Let's start off by saying that Saturday's weather = TERRIBLE.
I woke up to the sound of rain at 5:30am. I knew I was in trouble. I wished at that moment (for a split second) that I would be okay being a quitter.
So I dressed, made my breakfast (toast, peanut butter, with a banana sliced on top) and got ready to leave.
Only, I wanted my running gloves. And I couldn't find them ANYWHERE. So I opted to grab hand warmers instead. Note to future race self: if it's scheduled to rain, find your gloves the night before.
I left the house, only to realize I left my garmin watch at home. UGH. So I turned back around because no runner can run without knowing their pace....right?
I arrived at Thanksgiving Point in plenty of time. Honestly, I loved that I lived so close to this race. It let me sleep in a little longer than most races. I arrived at 6:30am (start time was 7:00am). I sat in my car for about 15 min, gaining the courage to open the door to the wind and rain.
Here I am pre-race. Can you tell how excited I was about Mother Nature's little trick? I had a space blanket to wrap up in, but honestly...I wished I would have had a poncho. Or a garbage bag. I was really, really dumb. By the time I got to the start line (yes, the STARTING line) I was soaked. I knew from there that it was going to be a long few hours.
As the race started, they warned us about hypothermia. Yes, it was that chilly and wet.
As the gun went off, I started my music and tried to get lost in in. The first mile I felt good. Real good. My legs felt great. Actually the first 3 miles were great. I kept a good, steady pace. There was a little bit of a climb, but nothing too bad.
By the time we hit 4 or 5 miles in, we were in the Thanksgiving Point gardens. This was the point of the race I was excited about. This was actually why I opted to do this race. I had never been to the Tulip Festival but have seen pictures and heard it was beautiful and amazing. We were able to wind all through the gardens on our run, seeing beautiful tulips like these:
The gardens are beautiful, and on a sunny day I probably would have enjoyed them even more.
I remember passing the huge waterfalls as we were getting ready to leave the gardens. They were so pretty...this picture does them no justice.
As we left the gardens, we entered
hell the golf course.
I read some other race recaps for previous years before this race. All of the posts I read mentioned the terrible hills along the golf course. I thought they were over exaggerating. I thought they couldn't be THAT BAD.
Miles 7-9 I hated. Like full on cursing 4 letter words under my breath (and some 5 lettered ones too). If you don't believe me, go golf Thanksgiving Point and imagine running a half marathon up those ridiculous hills! And then imagine doing it in the POURING RAIN!
By this point in the race, I was over it. I was so cold. I was soaked to the bone. There was running water coming down the hills, forming puddles at the bottom. Yikes.
Hey. On the positive side, several volunteers decided that I won the wet t-shirt contest. All I kept thinking was thank goodness I wore my black sports bra. Yikes, that could have been embarrassing...
At one point in the race, it was raining so hard that I tried to wear my glasses just so I could keep my eyes open. Even that didn't work, the glasses kept fogging up.
Mile 8 was probably my most mentally difficult mile. The hills were stupid. I hated the weather. I could see the other runners passing back on the golf course, headed to the finish line. Blah.
At mile 10, my phone shut off. Completely. I lost all music and Nike+ and Runkeeper tracking. I was bugged. I knew it wasn't dead. But it had gotten so wet that it powered off. So the last 3 miles I spent music-less, in the pouring rain.
At mile 11 I could hear the finish line announcer. They were congratulating and awarding prizes to the ridiculously fast runners. I hated them. But I kept pushing.
My last mile, I have to say I was most proud of myself. I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk. But I didn't. In fact, I kicked it into high gear and it ended up being my 2nd best split time. I was passing people left and right. (Okay, not left and right....but I passed probably 5 people.) By the time I turned to go into the chute I knew I was done. I knew a hot bath awaited me!
As I was running that last little bit, I got a little choked up. I can think of 2 races where I've actually gotten choked up. But I got all teary in this one. As I reflected how terrible the weather was it reminded me of the marathon I did before (because the weather was of equal crappiness in both races). I was proud of myself. I was proud that I showed up for the Tulip Half in the crummy weather (many didn't!). I was proud that I put one foot in front of another and finished! I knew at that moment that the long journey I have ahead to lose all this weight would be one I could do because I DO HARD THINGS!
(I crossed the finish line in just under 3 hours...2:56:54 is what my Garmin had me at and 2:59:06 is what the race chip had me at...I stopped a few times taking pictures so I'm going with my Garmin pace. I originally hoped to be closer to the 2:45:00 mark. And honestly, had it not been raining....and if there weren't those nasty hills I think I would have been pretty close to that pace.)
Originally Jason was planning to bring the kids to the finish line, and my mom had always been planning to come. I knew this race would be slow for me even in the best conditions. My pace just hasn't gotten back to what it used to be yet. Then, when I saw it was going to be raining, I told Jason to keep the kids at home. There was no sense in having them soaking wet. And I told my mom to not worry about driving down either.
Well, my mom didn't listen. And as I got close to crossing the finish line, I saw her with her camera. (In her heavy coat, I might add...) Thanks Mom! As much as I told you to stay at home warm, I really loved having you there to support me.
So if this post wasn't long enough already....here are the good and the bad from the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Half Marathon:
- clearly the rain! and the cold!
- And the hills!!
- not having a hat to keep the rain out of my face
- not having a long sleeved running shirt! (You'll notice I had a long sleeved shirt, but it was cotton. And it held all the water in. All my long sleeved running shirts were too tight and I wouldn't have been comfortable running in them. Only, I didn't realize this until late Friday night. So I ran, looking ridiculous in my soaked...and HEAVY...shirt.)
- The tulips were beautiful
- The volunteers out on the course were energetic (even the little kids that had to be no older than 8 or 9 who were soaked!)
- The oranges!! I can't say enough about the orange slices! They had them at several aid stations and I was in heaven! Every race director should have oranges along the course!
- The finish line food!!! This race knew how to make a girl happy when she's soaking wet after the race. They had chocolate milk, bagels, bread with jam, ice cream sandwiches (LOTS of those left...HA!), and cookies. Ohhhhh, the cookies! I was impressed because typically when I've ran a race at a slow pace, usually they have packed up all the food (or ran out!). I was SO impressed with how much they had available to me. Take note again, any future race directors! Even the slow runners need food at the end. So thank you to the volunteers who could have easily packed up in the rain and headed home. Thank you for waiting it out, even for the runners who came in an hour after me! It almost makes me want to run this race again. Almost.
- The medal:
I LOVED the medal they hung around my neck! The tulip is so cute. And what I loved even more: The fact that they had different medals for the different races. (There was a 5k and a kids run this same day.) I've seen other races hand out the same medal to all participants. But Thanksgiving Point made sure to have a medal just for the half-ers. (Another tip race directors should learn from!)
All in all, I'm glad I ran this race. (And I'm even more glad I'm done with it!)
Would I run it again? .........despite all the good (and there was a lot of good!) I don't know that I would because of those nasty hills on the golf course. (And the rain is still hazing my thoughts too.) I won't ever say never, but it would take a lot for me to jump into this race again next year.
My advice to anyone who is thinking of running this race: go golf Thanksgiving Point's golf course first so you know what lies ahead as you start this race.....