Friday, September 19, 2014

Half-Marathon Complete!

S and I ran the Incirlik Air Base half-marathon last Saturday.  This was the race I had been training for since giving birth to D back in May.  My goal was simply to finish, and preferably not dead last. And I am happy to report, I reached my goal!

The race started at 6:00 a.m., which meant we had to be out the door and on the road by 5:15.  Our nanny, God bless her, arrived at 5:00 a.m. to watch the boys.  I knew the turnout would be small because the air base itself is rather small.  But I did not expect it to be so small.  I didn't get a complete count, but I would estimate there were only about 30 runners out there.  And some of them were doing the relay, so therefore not running the full 13.1 miles. 

We started on time and I set off on an easy pace.  S gave me a quick peck on the cheek and then promptly left me in the dust.  But no bother, I'm used to that during races.  He and I love to train together, but when the time comes to really do your best, S goes for it.  I settled back with a few other ladies who were about the same pace as me.  One lady was this amazing Dutch woman who I swear was part camel.  As I veered into the first water station at mile 3, she kept on running, stretching the distance between us a good bit.  When she breezed right on through the second and then third water station without stopping, I knew she was going to out-run me.  I mean, seriously, who can run that far without stopping for water?  Part camel, I tell ya.  Pretty soon she was so far ahead of me that she was out of my eye line, and I don't know for sure, but I think she finished about 15 minutes ahead of me.  I out-ran the other girl who had been pacing with me, though, so that felt a bit rewarding.  

There was a turnaround at the midway point.  I saw S running toward me, a good 40 minutes ahead of me by my calculations.  Then, later on, I spotted his colleague and our dear friend, J.  I did a quick estimation in my head and figured he was about 1.5 miles ahead of me.  He had jokingly told me at the start of the race that he would be embarrassed if I beat him because "you just had a baby!"  When he passed me at the turnaround, he yelled for me to slow down because I was catching up.  I thought, there is no way I can catch up to him, he's a good 1.5 miles ahead of me.  So I just zoned out and continued to run. 

Then, with about 3.5 miles left to go, I spotted J's blue shirt in the distance.  "Wow, I've really closed the gap," I thought.  But I still wasn't sure it was him.  So, as I cruised through a water station that he had just been through, I asked. "Does that guy have on a blue shirt with George Washington on the front?"   "Yes," they replied, "And he said he's trying to beat you, so get going! Catch him!"  

So, I picked up the pace.  I could see the gap getting smaller and smaller.  He was within shouting distance, so I yelled, "I got you in my sights, J!  You better get a move on!"  He was struggling, I could tell, but he was determined to not get beat by a girl.  And a girl who had just had a baby, at that. So, he picked up his pace.  I picked up mine.  Then, we both realized we were about to throw up, so we dialed it back a bit.  

About 1 mile from the finish, I saw S walking toward me.  He had clearly finished the race and had doubled back to find me.  He stopped to taunt his buddy a bit, "Dude, my wife is right at your heels!" And then he ran with me the rest of the way to the finish.  At about the 600 yard mark, I started to pump my legs faster.  I was determined to beat J.  But of course just as I pumped it, he pumped it too. He was really moving fast and I was trying desperately to catch him.  S was coaching me, encouraging me to keep going strong.  In the end though, I did not.  I dialed it back for fear that I would puke my way across the finish line.  But what had been a good 1.5 mile/15 minute gap at the mid-way point, turned into a barely 30 second victory for J.  "Next time, I will catch you!" I shouted as I crossed the finish and saw him collapsed in exhaustion near the water table. 

My final time was 2:22:30.  It was my slowest half-marathon, but it was not as bad as I was expecting.  I was quite proud of it, actually.  The weather had a lot to do with my time, though, as it has been getting cooler here (finally) and a 6 o'clock start time meant that the sun was barely up nearly one hour into the race.  And I didn't finish last.  There were about 6 ladies running together who came in about 30 minutes behind me.  Oh, and S finished fourth.  Overall.  His time was 1:41 and some change. Damn over achiever. 

Now it is time to just focus on the joy of running without the training pressure.  Then, once we are back in the states, we may just sign up for a race in NYC while we're on home leave.  S and I used to run for New York Road Runners in Central Park, so we are itching to do another race while we're there.  We shall see!

ETA: Yes, I do realize camels really don't store water in their humps.  It's just an expression.

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