it in this tunnel, which was really cool!
Selfie attempt! Jamie and I in the tunnel.
After exiting the tunnel we saw these really cool signs that were supposed to motivate you. Nike adopted a cool system where your bib had a tracker on it attached to your name. When you crossed the specific point, your name would pop up on these screens. I missed both mine and Jamie’s, but still got the photo because it was cool 🙂
Finally, we had a small hill to run up and about a mile to go. I told Jamie to look down and ahead and focus on pumping her arms. We were almost there! (We had to keep our exact pace to get in under 2 hours at this point!)
The last mile I spent pushing Jamie and doing math in my head. Knowing that we didn’t run exact tangents was starting to worry me. She didn’t want water at the last aid station so I told her let’s go! I didn’t want to fail! We turned the corner around mile 13 and saw the finish line. We had to kick now!
(The girl in front of us had 4 friends join her and they held hands across the finish line. Kind of annoying, but oh well!)
Here’s Eric’s photo of us finishing! He was apparently yelling his head off trying to get us to look but I was yelling at Jamie haha.
But SHE DID IT! We crossed and the clock said 2:06 and my mom texted saying our official time was 1:59:23! I showed the text to Jamie and we screamed and hugged and I picked her up! We were SO excited and I was SO proud of her! Honestly, she could’ve done it alone but I was so happy to have been a small part in her success. This was a 4 minute PR and her 5th half marathon. She ran a half TWO WEEKS prior and ran a 2:16 with a friend on a VERY hilly course!
Afterwards she told me she didn’t think she could do it again but I told her I knew she could. She looked great the whole time and definitely earned it herself.
All in all, the day couldn’t have been better. I was just happy to have run the entire race and not feel much pain. Even though the time is 9 minutes off my PR, I felt even more satisfied helping a friend reach her goal. If I could, I would do it all over again!
Finally the rest of the finishers in our group:
Traci and Sarah finished around 1:52-1:53ish and Kelly and Erin finished their first half marathons in 2:30ish. An amazing fact? Kelly and Erin didn’t run more than SIX MILES in their training and neither one of them claim to be runners. In fact, Kelly was a volleyball player and Erin was a basketball player. Talk about some rockstars!! This is how they felt about it:
We made cool shirts for the race… well at least we felt cool 🙂
So happy he was able to come again! Fun side note – he went up to New York with his brother so we could have a girls weekend! They took the 3am train from NY to DC to see us start at 7am!
And finally… the only official race photo and I’m caught texting! Whoops. I guess it’s fitting though! 🙂