It was finally here, the weekend I'd been eagerly anticipating while also kind of fearing: race weekend.
Part of why I was looking forward to it was becuase my friend Amy was flying down from DC to run with me. While I've met some very nice people here in Pensacola, some through my running group even, there's just something about being around a friend you've known for longer than a couple of months. I've missed the inherent comfort level of being with a good friend. Plus, I had a lot of catching up to do on everything at the school I worked at in Maryland,where Amy still works. Amy did not disappoint on any of these fronts. She even arrived with a letter from two of my former students, informing me that they were getting all As and Bs and that I should write them back "if you fell like it". (I did fell like it, in case you wondered, and sent a letter back with Amy.)
The other part of why I was looking forward to it was OH MY GOD CAN WE PLEASE GET THIS RACE OVER WITH ALREADY? See, I'm accustomed to a 12 week training program. This one was 16 weeks and felt like it would never end. I'd felt extremely confident coming out of our 12.5 mile training run with a time that should allow me to finish the race right around my target time of 2:20. I wanted the race to be the very next weekend, before I could possibly lose any ground.
But it wasn't for three more weeks and I spent a lot of that time not running at all because of the SI joint thing. I began to lose confidence. I didn't know how much endurance I might have lost from the early taper. I didn't know how my hips would hold up during the race (yes both, now that my right hip was adjusting to the lift). I was quite certain my left hip was going to make me pay for it afterward.
On race day, we met up with my running group downtown at 5:15. Everybody there was pretty excited, which I guess rubbed off on Amy and me sufficiently to get us smiling like two people who hadn't woken up at 4:15.
We did group photos and attended the pre-race devotional led by a local pastor, who used the prodigal son story to illustrate that, in his words, "Our God is a running God." He told us that God would be running the race with us, leading me to hope that maybe I could get in on some of that "it was then that I carried you" action. Maybe around mile 11. (Spoiler: NOPE.)
We discovered that the way to make port-o-johns even more unpleasant is to use them in the pre-dawn hours when they're almost completely dark inside. We lined up in the starting area with the rest of my training group and listened to a local high schooler sing the national anthem. Recognition of veterans, prayer, moment of silence, gentlemen start your engines.
Finally, 6:30 arrived and we crossed the start line for what COULD be my best half marathon ever. Or my worst. Or somewhere in the middle. The only way to find out is to wait for my next post! (Or be my Facebook friend and already have known for a couple of days, but let's at least act like that doesn't cover most of the people reading this. Thanks.)