First let me say that this was the best run event ever! Kudos to the Ulman Cancer Fund for their inaugural event in Columbia, MD.
I participated in relay match and got matched with two other women (Yvette and Theresa)- one local and one further south in VA. We met up at packet pick up on Saturday. We spanned the age groups -20's, 30's and 40's. We coordinated our Sunday morning meet up time and we were off.
Sunday morning came early. I was up at 4:30 am so I could get the dog walked, get dressed and be in transition between 5:30 - 6 am. It was chilly! I had on my CW-X summer weight running tights, run shirt, and then a jacket and sweat pants. I had a long day ahead of me. I met up with my relay team. We all got our body markings, discussed the chip hand off, and then it was time to hang out until the race start. They had area next to transition for relay teammates to put chairs and stuff to hang out. Before the race we were down at the Team Fight tent hanging out as our swimmer is a member of Team Fight (an Ulman Cancer Fund team). I even met Doug Ulman at one point in the day. Nice guy.
Finally, it was time to get the show on the road. I found 2 of the 3 guys that I knew were racing and wished them good luck. And watched all the swimmers get on their way. This race did the swim start as a time trial start, so the people in each wave entered the water two at a time and started their swim. Everyone seemed to liked this very much. While our swimmer, Yvette, was swimming, Theresa and I headed up to transition. She prepped and waited. And I hung out at off the side to cheer the timing chip hand off and Theresa out onto the bike course. The relay wave was one of the last waves to go off - so it seemed like forever when all the individual athletes are coming to T1 and taking off. In reality it wasn't really all that long, but patiently waiting hasn't necessarily been one of my strong traits. Yvette comes in, takes off the chip, Theresa puts it on and she is running with her bike out of transition. Okay NOW the real waiting starts. 56 miles......with HILLS.... I felt bad for Theresa as she had not had the opportunity to ride this course prior to the race. While she was out cycling, Yvette and I hung out at the Team Fight tent. Yvette had to leave for a family event, then I finally went up to hang out in the "relay lounge" in my chair.
I had worried about nutrition for this event. Since I would be up and out the door early and then waiting a long time until I ran. I ended up doing okay I think. I had a pb&j and banana in the morning along with my joint juice (it is helping my old joints) and some coffee. During the wait period I had another banana and a cliff bar. And about 30 minutes before Theresa came in on the bike I had another banana. I drank water all morning and pee'd about a 1000 times it seemed before I ran.
So 4 hours passed and Theresa was in yet. I was starting to get worried. She had an injured calf which is why she was not running and then I knew those hills were tough. I heard from one of the race coordinators that there were some people getting picked up on the course and that there were some women who were walking up the hills. oh no. The bike course was to close at 1:30. We were inching closer to 1 pm. I needed to get a long run in today whether or not it was a part of this race and I was hoping since I had been here all day that it would be at the race! I was so happy to see Theresa coming up the hill into transition! Yes, she made it in. And no she was not one of those women walking up the hills. I high-fived her and put on the timing chip and headed out to the run. It was just after 1 pm.
I have been working on my run form and at the same time trying to just let myself run without stressing about every little thing and looking at my pace all the time. So while I had the garmin on, I tried not to look at it while I was running. I just tried to find the pace that felt good. The run course was great. It did have hills that were tough, but I powered through them. For the first half (and first loop) I did have others around me. I had one guy run with me as I was keeping him going since I was fresh and he was wearing down as he was doing the whole race. I ran into Roy, one of the guys from my tri-club. He was walking and didn't have much further to go, so I egged him into running with me until we split - him to the finish and me off to the second loop. That worked well. I was on my own then at that point which was approximately 7 miles. I just kept going. I was feeling really good. The hill going up around mile 11 is when I started poking a bit. My knees were starting to ache. I just kept going. I wasn't going to walk. I knew I could do this and finish strong. The volunteers were still out there and the aid stations still well stocked. It was great as I knew I was one of the last people out on the course. As I came into the finish area, it was a bit quiet as there weren't many people left. There were a few people cheering and Theresa my from my relay team was there waiting for me to come in. I was done! My knees were talking, but I was done. 2:37:21. A new PR for pokey me on the half marathon - and I love that it was on a hilly course AND I stopped to pee at 3.2 miles where there was a port o john at the aid station. Did I mention I was well hyrdated? ;-p
I got my finisher shirt and medal and went to the food tent. YES while there were only a handful of people still out on the course they still had space blankets, shirts, medals, and food and PLENTY of it. I could have had a free beer, but I knew that would not have been good at that point. I tried to eat the banana and part of the chipotle burrito that they handed me, but I couldn't. I was just tired. I did drink part of a coke.
I waited around at the finish to see the very last person come in. Thankfully, she also had some family and/or teammates waiting for her too. That is a lonely spot to be in.
Nice race. I am glad that I decided to do the relay match even with up early and wait around part. Having a good half marathon run before the Marine Corps Marathon is good too. Now, let's hope my knees hold out for the next few weeks.