Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Big Race Weekend

This was a big weekend for me and it did not disapoint.

Friday, I packed up my parents and Mr. RWM and we headed to the United Health Care Marathon Expo.

This race has a 5k, half and full marathon.  My first race ever, was this 5k, two years ago.  In fact, if I didn't have such a deep connection with Philadelphia, this would of been my first marathon.

We got there right when it opened.  Pick up was very easy. I took a look around the expo and did not buy anything! Who is shocked? I am!

From there we had a lovely lunch at the Black Pearl and walked around just a bit.  It really was nice to be with Mr. RWM and my parents without having to focus on the kids. I enjoyed every minute.

Saturday, was the Free to Breathe 5k.  This race helps raise money and awareness for lung cancer, a cause very close to Beth and our friend Sally.  Sally lost her mom to lung cancer and is very involved in organizing this race and making it the success that it is.

Having a race the day before my 18 miles was freaking me out just a bit.  I looked into volunteering and just not running but knew that I wanted to run. Beth was also signed up so we met early in the morning and drove together.

Thinking it would take us longer to get there than it actually did, we had loads of time before the start.

We checked in, got our numbers, talked with Sally for a short time.  We looked at the silent auction items and we each bid on something, but secretly, we were hoping someone would out bid us.  From there, we headed to the massage tables and had a quick but nice massage.  I should start all my races like that.
Me, Beth and Sally

Still having tons of time, we took a walk around the park.  I was happy that is was such a beautiful day and the park was really nice.

This was a small race but a very energetic crowd.  We lined up and were given directions for the course.  They were not very clear, but there were plenty of signs.

Beth and I were both doing the half marathon the next day, so we agreed to take it easy. Once we crossed the line, we were running.  Our first mile was 9:50.  That is not taking it easy for me.  We slowed down a bit.

I have not seen official results yet, but according to my Garmin, we ran it in 32:01.  Not bad.

We got water and a pumpkin doughnut, checked out our bids and I am happy to report we did not win anything.

We chatted and said goodbye to Sally and headed home.  I have to say, I really liked this 5k.  It was well run and in a nice location.  I was happy to support Sally and loved running with Beth. It had been about a month since I last ran with her and I really missed it.

My legs felt good the rest of the day and I knew I would be ok for Sunday.

I went to bed early, set my alarm for 5:30am, and actually slept well until 4 am.  I tossed and turned for a bit and then decided that I should just get up and head to the race. My original plan was to run the extra five miles at the end of the half, but since I was up so early, I decided to run a few before and a few after.

I am not a morning person and getting up and driving to the race in the dark was weird.  I followed my directions to the parking lot but at that time in the morning, every car in front of me was going to the same place.  I parked and walked to the buses. I got on the very first bus.  It was pretty wide open, but a girl walked on and asked if she could sit with me. Of course she can!

I don't remember her name but she was from Ohio.  She was very pleasant and it was a nice start to the morning.

Once I was a the race, I took a walk around. Snapped a few pics and looked for the gear check.  I wanted to do my run, but wanted to be able to get back into my bag for my banana and water after my three miles.
Just getting to the race and it's still pretty dark.

I purposely picked a bright yellow bag for my stuff hoping that would help the guys out. They tagged my bag and put it aside so that it would be easy to get to when I got back. I was so thankful!

I grabbed my music, but didn't need it. I ran to and on the Cliff Walk and just listened to the ocean.  It was perfect!
View from the Cliff Walk
Did not got down there, but might next time.

I ran my there miles in 33 minutes.  I felt great the whole time and was more then ready to for the half.

The crowd was much bigger then when I left but was able to find Beth with no problem. Soon, Rebecca of Pink Running Jacket found us.  I was bummed though that we did not find my friend Kim, who came in from NY, or my friend Patti.  It was Patti's first half marathon and I really wanted to be at the start with her.
Rebecca, Me and Beth

We lined up and for some reason, there was a delay to the start.  I don't know if it is a mental thing or not, but sitting around waiting, made me feel like I needed to use the porta potty again. I didn't get out of line for fear of losing everyone, so I just hoped for the best.
The Start

Finally, we were on our way.  There were a lot of people running this race and it did not break up until mile three.

Rebecca was running the full by the way and Beth the half.  The three of us stayed together for couple miles and then we lost Rebecca and never caught up to her.

This is not an easy course but it sure is beautiful.  That alone can keep a person going.  I love running by the ocean and all the beautiful homes. We even went into Fort Adams for a short while, which I am getting really familiar with now.

I have to say, I was feeling really good. I found my groove early in the race and I think it may have been because of the pre three mile run.  I didn't look at my watch too much because when Beth and I hit two miles, my watch said five and so on and so on.  This would of required math and well, you all know by now, running and math do not add up in my head.

A couple really cool things happened in the loop around Fort Adams.  First, we were behind a father and his daughter. She was about the same size as my George who will be 8 on Friday, BTW.  I said to Beth that I needed to go talk to them and find out what her deal was.

We ran ahead and I said hello and that I was so impressed to see such a young girl running a half marathon. Turns out, she was 10 and this was her third half marathon!  She also has an older sister, 13, who was also running.  Her name was Christina and she was just so stinking cute!  I wish I could show you the socks she was wearing, right up my alley.

She is already registered for the Triple Crown for next year and I hope I run into her again.

Now, at this point, I really needed to use the bathroom. We hit some on the way out of Fort Adams. There was a line, but I had to wait.  In line we talked to a women who was from Philly!  She had run the Philadelphia Marathon five years earlier and loved it! So good to hear.

Standing in line, I heard my name.  It was Patti!  I got out of line and asked her how she was feeling. She looked great!  I told her I would catch up to her later, I needed to get back in line. I felt so happy to have seen her and know that she was doing so well.

After our stop, Beth and I really had a good pace going and we passed a lot of people, something I am not used to.

I am still feeling good at this point and honestly, I was surprised.  I was so happy to be running and I was excited knowing what I was going to accomplish today.  Eighteen Miles!  I can't help but go back to my first run. One minute and I was huffing and puffing. I am still amazed that I didn't give up and so thrilled to be where I am today.

We did catch up with Patti on Ocean Road.  We chatted and ran with her for just a bit before Beth and I were off again.  I wanted to stay with her but I really wanted to finish too. I still had to add two more miles.  Sorry Patti!

Somewhere around mile eight, my mile eleven, I asked Beth how we were doing on time. She said we were at 1:30 something with five miles to go.  I told Beth, this could be a PR race for me.  The time to beat was 2:36.  This fueled Beth.  She was going to get me a PR no matter if I wanted one or not!  At one point, she said that her endorphins were popping. I had to ask, in a good way or bad. In a good way she said.  Oh my, I am in for it now.

Despite my feeling good the whole morning so far, when my Garmin beeped 13 miles, I was starting to really feel it.  I was slowing down.  Beth was not.

If I was alone, I would of walked here.  I may have even mentioned that to Beth, but she was not having it.  I kept on going and was happy to have her encouraging me to do this.

I started to get quiet.  If you run with me, you know this is a sure sign I want to be done.  Beth was doing her best to talk and keep me going when I remembered a story that I haven't told her yet.  I am not going to tell it here at this time, but it involves a ghost named Harvey and the house I grew up in.  It's good story and time flew by while telling it. At the end, we were very close to the finish.

Beth was speeding up.  I was able to stay with her but was struggling a bit.  The crowd was pretty awesome here and I was very thankful for all the cheers.  Running into the lot, with the finish in site, we saw Michelle of For The Love of Running and she was cheering us in.  I just love seeing people at the finish that I know.  I picked it up just a bit here and we ran into the finish together.  The clock read 2:32 and change.  I knew it was a PR.  I, of course, had tears in my eyes.  Beth and I hugged, got some water and our medals. I have to say, this is the best medal I have ever gotten, if you don't count a Tiffany's necklace.  It is just awesome!

Beautiful, right!

We walked to where we could see the finishers coming in.  I wanted to see Patti finish.  I was thrilled when I saw 10 year old Christine and her father coming in. We cheered really loud for her and I got teary again.  I'm such a girl!

It wasn't much longer and we saw Patti. She looked great coming into the finish and I was just so happy for her.  We met her and the three of us headed to where the food was.

They had soup, bananas, oranges, water and gatorade. The soup sounded good to me. A little warm up before my last two miles.

We took a couple pics and said our goodbyes.  I decided to go back to the route I did before the race.
Happy to be done, but, oh wait, I have two more to go!
Me and Patti

Not my best idea.

This took me right into the crowed cheering the runners in at the finish, not to mention, the runners walking, slowly, to the buses.  I finally made it to the Cliff Walk and started to run. Again, not my best idea.

This is a huge tourist attraction and now I was running and bopping around tourists.  This is a skinny path and it was not fun.  My two miles each were clocked at 13 minutes.  I just couldn't move.  Even so, my time for 18 miles was less then my time for 16.  How crazy is that!

Once I was back to the race finish, I got my bag and then saw that hot pizza was being put out.  Oh, so very happy!  I devoured two pieces in minutes.  From there  I walked into the expo tent one last time.  It was here, that I found they had beer.  I really wanted one but I was freezing, tired and alone.  I headed to the bus.

Remember how early and dark it was when I parked? Weill, I didn't really take note of exactly where I parked. I knew I was in the general area, but the lot was so much bigger then it looked at 0' dark 30.

I am pretty sure I walked a half mile before I found my Sunshine.  And if she wasn't bright yellow, I would of had to call for a ride home and just buy a new car.  Not kidding.

I was so happy to be in my car and driving home.  I had a great morning, a great race and a PR. The company was the best part!  No matter what the race or PR, you can't beat running with your buddies.

Once I was home, my parents took the kids out for a while and I was able to sit and relax in a quiet house. I really appreciated this.

When the official times came out, mine was 2:29:15.  This was a 7:24 minute PR. Imagine what it could of been if we didn't stop at the porta potty.

All and all, a fantastic day. I am already signed up for the Triple Crown next year, and this is the last race of that series.  Looking forward to it.

Five weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


  1. Awesome job, Nicole! Congrats on the bright and shiny PR! Good luck with your marathon - can't wait to read all about it :)

  2. Congratulations! What a busy and amazing day! Sounds like a wonderful group of races, surrounded by wonderful people!

  3. Busy day! Good luck in your marathon.