I was so unprepared for last year's Blessing, it's not even funny. This year, I trained exactly the way I should of and was more than ready.
The fun thing about this year is our running friend Mary, lives on the course. Not only that. her house is at the very end of mile eight. She offered to have us all meet at her house, leave the husbands and the kids with tons of food and beer, while the ladies ran. Perfect!
Meeting at Mary's was easy. We had to get there a little early because they close the roads. Once everyone was there, we walked to the Pier Middle School and to the start line.
We had a great group. Me, Beth, Elaine, Mary, Linda and a couple new people including our friend Agnes. I have known Agnes a couple years now. Her son is the same age as George.
When she got there, she told us she had been running but never as far as ten miles and on top of that, this was her first race! For some reason, that got me excited.
Once we got to the school, I finally got to meet Monica of Insert Witty Running Pun Here, a fellow runner, blogger and RI'er. She was super cute and had on some really fun glasses.
We snapped a pic, lined up and the gun went off.
It was crowded and hard to stay together. Elaine, I lost right away. Everyone else was close by. It wasn't until we were in mile two that it started to loosen up. Agnes and I were together. Beth, Monica, Mary and Linda were a little ahead of us.
I was happy where I was and didn't go out too fast. Agnes was right with me. We started to talk a bit and it was clear that we were not going to catch everyone else. I was just happy not to be alone.
As we were approaching the first water stop, I told her I would walk through it. She liked that idea. I knew I wasn't going to leave her. I will never forget my first race. I had my friends with me and they never left my side. That was a big deal to me and that was a 5k. I was not leaving a first timer for 10 miles!
I took her lead. If she slowed down or pick up her pace, then that is what I did. I told her a little about the course and what was coming up. When we hit St. Mary's Church, I grabbed a bag of ice. The people handing out ice are there every year. This race is usually very hot and the ice is a treat. This year it was much cooler but I took the ice anyway. I held it on my head, my face, my chest and kept it for a mile. It was very refreshing. Thank you ice suppliers!
When we hit mile five, Agnes said she needed to walk. I was fine with this and happy that she spoke up and didn't push herself until she was hurt. This was also the part of the race that is my least favorite, rt 108. Crowd support it good on this part and that is what helps you get through it.
Once we are off 108 we hit a nice road that is all trees. I loved this part, it was pretty and peaceful. We chatted a good bit here and I loved getting to know Agnes better.
The tree road dropped us off into Ocean Road again and then back up past the start line. Agnes lives in this town and knew where we were, but when I told her that the school was up ahead and then Mary's street to the right, you could tell she was happy and surprised. She was gonna make it!
The Blessing parties on Pier Road were still going strong and it was nice to see people still out cheering us on.
Once we passed the school there was a nice hill that we had to tackle. We walked some but the top of that hill was Mary's street and my family was there waiting for us. I was so excited when I saw my kids and Mr. RWM. Gracie had a cowbell and George had a Run Strong, Think Big sign. I loved that they were cheering everyone on and not just us.
I got to Gracie first and gave her a big hug, then George who had the biggest smile. I gave Mr. RWM a kiss and high- fived the rest of the hubbies. Then, we were off again. Just up ahead the sign that we all were waiting for. One Mile to the Beer Tent. I said, "You got this Agnes, we are almost there!"
We ran/walked the beginning of this mile. You could tell Agnes was tired but determined. With about a half mile to go, she asked me if I wanted to sprint to the finish? Of course I do. We took off.
I have to tell you, for ten miles I felt great! I was running strong and smiling. I heard my name and saw my neighbors who cheered me on. That is always so cool.
I was running pretty fast and Agnes wasn't next to me. I looked back and slowed up a bit. She yelled go to me and I did.
I crossed the finish line in 1:53:55. I turned around to see Agnes cross in 1:54:07. This was not a PR for me but it was a course PR which is still kind of cool.
From that moment on, it was chaos. The crowd was nuts. We should of just met up and headed back to Mary's where there was free beer and food not to mention our dry, warm clothes. Beth and Monica were at Trio and we were in the stupid beer tent. I was without my phone which I will never run without again when I am with such a large group.
We all eventually ended walking back to Mary's but not all together. It was dark and we were cold. When we were close, I realized the roads were open and there was very little traffic. Why were we walking an extra mile when there are people who could of picked us up! Lesson learned and next year we will plan better.
We hung out at Mary's for a while. Warmed up and ate. The kids were having such a good time I hated to break it up but I had hit my wall and needed a shower and sleep.
It was wonderful for Mary and her hubs to open their home to us and we all thank them very much! She did say we should make this an annual event and I think that is a great idea!
Congrats to all my friends who finished and here is to many more!
16 weeks to Philly!
Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole