I’ve been struggling for weeks to find a topic worthy enough for a first blog. It must be profound, I thought. It must be meaningful and deep. I took a look in the mirror this morning, black make-up smudges around the eyes from the night before, hair up in a messy bun, who the hell was I kidding? I am neither deep nor meaningful. The best I can do is write about something dear to my heart, the America’s Finest City Half Marathon!
I have a love/ hate relationship with this race. In 2005 it was my very first half marathon. In 2007, in heat and at my heaviest, it kicked my butt in just the right way to knock me back on track physically and emotionally. I was a mess that year and didn’t even know it. I finished in 2:36:57, my second worse half marathon performance only to a half that I attempted the weekend after I did a full marathon I did not train for. 2:36:57, apparently the perfect amount of time needed for me to take a step back (or 13.1 miles worth of steps forward) and see the bigger picture.
20+ half marathons later, I found myself working at the AFC expo for the non-profit after school program I’m involved with, Girls On The Run. I’ve been to plenty of expos since taking up running, but have never been behind a table. Although public speaking has never been one of my strong points, having a topic to speak about that I’m passionate about helps. GOTR is a wonderful program that I hope every little girl has the opportunity to experience. I’ll scream that on rooftops if people let me.
At the expo, I also had the opportunity to do some fundraising for GOTR through an idea that just came into fruition this year. Monika, a fellow coach, board member and buddy thought we needed to come up with a good idea to raise money for the group other than just asking our family and friends. Glam Runner (more on this later) was born! Custom running tutus have been a big hit and definitely keeping me busy at night. We sold most of our in stock tutus at the expo and gained insight on what size and color combos we should have available for next time.
Race day hubby and I were out the door by 4:20 am due to a major freeway closing and my fear of missing the race due to a traffic. We didn’t have any issues finding parking and were able to get on a bus right away. Luckily we also ran into Ben’s friend Shaun who was running his very first half marathon after training really hard the last 4 months. He was definitely happy to see familiar faces and his first race nerves were somewhat settled.
Once we got to Cabrillo it was still more than an hour until the start of the race. I didn’t mind the wait. Back in 2005 all my friends thought I was crazy paying to run. Year after year since, I’ve watched happily as more good friends have been lured into the endurance community. Now races have become my way of socializing, networking and good ole’ BS-ing. I absolutely love it! About two minutes before the start with the excitement in the air, something compelled me to look down on the ground. I glanced at Shaun’s shoe and immediately saw something was off. He had attached the instruction side of the timing tag instead of the tag itself.
TMae: Shaun, oh no!
Shaun: What? Huh? What?
Tmae: You attached the wrong side of your timing chip!
Ben (pointing at Shaun): HAHAHHAHAHAHAH! ROOKIE!!!!
(Leave it to my hubby to sprinkle a tad bit of salt on an open wound)
Before I knew it, we were off! My goal time was just under 2 hours. I knew the last hill would be challenging so I wanted to make sure I kept enough fuel in the tank to crank up (or at least keep it steady) at the end. I had forgotten my Garmin. Since I have a tendency of going out too strong, Ben let me borrow his. Mile after mile, I noticed I kept hitting the mile indicator sooner than I’d hit it on the course markers. That should have triggered me to not pay attention to the pace on my watch. I found that I kept forcing myself to slow down early in the race because I thought I was running too fast.
Last year I ran this race with my best friend’s husband, Ryan. A year later, he was much faster and had left me in the dust at mile 4. I noticed I still felt good through mile 8, but hit my “oh-oh” moment after mile 10 around the Star of India. If you are a runner, you know exactly what the “oh-oh” moment is. It’s the dreadful knowledge that there are still a few miles left in the race but suddenly it feels like bricks have been duct taped to your quads. I powered through, but took the hill a lot slower than I originally anticipated.
This was my third time running a half marathon in a tutu. I don’t consider myself girly. I hardly wear makeup. I take pride in the amount of “guy” push-ups I can punch out in the morning. Yet there I was sporting a pink and teal tutu I had cranked out last minute the night before. The teal matched my top while the pink gave it “pop.” Really? Did I really put that much effort and thought into the color choice of my tutu? Yes, at 34 years of age the tutu has become my race bottom of choice. It’s become my own personal way of keeping myself in check. Take myself too seriously? How is that even possible being a 30 something running in a damn tutu? Take that Seriousness of Life! You’re not the boss of me.
After the hill I was able to push it a bit through Balboa Park. It finally hit me. I needed to stay ahead of my watch mileage (I blame lack of oxygen to the brain), but it was too late. I had hit 13.1 on my watch registering just under 2 hours, only to look up and see the finish line still over a football field away. Official time posted 2:00:15, my best AFC to date but still wish I pushed myself at least 16 seconds faster. Giving myself a break in 3…2…1…
Of course, race day cannot be complete in my book without a celebratory beer (the two really do go hand and hand). Post celebrations were held at Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights with Hubby, Monika and her boyfriend David, who was leaving back home to the east coast after a nice long (but not long enough) summer in San Diego. Half marathon, good food, good beer, & good company, can life really get much sweeter?