It was cold!! And all clothes left on the course get donated to homeless shelters, so it's nice to stay warm at the start (and look ridiculous).
But now for Story #2. I was placed in corral 4 (or pink, or D, or something like that) which I found out was 8:10 to 8:40 min/mile expected time. Perfect for me. The race was crowded at the beginning, but compared to trying to get out to a good start in Disney World, it was a piece of cake. So I did what I was used to and started passing as many people as I could. Only this time, the people in my corral were actually running the time they were signed up for. So I quickly found myself running much faster than expected - except I had no idea. How is that possible, you ask?
-But I have a Garmin watch, so I should have seen my pace, right? Well, my Garmin watch couldn't correctly connect to satellites in time for the start of the race, so I never knew for sure if it was working correctly and just assumed it was wrong when it showed my pace. Though it turns out, it was mostly correct. It's a great piece of technology and I highly recommend it to someone racing a lot, but it's almost so cool that I'm still learning to trust it. And somehow, being surrounded by all these fast people, my body didn't realize it was going so fast.
Once again though, something great happened. At one point as I was walking on the right side of the course so I didn't interfere with the people running by, some kind woman gave me a little pat on the back as she passed and said something to the tune of "you can do it, come on and go!" And I did. Not that it was the last time I took a quick walk break, but I got my head back in the game thanks to the kindness of some stranger. As for the woman, I only wish she had an idea how much her quick comment helped me out, and now I'll try to do the same for others in a later race who look like they need a little encouragement. Runners may be an intense bunch, but it's like you're part of some club and everyone is instantly friends, and I have found that most of them are some of the nicest people you will meet.
I felt the need to explain all that though, because the point is that you can have a great time without necessarily running your smartest or "best" race. I still managed to finish in 1:45:31, putting me right around 8:03 minutes/mile. That's a half marathon time I NEVER dreamed I could complete, and I'm very excited. The 11, 12, 13 Challenge is not about time, but of course I still want to celebrate the victories when the training pays off.
This picture does not include me, because they couldn't find me. But you can see why we might have missed each other!
The only slightly sad part: Adam and Kristen (my sister) and my friend Amanda (who ran Princess with me) had come out to cheer me on. I was expecting to see them somewhere around mile 5 - they try to decide ahead of time where they will be so I know to keep an eye out, because it's easy to get in the zone during a race. Kristen was going to wear a bright pink sweatshirt so they were easy to recognize. But somehow, I never saw them! Maybe because I went out quickly they hadn't gotten over there yet, or maybe we somehow just all missed, but it was disappointing.
Anyway, I couldn't be more happy that they all came out to cheer and I still got the boost just from knowing they were out there in ~30-35 degree weather to cheer me on. My friends and family are the core of this challenge and what keeps me going. Kristen and Adam were up at 4 AM to get ready for the race and take me over, and Amanda woke up to come cheer us on around 7:30 AM on a Saturday. That's just amazing.