Fredericksburg Blue and Gray Half-Marathon, Dec. 9, 2007, official results:
8/9 Jeanne L McCann 02:34:59 02:34:26 11:47
Yes, I was.
Fredericksburg Blue-Gray Half-Mary Recap:
I wish I could show you the topographical map. Just picture the Swiss Alps, and that's kind of what this was like.
Two things happened Saturday night that helped: Susie and David invited some friends for dinner; the woman, V. is a very serious runner. Both she and her husband talked running and strategy and speed work, and even took time to give me some tips. "Not a good idea," said V. of my plan to walk the hills. "Once you give in to walking, your brain gets the idea that it's ok. Just pick out markers and try to get from one to the next."
The second thing: David called to wish us well. I don't know what you said to me exactly, David, but you made me feel that I could do this.
Oh, and a third thing: training in Tahoe with Bex. Even though she had only taken me on a three-mile hilly run, her no-nonsense approach resounded in my brain.
So, those were my secret weapons, and after a fitful night's sleep, I awoke at 5:30 to down oatmeal, coffee, water, and worry about what the best outfit was. It was overcast, misty, gray, and about 42F. Tights, a turtleneck and vest.
The race started at 7:30 a.m. As is my wont, at 7:20 I was in dire—DIRE—(if you get catch my drift), need of a portapotty. Line too long. So out I trotted to the back of the strip mall. TROTTED being the operative word.
Here's how it went:
I decided not to run conservatively (for me). I decided not to walk. I mentally broke the race into two six miles runs, with some more miles after that.
Sidebar: I was using the Ironman Timex iControl for iPod—the last time I use it. I couldn't get it to recognize my splits. You have to hit the split button just so or it thinks you're trying to control your iPod. The watch gets confused. Does this command mean rewind? Or play? Or SPLIT??? I thought it would just know. It didn't. And it wasn't even hooked up to my iPod.
My thoughts at the start: I was out for a training run, I wanted to enjoy the race and the scenery, and I was going to try not to walk. (Along with the ever-wistful hope of PR-ing.)
Mile 1: 10:47 I started at the waaay back. I was hanging with two women, one I dubbed Orange Girl, who were chatting up a storm. I knew I would have to either get in front of them or someone would get hurt. I sped up.
Mile 2: And then took a break. Like some mythical building rising from the ashes, there was my portapotty, right when I needed it. Time: 12:38
Mile 3: 10:52: I was now pretty much in last place. I could just see the tail end of the race far in the distance, including the two women. I wanted to start picking off people, but I knew it would take miles to catch up.
Mil2 4 & 5: 22:14: I caught up with the last girl as she started walking. We chatted. She said she'd never been last before and I said me neither. She was, like me, from D.C., where we are used to pretty big races with loads of people who are "last." I quickly passed her. Getting the watch to record splits was costing me a few seconds each time I tried it. Very annoying.
Mile 6 & 7: 24:00 As I passed the intersections with the fantastic volunteers who were holding back traffic (no roads closed) I'd say, "Hey, I must be first since no one is in front of me!" Ha, ha. I crack myself up. I'd caught up with the two women I'd started with. One was doing a lot of walking, the other, Orange Girl, would run for quite a while, then walk. I passed her. Yay! We were on a short but steep incline to a muddy track we had to run around. I was still feeling fine.
Mile 8: 11:17 O.G. passed me.
Mile 9: 11:31 We're running through the streets of historic Fredericksburg. I think I saw one spectator. But God bless 'em, the volunteers stuck by their water tables for all of us stragglers. Unlike say, the ARMY.
Mile 10 & 11: 23:02 I hit mile 10 in
It was just the two of us now, vying for what felt like last place. Just past mile 11, we turned off the trail and walked up some stairs to get to the bottom of the mile-long hill. I walked the 20 yards or so from the 11 mile marker to the stairs.
Orange Girl passed me.
Mile 11 is the start of a mile-long very steep hill. I was prepared for it. I walked for another 20 seconds, and then started a slow, slow jog, remembering what V had said the night before.
Mile 12: 00:00:98 Whatever.
Mile 12: 14:23 Um, there's more hill here. Some guy who had been in front now fell back. The line-up for last place is now Orange Girl who is walking the hills, Track Suit guy and me. TSG tries to talk to me. "Can't talk," I have to grunt not once, but twice! Hello! You wanna pick me up? NOW IS NOT THE BEST TIME.
Mile 13: 12:33 I'm now close to Orange Girl again, and following her. The orange cones seem to go to the left but she goes straight so I follow her. About 50 yards on, she stops and says, "Where's the finish?" %$$@!!!
The race starts and ends in a strip mall so I know where we are, but we've gone too far, and have to backtrack a bit. I'm calling it 50 yards. This is where I decide I'm going to GET HER if it's the last thing I do.
Mile .1: 1:20 I smoke Orange Girl AND Track Suit guy both in a photo finish. Pfft.
Susie and David were expecting me at 3 hours, so were surprised (hey, I was surprised too!) They cheered me into the chute and I think Susie even ran with me, but I couldn't talk.
You'll have to read Susie's report to see how they did. :)
After the race, I bumped into V from the night before who asked how I did. I was only too happy to babble for 10 minutes (see above) before it occurred to me to ask her how she did.
"Oh," she said. "I won."